If you have wandered through a home décor store, read a design blog or watched many of the shows on HGTV lately, you have probably seen the current trend of using live edge slabs or wood slabs in furniture and architecture in homes. Many people like this style because it combines natural and modern aesthetics into one look. This synthesis is the basis of the ongoing trend.
Defining the Style
The term “live edge” generally refers to wood slab furniture, shelving or other architectural detail in which at least part or all of the wood slab outside is a live edge or natural edge. Live edge slabs are wood slabs that are milled leaving the outside of the tree intact. Leaving this natural edge or live edge allows for master craftsmen to design and craft furniture that is organic, warm and reminiscent of nature.
For example, a typical coffee table has four straight sides with four right angles, creating a perfect rectangular shape. The edges are made straight with a saw that trimmed the wavy natural edge off and is finished smoothly.
Live edge tables, on the other hand, feature at least one edge that is of variable form, perhaps wavy or at an angle, created that way due to the shape of the wood after it was chopped down from a tree. In this style, the furniture retains part of the original organic shape of the tree that was used to create it.
The History of the Style
Defining the style is interesting because it really started with a renaissance of live edge tables. Using a chunk of wood as furniture has literally been the main idea of home design since the beginning of mankind.
Eventually, the Industrial Revolution and access to other furniture materials, such as metal and fiberglass, led to different manners of creating home pieces. Even carpenters and woodworkers found that they could take the wood, saw it into different pieces and create fantastic man-made designs that looked less like the original tree and more like modern furnishings.In the mid-20th century, there was an embrace of the traditional and rustic look of using wood slabs to create furniture. Although this aesthetic was primarily pushed by legendary architect George Nakashima and other nature-loving individuals, it was in direct competition with the sleek and minimalist look that was sweeping cities across the nation.
Today, some of those mid-century pieces are long gone, but the rustic modern appearance is back and more popular than ever!
Environmental Benefits of the Style
Although the bark can be left along the edge of this style of furniture, most people prefer to have it removed because it is rough and commonly comes off. However, there are plenty of people who select live edge slabs without the bark to create some truly beautiful and unique pieces of furniture.
Overall, this style is considered very environmentally friendly. By utilizing the unique shapes and curves of the wood, most of each tree is actually used. This means that each tree goes further toward creating the entire piece, and fewer trees are then used. Even more environmentally friendly, the majority of the craftsman building this type of furniture is created from dead standing or trees and root systems on the forest floor and other reclaimed sources rather than from living trees that are harvested. So do your research is the company you are dealing with ethically sourcing its wood slabs from dead standing trees or salvaged from the forest floor!
for the planet. Most carpenters or furniture makers use hand tools to preserve the natural look of the wood. They use a drawknife, chisels and other tools to remove the bark before they begin sanding the edges with strong sandpaper to produce a smooth effect. Finally, the piece is oiled, dried and shellacked to properly seal in the color and beauty of the wood. These actions are generally completed with the minimal use of machines, saving energy and the environment.
Live edge slabs
Design Benefits of the Style
For many people, choosing whether or not to invest in this trend is more about the style and design of it. These individuals are often drawn to adding a wooden piece to their homes because wood typically brings warmth to a room. However, these same people may be hesitant to try a piece of live edge furniture simply because it is drastically different from the streamlined look of the rest of their homes.
The beauty of the live edge slab style is that it fits well into many different design motifs. Using wood slabs for furniture does not automatically make a room a traditional log cabin. Likewise, living in an ultra-sleek, contemporary home does not mean that a pair of live edge tables cannot be included somewhere in the living room. This style is rustic modern, and it can fit surprisingly well into a number of different design aesthetics. It is the versatility that makes it one of the most popular styles of furniture right now.
Buying or having a custom piece of live edge furniture built does not have to be a daunting prospect. You can start small with a simple side table or entryway stand and move on to bigger projects if you like the way it looks in your home. Some styles of furniture crafted using live edge wood slabs are used in rustic bathroom vanities, wood countertops, rustic beds, live edge mantels, wood slab desk, accent tables, rustic coffee tables, burl wood furniture and more the only limit is the imagination.
If you are especially concerned about including a piece in your home, get more involved in the selection process. You can find an established local craftsman who will custom build a dining table or other project for you. You can also find craftsman on the internet with great reviews that specialize in live edge slab furniture. Many of these artists will allow you to hand-select the wood of your choice, as well as the legs or other accessories that will complete your project.
Because each live edge wood slab is completely unique, with knots, checking and other imperfections that make furniture one of a kind. Your craftsman will be able to steer you in the right direction.
Most live edge pieces are custom made with woodwork done by hand. This means that your special piece will be a work of art that completely transforms your space. Consider is this style a trend or a timeless part of your home.
Live edge slabs as furniture timeless or a passing trend in the design world. Wood slabs were used in ancient Greek homes as day lounges and beds. Looking back through history wood slabs and logs were used in crafting functional furniture. George Nakashima and other artist placed live edge slab furniture on the map. In 1946 Nakashima crafted a series Furniture featuring live edge slabs for Knoll. The Mid-Century modern homes.