The Characteristics of Natural Wood

What makes real wood furniture so unique is its natural variations in pattern, color, tone, and grain pattern. In hardwood furniture you’ll find a variation of knots, swirls, lines, and burls that illustrate the beauty of handcrafted natural wood pieces. Overtime, hardwoods will deepen or lighten in color due to oxidation and exposure to sunlight.  The inherent unique grain patterns in wood adds character, ensuring no 2 pieces of furniture are exactly the same.

Differences in Color & Grain

When it comes to natural wood furniture, no one piece is alike. Each piece has its own unique color and grain variation. Its own story. These variations are not defects or manufactured flaws – they do not compromise the structure, durability, or quality of your furniture. Instead, these differences in color, grain, and pattern are the tell-tale signs of an authentic piece of hardwood.

Changes in Size

The size of natural wood furniture may shrink or grow depending on the temperature and humidity in your home. When your furniture changes in size, it may warp the wood, making it more difficult to open and close drawers or other mechanisms. To prevent this, we recommend keeping your natural wood furniture away from direct sunlight, fireplaces, radiators, or other heat sources. If that is unavoidable, a dehumidifier or humidifier can help keep the moisture content of the wood at an optimal level.

Types of Wood & Their Unique Characteristics


Walnut is a dark, hard, dense, tight-grained wood. When polished it has an exceptionally smooth finish and varies in color from a pale creamy white to a dark brown. 

GRAIN: Uniform to highly figured grain.

COLOR: Rich brown is its natural color, not a stain. Walnut color ranges from creamy white color (sap wood) to a chocolate brown (heart wood) tone.

DURABILITY: Natural walnut is a dense, long-lasting hardwood ideal for crafting heirloom-quality furniture. The sturdy grains help prevent breakage, even in humid climates.

HOW LIGHT & AIR EFFECTS IT: The natural dark color of Walnut lightens as it ages and becomes more exposed to light.


Cherry is a smooth, even-grained hardwood with a rich, reddish-brown color. As it ages, it darkens or takes on a golden hue from exposure to sunlight.

GRAIN:  smooth, close grain pattern. 

COLOR: reddish-brown. Accept stains well.

DURABILITY: Cherry is rot resistant with a high durability.

HOW LIGHT & AIR EFFECT IT: Unstained cherry furniture is originally very light in color, becoming darker and redder as it ages. Make sure cherry wood furniture is evenly exposed to UV light, or it may experience an uneven change in hue. Leaving objects on a piece of immature cherry wood will leave a lighter area since the wood is shielded from direct sunlight. Should this happen, remove the object and the color will eventually even out.


Maple ranges in color from a pale cream to a light brown. The grain pattern has distinct burls and swirls throughout the wood. Maple comes from the same tree as Brown Maple. 

GRAIN: Clear, straight grain or burls.

COLOR:  Ranges from pale cream blonde to light brown.

DURABILITY: Excellent resistance to abrasion and indents, highly dense and durable.

HOW LIGHT EFFECTS IT: Starts off a rich, cream color that may be stained darker to look more luxe. This color will eventually turn a soft gold tone when left unstained depending on air and sun exposure.


Oak is one of the most popular hardwoods in North America. It is known for its open grain and ranges in color from pale red-brown to beige/tan. Oak has a distinguished grain pattern that is often raised  and is high in strength and durability.

GRAIN:  Distinctive grain patterns.

COLOR: Ranges from red-brown/pink to beige/tan.

DURABILITY: Highly durable and well-known for its strength. Oak is rot-resistant and also great for outdoor furniture.

HOW LIGHT & AIR EFFECT IT: Natural oak’s color becomes more warm and golden as it ages. 

Sustainably Sourced Wood

Our Vermont Workshop Partners source their woods responsibly from the American Northern Forest. Maple Corner Woodworks has a deep respect for the lush, unique lands surrounding the great state of Vermont. This respect for Mother Nature is a driving force for their efforts to partner with sawmills and hardwood brokers involved in forest management and sustainability. At Vermont Furniture Designs, only the highest quality lumber with the most consistent grain and color is used. Their ultimate goal is to present the wood as it is cut from the tree itself.

Copeland and Cisco Home only use FSC Certified wood to ensure that your furniture is organic, safe, and sustainably sourced. Copeland’s lumber also comes from within 500 miles of their factory, allowing them to consume less energy in transporting the raw materials back to the factory. Each partner keeps sustainability and ethical furniture production at the forefront of their company values to make furniture that is healthy for both you and the environment.