We’ve all heard this saying: Hold on to something long enough and it will come back in style. That’s true with fashion, and now it seems to be true with interiors, as well. Items once referred to as “dated” circle back into style with a more contemporary or updated twist. This is the case with a new trend I spotted in wood furniture while at High Point Market in North Carolina last spring.
Be on the lookout for exposed wood grain. I noticed that almost every showroom at the market was introducing new wood furniture that looked as if it had been bleached, pickled or cerused (also known as limed). This is a look that some of you might remember from those pickled pinkish kitchen cabinets of the ’80s. Different manufacturers showed wood in different stain colors, but exposed and highlighted grain was the one thing all the furniture had in common. This look is achieved through various bleaching or pickling techniques. The process of bleaching, pickling or cerusing lightens the natural wood color and highlights the grain. It is a reversal of the ’90s and early 2000s trend toward dark espresso-stained wood furniture. That look is over now; I didn’t see an espresso table or chair anywhere. The new look is all about lightening and brightening, as well as more natural, although enhanced-looking, wood.
I am guessing that showing off or even exaggerating the wood grain evolved partly from the popularity of the raw wood and live-edge tables that have been trending over the past few years. Bringing a big slab of tree trunk into the living room isn’t a look everyone can pull off, but manufacturers can take inspiration from raw wood when making more traditional and transitional pieces.
The stain colors of the wood furniture varied from showroom to showroom, with gray — ranging from very light to a deep charcoal — being the most popular.
I also saw white-, orange- and taupe-colored wood furniture. Celebrity designer Kelly Wearstler took this exposed wood grain look even further and created an entire line of furniture that looked as if it had been charred or burned in a fire. This seemed to be the talk of the market, and I have recently seen more examples of this charred wood look.
I also noticed that lacquered furniture in bright pops of color is still trending, but bleached, pickled and exposed grain wood seemed to dominate, especially with the newest furniture lines. Keep your eyes on the lookout for this trend in a furniture store near you.