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What Should You Consider When Selecting a Wood Finish?

Happy Spring to all my Tinsel House readers out there! We are getting out of the house more and more, and finding little odd jobs around our home, particularly several wood shelves that would benefit a re-stain. So I thought we could take the opportunity to talk about wood finishes this week! Read on for some tips on how to select a good finish, how to make decisions when you’re renovating some but not all, and how to problem solve in the moment.


When you’re selecting a stain finish, it’s almost always going to be for one of two scenarios. You’re either working with a blank slate via new construction/full remodel, or you’re implementing a new stain with existing floors, ceilings, doors, and trim and have extra considerations. I recommend that you look at the entire scope of the project to inform your decision:



  • If you’re working with a blank slate, great! The sky’s the limit. You can determine the perfect combination of woods and finishes for your new or renovated home. This can include sourcing anything from standard cabinet choices like oak and maple, to more premium finishes like black walnut or cherry wood. For accent pieces, you may want to consider larger, thicker slabs and live edge finishes for a totally custom look. While you can check online for inspiration, but we recommend visiting a local lumber store to understand more about grain and texture, flooring vs cabinetry options, and optimal finishes. Not to mention, this helps you see the true color up close- online photos don’t tell the whole story!



  • On the other hand, you may be replacing the flooring and installing new laminates or hardwoods. First, review the following items: the interior door color, the ceiling color, any wood or trim that may be in the same space. Sometimes it’s easy to find a stain color that works with everything, but most of the time there’s not a perfect solution. In the Lake Tahoe area, it is very common for older cabins to have an orange-tone pine used throughout. Every so often it works, in most cases it does not! And when local clients start looking at new flooring, they typically gravitate towards modern, on trend options that are often in lighter shades. Blending these two opposites can be overwhelming to say the least! Seeking professional advice will help you look at all the puzzle pieces to come up with the right design solution.



Here at Tinsel House, I recommend the following three-step approach when working with clients to incorporate a new wood stain or finish:

  1. Try to match the new color as closely as possible to the existing ceiling, doors and trim.

  2. Or, install the flooring finish of your choice, then re-paint the rest.

  3. Last, try to pair new flooring with a combination of some painted areas and others that use the existing stain.

That’s it, now get out there and enjoy the nice weather! And keep an eye out for any potential wood stain projects, Tinsel House Studio would love to help you refresh your look.

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