Which wood is right for your furniture

When choosing to commission fine furniture, it’s not just about function or the space for which it is intended, substrate choice can also play a big part. With so many different types of wood, where do you start?

Which wood is right for your furniture - Ashton Bespoke
Which wood is right for your furniture - Ashton Bespoke

Solid wood favourites

There are is a great deal of choice in solid wood, so we thought we’d list out some of the most popular:

Maple – A durable hardwood that makes it an ideal choice for dining room tables or dressers.

Oak – A dense substrate known for its beautiful open grain, furniture in oak will last forever.    

Cherry – Popular because of its straight uniform grain, cherry polishes up well.

Walnut – Beautifully coloured rich substrate that carves very well so works well for ornate furniture.

Birch – Light coloured, this species with its durability and clean grain makes birch a popular choice.

Pine – Lightweight and inexpensive, pine has a rustic look that appeals for country living.

Bamboo – Popular due to its sustainability, the soft blonde colour works well for contemporary furniture.

Open grain versus closed

These are terms furniture makers are familiar with, but it’s worth discussing what this means aesthetically. Open grain wood such as oak or mahogany means that the pores are visible whereas maple or cherry are smooth and much more closed. Depending on how the wood is finished, there are techniques and coatings that can be used for open grains to leave them showing.

Engineered wood for fine furniture

There is a tendency to think of fine furniture being made in solid wood but engineered solutions finished in veneers work incredibly well.  As well as potentially generating a cost saving there are other pluses to using MDF, plywood or particle boards. Composite wood is more moisture resistant and therefore a good practical choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Once finished with a veneer or painted then aesthetically it ticks the box too.

Type of veneer

With skilful and delicate processing, clients can choose from a truly beautiful array of veneers. A veneer can give a more uniform finish and they are less prone to cracking and expanding. It can also tick the eco-friendly box as veneers stretch out the yield from a piece of wood. Some examples below:

  • Birch
  • White oak
  • Teak
  • Cherry
  • Anegre
  • Sycamore

Once you have selected your veneers you then can choose how it is cut either figured, quarter or crown cut. The type of cut impacts how the final veneer can look giving clients lots of versatility.


How clients want their furniture to look and feel on the surface is very personal. There is of course still a place for lacquered and stained finishing, but the trend of showing wood as it should be celebrating its natural beauty is showing no signs of abating into winter 2020. Add in an on-trend vase of dried flowers set against neutral walls and the overall feel is back to nature. Whichever choice clients make the result is a truly unique piece of furniture that will last a lifetime.

Click here to read more about us and our process

Fireplaces that tick the eco box

The weather has cooled, and our thoughts turn to cosy nights in our living rooms warming by the fire. The traditional log burner has always been a focal point of the house but what if you can’t have the necessary flue in situ for the smoke? And with increased concern on the sustainability of timber, are there in fact cleaner safer alternatives?

Fireplaces that tick the eco box - open fireplace

What are bio fireplaces?

This is a solution for people who want an alternative to wood burners. The smoke from wood burners is a contributing factor to particulate pollution. Bio fireplaces use environmentally friendly fuels that burn clean meaning there is no need for a chimney or flue and they also don’t require a power or gas connection. This means that as a solution, bio fireplaces give much more freedom with the design and location in the home.

Why choose a gel fire

With environmental and sustainability concerns increasing, clients are turning to gel fires as an alternative to the traditional wood burners. Wood itself is considered carbon neutral in that it emits the same amount whether burned or left to rot. It’s the usage side in terms of providing logs for a wood burner and whether they come from a sustainable source that has eco implications. Gel and bioethanol fuel sources are created using the by-products of other materials thus reducing waste. A gel fire is also the perfect solution for a small space or apartment living as there are no smoke emissions.

difference between gel and bioethanol fires

With a bioethanol solution you end up with a soundless fire whereas gel fuel crackles due to the salt content simulating wood fire. The other main comparisons are shown below.

Gel Fuel
Bioethanol Fuel
MaterialMade from isopropyl alcohol, water and salt
Plant based, fermentation of crops such as wheat or corn
DurationApprox 400g will burn for 2.5hrsAround 1 litre of fuel will give 5 hrs of burn time approx
ByproductsNo soot or ash. Water vapour & carbon in permitted levels
No soot or ash. Water vapour & carbon in permitted levels
Control of flamesFlame size cant be regulated in that it is on or off
Flame can be regulated through use of a lid
HeatSubtle warmth, not primary heat source
Subtle warmth, not primary heat source

Gel fire built into furniture

We were recently commissioned with making a TV unit for a client that incorporated a gel fire as part of the design. This was an exciting challenge for the team with the dual nature of this piece designed to be the focal point of the room. The main doors were constructed using Portland Grey Silkwood veneers and were finished with a surround trim in satin brushed brass. The doors either side of the fire were coated in bronze effect metal lacquer. Underneath the fire itself the stone slab and plinth were made from Cerlasio Ossido. Though all may not be as straight forward as it seems. When introducing a fire into a piece of furniture, there is a critical factor that must be considered: heat transmission. Therefore, the area around the fire must be built with fire rated materials, including the finishing lacquers and innovative design to prevent or achieve as minimal heat transmission as possible. The overall effect was both beautiful and inviting.

Fireplaces that tick the eco box
Fireplaces that tick the eco box

Click here to read more about us and our process