How to decorate with dark timber furniture

Don't be afraid of the dark.
How to decorate with dark timber furniture.(Photography: Mindi Cooke / Styling: Tahn Scoon)

Typically, we expect coastal homes to feature white-washed timber, and light veneers are perfect for Scandi-style interiors, but the allure of dark timber is often overlooked.

Dark stained furniture can bring a sophisticated aesthetic to your home, especially if they’re vintage or antique inspired pieces. If your home is feeling a little flat or perhaps too white, they can also bring some character and contrast to a bland corner. A dark timber round dining table, dark timber chairs in a dining room with dark timber flooring might be a bold look for some, but some clever decorating can make it a beautifully-appointed and airy room that will suit any home.

Stylist Fiona Gould has given us four styling tips that will help make a dark colour scheme look fresh all year round.

1. Start with white walls

Using white paint on the walls will contrast the darkness of the furniture and bring a crispness to the space. White walls also accentuate and maximise your natural light, which is also the key to making it feel fresh and airy.

If you’re a brave decorator, pairing dark timber furniture with colour can also create a sophisticated look. Walk through the home of interior designer Tori, who paired a French antique bed with feature ‘Grandiflora’ wallpaper from Magnolia Interiors, for more inspiration.

Hamptons style kitchen with breakfast nook
A French antique dining table contrasts a crisp white kitchen in this renovated Hamptons cottage on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. (Credit: Photo: Simon Whitbread / Styling: Corina Koch)

2. Add pops of greenery

Another great way to bring life into a space with dark furniture is greenery. Tropical palms, leafy indoor pot plants will bring freshness to the look.

coastal bungalow hallway timber floors jute rug
Dark floorboards and panelling dictated the design direction of this bungalow on the Northern Beaches. “We went back and forth about painting the wainscoting, but you can never go back once you paint it,” says owner Sara. (Credit: Photography: Jacqui Turk / Styling: Alanna Smit)
sitting area with white couch and stain glass windows
To hero the home’s original, dark features, interior designer Alana Smit kept everything else crisp and white. (Credit: Photography: Jacqui Turk / Styling: Alanna Smit)

3. Lay low

Keep the darker tones to the lower half of the room, to ground the space, and choose lighter colours in the top half.

Grouping colours like this is a really clever way to create big bold impact in a space.

The ensuite with a timber vintage vanity and palm tree wallpaper.
A dark timber vanity is a standout feature in the ensuite of a renovated cottage on the Sunshine Coast. (Credit: Photography: Louise Roche / Styling: Kylie Jackes)

4. Layer textures

To keep the space looking inviting and comfortable it’s really important to introduce texture.

Woven details like cane and rattan, rustic pots or natural coastal textures like shell will soften the starkness of dark timber furniture.

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