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The Beauty of Imperfection: How Rustic Wood Became Glamorous

There was a time when solid wood rustic furniture needed to be mirror polished and perfect for it to pass the consumer test but these days, trends have shifted dramatically in the opposite direction. Perhaps it started with ‘shabby chic’, which prizes an imperfect but homey finish on upcycled furniture, before trickling through to new artisan pieces, but whatever the reason for rustic furniture’s revival, we love it.

Of course, there are some of us who never felt that rustic wood went out of style. Cabin owners and lodge enthusiasts have long understood the appeal of unfussy furniture, crafted from carefully selected timber, but when such pieces are springing up in modern homes, you know a trend has emerged.

What makes wood rustic? There’s a few elements to look out for, including:

Knots and gnarled shapes - Perfection is measured by tolerances and rustic wood pays no mind to them. This means that knots, natural bends, twists and curves in timber are left in place and incorporated into a design, to show truth to the material. Particularly beautiful examples can include tree root stump coffee tables, with intricate branch patterns displayed beneath a smooth top.

Insect tracks and tool marks - Wood is a natural material, it grows, has a history and supports a wider ecosystem than just itself. We enjoy paying homage to this by not looking to erase the life marks or the manufacturing marks, both of which add a charming rustic finish. All those rough sawn touches add character and nail marks can let you know you’ve bought some real reclaimed wood. 

Bark left intact- The rough bark aesthetic isn’t for everyone, but it certainly lends some dramatic power to wood furniture, especially when the timber has a really striking exterior, like hickory. Stripped logs with a little bark left in place offer a textural and visual diversity that amplifies the finish of any furniture.

Why is rustic wood the height of interior chic? Because it’s timeless, unpredictable and feels less manmade. For ultra contemporary homes with minimalist furnishings, one statement natural wood piece is all it takes to amp up the glamor. A log dining table, a rustic dresser or a master aspen log bed beautifully constructed from interesting timber that can’t be replicated? Can you get any more exclusive than that?

Mass-produced furniture, though practical and often cost-effective, holds no unique qualities and often contains cheaper materials. Every piece is the same and any home can contain them. Rustic wood means that you have a genuinely individual investment and rather than being manipulated by a workshop to be unique, Mother Nature has done all the hard work with your chosen artisans simply capturing it and making it functional. There’s also a certain joy that comes from easy-to-maintain pieces, as mirror polished perfect specimens show every age mark, whereas rustic wood? It looks even better for a few little patina spots.

Gorgeous, full of character and an easy way to pay deference to the great outdoors, rustic wood is more than just fabulous and fashionable; it’s the GOAT