We are incredibly lucky to live when we do. The options available to us for furnishing our homes are wide and varied. There are a huge number of materials both natural and man made that can be used. We have, just as some examples, leather, acrylics, fabrics of all types, numerous plastics, iron, aluminium tubing, chrome and of course the forefather of much of our furniture, wood!
There have been alternating cycles of fashion and preference when it comes to the materials, we use for our home furnishings. We have seen the rise of the man-made mesh fabrics, plastics, and metal tubes. Recently the pendulum has swung back towards the more natural end of the spectrum for a variety of reasons. Of course, the raw good looks of natural materials is one aspect but increasingly people are becoming more aware of their environmental impact and are choosing the things they buy with a view to sustainability and the ecosystem we all inhabit.
So, if we go the wooden route what are the benefits and disadvantages if any of that choice?
Starting off with the positives:
A good piece of wooden furniture looks truly phenomenal. Wood really is the ageless material that never goes wholly out of fashion. Unlike some of the planned obsolescence, buy now to replace in a couple of years when they are no longer in vogue, a classic wood creation looks stunning from the time of creation all through the following eras.
You get incredible flexibility with wood. There are so many hues, tones and textures from the dark, deep and heavy grained woods to the lighter Scandinavian feel. You can find pieces to fit with any theme from traditional rustic cabins and farmhouses to Edwardian or Victorian elegance right the way through cutting edge modern creations.
Well-made units last an incredible amount of time even in real life use. There are no end of examples of, say, centuries old chairs that are still in every day use. People think nothing of sourcing something from the time of Queen Victoria at an auction house, taking it home and expecting it to still be as usable and durable as ever. In fact the wear and tear that comes from its use can add value. We spoke to Thom Howden of Kalusto Furniture about that very thing. “Yes, it is true to say that a well-used bit of wooden furniture is attractive. One of the things we specialise in is a style called shabby chic where people are looking for that lived in appearance.”
Wood is a sustainable, eco-friendly resource. You are not worried about needing specialist disposal, or off gassing from your walnut sideboard.
So much for some of the more obvious positives, what about any downsides to buying wood furniture?
Well, if the wood is either poorly treated or is recycled from less-than-ideal sources again without treatment then there is a possibility of existing insect infestation or future damage. With a professionally created item or well treated wood this is really a minimal risk.
In high moisture environments wood can warp, again this is more likely with poor quality items.
In the event of a fire, wood will burn, but so will many of the other materials and belongings in a home.
As you can see it is more of a struggle to think of negative aspects to what is a sustainable, low environmental impact and aesthetically versatile and pleasing material.