As a designer, one of the things that I love to emphasize to people — and I’ll tell anyone who will listen: students, clients, friends — is that wood is NOT brown. It does not exhibit as broad a color range as your paint fan deck, but trust me, wood has a COLOR. Cherry is often so vibrantly red or orange that you can put a fall leaf on it and it disappears into the grain. Bamboo can be so yellow, or blonde woods so blonde, that they’re the color of summer corn. This isn’t to say wood isn’t versatile, because it is. But it is to say that you should pay close attention to the real color of your furnishings, flooring, and cabinetry, because they too matter when you’re putting together a room. Of course, this applies to all natural materials that we tend to lob into a single neutral category: slate is not gray and granite isn’t available in a range of neutrals but rather can exhibit some powerful pinks and greens.
…and if you don’t believe me about wood not (always) being brown, check our my montage of unedited sample scans of wood and slate below. You can view it larger by clicking on the image. From mahogany to distressed reclaimed wood to slate, natural materials come in all colors of the rainbow. The first four images are wood, and the last three are slate. Wow…right?!