One of the greatest interior decorating conundrums of all time is how to mix and match wood tones. Many people make the mistake of believing that all wood furniture in a room, or connected rooms through temp walls, should be of the same tone and grain. This is a huge misconception. Though having wood furniture pieces that are the exact same shade can provide a cohesive and elegant look in a room, it is often difficult to find tones that correspond exactly. Today, the modern rule-of-thumb when choosing solid wood furniture for a room is that there are no rules; the wood tones and grains absolutely do not have to match. In fact, choosing varying shades of wood furniture is not only easier, because it takes the pressure off of finding the perfect match, it can make the act of interior design much less boring, and thus much more exciting.
Mixing wood tones of furniture incorporates the design principles of contrast and variation into a room. This can help to break up monotony in the design and make the room more visually stimulating and appealing. However, when trying to create a more traditional look, it is best to stay close to the same family of wood tones. Deep, dark, rich wood tones such as mahogany, cherry, and walnut will often go better with medium-toned woods than light. And likewise, lighter-toned woods, such as pine and oak, will also go better with medium wood tones, rather than with dark. In other words, it is okay to use varying wood shades when trying to create a more traditional décor, but aim for a lower level of contrast.
For those home designers with more contemporary and risqué tastes, pairing light and dark tones of wood together is just fine. There is nothing wrong with high contrast here. However, it is important to unify and balance the strong variation in tone through the use of cohesive accessories. For instance, if coffee & end tables in a living room are made of a light oak wood, and there are also dark wooden rocking chairs in the room, the following can be done: place light-colored throws over the backs of the dark rocking chairs and place dark lamps, bowls, or other accessories on the lighter hued tables. By doing this, the variety and contrast of the wood pieces are unified and balanced. Taking this scenario a step further, a painting that has both dark and light tones can be chosen for the living room. This will create even more harmony between the mixes of wood.
There are no real rules when it comes to mixing and matching varying shades of wood furniture in a room. In the end, it comes down to the specific tastes and style of the decorator. However, the suggestions noted above will help to unify, balance, and harmonize a room when mixes and matches of wood shades are incorporated into the same area. They will also help guide a more traditional or contemporary finished look.