Tuesday, 25 December 2012
The History of Solid Oak Furniture
In ancient times, people believed the oak to be the very first tree on earth. Vast oak forests grew over much of the UK and Western Europe. Due to the enormous size of this tree, people believed it to be struck by lightning far more than other tree. The ancient Druids worshipped the oak, believing it to be the host of the power and energy of their gods.
The first documented pieces of Solid Oak Furniture date back to the Dark Ages. As this wood was easy to come by, it was very common to find humble peasant furniture made from oak. Oak timber is strong and dense. It is very tough compared to softwoods such as pine and has a tight grain making it ideal for furniture making. Solid Oak furniture has survived for hundreds of years. It can cope with the harshest of environments and was used in shipbuilding due to its water-resistant properties. Early oak furniture was basic and purely functional. As society developed, the furniture also evolved. Master craftsmen spent several years as apprentices and would train to be accepted as a member of the Guild of Craftsmen.
After the Middle Ages, oak-use was far more decorative. The middle classes had more money and used their furniture to show off their wealth. Densely grained oak was perfect for wood panelling such as that found in the House of Commons in London. Solid Oak Furniture remained popular until the use of lighter European woods became more commonplace in the 17th century.
Oak Mission furniture was imported into Britain from America at the start of the 20th century. This furniture typified the sort made when the Arts and Crafts movement was at its height. The designs concentrated on simple lines, varnished timber, exposed joints and upholstery using natural fabrics. This style of Mission furniture remains popular even today.
Between the two world wars, solid oak was in very short supply in Europe as a result of the bombing campaigns of the First World War. Contemporary furniture made from oak reached British shores, though it was lighter and used less wood.
With the advances in plastics and new materials during the 50′s 60′s and 70′s, wood as a raw material for furniture became unfashionable for the very first time. The emphasis was on bright colours, smooth wipe-clean surfaces and mass-production. This obsession with alternatives to solid wood persisted until the eighties when wooden furniture began to enjoy a revival. It was initially very expensive as there was not a huge demand, but consumers quickly realised that a classically styled piece of furniture made from solid oak would outlast plastic, MDF and softwoods. This increased demand led to more mass-production and as a result, a more affordable product.
Today there are a host of household items made from solid oak, types of solid oak furniture include kitchen cabinets, bedroom furniture, flooring and of course, free-standing pieces of furniture. These solid oak pieces will look good for years to come and outlast most other items in the home. After a few decades, they can even be sanded down, re-finished and refurbished for future generations to enjoy.For a beautiful range of solid oak furniture contact EasyFurn.co.uk the Solid Oak Furniture specialists.