How to match your wall and floor colors—with examples

If you’re about to paint a room, would you:

  1. Paint each wall a different color?
  2. Paint one wall a different color than the other three with no regard to how it looks?
  3. Paint each wall to precisely match the colors of everything else in the room?

You probably wouldn’t do any of those options. Instead, you’d pick a paint color that complemented the space, the lighting, adjoining rooms, and the furniture. But what about the floor?

The thing is, a lot of people pay almost no attention to how the wall color interacts with the floor. And what is a floor but a wall that’s lying flat?

Dark hardwood floors and dark walls make most rooms feel like a dungeon unless you have a lot of natural light. Light wood floors need paint colors that accentuate a room, and cherry hardwood floors, laminate floors, carpet, and rugs really change how you think about wall colors and the room.

It’s a good rule of thumb to choose a wall color that is a contrast to your floor color. Here’s how.

How do you match wood floors to walls?

Wood floors come in relatively consistent colors. Unlike carpet which could be a bunch of shades of a similar color, wood floors tend to come in about a dozen consistent colors with two broad elements:

  1. There are dark wood floors and light wood floors
  2. There are warm tones and cool tones in wood floors

For instance, a cherry hardwood floor is dark and warm. A black laminate floor is dark and cool.

Telling the difference between warm and cool tones

An excellent way to tell how warm or cool a floor’s color is by examining how red, orange, or yellow a floor is—the more red, orange, or yellow, the warmer the tone. White, gray, and blacks have cool undertones.

How to tell the difference between dark wood floors and light wood floors

A dark wood floor is what you expect it to be: dark! This includes black, gray, and dark stained wood. A dark hardwood floor is most common with laminate flooring and in older or historic homes. But many homes around the East Bay, Walnut Creek, Danville, and Pleasant Hill where we work typically have a wide variety of hardwood floor colors and tones.

Sometimes the names can help, too, like “white oak”. It’s a fair bet something called white oak is a light wood floor.

The best wall color for light wood floors

Light hardwood floors are popular and modern, thanks in part to places like the Apple Store and Swedish furniture designers using them as a bold contrast in rooms. A light hardwood floor includes beach, maple, and pine. They’re subdued and help elevate the contrast of everything sitting in a room.

A light wood floor invites a lot of options. 

  • Depending on your furniture, you can go with light walls or dark walls and it’ll look great. 
  • Light walls and light floors make for a minimalist, bright aesthetic. 
  • If you have light-color furnishings, you can make it even brighter. Just be sure to include some color somewhere—like from throw pillows, rugs, or accessories. Otherwise you risk the room feeling cold and uninviting.
  • You can also go bold with dark wall colors. A dark wall color can make light furniture pop and adds depth to a room that might otherwise feel clinical.
  • Light wall colors might be best if you have a lot of windows in the space, too, which will put a lot of attention on feeling airy and outdoors. 
  • Since most light wood floors are warm-to-neutral, stay away from warm neutral wall colors like creams and beiges. You risk making everything feel flat and monotone.

Cherry and red oak wood floors

Cherry and a red oak hardwood floor are in-between and can vary with age. They’re also among the warmest colors and demand cool wall colors to tone down the color scheme. 

For example, painting a wall with yellow undertones alongside a cherry wood floor will be intense.

The best paint colors to complement gray and dark wood floors

Gray is an unusual color as flooring goes. It’s visibly dark but has cool undertones, making them unique and a popular choice among many homeowners. 

  • With gray floors, stick with warm color paints (reds, oranges, yellows, etc.) and go for contrast. 
  • Avoid gray walls and gray floors—they’ll feel cold, flat, and one-note. 
  • Light colors are an okay choice, too, so long as they’re warm. 
  • If you like it, beige walls can work but require vibrant furnishings to help it along.

Choose warm whites, beiges, creams, and neutral colors to make dark floors work—but not gray. You can also choose dark neutral wall colors, like greens and blues.

Choosing wall colors with professional help

Choosing wall colors for light or dark wood floors is a challenge that depends on the amount of natural light in a room, the exact color of the existing floors, and your interior design tastes.

If you’re in the East Bay Area looking, our color consultants can develop a floor and wall color combination you’ll love using your existing furnishings. Call (925) 595-3081 or email to get started.