It’s easy to see why wooden furniture is so popular. Not only does it work with a variety of décors – from minimalist right through to rustic – but there are any number of woods to choose from, each with their own unique benefits. So many that making a decision on what to buy can be tricky. Here’s how to work out the best wood for your furniture needs.
Hardwood versus softwood – which is best?
The types of wood most commonly used in furniture divide into hardwood and softwood. Hardwoods include mahogany, oak, ash and walnut, while pine, beech, birch and cedar are softwoods. Hardwoods tend to be darker in colour and softwoods lighter, although there are some exceptions. Here’s how to choose between them…
Best wood for… dining spaces
Hardwoods, such as solid oak, are often used for dining tables and sideboards because of their durability. They are also less likely to split than softwood, due to their denser grain. For dining chairs, ash in a popular choice, thanks to its superb bending abilities.
Best wood for… classic style
Dark wood furniture – made from materials such as mahogany and walnut – looks great paired with a traditional décor. It’s ideal for bringing a sense of occasion to dining rooms, or anywhere you want to create a grand, welcoming space to entertain family and friends. Plus, these woods make great family heirlooms as they last and last.
Best wood for… modern décor schemes
If you want a more modern feel to your space, try cedar or pine. These softwoods tend to be paler in colour, making them perfect for light, bright interiors in a more contemporary décor. Beech is a smart choice as its shock-resistant and easy to polish and care for.
Want a wood that’s modern yet hardwearing? Consider birch. Although it’s a softwood, birch is resistant against shrinking, swelling and warping and is often used in furniture with simple lines – making it perfect for achieving a cool, contemporary look.
Best wood for… your living room
When it comes to coffee tables and bookcases, softwoods such as beech are great as they’re relatively inexpensive. Perfect if you have a young family and your needs may change over the next few years.
Pine is another good choice as it works well with other woods. This is useful if you can’t update your whole room in one go so need your pieces to complement your existing furniture.
Best wood for… dark or small spaces
Light woods, such as birch, pine and ash are an ideal choice in narrow or dark rooms because dark woods, such as walnut or mahogany can overwhelm small spaces. Best to keep these for the brighter, more spacious areas of your home.
Best wood for… country style living
Choose a wood that has a rustic appearance and is full of character. A set of furniture in light pine can create a cosy, coordinated feel without dominating the whole room, or feeling too matchy-matchy.
Have more questions on wooden furniture? Read our buying guides on oak and pine furniture to find out more.