What is unfinished furniture?
We field, read, and see a lot of questions about unfinished furniture. In this post, we’re giving you the 101 on Unfinished Furniture, with tips on finishing techniques, unique modern designer’s takes, how to choose unfinished antiques and some resources for in-depth study.
Unfinished furniture is generally sought after for its construction: handmade of quality durable solid wood, these pieces can stand the test of time. With unfinished pieces, buyers can be sure of the quality of wood and craftsmanship by virtue of flaws being visible on inspection. Plus with the ability to choose stains, paints and hardware, buyers have a hand in creating the perfect piece for their home.
Others opt for the rawness of unfinished furniture – antique and modern -that let the materials share their histories. These pieces, unique in design, can be used in outdoor living spaces with the right sort of sealant.
Fabien Capello created his natural wood furniture directly from pine trees discarded in the post-Christmas trash. A modern twist on unfinished furniture.
Have a do-it-yourself attitude? Great design sense? Unfinished furniture can be personalized by those who wish to create their own heirlooms or are simply looking for a creative outlet – staining, painting and stenciling furniture to create one-of-a-kind pieces that uniquely suit their décor.
Consider yourself warned: many of these techniques take time and a level of skill. So if you’re a novice, do yourself the favour of completing your research and start with a small and simple project. You can also opt to have the furniture finished professionally as many retailers of unfinished furniture also provide these services if your vision is beyond your level of commitment.
For those of you up to the challenge, some DIY finishing resources:
Raw – The Modern Designer’s Vision for Unfinished Furniture
Contemporary designers have updated the traditional designs of unfinished furniture, shifting the focus to the story organic materials, particularly wood, can tell. Creating well-built functional pieces in interesting shapes these unique designs engage the rawness of the wood to let the grain, knots and imperfections inform the finished piece.
Take this bench by Adrian Swinstead: using a raw log with minor adjustments he creates a comfortable sitting surface. The sleek modern design marries a reverence to the natural world.
What about unfinished antiques?
There are those who look for antiques that have unique distressed looks, with the beautiful patina only time can provide. Many of these tell a rich stories about the era in which they were built – lines, engravings, weathering patterns can all reference design periods, cultures and environments.
Beyond aesthetics, there is additional benefit to using aged woods for certain design elements. According to Whole Log Lumber, unfinished antique and reclaimed woods have lower moisture content making them more solid and stable, particularly important if you’re thinking of investing in a mantle. Unfinished antique mantles won’t shrink when exposed to the heat of a fireplace as newer woods can.
Image via Greetea Design
This antique Harbin Elm from Greentea Design has a rustic design that highlights the finely textured wood grain. This Harbin elm console table evokes the culture of its origins in North East China; simple, serene, and yet full of character.
Interested in some of the antique pieces you’ve seen here? Greentea Design makes regular trips to Asia combing through amazing antique markets. If you’re looking for something in particular, contact Greentea with your vision and they will keep their eyes will be peeled for you during these buying trips.