Shades of Timber: How to Choose the Perfect Hue for Your Floors

1 May 2024

Choosing the right timber hue for your flooring isn’t just about colour; it's a balance of aesthetics and practicality, blending seamlessly with your room's size, lighting, and purpose. Whether it's airy light hues, warm mediums, or rich darks, the perfect wood tone enhances your home's style and functionality. Read more to discover how to choose the perfect hue for your timber floors.

Selecting the Ideal Timber Flooring Hue

When it comes to designing your home, the colour palette you choose can make all the difference in creating an environment aligned with your personal style and desired aesthetic.

This is especially true when selecting timber flooring, as its expanse sets the tone for any room. The right hue can elevate and pull together your decor, while the wrong shade can throw everything off balance.

For close to 50 years, we have been providing discerning homeowners, architects and designers with the highest quality timber flooring in a vast range of colours and styles. For this guide, we asked our in-house experts to share the major factors to consider when choosing a hardwood flooring colour - from function to style, trends and more.

Understanding Timber Hues and Your Space

When selecting the perfect timber hue for your floors, it's essential to understand the interplay between the wood's colour and the characteristics of the space it will inhabit. Timber flooring comes in a spectrum of hues, each bringing its unique ambiance and style to a room.

Let's delve into the different timber hues and their characteristics, and how the size, lighting, and purpose of your room can significantly influence your choice.

Different Timber Hues and Their Characteristics

  • Light Hues: Light-coloured timber floors, such as pale oak or ash, can make a room feel more open and airy. They are ideal for smaller spaces or rooms with limited natural light, as they can help to create an illusion of more space. These hues are often associated with a modern, minimalist aesthetic and are excellent for creating a bright, welcoming environment. Light timbers keep things fresh and also do not show marks and dirt as easily.

  • Dark Hues: Darker shades like walnut or rich mahogany bring warmth and sophistication. They are well-suited to larger, well-lit spaces, where they can create a sense of luxury and elegance. Rich tones can tend to show dust more easily. Dark timber floors are often favoured in formal settings but can also add depth and character to casual spaces and they can also make smaller spaces feel more cosy.

  • Medium Hues: Offering the best of both worlds, medium hues like traditional oak or hickory are incredibly versatile. These warm mid-range tones provide a balance, working well in most spaces regardless of size. They're perfect for achieving a classic, timeless look that complements a wide range of interior styles and pair well with stainless steel and whites. These versatile hues complement most design aesthetics. Medium timbers hide everyday wear better than pale or dark toned varieties.

  • Red and Exotic Hues: Timbers with red or exotic hues, such as jarrah or teak, can add a unique and striking element to your space. These hues are bold and can serve as a focal point in your interior design, making a strong style statement.

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Influence of Room Size, Lighting, and Purpose

  • Room Size: In smaller rooms or apartments, lighter timber hues can help to visually expand the space, making it feel less confined. In contrast, darker hues are often more suitable for larger areas as they can make vast spaces feel cosier, provide definition and feel more intimate. Rooms with ample sunlight can handle richer tones without feeling closed in.

  • Lighting: Natural and artificial lighting plays a crucial role in how timber hues are perceived. Lighter floors can brighten up a space lacking in natural light, whereas darker floors can add warmth to a room that receives ample sunlight. It’s advisable to observe how different hues react to the lighting conditions in your space at various times of the day.

  • Room Purpose: Consider the function of the room. For high-traffic areas like hallways and living rooms, medium or lighter hues might be preferable for their ability to mask minor scratches and wear. Darker floors can also be ideal for bedrooms and study areas, where a peaceful, cozy atmosphere is often desired. Kitchens and bathrooms often benefit from light colours that hide water spots and stains.

Choosing the right timber hue for your floors is a blend of aesthetic preference and practical considerations. It's about finding the colour that not only appeals to your style but also complements the size, lighting, and intended use of your room.

The Aesthetic Impact of Timber Hues

Selecting the right timber hue for your flooring is not just a matter of colour preference – it's about setting the tone and atmosphere for your entire space.

We touched on this in the previous section but timber hues can vary from warm to cool to neutral, each bringing its distinct aesthetic impact to your interiors.

Let’s explore how these different tones can transform the look and feel of your rooms.

Warm Tones: Creating a Cozy and Inviting Atmosphere

Warm timber hues, such as rich browns, honey, and amber, are perfect for creating an inviting and cosy ambiance. Paired with cream walls and leather furniture, dark timbers exude comfortable sophistication. Distressed finishes in caramel hues can help interiors feel lived-in versus stark.

These hues often evoke the natural beauty of the wood, bringing a sense of warmth and comfort to any space. In living rooms and bedrooms, warm-toned floors can make the spaces feel more intimate and relaxing – ideal for areas where you unwind and entertain. The warmth of these hues also complements rustic or traditional interior styles, adding to the charm and character of the space.

Cool Tones: Achieving a Modern and Spacious Look

On the other end of the spectrum, cool timber hues like ash, grey, and light beige can impart a modern and sophisticated feel to your interiors. Cool timbers are known to feel brighter and allow more light to reflect, creating the illusion of more space, making rooms appear larger and more airy. This can be further enhanced by white and steel grey walls and accents.

Contemporary furniture styles in chrome and lucite complement this aesthetic. Cool-toned timber flooring is a popular choice in contemporary and minimalist designs, where the focus is on simplicity and elegance.

Neutral Tones: Versatility in Matching with Various Interior Styles

Neutral tones in timber flooring, such as classic oak and mid-brown hues, offer unparalleled versatility. These hues serve as a beautiful and understated foundation for any room, complementing a wide array of design styles. Whether your decor is modern, traditional, or eclectic, neutral timber floors can seamlessly integrate with your design choices. They strike the perfect balance, neither overpowering the space nor receding too much into the background. For traditional spaces, oak paired with burgundy walls and antique furnishings is timeless. Or keep things contemporary with grey timber floors and modern art. The adaptability of neutral timbers allows for changing style over time.

The Role of Wall Colour and Furniture in Complementing Floor Hues

The interplay between your timber flooring and other elements like wall colour and furniture is crucial in achieving a cohesive interior design. Lighter wall colours can contrast beautifully with darker floors, creating a visually appealing and balanced space. Conversely, pairing light timber floors with darker or bolder wall colours can add drama and depth to your rooms.

Furniture also plays a key role in this dynamic. Consider the undertones of your timber flooring when selecting furniture. Warm-toned floors pair well with furniture in earthy or rich colours, while cool-toned floors complement furniture with silver, blue, or grey undertones. For neutral floors, you have the freedom to experiment with a broader colour palette in your furniture choices.

In summary, the aesthetic impact of your timber flooring hue can significantly influence the overall look and feel of your home. At Havwoods, we understand this interplay and offer a diverse range of timber hues to suit your unique style and design needs.

Practical Considerations in Choosing Timber Hue

While aesthetics play a crucial role in selecting the hue of your timber flooring, practical considerations are equally important. The right choice can not only enhance the beauty of your space but also ensure longevity and ease of maintenance.

Let’s delve into how different hues can impact the durability, style longevity, and interaction with lighting in your space.

Durability and Maintenance: Visibility of Wear and Tear

The colour of your timber flooring can significantly affect how wear and tear show over time. Lighter hues, such as natural oak or light ash, are adept at concealing dust and minor scratches, making them a practical choice for high-traffic areas or homes with pets and children. They tend to require less frequent cleaning to maintain their pristine appearance.

Darker hues, like ebony or deep walnut, bring a sense of depth and luxury to a space but can be more challenging to maintain. They tend to show dust, lint, and scratches more readily, requiring more consistent cleaning and care to keep them looking their best. Choosing a matte finish or opting for textured timber can help mitigate this issue by disguising minor imperfections.

Longevity of Style: Timeless Hues

When investing in high-quality timber flooring, considering the longevity of the style is essential. Trendy colours might appeal in the short term, but classic hues stand the test of time. Neutral tones like traditional oak, mid-brown, or even a subtle grey can adapt to various interior changes, from wall colours to furniture updates, ensuring your floors remain stylish for years to come.

On the other hand, unique or exotic hues can make a bold statement but might not adapt as easily to future style changes. If you love a particular trendy hue, consider how it might fit with different styles or if you're comfortable updating other elements of your room to match your floors over time.

Lighting Effects: Interplay with Natural and Artificial Light

The appearance of timber flooring can dramatically change under different lighting conditions. Natural light can bring out the subtle undertones in the wood, highlighting its natural grain and colour variations. South-facing rooms with ample sunlight can enhance the warmth of timber hues, while north-facing rooms might benefit from lighter tones to counteract the cooler, softer light.

Artificial lighting also plays a role in how timber hues are perceived. Warm lighting can enrich the tones of the wood, making them appear more vibrant and cosy. In contrast, cool lighting can accentuate grey or blue undertones in the timber, lending a more modern feel to the space.

Before finalising your choice, it's advisable to view your timber options in the actual room where they will be installed, both under natural and artificial lighting conditions. This approach ensures you select a hue that harmoniously aligns with your space's lighting and meets your practical needs.

Incorporating Timber Floors into Various Design Themes

Timber flooring offers versatility to enhance a wide range of design motifs. By thoughtfully selecting hues aligned with your theme, you can create cohesive style within your interior space.

Rustic Retreats: Warm, Textured Tones

Rustic interiors exude comfortable charm. Timbers in amber, chestnut and wheat oak hues provide natural beauty and depth. Distressing and visible grain patterns found in reclaimed woods like those found in our Relik range, or textured finishes such as our Henley collection, add character that makes a space feel lived-in. Pair with textiles in rich earth tones to further the welcoming, countryside appeal.

Contemporary Style: Cool, Sleek Finishes

Sophisticated modern spaces demand a refined material palette. Darker grey and blackened oak or carbon-toned finishes project luxe elegance. The smooth, consistent finish of these finishes complement sleek lines. Concrete, glass and metal elements contrast beautifully with these deeper hues.

Minimalist Elegance: Light, Neutral Hues

Pale platinum, blonde and honey toned flooring produces an airier look befitting tranquil, clutter-free spaces. Soft blonde and whitewashed scandi-inspired finishes keep the focus on architectural details. Neutral honey toned timbers provide a blank canvas to layer in geometric furnishings and accessories.

Whether you're looking for a floor that acts as a statement piece or one that blends seamlessly into your design, our expert team can guide you through our collection to find the perfect match.

  • For rustic themes, explore our selection of handcrafted and distressed finishes.

  • Contemporary designs can be complemented with our sleek, dark-toned options.

  • For minimalist spaces, consider our light and neutral-toned floors with subtle grain patterns.

Havwoods HW16002 Pallido Herringbone timber flooring | Melbourne Penthouse

Staying On Trend

While personal taste should be your main guide when selecting flooring, it can be fun to incorporate current colour trends into your home in a timeless way.

  • Scandi blonde-toned timbers like our Aspen Raw, Amazon and Allevard products, remain popular for their airy, informal aesthetic that pairs well with other Scandi interior elements like woven rugs, rattan furnishings and natural textures. This trend has staying power due to its relaxed, casual vibe.

  • Deep, moody hues like walnut and auburn toned finishes, provide a swanky, elegant feel that aligns with the shift towards more sophisticated, luxe interiors. Paired with brushed metals, velvet fabrics and marble, these rich timbers exude refined old-world charm that won't fade.

  • Grey tones are also on the rise for their versatility to straddle both mod and traditional motifs, depending on how they are finished and accessorised. Grey offers a bridgeable middle ground if you can't commit to light or dark floors.

While paying attention to trends can ensure your space feels fresh, select a hue and finish you'll enjoy for the long haul. Many trends cycle in and out of popularity. Opt for quality materials from trusted brands to remain stylish now and in the future.

Tips for Sampling and Viewing Floor Hues

Choosing the right timber flooring is a significant decision, and it's crucial to be confident in your choice of hue. Sampling is an invaluable step in this process, allowing you to visualise how different options will look in your own space.

Here are some tips on how to effectively use samples and consider the importance of viewing them under various lighting conditions.

Effectively Using Samples to Visualise the End Result

  • Obtain Multiple Samples: Start by selecting a range of samples that catch your eye. Consider different hues and finishes that appeal to you and match your design theme.

  • Place Samples in Your Space: Lay the samples out in the room where the flooring will be installed. This allows you to see how they complement your room's existing decor, including walls, furniture, and fixtures.

  • Observe at Different Times of the Day: The appearance of timber can change throughout the day. Make sure to observe the samples in the morning, afternoon, and evening to see how different light levels affect their appearance.

  • Compare Against Key Elements: Hold the samples up against key elements of your room. This includes wall colours, cabinetry, and large pieces of furniture. It’s important to see how the flooring will interact with these elements.

  • Take Photos: Sometimes, taking a step back can help. Take photos of the samples in your space to get a different perspective. You can also share these photos with friends or family for a second opinion.

  • Consider Room Traffic and Usage: Think about the room's function and foot traffic. How will these factors affect your choice in hue? Remember, some colours may be more forgiving with wear and tear than others.

Free samples are available in all Havwoods showrooms or to order online

The Importance of Viewing Samples in Different Lighting Conditions

  • Natural Light Versus Artificial Light: Timber flooring can look dramatically different under natural sunlight as compared to artificial indoor lighting. Natural light tends to bring out the true colour and grain of the wood, while artificial lighting can either warm up or wash out the colour, depending on its temperature.

  • Room Orientation Matters: The direction your room faces can affect how much natural light it receives, which in turn can influence the appearance of your flooring. North-facing rooms may benefit from warmer hues to counteract the cooler light, while south-facing rooms might be better suited for cooler or neutral tones.

  • Evening Viewing: Don’t forget to check how the samples look in the evening under your home's lighting. Different types of light bulbs (LED, incandescent, halogen) can alter the appearance of the timber hue.

  • Seasonal Changes: If possible, consider how different seasons affect the lighting in your room. The angle of the sun changes throughout the year, which can impact how your flooring looks.

By following these tips and considering the impact of different lighting conditions, you can make a more informed decision on the perfect timber hue for your space.

At Havwoods, we encourage you to take your time with sampling to ensure that your final choice is one that you will be satisfied with for years to come.

Order up to 5 free samples online

Next Steps

Selecting a timber flooring hue is both an aesthetic and lifestyle choice reflecting your unique sensibilities. The right tone will transform any room, creating an ambiance aligned with how you wish to live in your space.

At Havwoods, our aim is to guide you to a nuanced timber shade that checks all the boxes. One that complements your interior motif and furniture. Flatters your architecture and lighting. Fits your family's energy and everyday habits. And makes you smile each time your bare feet touch the floor.

Finding this perfect hue is a journey, not a destination. Let our flooring specialists be your guide as you explore the possibilities our collection holds. Feel free to browse online or visit a showroom near you. Request samples and view them throughout the day. Ask us questions to uncover the range of options tailored to you.

Take your time making a selection you'll enjoy for years. When it comes to timber flooring, there is no universally ideal hue. Only the one that speaks to you and the beautiful home you've created. We look forward to helping you discover it.