I want to turn the largest room in my apartment into a bedroom (one zone) and possibly small living/sitting room (another zone). My bedroom furniture is light colored, but I just picked up a wicker chair, ottoman and small padded bench in a darker shade. What do you think of the idea of different tones? I don't like matched sets (think matching nightstands, end tables, etc.) but I'm lost on the color concept. I'm going for a "beach cottage" look.
I don't think there are any hard rules on this, but I'm with you – sticking exclusively to one tone can end up looking a bit boring and too matchy. A little bit of variety adds interest and makes the space feel more personal (not like you just bought everything you saw on on the catalog page). You could get a two-tone furniture piece to the mix, but I think the key is incorporating a color scheme, so that the colors unify the room, not the wood tones. If you're going for "beach cottage," you want light and bright (think crisp blues and whites, seersucker and linen). If your new furniture is significantly darker, I think the bigger question is not if it matches with your bedroom furniture, but if you'll be able to achieve your beach look with the dark hues? Take some inspiration from these photos. Perhaps you could paint a few pieces white.
This suitcase side table was painted white to achieve that crisp, beachy feel.
Weathered, two-tone wood.
See these posts for more information on matching wood tones: