how to mix multiple wood finishes like a pro

There’s an unwritten rule which states that it is inadvisable to mix wood tones and finishes in the same room. Or at least, that it’s better to stick as close as possible to the most prominent wood tone in the space.

Cutting to the chase, there’s a reason why this particular ‘rule’ is unwritten:

It’s wrong…and completely nonsensical.

Not only can you mix wood tones and finishes in the same space, but it’s something you should be making the effort to do.

Why Mixing Multiple Wood Finishes Is The Way To Go

Where all wood tones in a living space are more or less identical, the entire room can look flat, dull, and uninspiring. Nothing stands out, given the fact that everything looks the same and blends into one fairly bland background.

It’s the same when choosing the color palette for an interior space in general. Would you choose furniture, fixtures, ornaments, and accessories that are the exact same color as your walls and ceilings?

Of course, you wouldn’t – you’d mix things up to create contrasts and points of focus.

The same should therefore apply when it comes to wood finishes. Be it exposed skirting boards, an extendable table, or the most ornate decorative dresser. There’s no reason to attempt to keep things too uniform.

If anything, doing so could have the opposite of the intended effect.

The Art Of Effectively Mixing Multiple Wood Finishes

First things first – there’s technically no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of bringing multiple wood finishes together in the same room. Just as long as you are happy with the result, that’s really all that matters.

Hence, there’s no magic formula or golden ‘rule’ for getting it right. But if you’re struggling to get started, you may find the following tips, tricks, and insights helpful:

Find The Dominant Wood Tone

You can start the process by identifying the most dominant wood tone in the room. This basically means finding the largest or most prevalent wooden feature in the space and taking note of its tone. Think of it the same as considering the colors of your walls and ceilings prior to selecting corresponding features and furniture.

Once you have found the dominant wood tone, you can begin playing with contrasts. Pair lighter tones with darker wood to make them stand out, or opt for a medium tone in either instance for a more unified look.

Contrast Furniture And Flooring

Take note of the tone of your wooden flooring and choose a contrasting color for the rest of the furniture in the room. Wooden furniture and fixtures can practically disappear when placed on a floor of a corresponding color.

Just as it isn’t usually advisable to choose a couch that is the same color as the carpet, a wooden dining table should be a different tone of wood to the wooden floor beneath. Again. It’s entirely up to you how bold or otherwise you go with your choice of contrasts. There’s no shortage of stains and finishes available, so feel free to get creative.

Aim To Create Balance

The art of effectively mixing wood tones often lies in creating a feeling of balance and harmony. In practice, this means using different wood finishes in strategic locations across the space rather than confining certain tones to certain areas.

The latter approach has a tendency to result in a finish that looks lopsided and disproportionate. Though again, it could also result in an aesthetic you’re perfectly pleased with. Feel free to experiment with the positioning of your fixtures and furniture until you are happy.

Soften The Mix With Throws And Rugs

Last but not least, rugs and throws can be fantastic for smoothing the transition between different wood tones. A prime example to illustrate the point would be a rug placed strategically between a wooden floor and the legs of a wooden table in an entirely different tone.

Of course, it’s not that these sharp contrasts or transitions are negative – they can make for an exceptionally pleasing aesthetic. But if your goal is to create a look that’s more unified, strategic distribution of throws and rugs can make all the difference. As can choosing curtains, drapes, and other accessories to complement for contrast with your wood tones, as you see fit.

When you’ve got a lot of legs in various wood tones, give them common ground with an area rug. A rug also helps to create a soothing transition between the furniture and the wood floor.