Design Dilemma: Decorating with Dark Hardwood Floors | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: Decorating with Dark Hardwood Floors

traditional kitchen how to tips advice

Dark hardwood floors have been in vogue for several years now, but the problem is that many of us still haven’t figured out how to show them off to best effect. Yes, dark hardwood floors can feel elegant and sophisticated but they also can feel… dark. Pair dark wood floors with dark heavy furniture and you could be in for a very gloomy existence.

So if you’ve got dark hardwood floors, or are contemplating getting them, here’s what you should keep in mind to prevent the darkness from overtaking your space.

Keep the walls light and bright.

As you see above, dark hardwood floors shine in bright, white spaces, where the contrast comes off as chic. This Georgetown townhouse, also pictured below, keeps the walls very white or a pale cream for an airy feeling. You’ll also notice that when dark wood floors are used in kitchens, they are usually paired with white cabinetry to lighten up the whole effect.

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Here’s another interior, this time a very modern one, that uses dark wood with bright white walls.

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Sometimes, what really helps to offset the heavy feeling  is going with a cheery color on the wall. For example:

contemporary living room how to tips advice

Lean toward the minimal

There’s something else we’ve noticed about homes that have used dark wood floors well —- they tend to go light on the furnishings. The star of the show is the dark wood itself, so too much furniture only detracts. Take a look at the spaces we’ve featured so far on the page. Not one of them is overburdened with too much furniture.  And the furniture that is used is relatively small in scale.

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Warm things up with rugs.

Although it’s true that the dark floors are the star of the show, they can be a rather overbearing star, prone to scratches and specks of dust. One of the best ways to counter these issues is to show off your rug by a throwing a colorful area rug over it. A beautiful oriental or kilim rug has the effect of making your dark wood floors that much more dramatic. Plus, they protect your floor from scratches and prevent the build-up of dust and dirt.


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Opting for a light color rug is another strategy for offsetting the heaviness of the floors.

traditional family room how to tips advice

Don’t be afraid to mix up your woods.

Just because you have dark hardwood floors doesn’t mean that every other wood surface in your home has to match. In fact, that would be a recipe for disaster. Take a page out of the book of the kitchen, below, which has mixed dark wood floors with birch cabinetry.

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And in the cottage below, homeowners have mixed dark wood floors with a lighter oak table and painted wooden chairs for a breezy, beachy, informal look.

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Think all light furniture would look strange in a room anchored by dark wood floors? Think again!

contemporary dining room how to tips advice

The home above also makes use of the fuzzy white rug trick, to lighten up the solemnity of the wood.

So you see, dark hardwood floors nee not be forboding or heavy in feeling. Lighten up, keep furniture at a smaller lighter scale, and your dark hardwood will be the star of the show.

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