Durban - One of the noticeable trends at Decorex Durban recently was the popularity of natural wood, a material that fits in with a pared-down, fuss-free lifestyle.
Natural wood looks as good in a formal lounge as it does on a veranda. It slots into any decor style and whether it be a dining room suite or simple side table, it is a decorating asset.
“Natural wood is versatile,” says Lisa Walters-Hunter of Lisa Walters Interiors. “You can use it in a contemporary setting and it fits equally well with something more ornate. If you have gold and glass tables, a natural wood cupboard will fit in beautifully.”
Walters-Hunter is a great believer in neutrals accessorised with brights and she says natural wood can be given a different look every season with colourful cushions and accessories.
“If you keep the basics neutral, you can add colour regularly to achieve a completely new look. Accessories take your furniture to a whole new level.”
Maria Cochrane, co-owner of Con Amore in La Lucia Mall, says there is a definite move to natural woods.
“Dark-stained woods are a thing of the past now and natural wood can be mixed well with any décor style, even with antiques.”
You can also add accent pieces of wood to complement the natural pieces. Tersia Labuschagne, who with her husband, Paul, runs Eye of Eve furniture makers, suggests painting a small item in purple or red with water-based paints.
“Natural wood can give you a farmhouse feel or you can go contemporary with perspex chairs and colourful accessories,” she says.
Good pieces of natural wood will last a lifetime, says Labuschagne.
“You can sand and repair them and pass them on to your children. It is worth investing in a few good pieces as opposed to cheaper alternatives that will not last.”
The Labuschagnes recommend that when you buy wooden items, you check for a FSC (Forest Stewardship Certification) certificate. This indicates that the wood hasn’t been harvested illegally, violating traditional and civil rights, or where forests are being converted into plantations or where genetically modified trees are planted.
Tim Lucas, co-owner of Trade Secret, says furniture is subject to fashion. “Five years ago, it was all about dark wood. Now natural is in fashion – the chateau chic and farmhouse feel.”
If, however, you have mainly dark wood in your home, you don’t have to do a mass purge.
“You can do it gradually by adding one piece at a time,” says Lucas. “A one-off, stand-alone piece will blend in happily.”
Dave Macdonald, sales and marketing director of the Lidgetton-based furniture makers, Homewood, says they are noticing a strong move back to solid wooden products as consumers look for lasting value.
“It’s a swing away from disposable consumerism,” he says. “Our furniture is crafted as opposed to machine engineered, a further link to traditions of the past. Small imperfections and unevenness are features rather than faults, evidence of the furniture’s crafted origins.
“Wood, a living material, has amazing properties – it breathes, it gives off aromas, it moves seasonally as it shrinks and swells, and it changes colour as it matures – and that makes it attractive. Each unique piece of timber tells a little of the story of the tree. The strong heartwood colours can indicate the variation of the natural conditions in which it grew, the floods, droughts and even fires it survived all affecting colour tones and patterns. The lighter patterns and markings in the younger sapwood tell of its more recent years.”
Woods used by Homewood are kiaat, Rhodesian teak, African mahogany and European (white) oak, chosen for their beautiful grains, hardwood properties and variation across the wood colour spectrum.
“We use only the natural colours of the African hardwoods and offer a variety of colour finishes using washes and oils on oak. We do not varnish, lacquer or spray seal any of our products, using only waxes and oils to preserve and protect the surfaces. With a regular maintenance regime of these products solid wood furniture will last for generations.” - Daily News