Little Greene's creative director Ruth Mottershead advises thinking of light wood tones as neutrals within your scheme. 'Consider their undertones carefully,' she says. 'Are they warm or cool? Which hidden ones can you see within the woodgrain?' Once you've done this, pair with colors accordingly. And if in doubt, she says, 'opt for an easy-to-scheme versatile hue that is neither too warm nor too cool, such as French Grey or Slaked Lime.'
Deep, dark woods like walnut and mahogany make for the perfect pairing with one of today's most popular colors – green. In this project by Studio AHEAD, walnut furniture sits comfortably in a room painted in an on-trend pistachio – but it's just as suited to brighter shades. 'Dark woods such as walnut or mahogany work fantastically well with green, from fresher hues such as Boxington for a contrasting feel, to sumptuous rich greens such as Puck for an elegant interior,' says Ruth Mottershead.
Oak is a commonly used wood thanks to its strength and versatility – but because tones vary so dramatically, it can be difficult to find a suitable color pairing.
Warm woods like acacia, teak and cherry have a reddish tone that makes them perfectly suited to warmer shades – though it also means they can clash with cooler tones, so be careful. 'Warmer tone woods can be on the red side, so you can pair this with more neutral tones, allowing the warmth from the wood to contrast with the cooler tones,' says Mathew Freeman. 'An alternative option is to enhance the warmer tones by choosing a warm neutral tone, to create a warm cossetting feel.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST PAINT COLOR FOR NATURAL WOOD
Of course, wood's natural grains mean it can vary from piece to piece – so while the designers all have their favorite pairings, they also stress the important of understanding exactly how to match wood with a paint shade. 'It’s important to look for colors that complement natural wood,' says Ruth Mottershead. 'Use a color card or fan deck to identify these. For example, strong yellows or oranges combine beautifully with warmer woods; for cooler more ash-toned woods, consider cooler neutrals for a harmonious finish.'