Good Questions: How Do You Mix Unlike Furniture Finishes?

Good Questions: How Do You Mix Unlike Furniture Finishes?

Maxwell Ryan
Mar 1, 2007

Hello AT,

Though normally not a big Pottery Barn fan, their Stratton bed caught my attention. Space is not only limited in my bedroom but the room is also a funny shape (I guess right angles are considered passe by the architect), so I like the storage this bed offers. If I were to get it, I would get it with the rattan baskets. My question is this: I would have preferred it in black, but it only comes in mahagony or antique white...

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I want to keep the color versatile since I don't plan on keeping my current oak finish Ikea dressers, so I guess I am stuck with the white.

I hate white furniture because it reminds me of a farm/country style, which I detest. My current taste of the month for dresser finish is black (kinda like that antiqued, rubbed finish look).

How to mix two different finishes of furniture that don't come from the same design line in the same room so that it doesn't look hodge-podgy?

Love your site, thanks so much! Maria

Dear Maria,

Don't worry too much. White with rattan baskets is a very versatile color combo that won't clash with your oak dresser. White - in general - is good that way. What would be worse would be if you had the mahogany bed with the oak dresser. Two dissimilar woods will look like a mistake and tend to clash.

But how do you mix finishes? We actually prefer is things DON'T match too much, so variation is good. You just don't want it to seem random, and near misses look more like mistakes than big transitions.

With wood finishes, therefore, keep them similar.

With painted surfaces, they can differ widely, though it is good if they fit into a specific palette and relate to one another in some way, just the way you choose one color for wall trim and one for the wall itself.

As for all other finishes: metal, glass, etc... mix it up but - again - think of the overall effect as wanting to feel like a family so that there is a common theme somewhere underneath it all.

That theme could be color, era, size or height. Keep at least one element steady to lay down a theme and then play with the rest.

Anyone else?

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