Wood Flooring Design Ideas: What Works Well with Wooden Floors?

Wood Flooring Tips

Wooden floors can transform the entire feel, not to mention look, of an entire room. Even better, it’s a readily available building material that comes in several forms.

For example, you can get straight up 3/4-inch hardwood flooring that’ll last a century or more. You can also get 3/8-inch engineered hardwood flooring that might only last 20 years or thicker varieties that will last much longer.

That’s assuming your home doesn’t already have hardwood flooring. If it does, or if you put some in, it creates an entirely different challenge. You must figure out design ideas that work with your floors to make your home beautiful.

Let’s jump in and look at some of the best wood flooring design ideas.

Pair Dark Floors with Light Walls

Dark wood floors, such as mahogany or walnut, can give even new homes the visual feel of age. It’s also a visually dangerous choice. Pair the dark floor with dark wall paint and you run the risk of creating a claustrophobic space.

Almost as bad, that combo can make a room seem poorly lit no matter how bright the LED bulbs you install in the light fixtures.

Instead, pair that dark wood with a light paint on the walls. It creates a nice visual contrast that makes the space feel more open and inviting. Lighter paints also reflect the light better.

Don’t feel like you must stick with straight white, either. White paint shows every little smudge like you put a spotlight on it. If you must use white, pick an off-white or light cream.

Just make sure you avoid light paints that are too muted. Muted paints can create much the same visual effect as plain, dark paint.


For many homeowners, one of the main appeals of wood flooring is that it’s not wall-to-wall carpet. Wall-to-wall carpets often prove difficult to really keep clean without a rug shampooer. The one thing carpets do provide is a bit of cushion underfoot.

Wood floors provide almost cushion, which can become more of a trial as your joints age. Area rugs offer a middle ground between wood and wall-to-wall carpet. They give you a little cushion but don’t completely obscure the wood beneath.

In fact, you can use those area rugs to add another layer of contrast to the room. You select rugs with the same or similar colors to your walls. That allows for some visual continuity of style.

You can also choose a rug with a strong pattern that contrasts with the floor and walls. If you go with this route, at least one color in the rug should match the floor or walls. Otherwise, the pattern will dominate the eye, rather than adding to the visual feel of the space.

Layer Different Woods

In years gone by, the prevailing wisdom held that if you used a specific wood for the flooring, the rest of the wood in the house must match. So, let’s say you install an oak floor. By that way of thinking, you also need oak trim, cabinets, and furniture.

Contemporary design doesn’t see that kind of uniformity as a hard and fast rule, anymore. Yes, your trim should probably match your floors. Beyond that, though, there’s room for experimentation.

Take a living room with engineered bamboo flooring. Most bamboo flooring is a light color unless you set out to get a stained variety.

While you certainly could pair that floor up with light colored wood furniture, why not try something bolder. Pick furniture made with cherry. You get that burst of a warm, reddish color that contrasts with the floor.

Want to take it a step farther? Get a coffee table made out of ebony.

That dark chocolate color will complement the cherry color of the other furniture. It’ll also make the coffee table the visual center of the room, which is ideal if you entertain.

Pair Hardwood with Exposed Brick

With so many older buildings getting reinvented as housing, there’s more residential space made of brick than ever before. This is a boon for the design-stymied resident or homeowner.

Assuming the structure can handle it, exposed brick solves a lot of design challenges. For one thing, you get a splash of color without ever touching a paintbrush.

Unlike many red paints, most bricks offer a muted red. That prevents the bricks from becoming a visual distraction. Even better, brick makes an excellent contrast for most kinds of wood flooring.

Not sure which kind of wood to use? Head over here for more info about your wood options.

Exposed brick provides another advantage. Since it’s put in place with mortar, you get a built-in pattern. This works especially well against woods without strong patterns, such as quartersawn oak, bamboo, and red birch.

Exposed brick looks great, but exposing it isn’t something you necessarily want to take on as a DIY project. It’s a very dusty, dirty project that creates a lot of trash.

In many cases, you’ll need to get the mortar replaced. That’s a work-intensive task and easy to get wrong. Plus, it’s usually advisable to seal the brick.

In other words, unless you have a background in contracting or lots of time on your hands, find a pro to handle it for you.

Parting Thoughts on Wood Flooring Design Ideas

Whether you’re moving into a new place or renovating an existing space, there’s a good chance you’ll need wood flooring design ideas. Lucky for you, wood flooring works well with lots of design ideas.

You can pair it up with contracting wall paint. You can put down a few carefully selected area rugs. Just make sure the rug has at least one color in common with the walls or floors.

You can use different kinds of woods for the floor and furniture, creating a layered look. You can also use exposed brick as a patterned contrast for most kinds of wood flooring.

Looking for ideas for a whole house design aesthetic. Check out our post on this Zen-inspired home design.

Bella Duckworth

Bella Duckworth

Total posts created: 2201
“Architecture is really about well-being. I think that people want to feel good in a space… On the one hand, it’s about shelter, but it’s also about pleasure.” – Zaha Hadid

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.