We just moved into our new home and need a number of furniture pieces.

Ann M: We just moved into our new home and need a number of furniture pieces. My floors are distressed dark wood and I am trying to find furniture that will match my floors.

RDP: Congratulations! It must be so exciting to be in your new home, yet also challenging in terms of where to begin, what to select, and how to pull it all together. In answer to your question about matching wood stains: the short answer is do not try to match wood stains. Even if there are two handcrafted pieces from the same craftsman, wood will always absorb stain slightly differently due to each piece’s inherent wood properties. And if you try to match stains, it ends up looking like you were trying too hard and failing at it.

Instead, work with a “family” of colors. For instance, if you prefer furniture in the brown family, you can safely pick out graduating stains in your choice of a color palette to create interest as well as giving each piece the merit and attention it deserves. For example, if your coffee table is dark wood, you may pair it with end tables that have medium brown tones. Throwing in some color with an accent table that has a painted patina, or an inlay as in the turquoise below, further enhances the look, creating a fun and eclectic vibe. Or, if your entryway sideboard is dark, you could lighten it up by placing a mirror above it that has lighter or even paint-stained wood tones. To add a touch of exotic, consider a carved wall hanging, like the painted patina “jharokha” below. Now, if you are really ready for color, think about placing these custom turquoise leather chairs in your room! This way each piece stands out and the eye is able to stop and appreciate every item before moving on to the next one. If all your furniture is the same tone as your floors, everything appears monochromatic, “match-matchy”, and somewhat nondescript.

On the other hand, if you have your heart set on furniture with a dark stain, you can certainly use dark pieces, as long as there is a layer of area rug to separate the piece from the dark wood floor. The rug also adds color and texture, while softening the overall appearance. Additionally, pick out accessories that will further lighten the furniture and add depth and contrast to the ambiance of the room.

Similarly, when working with light or medium color floors, be it wood or tile, pick out some dark furniture, as well as some pieces with a painted patina to let the floors and furniture both stand out. And should you want light or medium stained furniture, don’t forget to place the piece on top of an area rug, so it doesn’t look like it is growing out of the floor!

Above all, remember to enjoy the process and have fun!