After years of painted, cerused and high gloss woods, natural wood furniture has well and truly made its way back onto the design world's mood board. In fact, if interiors magazines and Instagram are anything to go by, natural timber kitchen cabinetry might even knock painted Shaker-style kitchen design off the top spot.
And in case there’s any question mark over what’s meant by natural wood finishes—it means not painted, not stained and not engineered timber like MDF; grown from the ground, grain-rich and gorgeous like the reeded cabinet of this directional Natalia Miyar living-dining room.
Let’s take a closer look at how to make it work for your interior and why you should want to.
Natural Wood Furniture Trends in 2021
Natural wood finishes have been in vogue before. They’ve peaked a few times over the last few decades. That’s the thing with trends, they come and they go. Then, they return but with a slightly different perspective than before. It’s about evolution and seeing them in a fresh light.
So what’s on the agenda for today’s wood trends?
While raw timber is a look that’s very much at home in industrial-style interiors when mixed with rugged metal fixtures (a trend that soared eight or so years ago), and pale wood furniture is a favourite in the Scandi furniture movement, wooden furniture trends for 2021 are more about contrasts with refined architectural bones and a hybrid of finishes in the room. Any type of wood goes and any style, from contemporary silhouettes to more traditional mouldings—though the trend has been more towards rustic country on the whole. So long as you’re using your natural wood furniture with confidence, highlighting it with a more modern application of colour on your walls, and an eclectic selection of upholstery, accessories and other furniture, it’s sure to work. Eclectic. Mixed. Old meets new. Those are your buzz words.
Choosing the Right Natural Wood Finishes
The first step in knowing which natural wood finishes work for you is to follow your heart. It might sound like a cliché, but there’s little point picking out an antique pine desk just because it’s on-trend. You’ve got to love it.
The next part is easy—almost all wood finishes will work with any sort of interior. The 2021 trend throws out the rulebook and says that more traditional wood finishes like walnut and oak can work just as well in a modern city apartment whose interior is ultra minimalist with razor-sharp lines, as they can in a country manor. Equally, bleached pine and salvaged timbers aren’t solely for Scandinavian aesthetics and urban lofts. Use them in a modern country townhouse or a mid-century abode and they’ll work just fine.
Don’t be afraid to mix and match natural wood furniture either. Antiques work best when they’re mixed with new pieces, and having all one type and colour of timber in a room will feel flat. Try to stick to three or four wood finishes though—going overboard can lead your interior into muddled territory.
How to Style Home Decor with Natural Wood Furniture
One of the easiest places to start styling your interior with nature wood is timber flooring. Whether you choose planks or parquet, you can make a natural wood floor the real focal point of your room. Overlaying knotted rugs will provide a texture contrast and will ground your scheme with a softer appeal. Consider having an underfloor heating system fitted (so long as the timber’s compatible and you prepare the base layer properly—your fitter will sort all of that for you) to keep things cosy.
Natural wood can also be used on the room’s architecture—think wooden wall panelling or cladding your ceiling in timber boarding to encourage a cabin-like vibe. Go luxe with natural walnut wall paneling rather than painted and mix it with colourful bohemian rugs and an opulent velvet sofa—the result will be bold and undeniably beautiful. Or choose a classic-style panel design but in a pale natural wood finish. It’s the opposite of what’s typical, so will create an exciting interplay between old and new and will give you room to make the rest of your scheme a blend of antiques and period-style furniture and fittings.
On the subject of contrasts, if your room has lots of existing contemporary pieces of furniture and art, it’s an open invitation to bring in some rustic natural wood textures. Don’t think that you can’t pair a sleek dining table and chair set with a reclaimed teak dresser. The same applies the other way around—a room that’s more towards the traditional side with classic sofa shapes and artwork in gilded frames is a surprisingly good environment for a light wood Nordic-esque accent table or sculpture.
There isn’t really a material out there that natural wood furniture doesn’t pair well with. So when you’re styling any room, know that everything from glass and perspex to other natural materials like marble and rattan will complement natural timber. More than that, it will make it look better than ever.
Header Image: Alessia Mainardi