The same is true of your home’s wood tones.
From dark walnuts and cedars to bright cherry, soothing hickory, and classic pine, each wood type holds its own unique appeal. When you know how to match different wood tones throughout your space, you can easily add richness of character to any room.
This guide takes you through five do’s and don’ts of mixing wood tones so you can achieve that picture-perfect décor you’ve been dreaming of.
Do: Use Your Dominant Tone as a Jumping-Off PointMost spaces will have a dominant wood tone from the get-go. Full-room wood flooring, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, expansive armoires—these are excellent starting points to build your style around. If you’re starting from scratch (in a new home, for example), your dominant wood tone will be the largest of your floors, windows, or cabinetry.
Once you’ve determined your dominant palette, you can use it as a “base” that informs the rest of your wood tone choices (more on that below).
Don’t: Neglect Warm/Cool Undertones
Every wood tone also has an undertone that’s either warm or cool. When mixing wood tones throughout your spaces, use woods with undertones that match the warmth or coolness of your dominant tone.
As a general rule of thumb, most unstained woods will naturally be warm. However, some exceptions like ash, poplar, and pine have grey/green undertones.
Colored stains open the door to more variety and make matching undertones much easier. For example, you could use WOCA’s Master Color Oil in a shade like Castle Grey or Extra White to mesh with the cool undertones of your pine floors. For warmer undertones, try Light Brown or Walnut.
Do: Mix Darks/Mediums/Lights TogetherVariety is the spice of life. It also gives your mixed wood tone design more depth.
Don’t be afraid to mix dark, medium, and light tones together. In fact, you should aim for having one tone in each category. That way, you have three shades you can use to bring contrast into your space and draw attention to especially interesting elements of your home.
For instance, Extra White flooring accentuates and draws the eye to Sand Gray window sills and Carbon Black cabinetry.
That being said, it is possible to use too many different tones. While you should aim for one light, one dark, and one medium tone, avoid using multiple tones within each category (i.e., two or more different light tones) to keep the look of your space clean and cohesive.
Don’t: Stain Without TestingIt can be tempting to assume that a stain will look exactly the same in your home as it did in pictures or on the store shelf. But make no mistake—you should always test a color in your home before completely committing to it. Otherwise, you risk mixing unseen undertones, choosing colors that clash, or wasting time and money on a redesign you don’t like.
Thankfully, select wood stain brands provide testers to ensure you’ve landed on the right tone. At WOCA, we offer testers for both our Master Color and Diamond Oil stains.
Do: Maintain Your Wood’s Natural BeautyOnce you’ve found your ideal mixture of complementary and contrasting wood tones, keeping your surfaces well maintained is the final step in ensuring a beautiful interior.
Over time, stained and oiled wood loses its natural luster due to dings, dents, and general wear and tear. That’s why it’s so important to consistently clean and maintain your wood floor and other wood surfaces.
The catch? Not any old cleaner will be effective for wood. Most everyday cleaners use harsh chemicals that damage the wood surface and strip it of its protective oils. Instead, use a natural soap spray or oil refresher soap to keep your wood surfaces looking their best and your home’s interior shining.
Mix, Match, & Bring Your Wood Tones to Life With WOCA
As with any stunning interior design, the trick to knowing how to match wood tones lies in selecting complementary and contrasting styles.
It can take some trial and error to nail your ideal look for your space. But as long as you remember these five do’s and don’ts:
- Do use your dominant tone as a jumping-off point
- Don’t neglect warm/cool undertones
- Do mix darks/mediums/lights together
- Don’t stain without testing
- Do maintain your wood’s natural beauty
…you’re off to a great start!
Check out WOCA’s full line of interior wood stain products and wood care cleaners to help you achieve that flawless interior.