Different Styles of Hardwood Floors: Aesthetic and Functional Choices

By Cezar

Hardwood floors are a timeless feature, adding warmth, elegance, and character to any space. However, selecting the right hardwood can be challenging due to the variety of wood species, finishes, and plank styles available. Achieving a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing interior requires understanding how to match your hardwood flooring with your home’s architectural style. Different styles of hardwood floors play a crucial role in this process.

Pairing Hardwood Floors with Architectural Styles

1. Classic Traditional Homes

Traditional architecture, including Georgian, Colonial, and Victorian styles, is known for its symmetry, balance, and enduring elegance. Hardwood floors in these settings should support the grandeur of the space. Classic wood species like oak, mahogany, or walnut in warm, medium tones are recommended. Wider planks with a smooth or wire-brushed finish enhance spaciousness and formality. Hand-scraped textures can introduce a historical touch by showcasing natural variations in the wood grain. If your traditional floors start showing wear, hardwood floor refinishing can restore their original beauty and extend their life.

2. Cozy Farmhouse Interiors

Farmhouse style evokes warmth, nostalgia, and a connection to nature. Light-colored woods like white oak, hickory, or maple create a sense of openness and complement the light and airy feel typical of farmhouse interiors. Wider planks with a hand-scraped or distressed finish add rustic character, mimicking the worn beauty of an old farmhouse. Hickory, one of the hardest domestic hardwoods available in the United States, is ideal for high-traffic areas in a farmhouse.

3. Modern Industrial Spaces

Industrial-inspired spaces are defined by clean lines, exposed brick or concrete, and functionality. Hardwood floors in these settings should complement the raw beauty of the exposed elements. Darker wood species like walnut, espresso-stained oak, or reclaimed wood are suitable choices. Narrow planks with a smooth or matte finish create a sleek, contemporary look. Reclaimed wood is environmentally friendly and can add unique character to your space, with its own history and imperfections.

4. Chic Mid-Century Modern Homes

Mid-century modern design features clean lines, organic shapes, and functionality. Hardwood floors should enhance this aesthetic by creating a sense of flow and openness. Teak, walnut, or light-colored oak in warm or honey tones are excellent choices. Wider planks with a smooth or low-gloss finish create a sophisticated look. Teak is naturally water-resistant, making it an excellent choice for kitchens and bathrooms in a mid-century modern home.

Different Styles of Hardwood Floors Aesthetic and Functional Choices

5. Bright Scandinavian Designs

Scandinavian design prioritizes functionality, natural light, and a connection to nature. Hardwood floors should create warmth and spaciousness. Light-colored woods like white oak, beech, or light maple are ideal. Wider planks with a smooth or low-gloss finish enhance openness and reflect the natural light characteristic of Scandinavian design. Light-colored wood floors help to brighten up spaces during long, cold winters common in Scandinavian countries.

Table: Hardwood Flooring Choices by Architectural Style

Architectural Style

Ideal Wood Species

Color Tone

Plank Width



Oak, Mahogany, Walnut

Warm Medium

Wide (over 5 inches)

Smooth or Wire-Brushed

White Oak, Hickory, Maple



Hand-Scraped or Distressed


Walnut, Espresso Oak, Reclaimed Wood


Narrow (less than 4 inches)

Smooth or Matte

Mid-Century Modern

Teak, Walnut, Light Oak

Warm or Honey


Smooth or Low-Gloss


White Oak, Beech, Light Maple



Smooth or Low-Gloss

Factors to Consider: Plank Width, Finish, and Grain

While wood species and color are important, other factors also play a significant role in achieving the desired architectural harmony with different styles of hardwood floors.

  1. Plank Width. Wider planks (over 5 inches) create a sense of spaciousness and formality, suitable for traditional and mid-century modern styles. Narrower planks (less than 4 inches) offer a more casual and contemporary look, ideal for farmhouse and industrial settings.
  2. Finish. A glossy finish reflects light, making a room appear larger and brighter. Matte finishes offer a subdued look, often preferred in rustic and industrial settings. Distressed or hand-scraped finishes add character and history, suitable for traditional and farmhouse styles.
  3. Grain. Straight grain patterns lend formality, while a rustic look can be achieved with a wire-brushed finish that highlights natural variations in the wood grain.

Choosing Consistent or Contrasting Hardwood Flooring

Once you’ve identified the ideal hardwood for each room based on architectural style, decide whether to maintain a consistent look throughout the house or create visual distinctions between spaces using different styles of hardwood floor

Maintaining Consistency

  • Unified Aesthetic: Choosing the same wood species and finish throughout your home creates visual continuity, making your space feel larger and more open. This approach is effective in open-concept floor plans where different areas transition seamlessly.
  • Effortless Elegance: A consistent hardwood floor provides a timeless and elegant backdrop for your furniture and décor, ideal for traditional and mid-century modern styles.

Strategic Contrasting

  • Defining Spaces: Using different wood species or finishes in specific areas helps to visually define separate living zones within an open floor plan. For instance, darker wood in the kitchen can subtly separate it from lighter wood in the living room.
  • Highlighting Architectural Features: Contrasting hardwood flooring can draw attention to architectural elements like fireplaces, built-in bookshelves, or entryways. For example, using darker wood around a fireplace can create a focal point.

Finding the Balance

  • Subtle Variations: Consider introducing subtle variations even when maintaining a consistent wood species. A smooth finish in the living room could be contrasted with a hand-scraped finish in the hallway for added textural interest.
  • Transition Strips: Transition strips are crucial when transitioning between different types of flooring, including hardwood and other materials like tile or carpet. Choose a transition strip that complements the color and style of your hardwood flooring for a seamless look.

The Final Touch

Rugs can add color, pattern, and texture to your space. When choosing rugs to complement your hardwood flooring, consider the following:

  1. Size and Scale. A large rug can anchor a living room, while smaller rugs can define areas within a larger room. Consider the size of the furniture the rug will be placed under and ensure it leaves an appropriate amount of exposed hardwood floor around the perimeter.
  2. Color and Pattern. Solid-colored rugs can create a calm atmosphere, while patterned rugs add visual interest and personality. Lighter-colored rugs can open up a space, while darker rugs create a more intimate feel.
  3. Material. Natural fiber rugs like wool and sisal complement the natural beauty of hardwood floors. For high-traffic areas, consider a low-pile rug that is easier to clean and shows less wear and tear.


By carefully considering both aesthetics and functionality, you can select hardwood flooring that complements your home’s architectural style and creates a beautiful, livable space. Hardwood flooring is a long-term investment, so choose wisely to enjoy its timeless elegance and warmth. With thoughtful planning and these guidelines, you can find the perfect hardwood flooring to elevate your home and reflect your personal style.