It isn't Easy being Brown
In defense of the much-maligned brown wooden furniture (this doesn’t include mid century furniture that has been raised up by Mad Men and copied by every mass production furniture manufacturer) – I am talking about the rest of the bunch.
THE ACCUSATIONS: that sideboard/wardrobe/dining table your aunt/mum/grandma wants to give you ( or has given you and now you don’t know what to do with) has been decried as out of fashion across the world. It’s been labelled as dated, dark and depressing. Ouch.
Dark wooden furniture, due to changing interiors trends, smaller houses, apartment living and a decline in formal dining has been relegated to garage sales, and dismal back water auction houses and fetching very little. According to a report by the Financial Times in 2016, over the past decade or so, the value of antique wooden furniture has fallen close to 30%. That seemingly sound investment in the 1970’s and 80’s has turned out to be disappointing both in its return and as an heirloom, unwanted by Millenials who don’t want what their parents collected. Every antique dealer is whining about how they can’t shift it.
THE DEFENSE: In- the- know circles are talking up the return of brown furniture. Why?
RETURN OF DARKER, ATMOSPHERIC DÉCOR: Trend forecasters like London based Porter & Brawn are tipping that with the return of maximalist and dark, moody interiors, the use of antique furniture is on the rise. Just one interesting piece surrounded by more contemporary furniture can pack a real style punch.
AFFORDABLE: Currently, for prices often lower than an IKEA flat pack, you can purchase a lasting piece of furniture with higher quality structure and craftsmanship (and no allen key! Winning).
SOOTHES THE CONSCIENCE: We are aware now, more than ever, that our shopping habits affect the environment. Rather than purchasing a new piece which requires valuable resources and potentially manufactured in poor working conditions, buying something that already exists is a better consumer choice.
INDIVIDUALITY: Our home is a place that can express so much about us. Individual style has been the mantra of style mavens for a long time and antiques and vintage pieces add personality and depth to an interior space. If it is a family heirloom it weaves connections to our past in a tangible way, often coming with anecdotes of who the piece was important to and where it was used. If you found it in your bid for the perfect piece in an antique store or auction or came across it quite by chance and fell in love with it, that is a new story.
THE VERDICT IS IN – go forth and love that family heirloom that is calling you from your garage or shed (or wherever you stored it) and bring it in and look at with fresh eyes. In a future post I will give some tips on how to blend your vintage finds with your more contemporary pieces. To help you with this have a look at the work of a few of my favourite designers such as Darryl Carter, Sibella Court, Kabinett and Kammer and Ralph Lauren Home. Have a look at the gallery below which features pieces I have worked with as well as my Pinterest and Instagram accounts for how I put together dark wood furniture with accessories. You can always contact me via my Contact page on the website as well.