A Buyer’s Guide to Natural Live Edge Wood Furniture

By Bailiegh Basham · April 1, 2022

A Buyer’s Guide to Natural Live Edge Wood Furniture

Purchasing Live Edge Furnishings for Home and Business

Countryside Amish Furniture offers a growing number of pieces in trendy live edges. This furniture style works well within the "bring the outdoors in" theme that is gaining popularity in interior design. Here we attempt to answer the frequently asked questions related to this unique and beautiful edge type, as well as divulge tips for decorating with live edge wood furniture. 

Live Edge Dining FurnitureLive Edge Bedroom Furniture | Live Edge Office Furniture | Live Edge Living Room Furniture

What is Live Edge?

Live Edge describes the shape of the edge of the table top, shelf, or desktop in question. As pictured below, you can see that the bark is carefully removed from the lumber without disrupting the natural appearance of the edge. Our furniture built with live edge wood is custom hand stained and coated with a catalyzed conversion varnish just like all of our other furniture. Rustic characteristics of the wood remain and knots are filled to avoid an uneven surface, but remain visible. The raw beauty of the hardwood is maintained.

Live edge means that the wood used has not been cut in a straight line in a quick run through the mill. Natural edge pieces are carefully handled to retain the shape of the tree's natural edge so that a rustic, one-of-a-kind line emerges. Consequently, there will be width variations in the dimensions of live edge furniture.

There are a number of wood species used in live edge, but at Countryside, we typically utilize only rustic varieties of Brown Maple, Cherry, and Walnut (click here to learn more about wood species). What does rustic mean? We do not purge the sections of the tree that may include knots or dramatic color variations. It is those variations that make every piece unique. Knots are always filled with an epoxy to ensure a smooth surface, but they remain visible through the top coat of catalyzed conversion varnish (click here to learn more about our varnish).

Two types of natural live edge are becoming common in Amish handmade furniture. A  "bark on" edge is pictured below and is exceedingly rustic as the bark of the tree remains intact and is simply varnished over. It is most appropriate for a cabin or casual setting. Countryside does not offer any bark on live edge at this time. 

 

All live edge furniture offered at Countryside is "de-barked" or "bark off". Using extreme caution, our Amish artisans carefully remove the bark from the tree and lightly sand the edge to prevent splintering. It is tedious work as the importance of not altering the edge of the wood cannot be overstated. This process, as all our furniture building, is accomplished by hand. The exquisite, unique edge that emerges from this process is truly breathtaking.

Tips for Decorating With Live Edge Wood Furniture

 

Make the Lived Edge Wood Furniture the Focal Point

Regardless of whether you choose to use live edge wood in your headboard or coffee table, give the one-of-a-kind piece the spotlight it deserves.

My best advice would be to keep the rest of the decor simple and let the natural beauty of the wood be the star of the show. Try to find pieces that have interesting shapes and patterns, and make sure to choose a finish that will show off the natural beauty of the wood.


– David Mason, interior designer and owner of The Knobs Company

 

This can be done through a number of design decisions, such as angling of lights, positioning within the room, and creating dramatic contrasts with surrounding textiles and colors. Many live edge furniture pieces are two-toned to help make the natural wood truly pop. 

Another way to let your live edge furniture shine is by limiting visual clutter. If you utilize the wood as a table, centerpieces should be understated. If featured as part of a bed frame, keep your comforters’ colors muted. If there’s too much visual frenzy near the wood, its nuanced grain and beauty will be lost. 

As David Mason of The Knobs Company points out, “You could use a live edge wood coffee table as a focal point in your living room, or use a live edge wood bench as an accent piece in your entryway. Just make sure to keep the rest of your decor fairly simple so that the live edge wood furniture can really stand out.”

Determine Whether to Embrace or Contrast With the Natural Elements

The interior decor experts with whom we talked agreed that live edge wood furniture could accommodate diverse styles. The key was to determine the overall theme of the space when finding accompanying furniture and accessories. 

The beauty of countertop accenting furniture is that it brings nature into your home. Single complete edge furniture items look great in contemporary, modern, and minimalist rooms, but they may also be used in other settings. 

- Mark Osborne, Director at Orangeries UK

 

If using the live edge furniture within a contemporary space: As highlighted by Mark Osborne of Orangies UK, a solo live edge piece could be the perfect finishing touch to a modern home. Use natural stained wood sparingly, framing your focal point with painted furniture, upholstered pieces, or contemporary materials. Mark suggests that, to achieve a modern aesthetic for live edge tables, “choose contrasting legs, such as hairpin or metal ones.” Furthermore, you’re free to embrace a darker color palette. 

 

If using the live edge furniture within a rustic-themed space: Bring out the mason jars, the soft textiles, and the dried flowers! Contrast the wood’s earthy hues with pastels and off-whites. If you choose to display rustic decor, consider buying a live edge furniture set rather than individual pieces.

Use Live Edge Wood in Furniture Pieces Seen Up Close and That Receive Regular Interaction

Live edge wood looks beautiful from afar, but its unique complexities truly shine when seen up-close. Therefore, pick pieces that receive some level of interaction so users can appreciate the one-of-a-kind shapes and grains. For example, an office desk or dining room table invites the sitter to embrace the wood with both their eyes and hands. Comparatively, a file cabinet or wine rack will receive less up close attention, meaning that many won’t recognize the live edge details.

Be Mindful of Utility When Choosing the Live Edge Furniture Silhouette

The majority of Countryside Amish Furniture’s live edge tables and other furniture maintain fairly traditional shapes and dimensions, with the live edge elements adding subtle nuance. However, not all woodworkers make this choice, instead embracing abstract silhouettes that emphasize the wildness of live nature. 

The upside of such designs is that they’re eye-catching and rugged, but furniture shoppers need to weigh the functionality in addition to the aesthetic. For example, jagged-shaped tables will likely accommodate much less seating and require generous floor space without table top real estate to match. Similarly, live edge storage furniture (like shelves or ledges) with dramatically uneven widths is capable of holding less than if it had straighter lines.

Where can I use live edge furniture?

Our live edge offerings include desks, bookshelves, dining tables, pub tables, benches, chairs, etc. Shop our gallery of live edge and rustic dining furniture to create a one of a kind collection. In addition, add live edge pieces to your bedroom, living room, and home or executive office. Only your personal style and taste will establish boundaries for live edge in your home or place of business. All of our live edge pieces fall into Modern or Contemporary style, but a few are also appropriate for Mission or Shaker motifs. Given recent trends in industrial chic and bringing the outdoors in, live edge furnishings are perfect for updating both home and office.

Why is live edge popular?

Live edge furniture is completely original by definition. No two pieces of live edge furniture can ever be exactly alike. Further, live edge combines the rustic appeal of solid wood furniture with the refined appearance of upmarket design. Your live edge furniture from Countryside will have the same heirloom life expectancy of all our other furniture. It is, of course, solid wood and Amish handmade.

How is Countryside's live edge unique?

Our live edge furniture is available in three rustic, domestic, responsibly harvested hardwoods: Rustic Maple, Rustic Cherry, and Rustic Walnut. Although there are "bark on" varieties, at this point Countryside is offering "bark off" live edge to ensure longevity and the pristine appearance our family of customers has come to expect. For examples of live edge furniture we handcraft for customers, check out:

No matter if your interest in live edge is personal or commercial, Countryside has an Amish handcrafted, hardwood solution. As with all our made to order fine furniture, you make all the decisions about the wood species, color, size, and options that our craftsmen include in your custom pieces. If you don't see precisely what you envision, chat with us online, send an email, or call and we will do our best to accommodate your vision.

FAQ About Live Edge Wood Furniture


How should you maintain your live edge wood furniture? 

Moisture and scratches are the kryptonite of live edge wood (which is true for many types of wood). For this reason, we suggest using a microfiber towel to clean your pieces. It’s incredibly absorbent, softer than paper towels, and suited for clearing away grime from the nooks and crannies. 

Do you need to worry about the wood warping or cracking with time?

When neglected, natural hardwoods do warp and crack with prolonged use or exposure to liquids. However, Countryside Amish Furniture applies a high-end varnish to every live edge furniture piece to protect it from external damage. If properly cleaned and maintained, live edge furniture can last a lifetime. 

What stains work best with live edge wood furniture? 

Crafters like Countryside Amish Furniture may give you options for various stains. While we have coloring options for every taste, we would recommend most opt for a lighter tint to show off the intricate grain and knots.