Q: We are thinking about reconfiguring parts of our 60-year-old home. The dining room is to be enlarged and given a new wooden floor. And since I like to plan ahead, I'm already wondering what sort of contemporary furniture would look best with a bare wooden floor. Do you have some suggestions?
A: All sorts of furniture styles could be well suited to wooden flooring. It's the type of material, along with its finish, that will matter most. But in the interests of proper planning, let's first consider the floor itself. Different kinds of wood create different looks. And a bare floor with a patterned appearance also produces an effect unlike a plain surface.
It's probably worth investigating something like a simple herringbone with a straight-planking border parallel to the walls at the outer edge. The photo provides an example of such an interesting arrangement -- which is neither exotic nor expensive.
In choosing furniture to go with wooden flooring, contrast will be a key element to consider.
If, for example, the floor is stained in a dark or medium brown, then the furniture should be in a different color or finish. The same would apply, of course, in the case of a bleached floor.
You'll be glad to know that it's easier to produce the needed contrast with contemporary rather than traditional furniture. Lacquered chairs can be bought in colors ranging from ebony to creamy white, while a contemporary-style tabletop might be made of glass, marble, stone or lacquered wood.
If lacquer is too slick for your tastes, give some consideration to aniline dye. This is a stain, available in many colors, that permeates a wooden surface while leaving its texture undisturbed.
Most light woods treated in this way take on a beautifully colored and informal-looking finish that resists chipping better than most lacquers.
For a somewhat more elegant effect, create contrast by using different materials.
One of my favorite combinations with a bare wooden floor is a grouping of rattan pieces bound with leather thongs. This type of binding enhances the furniture's elegance and strengthens its structure.
Here's one final factor to keep in mind: a room with a bare floor may present acoustical difficulties.
They can be addressed the same way as the related problem of lacking color contrasts -- by being generous in your use of fabrics. Add them in the form of window treatments, wall coverings and covers for seating pieces.