I’ve been really excited to share this next instalment in my Dark Decor blog series, since it’s paying homage to a key element that’s my absolute failsafe for creating a balanced dark interior. Whenever I’m designing a dark room, there’s one natural material that I always incorporate somewhere, and that’s wood. The more characterful, the better. Wood instantly adds warmth and texture, simply-put, it grounds a dark colour-scheme - and here’s how you can use wooden touches to elevate your home… 

Natural Beauty

I intentionally choose a pale herringbone oak solid wooden parquet floor to contrast with slightly darker, beautifully grained oak kitchen cabinetry and darker grey cupboards and wraparound concrete island. We were drawn to the characterful, unique and knotted finish in each individual block that was used to create this floor and the traditional methods of craftsmanship that were employed to lay it and sand it to perfection. The whole process took a while but the end result was totally worth it for the warmth and character it brought to this space.

Oak Kitchen by Philippa McFarlane
Cabinetry and floors were finished with Osmo Polyx Oil in Grey and Osmo Polyx Oil Raw in a matte finish.


My top tip for using wood? Don’t be afraid to play with different grains or finishes. When I choose the oak cabinetry for our large fridge double doors, I intentionally designed them to be cut from the same piece of wood, so the grain flowed across. This gave a really contemporary and sleek finish.
Characterful, knotted oak cabinetry lifts dark grey cupboards and adds warmth to this neutral colour palette. 

Yet I truly believe a statement wooden table is one of the simplest and most practical ways to ground a kitchen or dining space. In my previous kitchen, I intentionally chose a contrasting paler finish for the solid oak breakfast bar and dining table in the adjoining dining space. Both were finished using a specialist Danish woodcare product called Woca. 

Pale oak breakfast bar and dining table contrast dark wooden joists of the orangery.


A pale oak table draws the eye and contrasts with darker walls or cabinetry.

A pale oak table draws the eye and contrasts with the dark wooden joists of the orangery. 

 Adding a statement piece of whitewashed or bleached wooden furniture, like this antique French bleached oak dresser that is currently stocked at Sandrock House, has a similar impact too.

bleached oak French kitchen dresser


A 19th Century French dresser crafted from bleached oak, a subtle hue. delicate carvings on the cupboard doors, as well as its original glass and its key/lock system 

Keep it simple

Incorporating wood into a scheme doesn’t need to mean extensive renovations - simply adding a few wooden touches or key pieces of vintage or antique wooden furniture instantly contrasts against darker walls. 

antique French commode with black marble top
 The perfect piece for a collector or homeowner in search of unique, characterful furniture with handsome period elegance. Brass handles adds an eye-catching touch of elegance.



Industrial and seriously cool, this pedestal metal desk features a solid oak top, two large cupboards, each with an internal wooden shelf  and a central pull-out drawer.. 


large wooden frame convex mirror

 Create an impressive focal point and allow the light to bounce around a room to give a heightened sense of light and space with this feature convex wooden mirror.


A top tip to lift a dark bathroom is to use an antique marble top commode as a basin vanity or even a simple, wooden milking stool as a towel rest. In bedrooms, and living spaces, an antique wooden French commode can create this effect. 

This works brilliantly in even the smallest spaces, like bathrooms. I even once repurposed a wooden, antique chest of drawers as a bathroom basin vanity.Yet if bathroom space is at a premium, just adding a simple, wooden milking stool as a towel rest or a wooden convex mirror adds a touch of wood to soften the space. 



In the master bedroom at Sandrock House, I stripped and sanded the original Victorian floorboards before sealing them with a pale whitewash-effect to get a softly distressed, weathered finish. I used Bona Craft Oil 2k in Sand, a gentle off-white, that brought warmth and light to the room and really popped against the blue-black Farrow & Ball Railings walls.


pale floorboards in a dark bedroom with a bath in the bay window


Using darker tones of wood to create a dark interior in the adjoining walk in dressing room is another method I’ve used to create a dramatic look. Here, I aspired for the room to emulate a classic gentleman’s club or a haberdashery, with sleek, dark glass-fronted wardrobes that contrasted beautifully with the pale wood flooring. The cabinetry was finished in Bona Craft 2k Oil in Dark Brown.


Dressing room: dark wood glazed cabinetry contrasted with pale wooden floorboards.


Oak cabinetry finished in Bona 2k Oil in dark oak

 For more interior inspiration and to discover the timeless elegance of wooden furniture and homewares at Sandrock House, visit us at in store or browse our online collection. Here's some of our current favourites.

Sandrock House in Dorking's West Street


Next up in the final part of this blog series, I'll delve into an exciting element used in dark interiors to achieve the Sandrock House aesthetic. And please do sign up to our 'Sandrock House Insights' newsletter here to be the first to hear about our next blog post, latest news, special offers and to receive a 10% discount off your first order online at Sandrock House. 

November 16, 2023 — Philippa McFarlane

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