Coordinating Wood Floor with Wood Cabinets

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It’s my strongly held belief that using wood for interior design is one of the best decisions you can make for your house, especially your kitchen. Wood is easy on the eyes, environmentally friendly, and adds that classy look to your home you just can’t get with other materials.

This is why I believe that you can’t just use any combination of wood for interior design. Every kind of wood is different; they all have their own shades, tones, patterns, and looks that set them apart from others, so don’t just blindly pick two types and call it a day!

I’m sure you think that learning the art of wood selection is a daunting task, which is why I’m here to help you make the right choices.

By the end of this article you’ll have a good idea of how to properly coordinate any kind of wood flooring, whether it be lighter or darker, with your kitchen cabinets.

General Tips

Before I reveal the old-fashioned classics of interior design, here are a few tips you should keep in mind when it comes to choosing the right wood color and the right accent colors for your wood cabinets and wood floors.

Choose Different Shades

This is the simplest and easiest rule to follow. When you’re picking a color to match something else, stick with the same color tone, just in a different shade.

For example, if you have dark cherry floors in your kitchen, you can choose slightly lighter cherry cabinets to go along with your floors. You can’t go wrong with matching colors from the same color tone with some slight variations. It’s a very safe way to pick a color theme that’s consistent and well-rounded for your interior. 

Balance is the key to proper matching, avoid going to an extreme color tone such as selecting bright cherry cabinets to go with bright cherry flooring. This kind of look is simply unappealing to the eyes and looks uninviting.

Choose Contrasting Colors

Colors can be of two types: warm or cool. Think of warmer colors as reddish or brown in nature, and cooler colors as white or blueish colors. This is where you can create contrast between two colors. A simple example would be a kitchen with light wood cabinets and dark wood floors. A contrast like this makes your kitchen look infinitely more fashionable and adds a comforting vibe.

So don’t be afraid to mix it up a little and choose colors that contrast each other. The intensity of the two color types can vastly change their appearance and impact the theme of your kitchen and the clash of two contrasting colors can liven up your space, but I would only consider this if the finish on both your cabinets and your floors is the same. Otherwise, it may look out of place and give a rather cluttered feel to the room.

Selection by Samples

Sometimes you can narrow down what you’d like, but you may still be unsure of which of your choices should be final. In these situations, I’d recommend placing a sample of your various wood options around your kitchen for a few days. 

That will give you a feel for how it’ll look in different lighting when the job is done and allow you to make any changes if you feel like your wood choice isn’t quite right before spending a fortune remodeling an entire area with it.

Still having trouble selecting the hardwood floor you want for your kitchen? Brush up on the best hardwood floor types for kitchens before moving on to choosing your coordinating cabinets.

Avoid Exact Color Matches

Whatever you do, don’t choose the same colors for both your wood floors and kitchen cabinets. There’s nothing duller and more boring than seeing the exact same color plastered all over the room. 

It looks distasteful, feels low effort, and doesn’t give an inviting presence to the room, so steer clear of this practice and avoid matching the exact same colors. This rule only applies with colors that are exactly the same; they can still be similar with slightly different shades, so the first rule I mentioned still applies.

Avoid Different Finishes

This may seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how many people I’ve seen with one kind of finish on their wood floors and an entirely different kind of finish on their wood cabinets. 

Most people think that refinishing their hardwood floor is the best way to restore it, but they’re very much mistaken. It makes your whole kitchen look out of sync and just plain odd. I would advise you to avoid making this mistake at all costs.

Personally, I believe the best finish you can have is a matte finish, as gloss can look quite tacky and overdone in different lighting.

If you really want to restore the shine of your hardwood floors you don’t have to go through the arduous task of sanding, re-sealing, and refinishing your floors. Sometimes, cleaning your old hardwood floors is enough to restore their shine without refinishing.

Choosing the Right Pattern

You don’t simply want to decide on your coordinating wood cabinets on the basis of colors; some wood types have different patterns. These patterns can make the color more prominent and enhance the look of the wood. 

For example, in cherry wood, the patterns of the wood are hardly noticeable, whereas in pinewood the patterns are quite visible. Pairing brighter tones with visible wood patterns can give your kitchen a better overall look, but this depends upon the shade of your hardwood floor. Generally, the lighter your shade is, the more prominent your wood patterns will be. A darker shade often leads to less visible patterns.

If you’re looking to turn your lighter hardwood floor into a darker shade, here’s how to stain the hardwood without sanding.

Classic Combinations

Still having trouble deciding? This list contains classic design choices that work the majority of the time and you can pretty much guarantee they’ll work together. 

Walnut Floor + Oak Cabinets

This one is old-fashioned, but it’s still loved by many for a reason; you just can’t go wrong with it. A clean, classy, and modern look that shines in all kinds of lighting and environment due to the slight contrast between the two that blends both of their colors in a visually appealing manner.

Oak Floors + Cherry Cabinets

A trendy combination, the sturdy and reliable oak wood complements the redness of the cherry wonderfully. These two colors enhance each other to give a trendy and modern look, and the prominent pattern of the oak further adds a regal appearance to your kitchen.

Cherry Floors + Light Oak Cabinets

This is an inverse of the previous combination, but it’s still worth mentioning. The crisp, clean look from the oak and the wonderful cherry hues reflected from the floor in the light is just unbeatable in my eyes. These colors provide a stark contrast between each other and give your kitchen a regal appearance.

Walnut Floor + Maple Cabinets

Of course, how could I have finished this list without mentioning walnut? Walnut flooring’s elegant look and feel mixed with the rich color of maple cabinets definitely put this combo on this list. These colors are different shades of the same color tone and go together wonderfully; even their patterns complement each other well!

Should Wood Floors be Lighter or Darker Than Cabinets?

There’s no definitive answer to this because your perception and design choice can differ greatly from someone else’s.

If your colors complement each other properly, your wood floor can be either lighter or darker than your wood cabinets. As long as you follow the tips mentioned above, I’m sure you’ll be able to easily come up with a combination that’s easy on the eyes to give your room a lovely aesthetic.

The Most Coordinated Wood Floors & Cabinets on the Block

I hope you enjoyed this guide and learned the proper way to mix and match your wood floors and kitchen cabinets together. Hopefully, I’ve stressed the importance of selecting the right wood for your future interior design projects.

If you liked this article, make sure to share it with your friends! If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, please leave a comment in the section below. I’d love to read them.

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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