If you’ve already decided that a solid hardwood or engineered hardwood floor is the right kind of floor for your home décor project, then chances are you’ve already discovered that there is an enormous range of hardwood to choose from – from domestic favorites such as oak or hickory to increasingly popular exotic hardwoods such as tigerwood or acacia flooring. Deciding on which kind of wood can take a good deal of research and that’s before you’ve even considered hardwood floor colors.
All these different species of hardwood come in a vast range of color tones. For example, one national hardwood specialist currently lists 360 different oak flooring options grouped into twelve different hardwood colors including whitewashed, neutrals, honey tones, reds, lots of different browns and even two very dark brown (almost black) stained floors. And that’s just for oak!
So it can be a very daunting task if you’re starting from scratch to choose just the right hardwood floor color for your home. But help is at hand! The good news is that certain hardwood flooring colors seem to lend themselves naturally to certain design ideas. So a good way to go about choosing is to think first of the overall look that you’re trying to achieve and then pair the right wood to that look.
What’s more, that great amount of choice that at first seems too huge, can now work in your favor because there is always a natural hardwood color, or hardwood stain color, out there to complement even the most recent of home décor trends! In this Home Flooring Pros blog post let’s take a closer look at some of the hardwood floor color trends and options currently on the market and how you can best integrate them into your room design.
Classic Style – Contemporary, classy and versatile
Brown – Brown is of course amongst the most popular hardwood floor colors, and within the brown wood tones there are well over two hundred subtly different shades! But aside from the great amount of choice, what’s really great about brown is that it lends itself to just about any look, as the team from My Design Chic puts it:
“In any room, in any home, in any decade, dark hardwood floors just work.”
The key will be to match the right shade of brown to the key colors that make up the majority of your soft furnishings. For example, an antique oak floor that is a medium warm toned brown will go well with creams, golds, and peachy tones; whilst a darker chocolaty brown stained maple floor will perfectly offset greens, olives and taupes.
The versatility of brown colored hardwood floors is especially useful if you like to have one type of flooring throughout your home but with different themed rooms, and it also means that you will be able to easily change the look of a room by simply changing the soft furnishings. If you’re the kind of person that likes to regularly redecorate their home, a classic brown floor is the perfect unproblematic solution that will allow you to experiment elsewhere.
Also worth considering is the fact that, in terms of investment, having a brown toned hardwood floor is a sure-fire crowd pleaser that will appeal to most home-buyers if you decide to sell your home.
Natural/ Beige – Natural hardwood flooring, also known as light or beige hardwood flooring, is the original neutral and, like medium brown tones, goes with just about any look. However, there is one key design idea that seems to match lighter woods really well.
In recent years, thanks largely to the stellar global success of the Swedish home furnishings store IKEA, the “Scandinavian modern” look has emerged as one of the strongest design trends to have captured our interior design imaginations. The look is epitomized by simplicity, minimalism and functionality and light colored natural wood flooring is a key element of this look.
The best way to maximize that light and airy Scandinavian look is to match all your wood, that is to say, to keep both wooden furnishings, fittings and flooring the same tone of wood – ideally the same kind of wood, as demonstrated in the photo above. So pair natural maple floors to natural maple kitchen units to natural maple dining chairs and table, and so on.
Be careful though, the devil is in the detail here as there are several different shades within this color group – some much lighter than others – and several different tones ranging from those with rosy pinkish hints to those with ochre base notes. Make sure you take samples of your flooring with you to the furniture store to check that the tones match!
Also be careful when adding soft furnishings here: these neutral woods blend really well with other neutral colors to offer a harmonious and cosy home environment, but the neutral look can get a bit boring. Break-up the neutral with quirky accessories and lots of lovely textured textiles.
Yellow/ Tan – The final color group in what you might consider as the “classic” hardwood flooring options are woods that are more yellow or tan in tone. Of course we’re not talking bright bitter canary yellow but rather deliciously warm honey, butterscotch and caramel tones.
Oak flooring tends to dominate this color group, with its inherent yellow undertone. But you can also get golden tones in maple and even lighter walnuts can have more of a tawny tint to them.
There are some truly lovely tan hardwood floors that lend real warmth to your decor, ideal with cosy and comfy furnishings, and perfect for family homes. And if you’re building your home from scratch and want to have that “lived-in” feel in your home straight away, these warm woods can look a bit more aged than lighter ones.
For that reason, tan toned floors are often a great choice if you’re opting for a rustic décor style: think big soft leather couches, heirloom quilts, mohair rugs. Warm wooden tones and rustic style also match up brilliantly with natural colored slate tiling as seen in this beautiful family home.
And for those who think that tan wood is a bit old-fashioned, then think again. According to Elle Décor’s round-up of 2014 trends “lighter, honey-color woods such as walnut, oak, and cherry are looking fresh” especially when matched with one of the other hot 2014 trends: rich gemstone colors with accents of brass or chrome!
Hardwood Floor Stain Colors – Be Bold and Beautiful
White – Interior design is all about letting your personality shine through in your home, and non-classic hardwood colors like white are an ideal base for creating that all-important personalized design statement.
There are two very distinct and almost diametrically opposite looks that use white wood flooring to great effect. First, and particularly on-trend for 2014, is using glossy painted white wood floors to compliment minimalist interiors with white walls that have a focus on either one or two statement pieces of furniture or eye-catching artwork.
The look can be achieved with both modern furniture or more classically styled, quirky pieces as in the image above. Because white wood and walls allow the light to bounce off objects, it’s a great option for those who see their home almost like a gallery space for showcasing their treasures.
The other way to use white wood flooring is using a whitewashed or distressed very light hardwood floor with the shabby-chic, beach or coastal look that is always very popular. The clean, light tones mixed with eclectic furnishings often accented in blues and greens make for a very calm environment to live in. This look is also perfect for experimenting with one of the 2014 key accent colors: turquoise.
Gray – In recent years interior design trendsetters have been singing the praises of gray as the “new neutral”. As explained by Claudine Barnett from Your Nest Design, “gray doesn’t overpower or fight with other colors. It is the perfect well-behaved neutral”. This makes it as versatile to work with as natural and beige tones, but because gray is just that little bit different and unexpected it can also be a great base for quirky and unusual interior design.
Gray wood flooring at its best brings out the grain in the flooring in an interesting and textured way, so that the floor becomes very much part of the statement you are making. For example, have a look at the divine Silver Oak flooring from Armstrong – the grain and texture is pretty intense! To balance this out you might want to consider pairing your gray floor with strong accent colors in your soft furnishings.
One of our personal favorite gray inspirations rooms is this modern dining room where the wonderfully bold and warm orange accent in the chairs and lighting act as a perfect foil to the cooler gray floor. For me this room screams confident sophistication!
However, you do want to beware with gray tones. Gray flooring is very much on trend at the moment, so this choice could possibly date a room if gray ever falls out of favor with the interior design intelligentsia!
Orange/ Red – If you’re looking for something even more unusual than gray, then how about one of the many distinctive coppery or russet toned hardwood floors? Orange and red toned hardwood floors can be successfully combined with contemporary or traditional interior design, but either way they are definitely not for the faint at heart. These vibrant floor colors really dominate the room!
You can also consider actually enhancing the dominance of the floor color by choosing a parquet option which allows you to really make a feature of the floor, as can be seen in the image (right). However, the designer has ensured that this gorgeous floor does not fully overwhelm the space by pairing it with eggshell blue walls and then picking up the floor tones in the picture frames and in the gold accents on the occasional tables.
Offsetting dominant orange and red toned floors with cool whites or pale blues and greens is a fairly classic décor idea. For a more contemporary feel, bold amber toned flooring can also work well with steel blue or gray toned walls and soft furnishings with carefully chosen yellowy-orange accents. It’s not an easy look to pull off, though, so research design inspirational images a lot before you try this.
But if what you’re looking to achieve is an even edgier look then the ultimate in-your-face, super-sassy design statement has got to be this (left) high gloss red hardwood floor. Combined with modern minimalist white and gray furnishings, this sleek room is pretty unique!
Black – Finally, if making a bold statement is everything you live for, naturally super dark brown or stained black hardwood floors are definitely the choice for you! Black wooden flooring is making waves in interior design circles everywhere at the moment.
Regarded as the most decadent choice, black is all about grown-up design. As highlighted by Simone Meyer from Simone Design Blog:
“Would you like your floor to have a look that’s dramatic, elegant and stylish? If so, then dark hardwood is an excellent choice.”
Its association with sleek elegance makes black hardwood floor an ideal backdrop for lavish Art Deco inspired interiors, especially as black flooring can look a bit harsh if you don’t pair it with sumptuous furniture and soft furnishings. Whilst the Great Gatsby era interior was all about excess, the look works best with a very simple palette of colors: black, white – maybe a splash of red – with metallic accents in chrome, silver, copper or gold.
Using patterns and texture in the soft furnishings and accessories will help keep black floors from overwhelming the room. It’s best to avoid using black flooring in smaller, intimate rooms as it can create a dingy space that feels oppressive. Because dark flooring is so powerful, it’s best used in rooms that both have a lot of height and a lot of light coming into them, as you can see in this magnificent entry hall above with its statement stairs and chandelier.
Which hardwood floor colors do you like the best? Let us know your suggestions in the comments section below
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About the Author:
Greca is the lead style writer at Home Flooring Pros, with a BA in Technical Art, she’s focused on flooring trends, flooring ideas, and flooring brand reviews.
“There’s nothing more satisfying than creating a home that you love. The hardest thing about this job is trying not to covet all the great floors I get to review; if I could remodel my home every month, I would!”