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The return of dark wood furniture

The return of dark wood furniture

Wooden furniture never goes out of style, but it can be fascinating to note how different tones and textures move in and out of the spotlight. For a while now, pale oak and honeyed teak have had the edge – influenced, perhaps, by the widespread passion for midcentury Scandinavian interiors. Lately, however, there’s been a change in mood, with signs of a shift back towards the darker, richer shades we might associate with antique furniture and traditional country homes.

This shift reflects a wider evolution in decorating trends. Colour palettes are turning moodier and more grown-up, with indigo blues, moss greens, russet reds and earthy browns finding favour; these are just the kind of hues you’ll see throughout our new autumn collection. Alongside these, intricate botanical-inspired patterns are being embraced. It takes a darker, warmer tone of wood to hold its own with these elements, which is one of the reasons we’ve chosen a darkened oak finish for our new Wardley spindle-back dining chair. Of course, dark oak has long been a feature of our furniture collection, and we find that mixing different tones and textures of timber together gives character to a home. But this season, it’s the deepest browns that really come into focus. They’re the ideal complement for our new Olive paint shade, a muted green, as well as for blackened-bronze pieces like the Coniston drinks trolley, and rustic linen accessories in rosehip red and forest green.

Looking at the bigger picture of what’s going on in the world, there’s another reason we’re seeing dark timber with new eyes. After decades in the doldrums, sales of antique wooden furniture are on the up. It’s not just down to their current affordability - although who could resist the chance to snap up a hand-made, hand-carved 18th-century treasure for a song? – but also signals a change in our shopping habits, with a desire to buy more thoughtfully and sustainably. We’re seeking out things we can keep forever. Solid wood furniture gets better with age, and over decades acquires a warmth and sheen – or “patina’, if you will – that only daily use can bestow, along with small scuffs and scratches that show it’s been well loved. If you’re shopping for antiques, you’ll know that oak, of the kind Neptune uses, is one of the timbers that grows more beautiful with the years; you may also be lured by woods that, for ecological reasons, makers no longer tend to use (such as mahogany).

We think there’s enormous charm in mixing old finds like these with new pieces, such as our Wardley chair or Blenheim tables (another design we’ve reworked in darkened oak; both have a matt finish that contrasts elegantly with polished antique wood). Whether you put them in a new-build home or a period property, the two will mingle happily together and remind you that the ideal home is always a mix of the fresh and the timeworn. Not so long ago, dark or antique woods were disparaged as “brown furniture”; now, it’s time for them to come back into the light.