Wood is nature’s gift to us. For tens of thousands of years, humankind has relied on wood to keep us warm, to cook our food, build our homes and to make our tools from.
Going beyond that, the trees that give us timber play a central role in the health of our planet. Trees store nearly half the Earth’s land-based carbon and account for 50% of overall plant productivity.
They are the major source of the oxygen we need to breathe, they hold up complex ecosystems that allow billions of creatures to flourish and they are a critical partner if we are to avert climate disaster by lowering carbon levels in the atmosphere.
No wonder wood holds a special place in our hearts. As a material in our homes, it’s almost as if it represents life itself. Natural, rustic, earthy, durable, timeless – these are all qualities that speak of our connection to something larger than ourselves. Wood is not just practical and intrinsically beautiful. It’s a symbol of our relationship to the world around us. It’s right that we should revere it.
Of course, part of that reverence should include awareness of the need to source wood sustainably and responsibly. Deforestation has caused much damage globally and sadly continues to do so. We should never take wood for granted. For all its abundance, it is a precious commodity that we should always treat with respect.
When we treat wood as a luxury rather than as a right, we become more conscious of where it has come from. We make more careful decisions about managing resources sustainably. We put a value on it that encourages investment in well-managed forests. We reuse it wherever possible.
Happily, wood lends itself well to being treated as a luxury material. Used with skill and an eye for detail, it can give any home a classical look that strikes an easy balance between traditional refinement and earthy charm.
Here’s how to let the natural power of wood uplift your own home.
Opt for hardwoods
Most timber used for general purposes is softwood like pine. Fast-growing coniferous softwoods lend themselves well to sustainable forestry, where the quantities of lumber cut down are matched by output from new plantations.
But for something more exclusive, you can’t beat hardwood. Slower-growing hardwoods like oak, maple and teak are not as readily available as pine. But that just adds to the sense of luxury, complemented by the rich colouration and durable sense of permanence hardwoods carry.
Make a statement with furniture
With good quality hardwood, you don’t need too much of it. Sure, you could install a hardwood floor or panel the walls of a room. It will look great. But it’s also expensive.
Good quality hardwood is the perfect material for luxury home furniture. Aesthetically pleasing, flexible, low maintenance and strong, you can make a real statement with a single signature piece.
Of course, some people like to have their homes decked out in as much wood as possible. But the point with quality timber furniture is you don’t have to. A luxury wooden dining set, for example, will fit into most dining rooms and have a profound effect on its own.
Keep an eye out for unique designs
Another of the great benefits of wood is that it can be readily shaped and worked into all manner of shapes. In the hands of a skilled craftsperson, woodwork is easily elevated to the level of art. The best, most skillfully realised, most unique pieces carry their own luxurious appeal. Perhaps it’s the marriage of nature and human skill that a beautiful piece of woodwork.embodies.
For the ultimate luxury, many people like the idea of having bespoke pieces made to measure. That way, you know there truly isn’t anything else out there like it. But you can get similar levels of exclusivity from short-run craft furniture collections.
Make something new from old
It’s no secret how sought after antique wooden furniture is. Original pieces from famous artisans who lived and worked hundreds of years ago can sell for huge sums of money. They are collector’s items, pieces of art, status symbols. They are also testament to the lasting beauty of wood.
There are other ways to capture something of the timeless connection with the past that wood offers without trawling the auction houses and antique shops. Recycled and upcycled wooden furniture is a hot trend, especially with sustainability concerns at the front of many people’s minds.
Teak, for example, is uniquely well suited to being reused and repurposed to make luxury home furniture. Widely used as a construction material in times gone by in its native south and south east Asia, teak timber is incredibly long lasting. As old wooden structures are replaced by modern building techniques using concrete, steel, brick etc, there is a lot of pre-used teak available.
Rather than it being dumped or burned, many resourceful craftspeople are now recognising the potential of this remarkable wood. They are using teak timber that may have served as part of a home or public building for 100 years to make beautiful furniture that will no doubt last another 100 years. No new trees need to be chopped down, and you get a piece with a fascinating connection to the past.