Wooden furniture undoubtedly has a timeless quality, perhaps because it has been around for so long. Being very versatile, wood can enhance any kind of interior. It doesn’t matter if you prefer a look that projects rustic charm, modern industrial or contemporary chic.
As long as you know how to work with and around wooden furniture, there are clever ways to help it to fit into your preferred decorative style. Here are a few things to think about, depending on the type of wooden furniture you have:
Know Your Wood
While almost any type of wood can be used to build furniture, there are some that have become favorites because they have attractive characteristics. Softwoods are derived from conifer trees including cedar, fir, larch, pine and spruce. They are usually not as expensive as hardwoods and much paler in terms of color.
Hardwoods come from deciduous trees, are generally darker in color and can be quite expensive. Sources include ash, beech, birch, cherry, mahogany, maple, oak and walnut. Other hardwoods such as elm and poplar are smooth-grained and often used for wooden shutters because they are easily stained or painted to order.
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Most Popular Woods for Furniture
You will find that some types of wood are turned into furniture more often than others. Here are a few examples of the most popular:
- Ash, which is light brown, is very tough. However, it bends well and is often used in the manufacture of items such as chairs with curved arms or backrests.
- Beech is very light and has an even surface, and it is also very tough and shock-resistant. It responds well to polishing, looking warm and gleaming. Popular furniture items include cots, desks and bookcases.
- Cherry is strong and long-lasting and will darken with age, depending on how much natural light it is exposed to in your home. Favorite furniture pieces include bed frames and chests of drawers.
- Mahogany colors can vary from a mid-range brown to a deeper, red-brown, depending on age. Traditionally, this is one of the most popular and versatile woods for furniture, and perhaps because it is also expensive it is often used in veneers.
- Maple is a heavy wood and very durable. It is pale in color and easily painted or stained, great for tables and chairs as well as bed frames – for example, for bunk beds.
- Oak is a substantial wood, very heavy and hard-wearing. You can opt for white oak or red oak – oak that is either whitish-grey or with a discernible reddish tint. Oak is often used for tables, chairs, bedside cabinets and chests of drawers.
- Pine is honey-colored and lightweight and blends well with other wooden furniture in your home. Being versatile, it is used for a wide variety of furnishings.
- Walnut is perhaps the darkest of the woods, being rich, dark chocolate in color, although some lighter varieties are available. It is often used for substantial pieces, such as wardrobes and chests, as well as other items.
Using Wood in Your Home
Depending on your choice of finishes, wooden furniture is versatile enough to complement most soft furnishings and modern appliances in your home. For example, a solid furniture item can look particularly good when used as a statement piece, while solid wooden shutters from a reputable company and solid internal doors create an ambiance that is elegant and can be adapted easily to your décor.
Darker furniture can be incorporated into brighter areas in your home if you combine it with strong colors, or make it a dramatic feature by using it against a paler background such as the walls and flooring.
You will find that treating and cleaning wooden furniture is generally quite straightforward, as contemporary finishes tend to be durable and low maintenance. Regular dusting – say once a week – with a slightly damp cloth helps the furniture stay clean, while polishing protects it. Polishing once or twice a year is usually sufficient.
If you are dealing with antique or fragile furniture, always make sure that the polish you choose is appropriate. Sometimes commercial sprays and waxes are unsuitable and oiled surfaces may require specialist treatment such as teak or linseed oil.
In the end, how you use wooden furniture is very much a personal choice. With mix and match décor being the current trend, those solid pieces can find a natural home in any domestic setting.