Rio Vista Trestle Dining Collection shown in Rustic Walnut with a Live Edge top at Mattie Lu
Decor, Shopping Guides

Hardwoods 101 – The Best Woods For Furniture

Hardwoods are a terrific choice for your home furniture. Although metals and marble have been making a comeback in popular design, the tradition of wood furniture can’t be dethroned. Wood can be used for intricate designs and can compliment alongside any design material. Their versatility and durability allows you to choose different pieces based on the individual needs of each room. In fact, the way different types of woods sustain damage plays a huge role in which rooms you should place furniture.

Understanding how each wood will hold up and how it will stain will help you make the best decision for your furniture needs. It might seem overwhelming, but trust us, we are here to hold your hand through your decision making process. You don’t have to get lost in the plethora of information out there, most of which is conflicting. In this post, we’re going to breakdown the best types of woods for furniture building, as well as what designs work best with which wood. Whether you’re looking to purchase, order custom, or DIY, we have the guide to which wood works best for you.


Sonora Dining Collection shown in Cherry with a Natural Finish at Mattie Lu

Cherry is a fine grain wood, with a hue that ranges from reddish brown to blond. This wood is great for furniture such as chairs, Shaker-style cabinets and tables. As seen in the Sonora Dining Collection, the color is rich enough to not need any type of stain, although it can be polished if desired. It is exquisite if you’re looking for a wood that shapes easily and has a durable finish. Like the look of cherry, but want more of a rustic or farmhouse look? Try sap cherry or rustic cherry with with a medium to dark stain and sawcut distressing. You’ll love the look!


Laurel Bedroom Collection Featured in Brown Maple with Chocolate Spice stain

Maple – Brown Maple, Hard Maple and Wormy Maple – works perfectly for furniture that gets a great deal of use. The durability of this wood is terrific because it can withstand consistent wear and tear. Dressers and kitchen cabinets are often made from this wood for this very reason. If you’re looking for a wood you can easily paint or stain, look no further than maple. Shown in the image is the Laurel Bedroom Collection in brown maple with chocolate spice stain.


The Highback Slat Living Collection shown in Oak at Mattie Lu.

Oak is a hardwood known for its distinctive wood grain look, and is available in two varieties – red oak and white oak. If you’re a fan of Arts & Crafts or Mission style furniture, then you’ll love the look of oak, especially quarter sawn white oak as seen in the Highback Slat Living Collection. Want more of a rustic look? Then rustic oak or rustic quarter sawn white oak – with or without sawcut distressing – is a great option. If your homes sees a lot of foot traffic, oak might be the best choice for your wood flooring. This wood is highly durable and can withstand wear for years to come.


Westmere Bedroom Collection shown in Walnut with a Natural Finish at Mattie Lu

What’s interesting about walnut is the hue that appears depending on which part of the tree you take it from. If you want a rich, chocolate hue as seen in the Westmere Bedroom Collection, then you need walnut harvested from the inside of the tree. If you are looking for a yellow or lighter hue, then choose wood harvested from the outside of the tree. Walnut, including rustic walnut, is generally used for headboards, vintage style tables, and mantels. This wood can withstand intricate carving details and creates a unique tonal variation throughout the design.


Carolina Hall Seat shown with a White Stain and Warm Brown Glaze at Mattie Lu

If you’re wanting a versatile and durable wood for your furnishings, look no further than hickory. Not only does this wood have a natural grain which is beautiful on its own, it also can take stain very well. This gives you the freedom to personalize your furniture to match your aesthetic. This wood can withstand a great deal of wear and tear. If your furniture is placed in a room with lots of foot traffic or activity, you’ll find that hickory furniture is an ideal asset. The hallway often times gets a great deal of activity, so many people shy away from putting valuable furniture in their entryways. However, choosing a piece like the Carolina Hall Seat is the perfect place for friends and family to place their things as the enter your home. You won’t have to worry about scuffs or scratches, as the hickory finish will withstand them!


Two Cedar Garden Planters with Sitting Bench at Mattie Lu

Outdoor furniture must be weather resistant. Cedar is an excellent choice to withstand even the harshest natural conditions. This is due to the natural oils found in cedar, which also protect against bugs, fungus and mold build up. Cedar lends itself to being painted or stained beautifully, or you can let the wood wear naturally into a gray or silver hue. Outdoor furniture made with cedar wood, such as our Cedar Garden Planter With Sitting Bench, will last you for a long time. If you’re looking for natural outdoor furniture that is durable and will allow you to entertain for years to come, then cedar is the way to go!

Your furniture should bring your home to life. It’s important to know what you’re looking for in each piece you purchase. Unfortunately, just because you may love a particular wood, it may not be the best choice to withstand daily use long term. Understanding how each type of wood will hold up will help you make the best decision for your furniture needs. Don’t be afraid to mix and match, because many stains and polishes can unite different wood grains. Get creative with your choices! Now that you better understand  how each wood functions, you can feel confident in your furniture purchases.

RESOURCES: Real Simple, Wood Country

Mattie Lu made to fit every aspect of your home - from style to size to color to design. At Mattie Lu, our artisan Amish craftsmen make imagination come to life for our customers every day. We are a lifestyle furnishings company owned by a mother and daughter duo. We're ready to help you create the interior furnishings of your dreams.

From the selection of wood to the first cuts to the final touches, every piece from Mattie Lu is lovingly created with your specifications in mind. We know you'll love the end result and will enjoy it for years to come!

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  1. […] on wood furniture can have a powerful effect on the overall look of the piece and also how it fits into the room. […]

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