24/04/2023  •  , ,

9 Ways to Combine Wood Tones in a Kitchen Design

Estimated Read Time: 6 Minutes

More and more homeowners are looking to bring warmth back into their kitchens. There’s no better way to achieve that than by including prominent natural wood features. 


From flooring to cabinetry, wood adds comfort to a kitchen’s atmosphere the way no other material can. 


Knowing to incorporate wood in your kitchen design is the easy part. Knowing how to seamlessly blend different woods? That’s the challenge. 


At Deslaurier, we’re experts in all things custom cabinetry and kitchen design. With over 40 years of experience to our name, we know how vital it is to have all the elements in your kitchen blend together. That’s especially true when it comes to combining different types of wood. 


In this article, designer Vanessa Horwat shares her expertise on how to beautifully include multiple kinds of wood in your kitchen design! 


Let’s get started! 


Table of Contents

Create Contrast

Emphasize Natural Qualities

Avoid Chaos

Use Stains

Don’t Shy Away From Man-Made Materials

Incorporate Floating Shelves

Butcher Block Countertops

Stone Surfaces Can Highlight Wood Undertones

Exposed Ceiling Beams

Design with Deslaurier Custom Cabinets


1. Create Contrast


Firstly, it’s important to create contrast with hardwood floors and cabinets in a kitchen. The simplest way to do that is by using different shades for flooring and cabinets. 


As Vanessa mentions, “matching” woods isn’t the goal:

“Don’t try to match the woods – try to focus on contrast.” - Vanessa Horwat


Playing with contrasts adds more depth and visual interest to the space. 


Go with lightly coloured cabinetry and darker, bold hardwood flooring. Or, vice versa, incorporate eye-catching dark wood cabinets with softer, lighter flooring to help expand the visual space of your kitchen.


As long as you find a way to have their differences complement one another, creating contrast is key when combining woods in a kitchen. 


2. Grain Patterns


One of the many benefits of using wood products is their natural beauty, which includes unique colouring and grain patterns that add organic elements to your space.


This individuality makes it quite easy to combine different woods. Just see uniqueness for yourself, with walnut (left), oak (middle) and maple (right): 




The beauty of natural wood is that they have drastically varied appearances from one species to another. Some are simple with a closed, straight grain, while others can be more unpredictable with open and wavy lines. 


Strong-grained woods like walnut or cherry contrast beautifully with more subtle grains like birch, or even with the notoriously straight-ish lines of red oak. 


When choosing wood products for your kitchen design, it's important to select finishes that complement one another. 


This means matching the grains and tones of different wood types to create a cohesive look. One way to achieve this is to mix and match woods with similar grains, or to select woods with contrasting grains that still share a similar tone. 


This can create a sense of harmony and balance in the design. 


Another option is to use wood sparingly, as an accent or focal point, rather than covering every surface in the same grain. This can be especially effective when combining different wood types and can create a layered, textured look that is both visually appealing and cohesive.

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3. Avoid Chaos


While combining multiple kinds of wood in your kitchen is what this article is all about, you mustn’t overdo it. 


Too many different woods can create an overwhelming, borderline chaotic visual space. 

“The more woods you have the more eclectic it becomes. Your kitchen can end up looking extremely busy.” - Horwat


Try to limit your kitchen to two different kinds of wood, with three as the absolute maximum. This is especially vital once your other kitchen furniture is accounted for. 


What originally starts as wood flooring and cabinetry can end up being accompanied by a wood kitchen table and chairs. That’s simply too much of the same material and will have you feeling like you live in a lumber yard. 


4. Play with Stains


When talking about wood features it’s important to mention the value of stained finishes. Stained wood can add a beautiful flair to any room, whether it's the cabinets or flooring.  


As a cabinet company, let’s focus on how you can do that with your kitchen cabinets.


Deep, dark stains can give your cabinets a matte appearance compared to a glossy painted finish. They also have the added benefit that their wood grain remains slightly prominent. 


Take a look below at these black-stained cabinets from our Ebony & Ivory showcase:


This kitchen design seamlessly combines dark-stained maple cabinets, light oak floating shelves, and medium-toned hardwood flooring in unison. All done using three unique tones that don’t overpower the visual space with excessive, redundant wood patterning. 


You can even play around with more colourful stains!



This custom colour-matched blue stain (from our Brick & Blue showcase) adds a pop of colour while simultaneously allowing the birch grain to subtly emerge.


5. Don’t Shy Away From Man-Made Materials


Incorporating a wood grain aesthetic in your kitchen doesn’t always need to be done with natural hardwood products. 


Wood cabinets and hardwood flooring can be very expensive and finding an alternative that offers a similar appearance at a more affordable price point will do wonders in helping you stay within your kitchen’s budget. 

“There are a lot of great “faux” wood grains in the modern cabinet line” - Horwat 


Textured melamine, for example, can create deep, congruent visuals that are perfect for a wood grain cabinet aesthetic. 


Since textured melamine cabinets are made using printed images, they can accurately replicate a vast amount of wood species


Even more, textured melamine will produce a more uniform, consistent wood grain than a natural wood species. This is because hardwoods are natural materials and in turn, no two cabinets will have the same grain patterns. Melamine will. 


The downside is their design limitations: they can only be done in 1-piece door styles. This is fine for a modern-style kitchen, but if you want 5-piece doors and decorative millwork, the flexibility of natural wood cabinets is far superior. 


However, you can always opt for a man-made flooring product instead! 


Vinyl flooring offers plenty of convincing hardwood styles at a fraction of the cost of natural wood. They’re also easy to install and come in 100%-waterproof selections. 


Or, you could splurge on engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood flooring is a combination of a natural hardwood top sheet bonded to base sheets of plywood. 


It’s not as long-lasting as solid wood flooring, but it’s still a less expensive way for your kitchen floors to have an authentic hardwood aesthetic. 


6. Incorporate Floating Shelves 


In recent years, floating shelves have become the most popular way to include open storage in a kitchen design. They can also function as the perfect wood accent piece! 


Floating wood shelves can enhance the look of your kitchen by either harmonizing with the flooring for a cohesive feel or introducing a pop of eye-catching wood tone for added visual interest.


They’re also a great way to incorporate some more expensive wood species without splurging on tens of thousands of dollars worth of cabinets. 


Higher-end woods like walnut or the ever-popular white oak are perfect for floating shelves. They carry with them a touch of luxury without breaking the bank on an entire kitchen’s worth of flooring or cabinetry. 

Light and open


7. Butcher Block Surfaces 


We’ve talked a lot about wood cabinets, but not every homeowner wants a natural wood appearance. After all, there’s a reason painted cabinets are so popular. 


If you have your heart set on painted cabinets, but want more wood accents in your kitchen than just the hardwood flooring, consider a wood countertop surface.


Butcher block kitchen countertops are thick wood surfaces that can be made in a variety of different species and grain patterns, and can fit seamlessly into any kitchen design style from rustic farmhouse to contemporary. 


Even more, butcher block can produce some of the most remarkable kitchen countertops you’ve ever seen!


They also allow you to use more unconventional wood species you might not find for your cabinets, like teak or bamboo. You can  mix and match plenty of different wood grains into one uniquely blended countertop slab! 


Depending on the manufacturer, butcher-block countertops can be created solely using reclaimed wood and local materials. 


Reclaimed wood is processed wood that has been retrieved from its original application and harvested for new uses. Think old barns, decks, factories, and other buildings. 


It’s a phenomenal way to salvage old lumber and utilize them for a new function. In this case: butcher-block kitchen countertops.


If you’re looking for a blended grain pattern, there’s no better way to achieve that than by using salvaged wood. A variety of different reclaimed woods can be paired together to create some truly unique-looking blended butcher-block surfaces. 

8. Stone Countertops Bring Out Wood Undertones 


Speaking of countertops, the surfaces you choose can play a big role in enhancing various wood undertones in your cabinets or flooring. 


For a truly striking look, consider contrasting bold patterned floors with gentle, natural stone countertops. The natural veining in the stone can draw out the warm hues in the wood, creating a cohesive and sophisticated space. 


That’s where granite can come into play. There is a vast amount of variation in granite’s colour and veining that helps these unique elements flow perfectly with the natural wood. 


Quartz can be a bit too “bland” in that sense. They have beautiful countertops, of course, but they’re missing that distinctive individuality that you find in natural granite. 


9. Exposed Ceiling Beams


Lastly, a more unconventional way to include warm wood tones in your kitchen is by utilizing exposed ceiling beams. 


They’re a great rustic touch in traditional and farmhouse kitchen designs, but can also be done in a more contemporary way, as well! 


Better yet, exposed ceiling beams pair beautifully with wood flooring, particularly in a kitchen with painted cabinetry.


Just see for yourself: 

Deslaurier Penfield 019

The hardwood flooring is the dominant wood source in the room, with classic painted white cabinetry on the perimeter walls and island. 


Thus, the ceiling beams (and floating shelves) provide subtle, yet powerful, natural wood accent pieces. Your eye is drawn from the flooring to the ceiling, as this kitchen design makes use of every inch of space. 


Design with Deslaurier Custom Cabinets


As you can see, there are endless ways to creatively include multiple kinds of wood in your kitchen design. If you have your heart set on the warm allure of natural wood, we hope this article gave you a few creative ideas on how to include them in your kitchen. 


If you’re looking to install the perfect custom cabinets in your dream kitchen, Deslaurier Custom Cabinets has everything you need! With over 40 years of experience in our name, we provide our clients with a fully customized design process with our talented team of designers


Book a consultation today with a Deslaurier design expert at our Ottawa Showroom or schedule a virtual meeting! 

Live outside the area? Find a Dealer to connect with near you! Interested in becoming an authorized Deslaurier dealer? Visit our Become a Dealer page to learn more!

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