Wood Floors: Light vs. Dark

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Choosing the color and finish of the wood—whether on the floors or furniture—is one of the most important considerations in designing a new space. More so than the many species of wood available, the color of wood alone can make a huge impact. Read on to see some of the pros and cons of both light and dark wood to help you decide between these two stylish options.

Light Wood.

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A breath of fresh air in terms of flooring options, light wood offers airiness and ease with its upbeat and modern look. Some of the reasons to use light wood include:

  • It’s stylish. A simple but important point. Light wood is a chic alternative to other flooring, as it offers a modern, uptown loft feel to a space. It pairs well with several modern fixtures and furnishings.
  • Master of disguise. Contrary to popular belief, light wood flooring is very forgiving. For those with pets or small children, light flooring masks smalls scratches and scuffs. Forgot to sweep last week? That’s alright—light wood takes one for the team by hiding dust bunnies and debris in its light and bright layout.
  • The contemporary option. As mentioned above, light flooring is incredibly attractive in contemporary or modern spaces. It pairs beautifully with most modern design details and gives any room an instantly refreshed look.
  • It adds contrast as needed. One of light wood flooring’s most redeeming qualities is its ability to contrast well with nearly all finishes, especially darker ones. If you’re going for a moody tone, light flooring adds just the right amount of balance to make your space feel inviting but totally masculine.
  • Let the light in. Do you have floor-to-ceiling windows? Lots of natural light? Then light wood flooring might be your best bet. Perfectly accented by floods of light, blonde woods help create added visual interest when paired with dramatic windows.

While there are many reasons to love light wood, buyers should still be cautious of a few points:

  • Hard to choose. A good light wood can be difficult to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Our advice? Select a style that doesn’t have any sort of red, orange or yellow undertone for the most refreshed look.
  • Living with it. While this may seem like an obvious point, it’s especially pertinent when it comes to a light wood floor. Unlike dark wood flooring, you will see every grain and rivet clearly, so it’s important that you really love your selection.

Dark Wood.

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A favorite among designers and homeowners everywhere, dark wood is the go-to selection for nearly every home of every style. Most appreciated in a transitional or traditional space, dark wood flooring is sophisticated and timeless. Some of our favorite aspects of dark wood flooring include:

  • Lots of variety. When you think of a dark wood floor, you don’t necessarily think of all of the different options you have. Between all of the types of wood, the grain of the wood, and the coloration, you have plenty of variety to select the perfect shade for your home.
  • It adds dimension. One of our favorite features of dark wood is its ability to create dimension wherever it’s installed. Pair it with a dark wood ceiling or one with beautiful exposed beams and you’ve got yourself a winning design.
  • Easy to match. Have we mentioned how easy it is to work with dark wood flooring? If you aren’t convinced, you should know that dark wood is very easy to match to your existing furniture. Nearly any finish—natural wood, metal, acrylic, glass—looks great atop a dark wood floor.

As you can tell, we’re big fans of dark wood. Some things to keep in mind:

  • You’ll see the mess. Unlike light wood, dark wood is not so forgiving. If sweeping escapes you, you and your guests will be able to notice quickly. This is also true for tiny hand prints or puppy paw prints.
  • Casts a shadow. If light is your problem, don’t go dark. Dark wood tends to make the area around it a bit moodier, and that can be a problem if you love your emerald green walls. If you’re looking to add a touch of brightness, look for medium or light wood tones instead.

Have you installed wood flooring recently? Which team are you on: light wood or dark wood?

**Hardwood flooring is a favorite design element for Kerrie Kelly, who heads up Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, Ca. Kerrie writes on her interior design ideas for The Home Depot. To research both the dark and light wood flooring discussed by Kerrie, you can visit Home Depot’s website.

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