Over the past few months, we’ve worked on several different home renovations. Mid-century modern, modern traditional, eclectic, they’ve all had their own style. But one thing we’ve noticed in common is live edge wood. We’ve spotted benches, dining tables, and shelves, as well as end tables. Live edge pieces are incredibly versatile elements of a design, mixing utility and artistry; they can work just as well as statement pieces or as more subdued components of a more cohesive style.
Normal timber is surfaced on all four sides – the wider top and bottom surfaces, as well as shorter side surfaces. Live edge wood skips a step. Depending on the effect the furniture maker wants to get, only one or two of the surfaces are planed. The remaining surfaces are left in their raw, “live” state, with minimal sanding and light finishes added.
Live edge retains more of the character of the original wood. Bark from the tree, knots, irregular grain patterns, holes bored by insects or man-made materials, damage and re-growth from floods or fires, what others might consider “imperfections,” are put on full display. When incorporated into a piece of furniture, it transforms the natural characteristics of the wood into a work of art.
We’ve seen live edge pieces pop up in projects with a variety of aesthetics. The most obvious is rustic farmhouse, a style that already has an ample use of wood and wood products. We’ve also seen live edge featured in industrial and ultramodern homes and renovations. With the number of woods available – cedar, pine, oak, cypress, and more – as well as the availability of finishes, live edge pieces could potentially work in a full range of styles.