Wood furniture adds rich character to dining spaces, bedrooms, and living areas, but it can also pose a tricky design dilemma. Dark stained finishes and clunky shapes can be difficult to integrate into more colorful or contemporary interiors. Whether you're working with a hand-me-down family heirloom or a vintage piece you scored for a bargain, decorating with wood furniture is all about achieving a balance. Blend wood dining tables, dressers, hutches, and more into your existing decor with the right mix of colors, textures, and styles. Use these tips on how to decorate with wood furniture to style old pieces with an updated look.
1. Decorate with old wood furniture in new ways.
Think beyond an item's original purpose to find creative ways to decorate with wood furniture. If your bedroom is already fully furnished, for example, a wood dresser could stand in as a serving area for beverages or as dishware storage in the dining room. Wood nightstands can work as side tables in the living room or as a dropzone in a small entryway; just make sure the height works with the surrounding furniture.
2. Style wood furniture with vintage finds.
Lean into an antique look by styling wood furniture with other vintage pieces. Surround a salvaged wood dining table with midcentury chairs, or display collected dishware inside an heirloom hutch. Feel free to mix wood furniture from various eras or in different styles; the aged appearance will tie an assortment of pieces together.
3. Embrace dark wood furniture with deep colors.
In an all-white room, dark wood furniture can look out of place. Instead of trying to balance a deep stain with light, airy colors, embrace a moody palette of saturated paint colors. In a bedroom, try setting off dark cherry wood furniture with charcoal gray walls to create a cozy, cocoon-like space. Accessorize with small doses of white to avoid an overly gloomy look.
4. Mix wood furnishings in a variety of tones.
If you're not sure what color to pair with wood furniture, other wood tones are generally a safe bet. Wood finishes often feature undertones that appear yellow, orange, red, blue-gray, or dark brown. Decorate with mixed wood furniture by choosing additional accent pieces that have a similar undertone, even if the finish is much lighter or darker. Tie the scheme together with neutral paint colors and natural materials.
5. Pair wood furniture with painted pieces.
Decorating a bedroom with dark wood furniture requires careful mixing. Especially with dark finishes such as cherry or walnut, using too many wood pieces can give the space a heavy, overcrowded look. If you inherited an entire bedroom set of wood furniture, choose one standout piece, such as the bed or dresser, to keep in the room and ditch the rest. (You can either space out the set throughout other rooms, or hand unwanted pieces down to someone else.) Then balance the dark wood by choosing painted or metal finishes for other bedroom furniture pieces.
brown dresser with colorful accents
6. Dress up wood furniture with colorful accents.
Incorporate colorful accessories to showcase your personality when decorating with wood furniture. Lay a brightly patterned runner across a wood dresser or table. Opt for bold bedding or wall art in a bedroom outfitted with wood furniture. Table lamps, vases, and planters in a rainbow of colors can also help cheer up dark wood furniture. Again, look to the wood's undertone to guide your color decisions.
7. Paint wood furniture with a fresh color.
If you really can't make that dark wood finish work in your space, consider painting over the piece with a fresh color. Play it safe with a neutral hue that blends with the piece's traditional look, or choose a bold accent color to make it really stand out. For another easy furniture update, swap out the existing hardware with modern knobs and pulls, or line the back of a piece with glass doors with pretty patterned wallpaper.