WHAT ‘WOOD’ KYLIE DO…?
Having a problem with your wood? Maybe you have decorectile dysfunction. Seriously though, when updating our homes, we often pay more attention to what we like, versus what suits the existing finishes.
In particular, coordinating new wood stains with existing wood surfaces is tough, especially if you don’t love your wood’s current color or grain pattern. Sure, it’s a bit easier when you’re designing a home from scratch and can choose what you love, but it’s still not EASY.
To help you out, I created the blog post How to Coordinate Wood Stains. However, there are a lot of questions related to this topic; enough that I can write a whole new blog post unto itself!
QUESTIONS THIS BLOG POST ANSWERS
If you have a question and it’s not covered in this blog post – leave me a comment! If it has enough appeal (can help others too), I’m happy to answer it for you IN FULL in this blog post. You might even get to send me in example photos of your woody challenge!
1. Which should be the lighter wood stain – the cabinets or the floor?
2. Can you put two different wood floor stains/tones together?
3. Can you use solid wood flooring and luxury vinyl plank (LVT or LVP) together – like butting up to each other?
But before we get to these questions, let’s chat a little more…
HOW TO FIX YOUR WOOD STAIN/COORDINATION ISSUES
If you’re currently living in a nightmare of clashing stains and grains and they’re giving you pain in your brain (yes, I’m going insane), I’m here to help.
Let’s say you find a relatively neutral, white oak or maple flooring and you’re in love. You install it in your home and it looks amazing. Then, you haul in your old solid mahogany or cherry dining set, only to realize that the red undertones of your furniture clash with your lovely new floor.
What do you do? You keep on reading.
I only use photos from my Online Color Consulting clients, so don’t always have ‘just’ the image I need. Thank you for sending your photos in!
But it’s not just wood furniture and flooring that will give you a run for your money, coordinating kitchen cabinets with new wood floors can be tough too.
Maybe you have oak cabinetry from the 80s or 90s and want to put in new wood flooring. You go to the store and choose a wood floor (or LVP) that’s not NEARLY as orange-red (or yellow) as your cabinets and you feel SO much better…
However, once you install your flooring you realize your cabinets POP in comparison and nothing looks good, in fact, it all clashes.
Check out this next kitchen. While the floor and cabinets share a pink undertone, they’re too far apart due to the strength of the cabinet’s cherry-red stain…
But don’t worry, this kitchen got a great cabinet overhaul and looks amazing (different angle, but you get the idea)…
However, painting your cabinets or replacing your furniture isn’t always in the budget.
In this case, you’ve got to do the best you can with what you’ve got.
Sometimes, the ‘best you can get’ isn’t PERFECT, but it’s better than before.
And it’s not just wood coordination that’s challenging, I see it all the time with tile backsplashes that are too white for their older granite countertops, and gray sofas that are too cool for the beige carpet they sit on.
But not every space can be saved, other than restaining or painting one surface or the other. However, there are some small shifts you can try that might distract from your hot mess without having to remodel the entire space.
TWO STEPS TO FIX YOUR CLASHING WOOD CHALLENGES
Just remember that depending on how bad the clashing is – some things aren’t entirely FIXABLE. Let’s revisit what I mentioned earlier…
Sometimes you have to do the BEST you can with what you have. But if you have a hot mess of wood stains, short of changing/painting one or two, there might not be a WHOLE lot you can do.
But in the meantime, let’s see if we can make things a bit better.
STEP 1. DRINK WINE & WATCH RYAN REYNOLDS (OR GOSLING) MOVIES ON REPEAT
While this is a last resort, there’s nothing like a
vat of wine hunk to cheer you up. Oh, I’m sorry, did you think I was a serious blogger? Just joking, the good stuff is coming.
STEP 2. USE AREA RUGS TO SEPARATE CLASHING WOOD STAINS
Short of restaining your wood floor, furniture, or cabinets, separating them with area rugs is the best way to DISTRACT from clashing hue or competing wood grains.
In this dining room, the wood floor coordinates well with the wood window trims, the dining table, and the dog. Even when wood stains coordinate, a rug helps to define each one, rather than having them blend into each other…
IF YOUR DINING ROOM FURNITURE DOESN’T MATCH YOUR WOOD FLOOR
I love this next dining room so much – my clients are awesome. They did such a great job with their paint colors, furnishings, area rug, and decor that you don’t even notice that the floor is much more red-toned than the furniture pieces…
Brands like Ruggable have great, washable options (I’m not getting any kickbacks for these mentions, they’re just great rugs to try). Choose a rug with a LOW pile so you don’t get crusties and crumblies buried in it.
Again, another beauty…
This dining table has violet-red tones, whereas the floor stain is more orange-brown – the rug is a GREAT moderator!
IF YOUR BEDROOM FURNITURE DOESN’T SUIT YOUR WOOD FLOOR
Area rugs work in bedrooms too if your wood floor and bedframe don’t quite match…
Even though the woods coordinate, the area rug adds softness when getting out of bed and is the perfect layer to this room.
Again, great coordination – just a good photo to show you how pretty an area rug can look REGARDLESS!
IF YOUR KITCHEN CABINETS & WOOD FLOOR DON’T MATCH…
In a kitchen, if your cabinets and wood floor are clashing, add a runner (again, Ruggable has washable ones, as rugs in the kitchen give me the heebie-jeebies). A well-coordinated runner helps to break up your flooring, so there isn’t as much in your eyeball when you take room in.
While this next kitchen doesn’t have a wood-inspired challenge, the area rug placement is a great example…
I love how the colors in the runner connect to the floor while adding a great contrast to the dark green painted cabinets.
Remember, just because it’s wood, doesn’t mean it’s good (there are some situations only paint can fix).
This next cozy, open-concept kitchen and dining room is well-decorated and the paint colors are pretty on point, if I do say so myself (wink wink). While the red tones in the dining set coordinate with the wood floor, I just want to share how area rugs add charm and break up wood surfaces IF they clash…
I love how the texture in the stools grabs the texture in the rug. Also, notice the perimeter ‘peach’ of the patterned rug ties into the rattan rug with its color (a great way to coordinate rugs is to have one patterned and one solid/textured. Repeat the solid rug’s color in the patterned rug).
IF YOUR KITCHEN CABINETS & FLOOR DON’T MATCH, PAINT THE ISLAND
It’s a big deal if your wood floor and wood cabinets clash, as these are two pretty darn big expanses of wood. If you happen to have an island (and aren’t up for a whole kitchen cabinet paint project), consider painting just the island.
This next kitchen has beautiful wood cabinets, but notice how the floor leans a bit more yellow-pink compared to the orange-pink of the cabinets…
Again, a kitchen doesn’t need to be PERFECT to be DARN PRETTY!
In the big picture, there’s a lot of wood on wood, considering the window and door trims are wood as well. To break things up, painting the island would ground the space and give the other wood finishes and granite countertops something to play with. For the above kitchen, I’d look at a dark shade of greige (and add a rug).
While I’d love to see ALL the cabinets in this next kitchen painted this glorious dark navy blue, even the island makes me happy…
Painting the island breaks up the wood-on-wood and updates the wood cabinet and floor combination.
If you want to learn HOW to coordinate wood stains like a pro, check out this blog post. Now it’s time to answer those questions that have been burnin’ a hole in your keyboard…
1. SHOULD WOOD FLOORS BE LIGHTER OR DARKER THAN THE CABINETS?
This is always a tricky one as there are so many different situations. Here are the most common ones…
- DARK WOOD CABINETS prefer wood flooring that’s the same depth or lighter than them. Depending on your style, you can go a tone or two, or create a lot of contrast with much lighter flooring – as long as the undertones jibe!
- DARK WOOD FLOORING, depending on the actual depth, usually prefers cabinets that have the same undertone but are darker. You can try to go a tone or two lighter but avoid high-contrast combos.
The dark wood cabinets in this next kitchen would prefer a wood floor that’s more violet-pink, not orange. They’d also like the floor to be LIGHTER (they told me so)…
Look at how much happier and more updated this kitchen looks with the right floor…
Here’s another great partnership of dark, espresso-stained wood cabinets and wood (look) floor…
This next combo picks up a lot more violet-red (pink) and shows great coordination…
Now let’s take a look at the medium-depth world…
- MEDIUM-DEPTH WOOD CABINETS (give or take) love wood flooring that’s similar in depth or a tone darker or lighter – contrast should be relatively low.
- MEDIUM-DEPTH WOOD FLOORS, your cabinets could be the same depth or a tone or two darker.
Look at how happy these wood cabinets are with the wood floor…
While the backsplash might not be long for this world, the warm quartzite countertop is amazeballs.
In my ideal world, this floor would be a tone or so darker and have a bit more orange in it.
This next example is awesome as it shows quite clearly a wood island and wood floor with the same undertones – notice the shift in the grain pattern from busy to quiet…
This depth is between light and medium – Benjamin Moore White Dove walls.
And lastly, lighter-toned wood cabinets and flooring…
- LIGHT WOOD CABINETS love light wood flooring or floors that are a tone darker. Avoid high-contrast combos.
- LIGHT WOOD FLOORS love light wood cabinets or cabinets. It’s not ideal to have much contrast between light wood cabinets and wood flooring. However, in the odd modern/contemporary home dark cabinets and light wood floors can look good.
There’s a reasonable degree of contrast between the wood floors in this open-concept home and the wood stain of the TV cabinet…
Sherwin Williams Repose Gray
Why do they work so well together? They both share a violet undertone (the cabinet is violet-pink, the floor is heavier on the pink and lighter on the violet).
I also love the degree of CONTRAST. I might not love it as much if it was kitchen cabinets (personally, as I don’t generally love high-contrast wood combos), but being a smaller piece, it looks wicked good.
This next kitchen is in a gorgeous, mountain-style home, tucked away in the trees. While the floor is a touch more pink, the overall combo works great (I’m just being picky for the sake of teaching)…
Next up, the new light wood floor in this kitchen is too light and not orange enough for the original cabinets. But this was on purpose as the owner was painting the cabinets anyway, so she chose a flooring she loves!
2. CAN I HAVE TWO DIFFERENT WOOD FLOORS NEXT TO EACH OTHER?
You can but you really shouldn’t. I know it’s not what you want to hear, especially if you’re trying to replace your carpet, vinyl, or tile, and want to butt a new wood floor up to an existing one.
There’s no world in which two different wood floors look good in adjoining rooms.
- Can you coordinate them to look ‘as good as they possibly can?‘ Absolutely, but it’s still not great.
- Is it better to get as CLOSE as possible than to do something drastically different? YES, contrast will not be your friend (nor will I) when coordinating wood flooring.
3. CAN I USE WOOD FLOOR AND LVT OR LVP IN THE SAME HOME?
Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring is a popular trend for the realistic look and ease of installation. However, you can feel the difference when you’re walking, and when butted up to real wood, you can see the difference (not just in the look, but in height – unless you build up your subfloor).
I’m here to help you make the right choices, not to tell you what you want to hear (if it is what you want to hear, it’s only because you’re doing the right thing).
I would rather see Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT), so a tile look, not a wood look when it comes to coordinating with wood floors. Even carpet is better than bumping LVP and wood floor up to each other.
This comes up a lot in bedrooms or hallways where there’s wood floor and the owner wants to install LVP in the bathroom. Hardest no…ever.
Sherwin Williams Light French Gray
These wood floors (above and below) don’t want to be partnered up with a real wood floor.
Are there any exceptions? You bet your booty there are.
- If you have a wood floor on your main floor and want vinyl/LVP/LVT on a bottom or top floor, YES, as long as the two floors are separated with carpeted stairs.
- There’s the odd exception to the previous point. For example, let’s say you have a wood floor on one level, wooden stairs, and you’re going down to a family room that you want a wood-look/LVP product in. If you match these products PERFECTLY in grain, stain, and size, then yes, you can have them together. However, I wouldn’t do this on a staircase that attaches to a foyer as the shift from real wood to faux wood will be right in your eyeball when you walk in the door – and these areas are often more well-lit.
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