Decorating TipsDesign Styles

How to Mix Wood Tones to Wow!

By December 17, 2020 No Comments

The way a lot of us grew up, your furnishings came from a big box retail store. Everything was matchy-matchy, living room sets to bedroom sets. No thinking once you bought it, just unbox and set it up where needed. But thinking outside of the box is my happy place because it’s where creativity and magic thrive. Whether I’m at a client’s home or my own home, I can’t help but see the countless, yet intentional movements each piece within a room can experience. As I wrote in my mixing metals blog, if Urbanology Designs had a motto we use on every project, it would be: mix, layer, texture. Mixing wood tones are no exception; though they tend to trip most of us up, you can become a mixing maven in no time following three simple, empowering steps.

1. Identify the dominant wood feature within the room.

Is it the wood floors, the wall cabinets, a dining or coffee table? If you don’t have one main feature, select two or three within the room to be your base. Just like walking through a forest, whether among aspens or redwoods, the dominant trees set the general mood and ambiance. However, there are still many possibilities to dial in or away from what is your dominant wood feature.

warm wood tones

2. Take inventory of the prevailing wood tones around the room.

You’ll group them based on their appearance as either:

+ Warm (red, yellow or orange, think warm sunlight),

+ Cool (greys, blues, subtle greens, think cool ocean water).

+ Neutral: (neither yellowish or greyish, no real undertones)

Now with wood tones in hand, take note of where they fall between light and dark variations.

Use this handy swatch to help your classifying:

wood tones chart

3. Time to queue your mixing magic!

With your room now inventoried and classified, take a step back and ask what your style is, what are your aesthetic goals? Here is a helpful blog on discovering your favorite style. How you mix and layer needs to fall in line with your vision and style, so here are your control dials…

warm wood tones

Unique wood tone centric wall art.


+ Increased grain visibility produces a more rustic or casual look

+ Less grain visibility will produce a more formal and polished look

kids bedroom with mixed wood tones


+ Keep the flowing harmony by using each wood finish twice. Some pieces are meant to stand alone, like a desk or coffee table. However, most wood pieces will look out of place or lonely if not paired. In this kid’s room, notice the wood finish pairings of the oar and chair, as well as the lamp with the beds.

mixing wood tones

Bright and chic bedside table to bridge the warm headboard and floors.

Break It Up

+ Break up similar wood tones. For example, if your coffee table and wood floors are the same wood tone, the coffee table will likely get washed out or disappear. So, add a rug with a color that breaks it up, and the rug will add a nice visual separation while adding beauty and balance.

+ Sometimes, you will need a “bridge wood” as displayed in the above picture. The warm wood floors and plank wall headboard are beautifully bridged by this bright, contemporary bedside table.

mixing wood tones in the bathroom

Light wood floors showing great tone variation, while paired with a very dark wood side table.

Our souls crave the serenity wood finishes bring from nature into our homes. I hope these tips have sparked your courage for mixing wood tones and elevating your room’s beauty!

mixing wood tones in an entry way

Stylish and versatile use of white oak, a Top 10 “Entry Way” on Houzz for 2020.

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