Beautiful, customized wood furniture will dress up any room. Even better, the old one-wood-style-per-room rule no longer applies so don’t worry about a new piece “clashing” with others. In fact, mixing woods can make a room look more interesting, as House Beautiful demonstrates in a slideshow on breaking decorating rules. |
Pick a Dominant Wood Tone for Each Room
Lonny Magazine applauds the downfall of the old rules about matching dining room and bedroom sets is a good thing (particularly if you can’t afford—or like—those overpriced matching sets, or want to use heirlooms, or are just starting out). Lonny recommends selecting a dominant wood tone for rooms in which you want to mix multiple finishes or types of wood.
It’s easiest to let hardwood floors serve as the dominant tone. But if the room is carpeted, tiled, or has a large rug, let the largest wood piece in the room set the tone and work from there. Don’t use more than two or three tones, at least not early in the decorating stage. Use smaller rugs to soften the contrast between different finishes, such as a dark floor under a blonde table.
Pay Attention to Light in Rooms with Large Wood Pieces
The natural light in each room will also play a role in deciding wood tone. In general, dark tones absorb light and look less, well, menacing in rooms with lots of natural sunlight. Lighter-color woods will brighten up rooms with indirect or little sunlight.
Wall colors also influence room brightness. If you’re redecorating and getting new, customized furniture, here are a few tips on how to contrast or pair wall colors with your furniture:
• Light colored wood shows up against dark or strong colors • Medium tones contrast nicely with softer, lighter colors and neutrals • Dark woods balance well against deeper wall colors • Bright colors bring out wood’s natural tones
Soft Versus Hard Woods: No Big Difference
Don’t get too hung up on the softwood versus hardwood designation. While hardwood is usually well - harder, some types like balsa are actually softer than softwood. Custom wood furniture can be made from almost any wood, depending on what it is and how it will be used.
Conifer trees—the ones that have cones, needles, and small leaves—provide soft woods. Examples include pine, firs, cedar, and spruces. Hardwood trees have broader leaves, produce fruit or nuts, and are found in colder climates. They include oak, maple, ash, cherry, birch, and mahogany.
Solid wood that comes from the strongest part of the tree—its trunk—is used to make large pieces of furniture that will hold a lot of weight, such as bedframes, entertainment centers, and cabinetry. Most woodworkers prefer to work with hardwoods for the variety in colors, patterns, and texture. They are, however, more expensive and unlike softwoods, grow more slowly.
Large furniture can incorporate different kinds of wood. For example, dresser drawers are often made from cedar, a soft wood with a pleasant aroma that also repels moths. Pine is another softwood that is relatively easy to carve and is a popular furniture wood as well.
Use a Wood Finish in Humid Areas
Most woods will eventually break down under high humidity or excess dryness so it’s important to provide some kind of topcoat or varnish to wood furniture and pieces that will be used outdoors, in spas, or in bathrooms. Teak is more resistant to rot than most woods and is a good choice for indoor wooden showers or spas but will last longer with a good finish.
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