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By : Kristen Glehan, 05-04-2015

Natural wood is one of the warmest and most versatile elements used in interior design. It can be utilized as an accent or as anchor point and transform a space into virtually any style. Interested in a rugged rustic look? Or, more drawn by French country style? Both are easy to accomplish with wood. As is old-time sophistication, or the uber masculine style Ernest Hemingway was known for. Even a sleek contemporary edge can be had with wood!

Many home owners enjoy the look of natural wood, but are unfamiliar with the differences between one type or another. This brief guide will provide a quick summary of the most popular and readily available options! In future posts, we’ll make recommendations for how to achieve some of the styles mentioned above, so check back!



Oak is one of the most commonly utilized woods in home projects, primarily due to its durability and availability. While there are several dozen species of oak, it is most simply considered in two basic varieties, white and black (also known as red). The primary difference between the two will be the shade of the wood. White oaks tend to have more of a blonde appearance, while black or red oaks have more of a reddish hue.

Oak is a popular choice for furnishings, floors and cabinets. Many homeowners elect not to stain oak, opting for a gloss finish. Over time natural oak will darken slightly, with white oak taking on more of a yellowish hue. The grain of oak tends to be straight and the texture of the wood coarse and uneven. Even with glossed woods, you can often feel a slight roughness beneath the surface, unless it has been heavily buffed in the finishing process.


Maple is one of the most recognizable woods to anyone who is familiar with American colonial furnishings. It has been a popular choice within contemporary furniture designs also, given its versatility and ability to be stained to shades closer to more expensive cherry wood. It is a highly durable and beautiful wood, known for its ability to resist considerable impact. For this reason, it is an excellent choice for kitchen areas such as center aisles and butcher blocks, as well flooring and furnishings in other parts of the home!

Perhaps one of the best features of maple is the obvious non-toxic advantage. It’s hard to resist a wood that also brings us the wonderful sweet syrup used at breakfast. Yes, those same trees that are tapped when young for sap, grow gracefully into the source we rely upon for home building and design!


Cherry, also known as fruitwood is another favorite wood for making furniture items. It is a moderately hard, closed-grain wood that starts as light brown with a few small knots. It slowly darkens after exposure to light and change can be seen within the first couple of weeks. After a few months, it usually turns into rich light brown. If both new and old pieces are left unstained, their colors tend to become progressively similar. Quite a good number of people prefer to use it for making furniture because of its appealing color and strength. Its relatively hard nature makes it resistant to common dings.

Cherry can be a costly wood, although there is no mistaking its rich color when entering a room. It is a beautiful choice for cabinetry and also flooring, especially in small spaces where it can be the star! Bother cherry veneers and solids make fine choices, depending on budget.


Mahogany is considered a traditional furniture wood which is popular for its rich color and straight and smooth grain. This unique feature enables it to have a good quality finish. Mahogany can withstand moisture, which makes it a popular choice among carpenters and designers for making doors and other outdoor woodwork projects.

It’s important to know the origins of Mahogany, to avoid finding yourself with a wood that is called mahogany, but isn’t actually mahogany at all! True mahogany is indigenous to Africa, South America and Central America, with African mahogany typically being the lowest grade. When coming across mahogany from the Phillipines, buyer beware, it is most typically a much less expensive hardwood similar in appearance to mahogany, but not related to mahogany at all.


Walnut is a beautiful, strong and versatile wood with a warm, nutty color to it. It is strong and durable, yet not excessively heavy, which makes it great for a range of projects from flooring to cabinetry and furnishings. It handles finishes quiet well, which is great for emphasizing or evolving the natural beauty. Walnut, more than many other types of wood shows a rich grain, burls, mottles and striping. It ranges from light to dark in color.



Pine is a soft and affordable wood, most commonly used in country designs. Uses ranger from cabinetry to flooring, paneling and furnishings, with the end-user aware the wood will show considerable wear over time. Although, that wear is often what gives pine its charm. Barn wood and broad board floors made of pine have been appealing to designers for years, due to the authentic rustic look each brings to a space. Pine furniture can also be purchased unfinished, for painting and staining to the desired end result.


Although cedar is categorized as soft wood, it is still considered somewhat durable and weather resistant. For this reason cedar is preferred for outdoor furniture and living spaces. When utilized in this manner, it is important to treat it, or protect it from the harshest elements, to extend its life.

Cedar starts off with a red-tan hue, which dulls to a medium grey when exposed to the elements. It is a light-weight wood, with some knots that is easy to work with. Cedar is also highly fragrant, with natural essential oils known for keeping moths and other insects at bay. Given this, cedar makes a great choice for closet construction.


Similar to cedar, cypress is a soft wood that is considered durable and weather resistant. It is sort of a little sibling to hardwood, often grown alongside, harvested and processed at the same time. This, is a testament to its strength! This silver-grey wood is a popular choice for building decks, siding and outdoor furniture given its appealing look and resistance to insects and decay. Cypress contains a natural preservative that helps it stay durable over time. When given a choice, old growth is always preferable over new growth. The newer growth can still contain sap and bleed out at times.

Now what?

If you've done your research and are ready to act, consider submitting a request through EZBZ to find the service providers or suppliers to complete your design project! Whether it's finding a supplier of a specific type of wood, an interior designer to help guide you in the selection process or a contractor to build or install your dream cabinet and floors, we can help!

Submit a request via EZBZ

Thank you, for the information. White oak could be the most beautifying and wonderful choice for for use. Recently one of my friend used the same and the kitchen just gloomed the house. So an advice to use white oak in woods could be preferred. Good luck!
Michael Kuhn
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