The Light and the Dark: Choosing Furniture that Works in Your Space

sectional couchWhen you visit Showman Furniture at our furniture store in Crofton or in Waldorf, you’ll see not only a variety of furniture styles, but also a wide range of choices in wood and upholstery.

While it’s great to have so many options, it can also be intimidating: how can you know which furniture will look best in your home?

One way to narrow a selection is by choosing furniture tone – dark, light, or somewhere in between. The colors of the wooden and upholstered furniture that you select can completely transform the ambiance of a room, make it appear spacious or intimate, wide open or comfortably cozy.

Choose the dark for drama

The trend in recent years has been toward darker furniture (think of all the black dining room tables and buffets that you’ve seen in design magazines). Dark furniture, whether traditional or contemporary, adds drama to a room and gives it a more formal look. It’s compelling, draws the eye and can serve as a wonderful focal point.

Dark furniture can be a good choice when you have a large, spacious room that feels too big to be comfortable. It helps shrink that room, making it more intimate and more inviting.

If you have a small room, however, furniture in darker tones may appear to shrink it even more, so that it feels stifling or overcrowded. If you’re trying to furnish a small family room and absolutely have your heart set on a black leather sofa, let that sofa take center stage and buy chairs or tables in lighter tones to complement it.

When it comes to wall colors and fabrics, you can go two ways with dark-toned furniture. Light, bright walls will serve as a wonderful showcase for your furniture because your dining room set, your sofa or your chairs will stand out and contrast with them. Combine sleek dark furniture with white or off-white walls in a living area and you get a look that’s both contemporary and sophisticated.

On the other hand, you may also pair darker woods with jewel tones to provide a look of elegance and comfort. Picture a bedroom with a dark cherry or espresso headboard, set against a backdrop of a forest green, royal red or cobalt blue walls, and covered with a spread and pillow in deep, rich tones. Wouldn’t a room like that feel luxurious, like a place where you’ll feel relaxed and pampered?

Lighten up to open up

Lighter toned furniture – bleached oak or white or beech, for example – is most often used in casual spaces such as sunrooms, breakfast nooks, kids’ bedrooms and guest rooms. You’ll find lighter tone furniture in many styles: contemporary, country (think shabby chic), and classic (white paint with gold accents).

Light-colored furniture can help a small room feel bigger and more airy because it doesn’t stand out in the way that dark furniture does. It brings more light into the space. But furniture in light tones may not work as well in a large room, because the space may feel too open. Lighter-toned furniture doesn’t add the warmth that darker-toned furnishings will bring.

If you’re choosing wall colors to complement light-colored furniture, you’ll probably want to stay away from the stark contrasts that work with dark furniture. Select a color tone that’s deeper than your furniture, but in a medium range rather than very dark.

Accessorize to complement your color choice

Whether you go with dark or light colors for your furniture, accessorize with pillows, drapes, rugs and art in tones that complement your primary color choice. One rule of thumb: use your dominant color for 60 percent of the room, a secondary color for 30 percent and an accent color for 10 percent.

Don’t forget lighting. A room furnished in darker tones may require more lighting and stronger lighting than one that features white or light-toned woods and upholstered pieces.

Feel overwhelmed by the furniture choices? You don’t have to be. When you’re shopping for a table and hutch for your dining area, for sofas and chairs for a family room, or for bedroom furniture in Crofton, you’re always welcome to stop by and talk to one of our consultants. They can guide you in the best ways to use the wood and upholstered pieces you already have and those you want to buy. We’ll help you create rooms that will reflect your personality and your good taste, no matter which color scheme you choose.