As visual creatures, most of us crave the pleasing nature of contrast, which is why so many successful rooms incorporate that "something off"— the out-of-place accent or piece of furniture that brings interest and a sense of variety to a space. But the something off doesn't necessarily mean hipster ironic or shockingly bizarre. In clean-lined modern homes it's often accomplished by adding a simple organic element, such as a live plant. However, a similar effect can be achieved with wooden furniture that reflects its living origin.
• 1. Spare rooms can benefit greatly from the warmth of real wood, especially that which is not overly polished. This perfectly spare and open dining room by Christine Lane interiors owes its warmth to the generous amount of wood of the floors and table. The same room with a laquered parsons or a polished Queen Anne would look a thousand times more sterile and cold.
• 2 & 3. Designer Kay Douglass clearly understands the power of wood and patina. Her interiors incorporate many of the appealing elements of showhome perfection, but without the feeling of being unlivable. She relies on the natural patinas of wood to soften spare spaces.
• 4. Darryl Carter, one of my absolute favorites, is a master of harmonizing the polished traditional with the natural and organic. In this dining room, the cracks and aged look of the dining table creates a pleasing contrast to the more formal elements of the room.
• 5. Jenna Lyons home possesses many eclectic elements, so it is certainly not lacking variety or interest, but the long patina-ed table creates one of the most pleasing contrasts of the room. In a space dominated by cool tones, the natural warmth of wood softens the overall feel.