Category Archives: History/Reference

Key Furniture Arrangement Dimensions [Infographic]

You know the feeling when you step into a room and everything just feels right?

Welcoming, cohesive, functional…

Everyone wants to create the perfect room arrangement. But not everyone wants to hire an interior decorator to do it.

So we’ve created an infographic with the tips and tricks you need to design a great room by yourself.

And if you know someone who could use this info, please share this with them (or if you have a blog of your own, grab the embed code below.)

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From Tree to Table: The Oak Furniture Journey Infographic

History/ReferenceApril 20, 2015

Ever wonder where your oak furniture came from and how it was made? A while back, we posted about the oak furniture journey from the sustainable forests to your home. From felling and harvesting, to design and production, the steps that go into creating your oak furniture are rather extraordinary, providing a new appreciation for each unique piece. Now you can actually visualize the  process for yourself in a fun infographic.

Have questions? Post a comment below or contact us and one of our oak experts would be glad to share their insight with you!

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Solid Wood Furniture and Veneers: The Real Story

History/ReferenceDecember 8, 2014

One of the most common questions furniture shoppers asks is, “Should I only buy solid wood furniture, or is it ok if veneers are used?” Some might believe that when you’re shopping for wood furniture, only 100% solid wood is ideal. If you can’t afford solid wood you’ll have to stick with veneers – or so the story goes. But is this actually a furniture buyers’ myth? Is there more to the solid wood story than meets the eye?

contemporary-bedroom

Once Upon a Time There Was Beautiful Solid Wood Furniture….

Wood furniture offers a timeless beauty that only improves with age. High quality solid wood furniture is durable and hard-wearing.

However, the selective and strategic use of veneers has long become an effective and elegant way to maintain the style, quality and characteristics of solid wood, while enhancing the durability of your furniture.  When applied by an expert craftsman during the manufacturing process, it can actually enhance the value of the piece.

What is a Veneer?

Wood veneer is a sliver of wood that has been shaved, cut or peeled from a piece of solid wood. The slice can be paper-thin or thick enough to be sanded and shaped. Wood veneer is stuck to another wood, either plywood or a piece of solid wood. Contrary to popular belief, veneers are nothing new – the Egyptians used veneers in their furniture, and Renaissance pieces also display veneers along with solid wood. However, veneers began to get a bad reputation since the Second World War, when substandard pieces were constructed as fine wood couldn’t be found.

How to Tell the Difference Between Solid Wood Furniture and Veneers

It is often difficult to tell whether a piece of wood furniture is manufactured from solid wood or veneers. If you want to know the difference, check for banding. Bands are strips of thin wood attached to the edges of surfaces like table tops. The band has an opposite grain direction and it is designed to cover the unfinished edge of a veneer. A thick band can help you identify higher quality construction. You can also look underneath the piece of furniture – a veneer will be made up of different woods, and you can usually tell that the wood beneath is less attractive than the wood on the surface. Also check the grain. If the grain extends through the entire wood surface it is likely to be solid wood.

Image Courtesy Janus Home

Image Courtesy Janus Home

It can be tough to tell high-quality veneers from solid wood. The truth is, most modern and antique furniture pieces use a combination of solid wood and veneers. If this is the case, should you be spending hours trying to track down that elusive “genuine” fully solid wood table or set of bedroom furniture?

Are Veneers All Bad?

The use of veneers is certainly not a bad thing, and not all solid wood furniture is automatically top quality. There is a perception that using veneers devalues furniture – in reality that is not the case. Even the most prestigious and well-known designers have long used veneers. In furniture that uses a combination of solid wood and veneers, the veneers serve a valuable purpose. For example, Oak Furniture Company uses slices of solid oak fixed to solid wood in some parts in order to retain the beautiful characteristics of oak but to make use of the great benefits of veneers. Solid wood is essential for many aspects of a well-constructed piece of oak furniture – or any other wood, for that matter. It is important to use solid wood for supporting posts and legs, or for carved areas and frames. But veneers also have their own unique uses.

Advantages of veneers include the following:

  • Veneers help cut the risk of solid wood warping, twisting and cracking in the centrally heated environments of British homes. On critical joints, veneers act as “floats” between solid wood pieces so that as they expand and move, the furniture is not misshapen.
  • Veneers can utilize the most beautiful cuts of wood in some of the most visual areas without adding as much cost as a solid piece.
  • Veneers are environmentally friendly. It takes many years for an oak to mature; the use of veneers means that a higher grade of oak can be used in the structural areas and a better quality piece of furniture can be produced for the money.
  • Veneers are often used when the furniture needs to incorporate curves in the design.

Beware of Bad Veneers!

denver-side-tableRemember that not all veneers are created and applied equally. Some pieces of poorly constructed furniture use veneers to mask a dirty secret – substandard MDF or other materials that are held together with a variety of glues and other chemicals, and which will easily lose their shape and may even collapse after a few years. Poor quality veneers look odd as you can easily see that many different pieces of wood have been used to construct the furniture. Bad veneers may appear too “artificial” or mass-produced and poor techniques can result in peeling or delaminating.  It’s critical to purchase from a manufacturer that understands when and how to use veneers to truly benefit the piece and enhance the value – not to simply cut corners.

Yet don’t believe that you’ll automatically get a prime item of furniture just because it is solid wood. Often 100% solid oak items are manufactured from lower grade oak, while furniture that contains some veneers uses high-grade oak – you can actually get a lesser deal without the addition of veneers. Veneers should only be used when the wood is high quality and in areas where the addition of a veneer does not compromise the overall look or integrity of the furniture.

Solid Wood or Veneers: Which Should You Choose?

By now you hopefully understand that it’s not a one versus the other choice. The key is to look at the craftsmanship of the piece, whether it incorporates veneers or is constructed from solid wood entirely. Are the pieces constructed with care and can you see the quality in the work? A good craftsman understands wood and how to use solid wood and veneers to construct a timeless, beautiful dining table or a contemporary, light and airy bedroom set. A good craftsman also works with the wood and selects the correct joints and boards so the furniture will not split, warp or bend under normal conditions.  It should never have a mass-produced look or feel.

*Note – At Oak Furniture Company,  our expert craftsmen only utilize the finest veneers and highly selectively to enhance the durability, longevity, appearance, and value of your furniture.  Solid oak is always used in all structural areas. You are guaranteed to love your purchase.

A Brief History of Oak Furniture in the UK

History/ReferenceNovember 20, 2014

If you’re sitting on an oak chair, you’re resting on a piece of furniture with a majestic history. If you have an oak bed you can chart its evolution through the centuries – even as you sleep. Oak wood has a grand legacy in the UK and it has been used for centuries for everything from sturdy dining chairs to regal wall panelling. Oak was born in British woodlands and its use has since spread across the globe. Find out more about the history of this versatile, traditional wood and its use in contemporary furniture for your home today.

Early-Days Oak: Cheap and Plentiful

Furniture has been made from oak since medieval times. Then, oak was plentiful and cheap, strong and durable. Oak was used for chairs, tables and other household items in all kinds of dwellings, from the richest to the poorest homes. In the earliest days, oak furniture was practical and used to store essential items in the home and also to transport clothes and personal belongings when their owners made long journeys across the country. The earliest examples of oak furniture, UK–style, were rather plain or decorated with crude Gothic arches or carved Gothic forms. But what they lacked in beauty, these furniture pieces made up for in sturdiness and practicality.

In the later part of the medieval era, as families had more room in their homes and more money to spend on possessions, oak was used in more elaborately constructed and carved furniture pieces, including oak chests and chests of drawers characterised by swirling motifs and raised, decorated panels. Oak furniture was constructed with care and passed down through the generations – this tough wood offered superb value for householders looking for an attractive place to store their essentials over the years.

The Age of Oak

Model of the “Royal Oak” Courtesy of rmg.co.uk

As the versatility of oak became apparent it began to be used not only for workbenches and beds in humble dwellings, but for finer and more important purposes. And what’s more important than a ship in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy? Oak was the wood of choice for constructing ships up until the 19th century and it was also used on the walls of such prestigious locations as the debating chamber in the House of Commons.

As England became more prosperous with the increase in profitable exports of cloth in the 16th and 17th centuries, the money available for home design increased for the middle and upper classes. Homes were status symbols, and oak was in demand for furniture and decoration in every room – ornate oak wood panelling, stately four-poster beds, a set of dining chairs, and oak dining tables with delicately turned legs became fixtures in the homes of the UK’s nobility. The rich wanted to display their wealth, and what better way to do it than with finely-crafted oak furniture?

Furniture design in the 16th to 17th century is often called the Age of Oak – design in the Tudor and Jacobean styles made full use of the robust qualities of the wood to create sturdy pieces with decoration in the form of painted ornaments and additions.

Oak – the Craftsman’s Choice

Antique Oak Sideboard

Antique Oak Sideboard

At this time, the profession of carpentry or craftsman developed to meet the demand for furniture and decoration. Carpentry was a profitable career and techniques were passed down from father to son, with every new carpenter required to complete a lengthy apprenticeship before being admitted into a Guild of craftsmen. Furniture crafted from oak was usually made to order and crafted to specific design requirements. Oak furniture in the UK was at this time often initialised or inscribed with the owner’s name. Much of the oak furniture produced in the 16th and 17th centuries is still around today due to the durability of the wood and the advanced craftsmanship. Take a look at antique 17th century oak furniture and you’ll see the surface of the wood has been buffed to a smooth, attractive finish with a soft glow to the wood that comes through years of polishing and dusting.

Oak Furniture Today

If you want to get that antique look in oak furniture today you can seek out the best examples of antique oak furniture, or you can find modern oak furniture with character as well as quality – which was constructed just a few months ago. Contemporary oak furniture makes use of design pointers from the past to give you a stylish, individual piece of furniture with classic appeal. Examples of oak furniture in a classic style include the Bordeaux Rustic Oak Bedroom Furniture range, the Loire Oak Dining Room Furniture range, and the Traditional Oak furniture pieces.

Modern Oak Appeal

Modern Oak TableOf course, oak furniture does not have to look like it belongs in a Period drama. You’ll find plenty of examples of modern oak furniture that are more at home in a stylish, modern city apartment than a draughty medieval castle. Contemporary oak furniture design uses bold, simple lines and good use of light and shade to construct pieces that are functional as well as attractive. Although some items like a TV stand or coffee table our ancestors wouldn’t have known what to do with!

Oak furniture has been synonymous with quality and durability for literally hundreds of years. If you pay a visit to a stately home or castle in the UK, look out for the fine examples of oak furniture on display that look as attractive and comfortable today as they did in the times of kings, queens, knights and warriors. Or check out the oak furniture on display in everyday homes across the UK. Oak is truly a versatile and beautiful wood that has stood the test of time and will continue to be used in quality furniture design for many years to come.

 

ash furniture

All About Ash: Need-to-Know Furniture Facts

History/ReferenceNovember 3, 2014

Nothing beats a well-crafted piece of solid wood furniture for looks, style, and durability. Luckily, when you pick the wood for your furniture you have a range of options to choose from. You’ve looked at pine and oak, but what about another contender for the kind of furniture you can’t wait to show off? Ash is a versatile, attractive hardwood for the creation of some stunning pieces. If you’re new to ash, here’s a guide to the features and benefits of solid ash furniture.

Ash and Oak – The Key Differences

Oak is a beautiful wood, there’s no doubt about it. But are you looking for something a little different for your bedroom or dining room? Ash is the clear choice – a hard-wearing yet delicate-looking wood that’s suitable for all kinds of furniture. Ash is native to Europe but it grows all over the globe, including in North America and Asia.

Black Ash Wood

Black Ash (Courtesy Wood Database)

White Ash Wood

White Ash (Courtesy Wood Database)

There are over 70 ash species in the world. When you’re shopping for solid ash furniture you are most likely to encounter White Ash or Black Ash. Both solid oak furniture and solid ash furniture are constructed from dense hardwoods and the color of the finished wood is similar. Ash and oak are often interchangeable as they both have the same high quality for furniture use, but there are subtle differences between the two timbers.

Against the Grain?

wood grainThe grain of the wood is that pattern you see in the furniture when the wood has been cut and finished. Oak wood has a regular grain and also a radial grain which is at a right angle to the regular grain. These two grains give the wood a swirly pattern when cut – makers sometimes call this the “tiger oak” effect. Ash has no radial grain so when you look at a cut piece of ash you see one curvy grain pattern only. What does this mean for you as you shop for ash or oak furniture? The wood effect is slightly different for ash and oak – it depends on your preference which one you like the look of best. You may notice that ash wood provides more of an individual finish for each piece – there is a greater variation in the grain. Check out the different up-close wood finishes on different furniture pieces to get a feel for the variety.

Ash: Color and Style

Pacific Ash Furniture is characterized by a creamy-white or light brown shade – perfect for modern country-style bedrooms, and light and airy dining rooms. The clarity and subtlety of the ash wood tone also provides the finishing touch to accessories like ash mirrors and ash chests, for all different rooms in the house.

Strong Yet Sensitive

Ash is one of the hardest woods you can find but it is also surprisingly flexible, versatile and user-friendly. One of the advantages of using ash for furniture is its resistance to splitting and its shock-resistant capabilities. Ash has a janka rating – the measurement of the resistance of wood to dents and wear – of 1320, which is between the ratings of red oak and white oak. Its strength makes it suitable for areas of the house which come in for some rough treatment – you won’t damage an ash blanket box just by knocking into it, for example. Ash also takes to nails and glue easily and the grain allows for a smooth finish when paint or stain are applied. White ash boasts excellent strength for its weight, making it versatile enough for a number of different uses.

ash blanket box

Novel Uses for Ash Wood

While it is hard and tough, ash wood also bends well which makes it the material of choice for a US leisure icon – the baseball bat. Most baseball players don’t want to swing with a heavy bat but they do need to swing hard – ash is the wood that provides players with power and lightness. You’ll also find ash canoe paddles and ash hockey sticks. Due to its affinity for carving and turning, ash is also used for tool handles and cutlery handles, chair legs, chair spindles, and banisters. Because it easily accepts screws and nails, ash is often found on kitchen counters, bar tops, and stool seats.

And, of course, ash is a traditional favorite for quality furniture makers.

Advantages of Solid Ash Furniture

Ash gives furniture pieces a solid, crisp line – the honey-toned wood has a subtle elegance and a timeless look. Ash furniture does not overpower a room. If you want to keep the atmosphere bright and create the impression of space, choosing ash furniture opens up the room and makes the most of natural light coming in. For the best space-creating layout, use furniture that is similar in style and with the same color of wood in order to create order and calm. Using a mirror to reflect light also enhances the sense of space in a small area.

Solid ash wood sourced from renewable forests brings a warmth and tranquility to the room. You can choose from a variety of pieces in the ash collection, including bedside tables, solid ash bed frames, wardrobes, and stools.

ash bed

Did You Know?

  • Black ash has a bark that very easily peels away and it is used for basket weaving and chair caning – in fact, early Native American people prized this delicate wood for its elasticity and delicacy. Black ash is also used to make snowshoes and lacrosse sticks.
  • When the sap of the Blue Ash is exposed to air, it turns blue. Early settlers in the US took advantage of this reaction and used Blue Ash sap to dye their cloth.

It’s clear that ash is a versatile wood that also has the advantage of being attractive and classic in style. If you’re looking for an alternative to oak, or you simply like the look and feel of this timeless solid wood in your living room or bedroom, browse the range of ash furniture and take your pick.

ash-blog

Introducing the New, Redesigned OakFurnitureCompany.com!

We’ve Done Some Interior Decorating

For the last several months, our team has been working on a brand new website, determined to give you the furniture shopping experience you crave. Adding features like improved visual navigation, wish lists, better product photo viewing, an easier checkout and much more, all packed into a new design that we hope feels as elegant as our oak furniture pieces.

Some of what you’ll find at the new OakFurnitureCompany.com:

  • Completely redesigned from the ground-up with a more eye-pleasing, intuitive layout
  • All-new navigation menu for fun & easy browsing of our huge oak furniture selection
  • Search filters to easily narrow down your options to find exactly what you’re looking for
  • Create your own wish list to save for later
  • Easily compare products side by side
  • Better product photo views
  • Faster, simplified checkout
  • Mobile friendly – easily browse or buy on your tablet or phone

Of course, you’ll continue to get our exceptional service – fast, free shipping, a dedicated customer care team and much more.

We would truly love to hear what you think of the new site. Leave a comment below and let us know!

Selecting the Perfect Color Palette to Compliment Your Oak Furniture

Colors, textures, and tones are where you have a lot of creative freedom when it comes to decorating your home,. However, it’s important to consider how your color choices will coordinate with the oak furniture that is likely to be the dominant feature in the room that you are working on. A mood board or color wheel may help you identify and organize your options. Pull together swatches of the colors and fabrics that you are considering and places these against the furniture that you have to work with. Read on for some great tips on how to think about using color in your home and you’ll become confident that you’re making great choices to compliment your oak furniture.

Choosing Your Color Palette

1. Start from the very beginning

Use the entrance to your home to set the tone. If your entrance lobby is a small space, you could opt for a small dark oak table which is both attractive and functional. Don’t try and crowd out the table with contrasting colors; go with a neutral wall color. Let the table be the star, but complement it with a piece of art. You can then take one of the stronger colors from the art (for example a deep red) and then carry that through into the next room with a deep red feature wall or a bold red couch. Don’t be too obvious about it you are building a story that connects each room of your home.

2. Work from the bottom up

This approach works very effectively in period homes in particular. Using your oak furniture as the benchmark, go with a floor color that is darker than your furniture, choose a wall color that is lighter than your furniture, and then take your window and ceiling trim lighter again. This color gradient allows you to use a range of tones from the same family and gives the room a light and airy feel while still being confident with the use of color.

3. Be bold

Experienced designers will tell you that when working with an element as strong as oak furniture, the safest way to ensure an outcome that you are happy with is to use blocks of color that will contrast against the solidity of the furniture pieces. For example you might choose to go with a feature wall against which your bed is situated. Or the room in which the dining table is might work best with deep dark color for a rich, luxurious finish.

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4. Pick a theme

Using a color theme gives your room a sense of cohesion – for example, if you have lighter furniture such as aspen white oak furniture then you need to use that as your core element and build from there. The best approach would be to continue using light colored furniture for the rest of the room and then go with a darker wall color that you can then coordinate with the fabric used for throw cushions. This will help make your decor make sense and not be a clash of competing colors or tones.

Designing the color scheme for your home can be a challenge, but it should be rewarding and it should be fun. With investment pieces such as oak furniture at its core, and a few simple design tricks up your sleeve, you will be impressing your friends and family in no time.

Oak Acorns

From Tree to Table: The Oak Furniture Journey

Oak Tree Looking UpThe unique journey your oak furniture has undertaken from our sustainable forests to your dining room or bedroom should not be underestimated. Hundreds of people have been involved in the numerous processes that ensure the safe delivery of your chosen piece of oak furniture. We at OFCo have decided to share this journey with you highlighting the transformation from oak tree to oak table and all the stages in between.

Stage 1 – The Felling

Most tree felling, or the process of downing a tree, today is done through a process of harvesting Oak Tree Fellingdone mainly by machines known as harvesters.

Based on our renewable and sustainable tree planting programme we initially highlight the group of oak trees for felling. They are secured with large chains in order to control the direction of the felling. A lot of thought is then put into the first cut process in order to understand and control the direction of the falling tree.

Once this has been established, our harvesters make specific incisions into the tree to form a hinge, this gives our harvesters control over the direction the tree will fall.

Once on the ground our oak tree has its branches removed in a process called “Snedding” which streamlines the trunk for transportation.

Stage 2 – The Sawmill

The newly cut trunk is called a sawlog, and is then crosscut by our harvesters into smaller lengths of trunk.

Forwarder

Courtesy: Wikipedia Field Researcher

The oak trunk is then picked up by a machine called a “forwarder” and transported out of the forest and placed on the back of a lorry, ready for transportation to our sawmill.

Once in the sawmill the sawlogs are cut to size in order to be kiln dried at the next stage. The oak is cut first, before drying, as the residual strength of the wood is protected. Drying at the wrong stage can cause unequal shrinkage in the wood leading to defects in strength and uniformity.

Stage 3 – Kiln Drying

The critical part of any process to ensure a high quality piece of furniture is to preserve the shape and consistency of the oak wood. The wood is stacked and racked onto drying pallets and placed inside the industrial kiln. Heat exchangers alter the temperature of the air and ultimately the moisture content in the oak.

It is important to get the wood from the sawmill to the kiln as quickly as possible in order to avoid primary decay or fungal staining.

During the process deliberate control of temperature, relative humidity and air circulation is provided to achieve effective drying.

Once completed, the oak is transported to the factory for final cutting and treating.

Stage 4 – Factory Design, Production & Delivery

This is the stage at which your piece of oak furniture begins to take on its new life. Whether it’s an oak dining table or a chest of drawers, the freshly dried oak wood moves into the production stage.

Our craftsmen take the oak wood and begin the design process for you, making sure every detail of the design is followed to the exact specification ensuring that the high quality oak wood is transformed into one of the beautiful pieces of oak furniture you desire.

The last stage is the laquer coating which is carried out in order to preserve and protect your investment.

Finished Oak Table

Now your piece of oak furniture is ready to be delivered and placed in your home by our highly skilled two man delivery team. We hope you enjoy your oak furniture for many years to come!

Want to see this post as an infographic? Click here!

Oak Sideboard

5 Reasons Why You Should Invest in Oak Furniture

History/ReferenceMarch 18, 2014

Oak furniture has a long, grand legacy. Over the centuries, everything from regal Grand Hall tables and handsome workbenches to sturdy bedding and chairs in common homes have been crafted out of oak. It was originally truly mastered in the UK, outside British woodlands, and then began to spread to the rest of the world.

Oak became the popular choice for wagons and even the stately ships in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. As interior decorating started incorporating a bit more aesthetic artistry, folks also began to use oak paneling. It continued to withstand the test of time for both form and function. With that said, let’s take a look at 5 of the top reasons why you should invest in oak furniture rather than the cheaper and unrefined alternatives.

#1: Oak Furniture is Durable

Back in WW2 when England was getting shelled constantly, oak was the furniture of choice for it’s unmatched durability and as an efficient use of the scarce timber resources. After the war, the British even declared oak a species in need of protection. While cheaper furnishings would wither and deteriorate, oak stood strong. Even today, the idea that the British Empire, “was founded on the strength of oak wood” is still alive and well.

#2: Stays Good As New (Or Better!)

Oak matures and builds character over time. You can keep it looking it’s best with a good wax or polish. It’s hardwood, so when it gets a little drab or takes a few dings, you can easily have it sanded and then treated by professionals. Or, you can handle the coating and re-painting/staining yourself. 50-100 years from now countless cheap modern Faux-wood pieces will have crumbled while an oak bed or chest will only look better. It continues to age gracefully.

#3: Offers Increasing Value

A high quality piece of oak furniture increases in value over time. As with other types of finely crafted antique pieces, oak furnishings retain their elegance and gain character. It’s also a practical and versatile wood that can complement any type of home decor.

#4: Full of Class

Oak, with the beauty and texture of it’s grain is really easy on the eyes. It’s warm and pleasant. One quality piece can effortlessly uplift and inspire a living room. Oak is perfect for bookshelves, mantles and hutches…anything! Natural oak generally occurs in two varieties – red and white. White oak is a bit more popular for furniture because it’s resistant to the outside moist air and it’s easier to see the grain. Red is more primarily used in beautiful hardwood flooring.

#5: Has Heirloom Potential

A young newly married couple may invest in an oak furniture set for their first family home. Years later each piece is a potential heirloom that can be passed down to their children and grandchildren, looking as good as the day they purchased it.

We could go on and on about the advantages of oak. It truly is one of the finest materials to be found and is still your best choice when tradition, strength and aesthetics are must-haves for your furnishings.