Decorating with Hardwood Floors | Signature Custom Flooring

Posted by Aaron Schaalma

Decorating with Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are renowned for their timeless beauty and effortless elegance. If you have installed them, or chosen a house with them, you know the kind of distinction they can make in a room!

Most wood floors will be pretty simple to clean and maintain. What’s not as common knowledge as the care, however, is how to decorate to accommodate this piece of artwork between your walls!

The truth is that decorating with hardwood floors can be difficult. Whereas carpet is easier to match to paint or complement with fabrics, wood floors add a dimension which may not be as easy to effectively integrate into a room’s decor.

What goes with wood floors?

We hear this question asked frequently. For an answer, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that there’s no easy answer - unlike carpeting, decorating with wood flooring means more than matching color. Unlike linoleum or tile, wood flooring demands harmony with accents like furniture, fabrics, and density of decor.

Wood flooring falls right in between the simplicity of finding matching colors for carpeting and the open palette that linoleum provides. Adding to that, the huge variety in colors, types of wood, grain and plank-width means even more differences to factor in when decorating.

So what is the good news?

The good news is that decorating for wood floors does give you some liberty and is actually more intuitive than you may think. In fact, you may notice that I didn’t say “wood flooring demands matching accents like furniture, fabrics and density of decor,” but harmony with them.

In fact, one of the worst pieces of advice for decorating is to find wood furniture and accents that only match your wood floor. You may find this advice in a Good Housekeeping magazine from the 1980s, but you won't talk to a single modern interior decorator who would recommend it.

So in many ways you’re free to find the kind of furniture and accents you like.

Wood floor decorating tips

Adjust the contrast

We’re not just talking about light-colored and dark-colored woods. Creating high contrast rooms using polished, wood textures and rustic accents is a trend that we’re a huge fan of right now. It gives the whole room a weighted, solid feel without appearing overly ornate.

One thing to keep an eye out for, however, is the undertone of the wood. Every wood has an undertone color with a bias toward warm or cool. We’re going to time travel to 7th grade art here and post a picture of a spectrum showing what colors are considered warm and which are considered cool.

3 - Cool Colors to Warm Spectrum

 0 is cold and 1000 and hot. At 500, your color (or undertone in this case) is neutral.


Wood tones should be of the same bias in a room, even if their color is different. It’s worth noting that some woods have neutral bias. Rustic woods, and/or woods in a gray-brown tone can usually be combined with either warm or cool undertones.

4 - Neutral Gray Wood

Remember when we talked about identifying wood? In line with that criteria, matching similar grain patterns will unify accents with your floor while also drawing attention the care you’ve put into creating a dynamic room full of varying tones.

It can be easy to get carried away. The final constraint we will put on this wide open tip is that you should limit your room to two or three wood tones.

Avoid the borderlands

In open concept homes, flooring that changes without a doorway is jarring and, to be frank, usually not aesthetically appealing. As open concept is a trend that doesn’t seem to be disappearing any time soon, make sure floors are either broken up by a door or not creating a border between carpet/wood, wood/linoleum, etc.

Consistent flooring is also a lot easier to clean!

Add color and softness

Hardwood flooring is beautiful and elegant and dynamic and many other positive adjectives. We love it! It does, however, make it easy for a room to become cold and hard if it’s weight is left imbalanced.

Adding warm fabrics will help keep the room neutral or balanced and not looking too sterile. Unless of course, you’re looking for that Scandinavian design - then by all means!

Color that pops will also make your rooms energetic and exciting. In line with our first tip, the contrast between the gravity of a wood floor and a bright accent or piece of furniture can add a layer of interest to a room that many strive to achieve.

You want everybody to see and admire your beautiful hardwood floor. That being said, rugs are a great way to soften any room. They also make the room more pet friendly and can tie fabric colors to your floor. Win-win-win if you ask us!

Allow light to decide

Make sure you plan for light! Natural light can be a powerful ally in balancing heavy dark wood floors. On the other side, it can demand further effort into balancing lighter hardwoods.

Thinking about the type and amount of light coming into the room can help guide what accents/window treatments/furniture should be used to make the room a complete picture that highlights (no pun intended) your hardwood flooring.

6 - Light in Room

 Image Credit to Wikimedia Commons

Have fun

Remember to express yourself. No matter what you’ve seen in magazines or even read in this article, the best decorated rooms are the ones in which you feel the most at home. Your wood floor gives you plenty of options, so own it!

It’s a blank canvas waiting for your brush.


Decorating with hardwood floors may seem daunting, but it’s an adventure! It means finding unique items and balancing characteristics inherent in the wood floor with which you’ve already fallen in love.

It can take awhile to find all of the right accents, furniture, window treatments, bedding, appliances, etc. When you do, however, you will see that the most show-stopping rooms out there have one thing in common - a great foundation.

If you have any questions about your hardwood floor, we would love to help you out. Contact us today!