Before and After: Wood’s True Colors


We love using natural, unstained solid wood in our furniture, and for good reason. The grain patterns and colors of our American walnut, cherry and maple are so gorgeous that we hate to cover them up with anything other than a clear finish to protect the surface.

Even after wood is harvested and turned into furniture, it continues to be a living, breathing material that responds to its environment just like a tree would in the forest. It expands and contracts with changes in humidity, and wood also changes color over time as it’s exposed to air and sunlight. Today we’re sharing examples of how dramatic—and beautiful—these color changes can be.


Fresh-cut maple is light and bright and then takes on a deep honey color. Here’s an example of a brand new maple office cabinet (below) next to a drawer from a much older cabinet (above).



Like maple, cherry gets darker over time. Here’s an example of a fresh-off-the-truck cherry bookcase (left) next to a cherry cabinet we’ve had at our headquarters since the 90s. A little shocking, no?



New walnut has a consistent dark brown color but as it gets older it does two things. 1) Unlike maple and cherry, it gets lighter and 2) a rich honey color starts to come through the grain.  These beauties are our new Davis table (left) and a Corbett table (right), which is about four years old.


Pro tip

Color changes tend to be the most dramatic in the first year, even in the first few months. Here’s a tip from our (unfortunate) experience: move items around on your new wood furniture so you don’t get spots that are darker or lighter. For example, here’s a walnut end table in our office that we put a lamp on a few years ago and then never moved. Lesson learned. If this happens to you, don’t panic—because the color keeps changing, the contrast will even out with time.


 Photos by Room & Board

4 Responses to “Before and After: Wood’s True Colors”

  1. Janelle

    This was helpful to read as I have several walnut R&B pieces in my home.

    Could you provide advice on what to do if your wood furniture gets scratched? The care instructions state: “While solid wood is very strong, it is susceptible to scratches and marks, so the use of trivets, coasters and pads are recommended for hot, wet or coarse items.” That advice doesn’t apply to your wood dining chairs (mine are Jansen w/o a cushion). I believe the rivets in people’s jeans are leaving scratches on them. What should I do?

    • Lyndsay LeClair

      Hi Janelle, We’re sorry to hear you chairs are getting scratched! For minor scratches, a wood filler pen or pencil from a hardware store can help cover and fill the marks. Minwax is a reliable brand for this type of product. Just test it under the seat first to make sure you’re getting a good match and are okay with how it looks. Alternatively, you can purchase replacement wood seats, replacement upholstered seats, or leather seat pads for our Jansen chairs. Because of how walnut changes color over time, a replacement wood seat might appear darker than the rest of your chair initially. Our Design Associates at 800.301.9720 can assist you with ordering replacement seats if you’d like to pursue that option. We hope this helps; thanks for your comment!

      • Janelle

        Thanks so much for your reply! I will try the pen and follow your advice. I like that there are options for replacement seats if it ends up being a bigger issue.

        I love Room & Board!

  2. Tony Miller

    Excellent read, Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I have read a few of the interesting content on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work- Wood Flooring


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