How to Decorate With Oak Furniture

The light golden and amber tones of oak furniture create a casual, relaxed atmosphere in the home. Furniture made from this hardwood tends to be sturdy and durable. Many traditional styles of decorating incorporate oak furniture, which can also be refinished to complement modern urban settings.

Styles That Embrace Oak
The Americanized version of Arts and Crafts style known as Craftsmen architecture and design prominently features oak in everything from wall trim to flooring and furniture. Mission-style furniture describes the simple, straight-lined furnishings found in Craftsman home interiors and is constructed from oak wood, often fumed or stained to a dark finish. Oak is also typical of country style interiors, blending seamlessly with light or pastel colors and providing a comfortable, homey atmosphere. Oak furniture feels at home in rustic settings as well, mixed in with cedar log or pine furniture and natural stone or iron accents.

Complementing Colors
The natural tones of oak wood include light yellow, gold and deeper tones of amber on honey oak. Red oak has a natural red or pink tinge. The surrounding background color of walls can either bring out and intensify the color of the wood or quietly enhance its warmth and grain. The complementary opposites of yellow and orange on the color wheel are purple and blue. Using these colors in muted tones brings out the yellow and orange undertones of light oak and medium honey oaks. Muted shades of teal, green or gray with green undertones make a pleasing background with light or golden oak and contrast strongly with red oak furnishings. For a subtle contrast, shades of white, cream and beige with yellow or orange undertones keep rooms feeling light and comfortable that feature light to medium oak furnishings.

Accenting Oak Furniture
When deciding on fabrics and upholstery that complement oak furniture, take a page from the decorating styles that embrace this type of furniture. Craftsman-style area rugs featuring botanical motifs in earthy hues of dusty rose, sapphire, burnished gold and forest green please the eye when placed under oak dining tables. Add a rustic feel with denim, wool or leather upholstery accented with geometric patterns on Native American throws or rugs. White or off-white quilts with accent pillows in pastel pink and mint green lend an English cottage look to bedroom pieces in oak. Oak mixes well with other types of wood furniture, giving the room a more organic feel than all-matching wood tones, when used with walnut's warm browns tones or the warm red tones of cherry or dark maple.

Updated Finish
Oak furniture is the preferred choice for a trending style known as Industrial Chic. As a look that blends utilitarian style with vintage materials for a stylish urban feel, Industrial Chic oak furniture has a whitewashed finish called ceruse. The finish is applied by first opening up the grain of the wood using a wire brush. The next step involves the addition of a base color ranging from clear to black. The contrasting white grain filler applied after that provides the distinguishing grain pattern, which can be bold or subtle depending on the color of the base stain and filler. If your style preference leans toward edgy, modern designs, a ceruse finish can help transition traditional oak pieces into your modern, industrial setting.


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