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exotic woods with glossy finishes

GQgeek

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I've purchased my living and dining room furniture but i'm still debating what to get for the bedroom.

What do you guys think of the high-gloss exotic wood veneers being used in some contemporary italian furniture these days? Will it go the way of the laquered furniture of the late 80s? I find myself a bit undecided on whether i'd want to own that type of furniture. The finish certainly has "wow" factor, but i wonder if i'd tire of it. Then again, it's certainly less dull than the wenge finish that's present in 70% of contemporary furniture.

I've decided to use the room just off of the living room and connected by french doors as the bedroom instead of the actual bedroom because it's much bigger. Do you think that I should stick to a "plain" dark wood finish since my bedroom connects to the living room which features mostly dark brown furniture? This is what my gut is telling me, but some of the finishes i've seen are just so pretty.
 

itsstillmatt

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Well, I would not say that lacquered furniture is in any way unacceptable right now. I think that you find lighter colors than before, but certainly lacquer is here to stay.

IMO, wenge has been "out" for three or four years. I am not a big fan of it, as it absorbs too much light. In general, I am less of a fan of wood and leather and more of a fan of upholstery and lacquer. In our house, we only have one piece of wood finish furniture that I can think of, and it is birch ply, not wenge.

You mightwant to look at some of the more progressive design firms than the ones that offer a "contemporary look". I would look to Moooi, Zanotta (particularly for high gloss woods), Cassina and above all Cappellini.

I find that a lot of the "contemporary look", like a Christian Liaigre or those who have followed and copied him, to be pretty insipid, but that is my taste, and not necessarily yours.

I am enclosing a few pics of our house to give you an idea of what I am talking about. You might hate it, but that is what individual taste is about.




 

GQgeek

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Your house is certainly interesting and well coordinated, but it's not really my style.

I certainly agree that wenge could overpower a room, but the furniture i've selected to date is quite unimposing. My dining table is very minimalist. I have antiqued brown leather couches in an art deco design but they're quite low to the ground so they're also unimposing. I'm livening up the room with antiqued red leather chairs for dining table and I'll be keeping my eyes open for various accent pieces to place on top of other bits of furniture, colorful art for the walls, sheer white curtains, etc. Overall, it will still be a very light room, but it's obviously a totally different aesthetic than the one you prefer.

My ultimate desire, which I hope to some day fulfill, would be for stone floors, dark wood, white leather and a big-ass onyx fireplace like the one in the following pictures. Hotel St. Paul really captures my preferences to a very large degree. I also really loved Al Pacino's office in The Devil's Advocate.

http://www.hotelstpaul.com/popWindow...lbum/lobbybleu
http://www.hotelstpaul.com/popWindow...ix=album/foyer
http://www.hotelstpaul.com/popWindow...um/sofafenetre
http://www.hotelstpaul.com/popWindow...bum/salonfonce
http://www.hotelstpaul.com/popWindow...x=album/lavabo

Despite the huge windows it's quite dark in there, but the rooms are very bright thanks to huge windows. Personally, I just love the place. The elevators and halls are really cool as well.
 

Thomas

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First thing to say is this - your taste is the final word in your furniture.

That said, - my $0.02: exotic woods are nice from an attention-getting standpoint, but too much of the highly-figured woods can be distracting. Between the pieces I've built and what we've bought, we have tended to be more traditional in wood appearance and that's made these pieces relatively timeless. I don't look at the ash trestle table and say, gee that was nice a few years ago, but now I'm tired of looking at it. Maybe I've sacrificed "wow" for longevity or comfort (or laziness - wenge is no fun to work). Oh, and we don't do gloss (partly my own limitations as a finisher).

Now, in the bedroom, repose is your primary concern (well, you're single (iirc) so maybe not, but work with me here) so everything is calm and restful. Nothing jumps out to say "look at me!" You can add smaller pieces for flash, but for your bed and casegoods I would avoid anything highly figured or with glossy sheen.
 

Violinist

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I think you should go for it. Walnut, koa, bubinga, cocobolo, heavily flamed or quilted maple are all gorgeous if finished right. At our home we have 6 pieces of large yellowwood furniture. The wood is highly controled, and only a few are cut down every year. They've now got this gorgeous golden color after 20 years.

I definately think that without going overboard, exotic woods can really have a nice place in the home.
 

MCsommerreid

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I'd say stay away from "exotic" woods for large things like tables and chairs. It tends to be way too figured and will be distracting. Save the crazy things like amboyna, wood burls, zebra wood, and other highly figured wood for accents. I tend to turn accent bowls in things like amboyna and burl, because it's well figured and works to catch the eye without overpowering it.

For large furniture go with things like black walnut (one of my favorite woods), ebony, less figured cocobolo, wenge, dark mahogany (light stain, or aged). Those woods have less figuring, but beautiful deep coloring.

The biggest problem with the more exotic woods is price. Things like ebony, indian rose wood, and purple heart is that they can be absolutely outrageously expensive, or of very inferior quality. Ebony can run as much as $30 a cord depending on the quality.

It's also possible to have relatively common woods finished to look exactly like the more exotic woods. It's cheaper, and you can get it exactly the way you want. The only thing you cant really do is create figuring like you find in padauk or rosewood.

Veneers, in my opinion, suck on things like furnitures that tend to get scuffed. With veneer you cant have a little scuff sanded out, or fill it in with wax. If you can afford it go with a solid semi-exotic. From the pictures you posted it looks like black walnut with a black stain of some kind (making faux-ebony) would be perfect. It's relatively inexpensive (No more than $10 a cord), takes deep dark colors, and finishes insanely smooth.
 

Violinist

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I have to agree with that, it's not the best for larger pieces (if the wood is highly figured). But, I think that accents in highly figured wood is amazing.
 

MCsommerreid

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But, I think that accents in highly figured wood is amazing.
Or as an inlay in the larger piece. Like in the example of a coffee table with glass tops, having the whole thing made in "ebony" and then putting a 1/2" wide strip of pink ivory or zebrawood around the glass. Contrast for the win.
 

Luc-Emmanuel

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I really dislike the lacquered veneer, like this:



Black lacquered looks dungeonesque to me, so I would go for white, green or red/orange lacquered furniture. But I prefer wood, even wenge teint although the wenge hysterical trend is slowly fading out.

I also vastly prefer fabrics over leather. Take a look at kvadrat divina melange for exemples.

!luc
 

ruben

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By lacquered do you guys just mean finished?

I had no idea wenke was a trend.
Love the look, hate the stale urine smell.
 

MCsommerreid

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Lots of the exotic hardwoods have a bit of a funk to them before they're finished. I was working with some cocobolo a day ago that smelled like a cross between old cat food and old garbage.
 

Huntsman

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Cocobolo smells to me like a very dark oil, slightly burnt. Zebrawood always reminds me of coffee.
 

GQgeek

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Originally Posted by ruben
By lacquered do you guys just mean finished?

I had no idea wenke was a trend.
Love the look, hate the stale urine smell.


Instead of just a varnish, a thick translucent coating is applied to the wood. It both protects it from damage and gives it a glossy finish.

Wenge does seem to be a trend in that it's being used in everything these days, however I don't think it will die-out in quite the same manner as some other trends. It's will remain very suitable for contemporary furniture. Most importantly, it's tasteful and understated, which is why I believe it's so popular. It doesn't call attention to itself and can fit in with all types of furniture.

There will always be conflict between those that prefer very light contemporary furniture as Matt does and those that prefer dark furniture as I do. The market will continue to cater towards both preferences.
 

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