A dark hardwood floor is a bold move even for the braver of us, but execute it right and you can create a timeless, sophisticated interior that screams design confidence.

On trend and increasing in popularity, the dark hardwood floor is bringing out the fearless designer in many of us. With stunning grain and endless possibilities for striking interior contrast, this flooring can be a smart choice for many rooms including the kitchen, living room and hallway.

Although preconceptions of dark wood is that it can shrink the size of a room or make it uncomfortably dark, the effect is actually the opposite if balanced with other smart interior choices.

The process of considering and eventually purchasing dark wood flooring can be intimidating and many people just shrug the idea off for this reason alone. But as such a rewarding decor possibility, we believe the dark wood floor deserves your consideration.

We’re here to guide you through the process with great design tips and inspiration so that by the end you can hopefully make your own decision as to whether dark wood flooring is right for your home.

Why Are Dark Wood Floors a Good Idea?

Most of us are aware of the benefits of hardwood flooring:

  • great durability,
  • spacious effect,
  • adds value,
  • timeless style
  • health benefits for those of us with allergies.

But why should you care for dark hardwood? Especially because of the design risk involved - is it really worth it?

The short answer is yes, absolutely. You just have to be confident in your design and interior choices. If you are unsure and lack the confidence and knowledge to back up your decision, you might get the “dark wood placebo effect”.

An accurate scientific term? Perhaps not. But this describes a real design phenomenon where people believe that their dark wood flooring is irreversibly ruining their interior - “It’s too dark”, “It’s too small” etc.

This simply is not the case. There are many designs, tricks and tips that work for dark wood flooring. Master them and the natural benefits of a dark wood floor can transform your home.

Dark Wood Floor Pros and Cons

So what are these benefits? Well, for one, dark hardwood flooring doesn’t fade. It is exceptionally light absorbent and therefore far less prone to colour change, meaning you can worry less about retouching your floor.

There is then the obvious elegance and pop of its aesthetics. The grain is often far more visible than that of lighter hardwoods, allowing the natural grooves of this living material to really grab the attention of the room.

The colour itself is also often associated with higher class and wealth, providing a look that is both sophisticated and well developed. Of course, the degree to which you wish to express this sophistication can be adjusted with other interior and furniture choices.

Choosing a wood that is distinctly dark can also open up the opportunity to create incredible contrast-oriented interiors that are often not viable with light flooring. Bold and bright colours can be used on the walls and furniture to create a look that is almost exclusive to the use of dark wood flooring.

AR8414 Ashton & Rose GrizedaleYou can create incredible contrast-oriented interiors when you have dark wood flooring

Of course, there are also certain cons associated with using dark wood flooring that is equally important to bring up.

Perhaps the most obvious is visible scratching. Naturally, scratches show up more easily due to the fact that most dark wood floors have a surface stain. Scratching through this stain can reveal the lighter wood beneath. These scratches are easily avoidable however and repairable too.

The second con is that dark wood flooring often shows dust or pet hair more easily (unless your pet has dark hair of course).

For this reason, it’s important to sweep or mop your dark wood floor a little more often - a minor burden for the beauty it brings to a room.

Dark Wood Floor, Light Walls

At first glance, dark hardwood floors can seem very overpowering. If you have darker shades of paint or wallpaper at home it’s very hard to imagine a pleasant, airy interior with a dark wood floor. But the trick is contrast. If you combine it with light wall colours you can actually create a greater illusion of spaciousness.

The contrast will also add a very interesting, fundamental tonal relationship to the room. Even before you add any furniture or decor the room is making a statement - and this is a very powerful attribute to have.

HF796 Kahrs Oak Grey Combine dark floors with light walls to create the feeling of spaciousness

With visual excitement at such an early stage of design, you are able to go very minimalist, using light pastel furniture and decor whilst still creating an exceptional overall interior that grabs your attention.

These minimalist designs are very on trend at the moment but are equally difficult to pull off.

Choosing a dark hardwood floor can be an excellent way to craft your own minimalist interior that really works!

For example, why not try a dark hardwood floor in combination with a light, cream wall and white ceiling and skirting for a well sophisticated, intricately balanced interior.

What About the Furniture?

As mentioned above, light pastel furniture is definitely recommended for dark wood flooring. Think of a well-balanced room as containing an ideal, finite amount of darkness. If you tip over you are in danger of your room becoming too dark, tip under and a room can look too plain and lacking in contrast.

HF9010 Karelia Walnut Story SpiritBringing light with white furniture

Having a dark hardwood floor takes up a lot (if not most) of this hypothetical amount of darkness. Therefore you want the rest of your room to be predominantly light in colour - including the furniture. This will ensure you are creating a harmonious, well-balanced feel that still provides striking areas of contrast.

If you already have darker furniture that you don’t want to replace, however - fear not!

There are still many tricks to level your light/dark balance. Try, for example, using beautiful light coloured throws or blankets to cover your dark furniture.

Bring the Light With a Rug

But say your efforts to lighten up a dark-floored room still seems in vain (perhaps it is a particularly dark room with little natural light) - a fantastic option is to invest in a light rug!

Not only will such a rug add extra contrast and provide an inviting lounging area, it will also dramatically lighten up the entire room. Even if the room was light enough without it, adding a cream rug can allow for additional dark furniture or decor without tipping your light/ dark balance.

Using these rugs are also an excellent way to subtly segment a large living room and create a natural flow that divides furniture and walking space.

How Dark Should the Floor Be?

This is another way to really own that light/ dark balance. If you really want to include darker furniture or other darker elements in your room then you might want to consider opting for a dark hardwood floor that sits on the lighter end of the spectrum - this is certainly achievable if carefully considered.

Kahrs Oak Stone HF783You can opt for a lighter version of dark wood flooring

Alternatively, if you are after eye-popping contrast then combining very light or even white furnishings with a very dark hardwood floor can be an excellent style template. It’s definitely worth considering this tip along with the wall, furniture and rug tips above.

The Styles That Match Dark Wood Floors

So you’ve built up your confidence and got a few ideas about how you can make a dark hardwood floor work in your home, now what? Well, this is the exciting bit - you now need to think about styling your room.

As previously mentioned, you want to keep the rest of your room relatively light. But that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style or design. There are plenty of light colour schemes and natural design furnishings you can implement. And, of course, there is still room for deep, bold colours if used wisely.

Firstly, you want to pay a lot of attention to your wall colour. Wall colour is important in all interior design but perhaps most important with dark wood flooring. This is because the contrast brings it right up front - and this should be seen as an opportunity!

The colour you choose will inform the entire feel of the room. Colours that often pair well with deep hardwood browns are the likes of cream, greige, duck egg and other pale blues.

HF7378 Parky Oak Chocolate & AR8416 Ashton & Rose BowlandDark wood goes along with the modern as well as with the rustic/industrial design

The next step is to choose your curtains wisely. Large or multiple windows will draw attention to your curtains, and if they don’t have good chemistry with the existing floor-wall colour scheme then this can really bring the room down - it’s a common pitfall. Light colour curtains often bode well particularly if they are ceiling to floor length. Alternatively you can opt for dark curtains to add an element of drama.

In terms of cabinets, cupboards and the like, ideally, you also want to keep these light. A great look is to stray away from white and rather choose natural, earthy colours such as cool blues or muted greys.

This is a great way to accentuate your dark hardwood floor and create a chemistry between the physical room itself and its contents. White, of course, can be used as well but this will have more of a contrasting effect.

Finally, a bit of an oddball style tip but Moroccan rugs work extremely well with a dark hardwood floor. This is a great way to incorporate some incredibly bold colour into your room whilst also containing it to maximise it’s eye-gazing effect.

Against the earth brown of your floor, a light Moroccan rug with splashes of red, blue or purple can elevate a room entirely and become a true focal point - try, for example, placing your core furniture around it.

The Summary

So there you have it, our tips, tricks and inspiration for considering a dark hardwood floor. We hope this has given you the confidence to take the leap and hopefully not only consider but end up building your very own dark hardwood room.

If you’re inspired and want to take it to the next level - check out our collection of dark hardwood and engineered hardwood flooring at the Hardwood Floor Store. We have an incredible variety of beautiful and unique dark hardwoods that can tailor to any design idea you may have.

With free samples ready to order and an easy to use quoting system there really is nothing to lose!

Happy designing.