Woods That Pair Well Together

You’ve heard of blended wool, but have you heard of blended wood?

If you’ve ever walked into a room in which the furniture, flooring, and trim use only one wood species, you know that too much matching can backfire. Same, same, and same can make a room look flat and bland. It’s good to mix up woods in a room. It can also be good to do it within a single piece of woodwork—whether a piece of furniture, a banister, or cabinetry.


In our custom millwork shop, we blend woods into one-of-a-kind pieces all the time. Sometimes customers come to us with specific species they want combined. Mostly they look to us for guidance, and we’re happy to give it.

Just like marriage

It may not be just like marriage, but you do want to find woods that go together both now and down the road. Remember that the color of most wood changes as it ages, so two species that look great together at first might not complement each other so well in ten years. If you don’t know your woods, you’ll have trouble predicting their fate. Fortunately, we can help. For example, experience tells us that walnut and cherry can initially look nice together but won’t be a good fit in a few years. Same is true for most species that have a red tone, since reds can easily clash with each other. Be particularly careful with cherry, because its color changes quite a lot over time and has a deep red tone.

Only one leading lady

Generally speaking, wood pairings are most visually pleasing when one species of wood is dominant, and the other is used as an accent. A piece that is made half of one and half of the other can just look clunky. Ideally, the accent wood will be used for things like pulls, brackets, or inlays, and it also can be used to create a focal point.


Good pairings

As we’ve said, there are no truly hard and fast rules, but we do have some solid recommendations. Here’s a short list of wood species that tend to play well together in designs:

  • walnut and maple
  • white oak and walnut
  • cherry and maple
  • red oak and white ash
  • mahogony and cherry
  • mahogany and curly maple

In the most successful blends, there’s a nice contrast in both color and grain. The goal is to add beautiful depth and dimension. Interested in having a custom piece made at Brunsell? Come take a look at our showroom and portfolio of work, and let’s talk about what wood blends could work for you!


3 thoughts on “Woods That Pair Well Together

  1. My husband and I decided to refurbish our oak cabinets with a gun stock red type of color. Any tips on wood tone matches? We have oak flowing in the entire house: Flooring in two bedrooms, staircase, doors and moldings. It would be quite a project and a bit of money refurbishing oak flooring that is already in decent condition. My husband plans on refurbishing all of our moldings due to several pieces missing from the homes previous owners. It would look goofy if we left the moldings on the windows as well or wouldn’t it? We are not even certain what type of hardwood flooring would look decent in both the kitchen and living area unless we leave the living area carpeted and the kitchen tiled.

  2. My husband and I are replacing old wood floor and carpeting. We are replacing with a new wood floor. Our door and woodwork are an oak. What would be a good compliment as a wood floor? I found a hickory wood with a cinnomn stain width scrapped finish. Would this be a good choice? Or would you have any suggestions? I want a contrast, and don’t want it all to blend together but don’t want anything to dark.

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