We love using unstained solid wood in our furniture like American walnut, white oak, cherry and maple. The grain patterns and colors are so gorgeous we prefer a simple clear finish to highlight the natural beauty and 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 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 over time. 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. You can see the difference between a new table (left) and a four-year-old table (right).
White oak experiences very little color change over time—its golden tones only grow slightly richer. Here’s an example of a one-year-old Callan chair in white oak sitting on a decades-old white oak floor at our Washington DC store.
Color changes tend to be the most dramatic in the first year—even within 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, we put a lamp on this walnut end table a few years ago and then never moved it. 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