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No More Matching! Mix Hardwood Floors With Other Hardwoods In The Home To Create A Colorful, Cozy Look In Every Room

(HIT)-Think you have to match your hardwood cabinets, floors and furniture? Relax! Forget about matching and mix it up with a variety of hardwoods and colors.

Native oak. Cherry. Walnut. Maple. Ash. Poplar. These are just a few of the American hardwoods that add natural warmth and style to any room in your home. Get better acquainted with all of your hardwood floor and hardwood furnishing choices by checking out the American Hardwood Information Center's Species Guide at Then feel free to blend several of them for a unique look and feel.

Use Different Hardwoods To Add Contrast in the Kitchen

Image shows how Hardwood built-ins complement a mixed hardwood floor ...
For storage or display, hardwood built-ins are as attractive as they are practical. These maple shelves complement the mixed hardwood floor -- ash, cherry, maple, red and white oak, poplar and walnut. (Photo Courtesy of the American Hardwood Information Center)

In the kitchen, try using different hardwoods for the cabinets and floor, suggests Heather Dilger, senior designer for MasterBrand Cabinets, the maker of hardwood cabinet lines including Aristokraft and Diamond. In addition, consider base cabinets with a finish that complements, not matches, the wall cabinets. Or scatter a couple "different" cabinets -- either different hardwoods or the same hardwood with contrasting finishes -- among those on the walls and floor. Finish off the look with a contrasting finish for the island and floors.

Kim Dunn, of Wellborn Cabinet Inc., says one popular look combines maple cabinets finished in antique evergreen and a contrasting honey tone. Giving one layer of stacked moulding a different finish that ties in with the cabinetry is also very effective, she says.

"You can pull different areas together or create a focal point by mixing hardwood floors and other hardwood furnishings," Dunn says.

To make a small kitchen look larger, consider installing lighter hardwood cabinets and a darker hardwood floor, says Sarah Reep, design director for KraftMaid Cabinetry. "Having lighter tones at the horizontal eye level will make the area seem larger, and the darker floor will help warm up the room," she says.

Maple is an especially flexible hardwood that mixes well with oak, hickory and cherry, Reep says. Hickory also works well with oak and cherry, she says.

Image of wood floors and cabinetry of different colors and styles
Photo Courtesy of Mike Gullon and the American Hardwood Information Center

Reep recommends working with a designer and always combining samples to pull a palette together. "Put samples of the products together and look at them as a family," she says. "Before you place an order, make sure your choices all go well together."

Limit the number of contrasting wood tones in the kitchen to about three, Reep advises. "Sometimes people think more is better, and that's not always the case," she says.

Interior designer Jennifer Haddock of Winter Park, Fla., put these principles to work in a recent kitchen project. A darkly stained oak hardwood floor complemented red painted walls. White cabinets contrasted with a cherry bead board back splash. The cherry bar stools with upholstered plaid seating complemented a darkly stained hardwood kitchen table.

"There are so many things you can do with hardwood," she says. "You can bring out so many different colors."

Fresh Ideas For Hardwood Furniture

Many of the guidelines for choosing wood in a kitchen apply to other rooms of the house as well. "We're really trending away from everything matching," says James Nauyok of Baker furniture. "There are no hard rules. You could mix virtually any species in any room. Just consider the finish, the style, the look."

Nauyok likes to envision a party when he furnishes a room.

"You don't want everyone at the party to look the same, but you do want them to look like they are going to the same party," he says. "Make sure the different personalities work together. If something is over- or under-dressed, it sticks out like a sore thumb.''

Nauyok suggests blending light, medium and dark tones in hardwood furniture with contrasting floors. "You don't want your furniture to disappear into the floor," he says. "If your furniture is dark, you might want a medium-toned wood floor. If the furniture is light, you might want a darker floor."

Interior designer Mary Solomon of Tallahassee, Fla. tries to steer clients away from matching suites of furniture. For an updated, easy look she suggests chairs that are not exact matches for kitchen or dining room table. "I always tell people the table is important, but not nearly as important as the chairs," she says. "If you set the table, what you really see is the chairs."

For more free information about hardwood floors, furniture and trim, visit the American Hardwood Information Center at

Courtesy: Home Improvement News and Information Center

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