Durable and dark with a distinctive, unique grain pattern — these are a couple of the characteristics that make walnut one of the most prized woods for furniture making. Thanks to the wood’s durability, walnut furniture is often the stuff of heirlooms, withstanding generations of lives and love.
The Fuji table from Porada is a stunning example of the gorgeous grain patterns you can have in walnut furniture. The round canaletta walnut piece is has a solid edge made of 12 panels that encircle a central decorative. The hole in the middle can hold a matching lazy Susan or serve as a vase. The base is crafted from a sole wood panel with 12 folding cuts, and it is weighted down with bronzoro varnished metal at the bottom.
What is Walnut Wood and Where Does it Come From?
Walnut is the only dark wood from North America, according to Vermont Wood Studios. The color is typically a deep chocolate that sometimes tends to purple tones, with some walnut having a yellowish cast when it comes from the outer parts of the tree. The are many species with a variety of common names, but American Walnut from the eastern Black Walnut tree is the type used for furniture. Vermont Wood Studios says that much of the U.S. black walnut wood comes from Ohio, Indiana and other mid-North American states.
Why is Walnut Good for Furniture?
Walnut furniture is very durable, partially because of its resilience to changes in the environment, according to the UK Oak Furniture House. Walnut won’t shrink or swell as easily as other woods, especially in humid weather. It‘s also is quite water-resistant so spills won’t leave a mark as long as they are cleaned up promptly.
Is Walnut an Expensive Wood?
Walnut is more expensive than some other types of wood that are commonly used for furnishings, such as cherry, maple or ash. Part of the expense is because walnut does not grow as large and is less abundant. Hardwoods are, in general, more expensive because they grow slower than softwoods do, and when it comes to furniture, only the center part of the tree is used because of its strength, grain and color, say the experts. Solid walnut will be more expensive than a walnut veneer.
How Can I Tell if a Piece is Made of Walnut?
With a little practice, you may be able to tell whether a piece of furniture is made of walnut or not. If you’re buying from an artisan who works with wood or from a reputable furniture brand, you can trust their description. Sometimes different types of wood can be doctored up to resemble something else, so it pays to ask.
We’ve already noted that walnut wood is typically a deep chocolate hue that might have some purple tones, but actually, different types of walnut can vary widely in color, says Aaron’s Touchup and Restoration. Black walnut might look gray while other forms of walnut might appear to be brown or white. And, antique walnut furniture may have a yellowish brown color because this wood lightens as it ages.
A small side table may be among the most versatile pieces in your home. This one from Capagna comprises a half circle and a wedge form. It’s slim and easy to move, so it can be very handy in any living space. The silhouette is also perfect as a pedestal for a sculpture, vase or other accessory. It’s the type of piece that can easily be passed through the generations because it’s so useful .
A stylish armchair is a great piece to have in walnut because you know it will last. This Shepherd’s Chair from Hinterland is their first armchair and was inspired by the “close relationship between a traditional herders tools, animals and the land.” It is made of solid black walnut and the sling seat is either a natural sheepskin or leather. The wood frame is formed by the three perfect arcs of that form the main part of the chair.
Now, this is a stylish storage or display shelf! Ottra’s modular shelf is part of their Cursive Collection and the size is customizable. Choose a couple of shelves or a floor-to-ceiling arrangement. It’s so sculptural that it looks great no matter how much or how little you put on the shelves.
This old school office chair is a new take on the vintage classic. Erickson Woodworking named its Niobrara Office Chair after a Nebraska river connected to his family history. It’s a spectacular handmade chair crafted from California Black Walnut that was harvested in California’s Great Central Valley and dried in a solar kiln. The design has staying power because the curved back slats and leather seat are ergonomic and comfortable.
A sleek barrel armchair by Moran Woodworking really puts black walnut on show in its frame. This particular shape is very comfortable because it fits the body. The artisan woodworking is also very skillful and detail-oriented: A three-way mitered joint unites the back band, the arm and the face frame. The piece is built to order and can be upholstered in your choice of fabric.
Tall and stately, the Lenox Pantry by Fern is a magnificent walnut piece. It features solid walnut construction with brass hardware. It’s custom made, so the size and configuration are flexible while the wood can be natural, oxidized or ebonized. A hand-crafted walnut cabinet like this will be the standout element in your dining or living area, for sure.
Finding vintage pieces done in walnut can be very exciting. This midcentury modern buffet found at Regan and Smith in Hudson, New York is a real treat. The clean, classic lines are perfect for today’s streamlined interiors and the overall condition is excellent. These are the types of pieces that are worth having in walnut because they will last long after you yourself are finished enjoying them.
More cool walnut furniture ideas
Designs that showcase the wood grain are perfect for walnut. Georgetti’s low round coffee table is a grand example of a construction that lets the wood shine. The geometry of the table’s shape lends itself to the straight grain. Crafted entirely by hand from the finest cabaletta walnut, the coffee table features black nickel finished metal inserts that bisect the large circle.
Porada’s Dalida bookcase features a solid canaletta walnut frame and shelves that can be lacquered in polyester or left in the natural walnut color. Striations in the wood enhance the look of walnut furniture and over time, this kind of wood can develop a lustrous sheen and finish. It’s highly prized not just for its look but also for its ability to be carved, according to The Lumbershack.
Modern walnut furniture designs are especially appealing. The smooth lines and deep curves that are possible make a spectacular base for a glass topped table, like this Circe table from Prada. Combined with a clear top, the table base becomes the focal point of the dining area.
Walnut furniture is very durable, partially because of its resilience to changes in the environment, according to the UK Oak Furniture House. Walnut won’t shrink or swell as easily as other woods, such as in humid weather. It also is quite water-resistant so spills won’t leave a mark as long as they are cleaned up promptly. This makes it appropriate for dining tables, such as this Trunk table from Porada. The table has tempered glass top the solid canaletta walnut frame and base covered in canaletta walnut on a bronzoro metal plate.
Accessories such as the Pearl Mirror, also from Porada, show how well-suited to carving the walnut is. This mirror frame is composed of 60 wooden spheres carved from solid walnut. The mirror is a very artful contemporary design that puts the walnut center stage on the wall.
Walnut furniture that is upholstered is another way to incorporate this stunning wood into a space. Prada’s Allison couch features cushions that are filled with down and upholstered in a variety of fabrics. The strong wood is a sturdy and sleek base for the plush sofa. Adding complementary pieces like a table and floor lamp made of walnut makes for a coordinated and stylish room.
Bookcases are another stylish way to incorporate walnut furniture. The open design of the company’s Myria bookcase in solid walnut has shelves made from smoked tempered glass, which help keep the look light and airy. Shelves made of solid wood frames and shelving units have a much heavier appearance. These bookshelves can be used as a single tower unit, or combined as a larger wall unit or free-standing divider for a larger living space.
Accent tables — like this Kosmo console — made of walnut are often topped with glass to keep the wood from being overwhelming. Walnut’s higher cost also makes this type of design more affordable while still showcasing the beauty of this popular wood. A metal base adds a bit of shine and a modern feel to the entire piece.
Walnut is an excellent choice for impressive office furniture. Besides being durable, the warm hues and smooth curves add a touch of softness to the typically angular design of an office. This Georgetti Norah armchair adds elegance to an office and the simplicity of the design will work will many types of existing desks. The chair is actually made from 22 pieces of solid walnut and can be upholstered in fabric or leather.
Another curvy example of a walnut chair is the Isadora and Puff, a matching ottoman. The modern design has anthropomorphic legs that are unexpected. A tall back and plush upholstery make it very comfortable and relaxing. Walnut furniture is long lasting and durable, making this a piece that you can pass down through the generations.
Desks are another piece of furniture that looks great made from walnut. The Voltaire desk from the Camus Collection is an extraordinary piece. The company creates its pieces with hand crafting melded with modern technology to achieve amazing designs. The moving lid and intricately carved circular joint construction of the desk are marvels of construction and the wood grain highlights the different surfaces.
A showpiece desk like this Mogul writing table from Georgetti is stunning in walnut. Rounded lines and an architectural profile make it a rich addition to an office. The juxtaposition of clear glass and solid wood elements, combined with leather inserts, creates a very interesting piece of walnut furniture.
Similarly, a conference area benefits from warm walnut furniture. These Baron armchairs were designed by Robert Lazzaroni and can be ordered as a fixed seat or swiveling chair. The contrasts of the open frame against the solid upholstered elements add elegance and interest. The chairs design is said to be have many historical references, updated to a modern design by Georgetti craftspeople. These chairs, along with the attractive table, would also be a graceful addition to any home dining room.
Complex carved spheres are a perfect way to use walnut, as in this Cesar console from the Camus Collection. The company is known for its stunning wood furnishings in modern and sensuous shapes. The curving tube that forms the console base exhibits plenty of wood but the shaped design prevents it from feeling heavy. Instead of featuring one large glass top, this table has two rounded glass pieces that complement the shape of the console.
Larger and visually heavier, the Colossus console is also from the Camus Collection. Undulating curves and bulges, smoothly carved from wood, yield a long and lovely piece of walnut furniture. The grain highlights each and every undulation, creating a statement-making console for a grand entryway or living room.
Desks for a home office, like the Erasmo desk from Georgetti, combine function, comfort and high design in one one stylish piece of walnut furniture. Curved edges and an unusual shape are eye-catching and add a touch of the avant garden to the room. The leaf-shaped desk features a handy sliding shelf on both sides and a large series of drawers that have an independent opening system, allowing them to open 360°.
Clearly, walnut furniture is available in a variety of styles and for all the rooms in the home — and office. Its hardiness and durability make it a highly desirable and attractive wood. Yes, it comes at a premium cost, however the longevity of walnut furniture makes it a good investment that can last for generations.