Story Starters

Mix American Hardwoods Types, Textures and Colors for Diversity in Design

Interplays of color, pattern and texture are the keys to successful interior design. You’d never cover every piece of furniture in the same pattern and fabric, why repeat one type of wood on every surface? Don’t be afraid to blend different, but complementary American Hardwood types and stains.

“Consumers think everything has to match, but the pros mix,” says Laura Dalzell, owner and president of Cabinets & Designs, Inc. in Lexington, KY. She’s a firm believer in combining, say, painted wood cabinets with cabinets in both natural wood tones and a wide range of colored stains. Mixing is the magic that brings a kitchen to life, believes the designer. “Mixing and matching different finishes creates the ‘furniture look’ that’s been the trend in kitchens for the last decade or so.”

Consider these professional tips to create diversity in design with American Hardwoods:

  • It’s important to consider the role you want your hardwood furniture, cabinetry or flooring to play. For instance, if you want your dark furniture to stand out, consider installing a light stained hardwood floor. The higher the contrast, the greater the impact.
  • Designer Alison Gillespie of The Kitchen Source in Dallas advocates a mix of different species of woods in the kitchen, for example, a hand-scraped oak floor with maple cabinets in an opaque finish.
  • Arizona designer Elizabeth Spengler, who creates kitchens for Dorado Designs, Inc., recommends a mix of different wood species throughout the house, such as a rift-cut oak in a contemporary kitchen with birds-eye maple furniture in the dining room.
  • Designers agree that ceiling mouldings should be finished like the wall cabinets. Base and other mouldings usually follow suit. The pros also point out that painted mouldings make the space look lighter and more open, while stained wood creates warmth and coziness.

To find the American Hardwood species and stain colors that suit your style, check out the species guide on

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