For decades it has seemed like the go-to wood finish for so many contemporary designer homes has been a deep, almost-black espresso stain. Whether in a modern condo or a traditional home, a super-dark floor or furniture set does carry a certain drama and sense of sophistication. However, light wood tones have a power all their own. Here’s how they can work for you
By Yanic Simard, Houzz
1. Help spaces feel light. This one might seem obvious, but using light woods (especially for floors) can make an entire room look and feel lighter. Compare how airy this floor feels versus the weightiness of the dark cabinet and even the table. Lighter wood tones don’t absorb as much light, and don’t usually contrast their surroundings as much, compared to dark-toned floors. Having less weight at the floor avoids pulling the eye down, which usually makes the whole space feel more open and airier.
5. Show cool pattern installations. Woods with a heavy espresso stain tend to hide their own grains. Conversely, lighter woods show more grain and also highlight the seams between planks, making them a great choice for interesting installation patterns such as a herringbone, chevron or basket-weave parquet. If you want to trade the popular straight lay for something with a more manor-like flair, a light wood tone will make sure that all that extra installation care is perfectly shown off.
6. Deliver a strong sense of nature. Speaking of grain, lighter wood tones tend to feel “raw” and “organic,” because they generally have a less obvious stain and thus feel more untouched. This helps them bring in a strong sense of nature, which can really create an indoor-outdoor feel, especially when accented with some lively plants or a great view. Dark woods often feel more manicured, while lighter woods feel a bit wilder or more rustic, which gives them the win for natural appeal.
This room has almost no vivid color, but it still feels lively because the contrast between the crisp white and demure wood is so pleasing.
A little can go a long way with dark wood, so sometimes it’s best to take a less-is-more approach and avoid bogging the space down.
If you have a lot of wood in a space and it feels a bit too weighty, the best solution might actually be a little more wood, in a tone that lightens the mood and redirects your focus.
12. Mix with other light wood tones. Ultimately, the best thing about using light wood tones might be how easily they can be mixed. You can use several woods, such as oak, maple, ash or hickory, in differing stains, and have them coordinate well without much thought. Tip: Choose just one element in a darker wood finish to be a standout accent, such as this entry door, and keep the other woods more muted. It’s an easy way to keep the mix from feeling like a mishmash.If you liked this article, check out more below!