Thursday, January 24, 2008

Big 'n Brown




Is anybody else ready to see more brown wood again? After a few years of solid-colored, painted furniture staking its claim on design, I know that I for one am eager for the "return" of rich, dark wood.

Now to be fair, brown wood has never been out of style. It just seems that brightly hued furniture has gotten a lot of our attention lately (this is not a criticism, because I'm a fan too). You can, however, strike a balance between painted finishes and brown wood. You don't want too many brown wood pieces in one room- it will look dark, hard, and heavy (this is where the painted furniture comes in handy). Also, you've got to exercise caution with those big, looming dark wood pieces- what Nancy Lancaster called "Big 'n Brown". And yes, I understand why Dorothy Draper chose to slap a coat of paint on furniture when there was too much brown in one room.

But please, don't banish the brown wood! If my plea hasn't convinced you, then you may want to consider these wood pieces (accessories included) that are mixed with brass, nickel and chrome- now this is truly an easy way to live with wood!


Wooden Pavilion Lantern in Oak and Nickel, from Charles Edwards


Rosewood liquor cabinet with brass inlay, by Paolo Buffa, c. 1938, available at Fred Silberman


1950s French desk, brass and wood, from Visiona


Karl Springer Mahogany and Chrome Dining Table from Assemblage.


Shrimp earrings in wood and gold by Seaman Schepps


Rosewood and brass etagere,from George N Antiques

Image at top: Brass and Mahogany Travelling Writing Box, c. 1830, from Mallett

20 comments:

  1. Here (in the UK), this is the best time to buy brown. I did an entire house with really good quality brown furniture for the same cost as doing a living room in the more fashionable modern. Go figure.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with you totally, but let the wood pieces in a room be beautiful woods -not generic oak or knotty pine ( shudder ). Those deserve a good coat of paint!

    ReplyDelete
  3. HOBAC- That is interesting. Makes me tempted to head over there, but the $ won't buy very much these days!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Be the Change- I agree- beautiful wood with a rich patina. Not bad brown wood! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. After years of collecting "big and brown" it is time for me to swap out those not-so-great starter pieces for better quality. I love the brass inlay you have shown here.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous10:44 AM

    Check out the gams on that liquor cabinet--yowza!

    -pt

    ReplyDelete
  7. djellabah11:10 AM

    "Brown wood" is only a pejorative when the entire room or rooms are loaded with it to the exclusion of almost anything else ... in other words, so it all blends together into a mass of, well, brown. On the other hand, nothing is more beautiful than good brown-wood furniture (whether Georgian or Chinese or whatever) combined with modern upholstery and contemporary art ... bliss ...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great picks, but the detail on that liquor cabinet is stunning!

    ~Kate

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree with Millie, your examples are especially elegant. And, yes, definitely the painted furniture can get out of hand! Always about balance.

    ReplyDelete
  10. PT and Kate- The liquor cabinet is indeed stunning!

    ReplyDelete
  11. djellabah- Yes, good point. And I agree about mixing in upholstery- cuts down on the "brown" and there aren't so many legs in the room.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Courtney- Yes, balance is key. You don't want too much brown wood nor too much painted furniture. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love the way that wood glows in firelight/candlelight and feels underfoot. There is a lot of it around here and it does mix beautifully with rich colours and metals. It may go in and out of fashion, but (like good leather) it will never go out of style.

    Wow, just looking at that cabinet makes me want to invite a few friends over for a cocktail.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great - I'm back in style? Just as I was about to go all whitewashed, guess I'll keep all my fruitwoods. Thanks for vote of confidence!

    Joni

    ReplyDelete
  15. I don't think I'll ever tire of brown wood, its just so rich and warm looking - but it can be overdone. I love all these pics - especially the 50's French desk - the brass combination is so elegant!

    ReplyDelete
  16. OOOooo...give me the first photo of that legged chest.! So pretty. I have alot of dark wood and you are right, mixing it up with some painted furniture is just the thing.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The Rosewood Liquor cabinet is gorgeous and I love almost anything by Karl Springer.

    Jennifer: I've spent quite a bit of time over at your sister's Laura Boles Faw website (www.laurabolesfaw.com)! I'm fascinated and awestruck by her work! Plaster doorknob Shellac, Fur Birds, and the installation Sights Unseen at the De Young are remarkable and singular!

    You're both so gifted...I guess it's safe to assume that talent runs in your family : )

    ReplyDelete
  18. Paul- Thank you so much!!! You've made my day, and I'll let my sister know too. So glad you had a chance to visit her site! (Glad you like that liquor cabinet- it's beautiful!)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous1:00 PM

    Love all the brown wood...always try and have at least one piece in each room. When are we going the see the aubergine dining room at your parents house!!! On pins and needles waiting.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I realize that I'm late in leaving a comment, but I couldn't ignore the topic. I am THRILLED that medium wood tones are making a comeback! Not only because those dark "coffee" or "java" stains are tired, but because the real beauty of the wood can't be seen under such dark stains. LET THERE BE LIGHT!!!!!

    ReplyDelete