My friend Candace recently visited the blog and asked the question of mixing wood tones on older peices and newer pieces of furniture. She asked if there were any rules. My repsonse has always been that there are no rules. However, the common misconception is that you should choose one finish and stick with it. I disagree for three reasons: 1. Your home should be a reflection of who you are, and you should feel free to bring home furniture you love without needing to "match" something that you already have and may not love. 2. You can always adjust accessories, finishes, and furniture arrangement to create a cohesive look. Lastly, #3. How boring!
So in Candace's case her new pieces have that great rich espresso finish, while her existing furniture is light blond. While there may not be "rules", you can use some basic design priciples to bring it all into balance. You are looking to blend the pieces and have them complement eachother. Pull out the tones in both wood finishes through accessories and add dashes of a favorite hue to tie it all together. For example, if your coffee table is dark, seek out a large woven bowl in a lighter finish for magazines or decorative green seed balls. On the lighter dining table place three dark wood pillar holders with light green pillar candles. If the buffet or server is dark add a piece of colorful green art glass or a vase and hang a mirror over it to reflect the whole scene.
If you want to favor the dark finish, maybe stain the dining room chairs to match or paint them black to add a third element. In your dining area, consider an enexpensive chocolate brown sisal rug to ground the light table and express the darker finishes as dominant in the setting. For later down the road, keep your eyes open for a painting that incorporates a contrast of light and dark with the accent color and a few new hues to add interest. And of course, you can always use pillows. Try a couple of solid espresso brown ones grouped with a green and gold patterened one. As for sources for such accessories on a budget try: TJ Maxx (art glass and art work),Target (pillows) and Cost Plus (mirrors,woven objects and rugs). A great link for inspirational rooms is via Cottage Living's website. Good luck, you can do it!