Walnut wood is known for its durability, shock resistance, and strength. As one of the most popular woods used to make furniture in the US, the color of walnut is much loved and used in many projects.
In this article, we’ll cover what walnut color is, what walnut similar colors are, and how to pair it with other colors.
What Color is Walnut?
Walnut is a shade of brown named after the wood which is harvested from walnut trees. The true color of walnut wood can vary depending on the type of walnut tree it came from and whether the wood is sapwood or heartwood.
The heartwood is the innermost part of the trunk, and it is the most desirable type of walnut wood. This is because the heartwood is stronger and more robust than the sapwood, and it also offers a greater degree of resistance to decay and pests.
The heartwood of walnut will have the characteristic medium to dark brown color that most people associate with this type of wood. It can also have some red undertones or streaks of blonde.
The sapwood, by comparison, is a lighter shade of brown with more creamy hues. The sapwood is inferior compared with the heartwood, but it still has its uses in furniture making.
Walnut is not just a color of wood; it can also be a color of paint or fabrics. The color of walnut hovers between medium brown and dark brown. It has a subtle warm tone, which means it has a comforting appeal but is not overwhelmingly rich. Some walnut paint shades will have undertones of purple, which means they can work well in both warm and cool color schemes.
What does Walnut Color Mean?
As a shade of brown, walnut is associated with feelings of strength, maturity, and resilience. Its link to these qualities could be one of the reasons why many offices, workplaces, and study areas are decorated in shades of medium to dark brown wood.
Walnut is also representative of earth and nature since it is a color commonly found in the natural world. The link between walnut and trees also helps to define this color as earthy and robust.
Walnut brown has a warm temperature which means it can be used to convey a sense of comfort in interior design. Walnut contains various tones, which vary from rich to subtle, and this can help walnut work as an interesting yet neutral feature in a room. Opt for walnut pieces in a room when you want it to feel grand and reliable or cozy and nurturing.
Similar Colors to Walnut
Umber is a pigment of the earth that has a medium reddish-brown color. When burnt, it develops into a darker shade, which is known as burnt umber. The tone of umber is very similar to walnut, and in fact, walnut-colored stains for wood are said to be created using umber as one of the main shades.
Both of these colors are very close to each other on the color wheel and could be used interchangeably in interior design. The best way to tell them apart is to identify the richer and warmer tone among the two, as this will typically be umber. Walnut has a warm tone which is less perceptible.
Chocolate brown is darker and richer than walnut, but the two colors share a lot of similarities. In walnut wood, the darker streaks can be described as chocolate brown, while the lighter streaks have more of a tan color.
If you want to find a rich and decadent shade of brown for a room, then opt for chocolate brown, while walnut is better suited to more modern or subtle interior decor themes. Read our post ‘colors that go with chocolate brown‘ for some of these color scheme ideas.
Pecan and walnut are two very similar colors. They are both a mid to dark shade of brown, but the distinguishing quality of pecan is that it has more red tones in it compared with walnut.
Using pecan in interior design will result in a more obviously warm atmosphere compared to walnut, which can make this color feel a little dated or old-fashioned. For a warm to neutral shade of brown that has a contemporary feel, walnut will be a better choice.
How to Use Walnut in Home Decor
Walnut hardwood flooring
Walnut hardwood flooring is revered as one of the most sought-after types of floor surface, along with oak. This is because walnut is extremely hard-wearing and strong, as well as being a beautiful color that can work in both classic and contemporary style spaces.
The grain of walnut is quite open, which will give hardwood flooring an interesting look. Use walnut hardwood flooring in a room where you want to create a sense of warmth and strength. Walnut has a reliable quality that makes a room feel safe and solid, while the subtle rich brown tones mean that a room also feels soft and comforting.
Opting for a walnut hardwood floor creates a base for the room, which grounds it and sets the tone for the rest of the design. Paint walls in a pale shade of gray to define the space as modern, or opt for muted beige colors for a warm neutral color palette.
Walnut is a prized type of wood, and as such, it can be very expensive to buy. Fortunately, one of the characteristics of walnut which make it so popular with carpenters is that it is extremely easy to work with.
It machines well and can be sliced to very thin panels and used as veneer. This involves using an adhesive to stick a thin sheet of walnut to a less expensive type of wood, giving furniture the look of walnut at the fraction of the cost.
Using walnut veneer in home decor is a budget-friendly way to benefit from the warmth and style that walnut offers. Use walnut veneer countertops in a kitchen for a farmhouse look, or choose walnut veneer shelving in a home office to create an impressive professional style.
If you want to add walnut to your room but don’t want to change your floor surface, then opt for walnut furniture instead. Walnut furniture can make a big impact in a room, setting the scene as luxurious yet functional, as walnut is known to be expensive and stylish while also offering practicality and longevity due to its high quality.
Opt for a solid walnut dining table to impress guests, and avoid using a tablecloth as this would hide the natural beauty of the wood. You could also look for an accent chair for a living room with a walnut frame to make the space feel classy and substantial.
Walnut wood is expensive to buy, but if you want to add the look of this wood to your home on a budget, then you can treat your existing furniture with a walnut stain. This will give the effect of walnut without the high price tag.
You can also find plenty of furniture manufacturers selling inexpensive pieces which have been stained with walnut to give them a more high-end look.
Walnut soft furnishings
Walnut, of course, doesn’t need to be reserved solely for wood. Opt for soft furnishings in walnut to make a room feel cozier and more comfortable. A walnut-colored leather sofa will work well in a rustic style space or a charming country cottage with red and cream plaid cushions.
Walnut silk curtains will add a luxury appeal in an ethnic-inspired room, or choose walnut-colored clay pots and planters for an earthy vibe in home decor.
Colors that Go with Walnut
To create a contemporary feel in a room with walnut furniture, paint the walls in charcoal gray and contrast this with pale gray or gray-blue curtains and accessories. The cool tones in gray will balance out the warm tones in walnut to achieve an easy, relaxing vibe.
You can also look for furniture which incorporates both colors to use as inspiration for a color scheme, for example, a walnut coffee table with gray metal legs or a gray concrete dining table with solid walnut legs.
Green and walnut are a safe color pairing because they are found together in nature. As such, they work really well in a natural themed decor.
Choose walnut hardwood flooring and an olive green sofa, or set a variety of houseplants with green foliage on a walnut shelf. Any shade of green will work with walnut; opt for a walnut and light green color scheme for a refreshing decor or dark green and walnut for a more intimate look.
If you want to draw out the red tones in your walnut wood, then pair it with red accessories. Red blankets will look cozy and inviting on a walnut-colored sofa, or choose red curtains against a walnut window frame.
A red and walnut color scheme is ideal for rooms where you want to feel safe, secure, and relaxed. It will create a very warm and welcoming room that has associations with fall, which you can highlight by choosing soft fabrics and textures such as walnut corduroy cushion covers and red flannel blankets.