I used to really like dark stain and used it on almost everything. Now, I rarely touch the stuff.
A dark stain, typically walnut, was once a staple of my shop. There were few things I made that couldn’t be improved by darkening them, or so I thought. These days, though, I’m more inclined to leave wood natural and let time and nature take its course
Don’t get me wrong, I still use walnut stain but only when it’s right for the project. When making a reproduction that is stained, for example, or trying to match a general color tone to complement existing furniture, I have no issues.
But some things, I’ve decided, just shouldn’t be that dark. Flooring is a good example.
The trouble with dark flooring is that it shows absolutely everything. Like in the photo of the oak floor above, no matter how often you sweep or clean, the floor looks dirty. Above, just a few errant sesame seeds from my morning bagel stand out like fireflies in the dark. Wait… is that a stray gray hair. Can’t imagine where that came from.
On the other hand, had that oak flooring been left natural (or had a bit of golden oak stain at most), my kitchen wouldn’t look like a pigsty mere moments after cleaning. It would also mean that my kitchen – already way too dark an area for my tastes – would be a bit brighter and warmer.
I’m not alone in this. My wife feels the same way. While visiting relatives this past weekend, one of them who has walnut-stained oak floors lamented the same thing. I have no idea if this change of color preferences is age-related, although all those opining on the subject this weekend were indeed older (and one of them likely responsible for that gray hair in the photo). If so, I prefer to think that my tastes have matured, rather than aged.