Why Every Room Needs Some Vintage Wood

Goooooooood Mooooorning (afternoon or evening) I hope you are all full of the joys of summer (winter in Australia) and ready to bounce into a new week and a new dose of Monday Inspiration. The other day I mentioned to you my mantra of adding Something New, Something Old, Something Black and Something Gold to every room to bring it together and it occurred to me that I need to rewrite it to include either Something Vintage or And Don’t Forget A Bit Of Natural Wood and that is what we are going to look at today.

dining nook design by @aliecgraceinteriors
dining nook design by @alicegraceinteriors

As ever, this post is a round up of things that have caught my eye over the week and there is often an unwitting theme that develops without me realising until I come to put the images together. So let’s look at wood. Because it doesn’t have to be old but it does have to be there in its natural form. Old is good – it has a character and a patina that will always bring something to the room. In a new house, or a room full of new things, it tells a story, hints at the past life of the owners and brings the sense that the pieces have been brought together for a reason and not just added to cart.

And that is the secret of a good room. You don’t have to share the same taste as the person who put it together, you don’t even have to like everything in there but, on some level, you will respond better to a room that looks as if it is a collection of much loved items; things that have been put together to tell a story or because they work well as a team. If you sense that it all arrived fresh from the shop and has just been unpacked you will not feel at home because it won’t feel like a home – it’s just a room full of things.

design studio @albionnord at Whistler Square @chelseabarracks
the hanover bedside table by design studio @albionnord via @purepr

Adding something old, pre-loved, vintage or antique will give that sense of depth to a scheme. But actually it doesn’t have to be old, it just needs to look old or even involve a natural wood finish and, for our purposes here, that is going to mean darker wood, which looks older than modern pale oak. Out of these five pictures here only two are actually old and one of those has been full restored. And yet every room has been enhanced by its presence.

I could make you guess which is which…. I’ll wait if you want a quick scroll… but let’s start with the top image. That fabulous pew in the modern home of Alice Grace Interiors was made to order from a business she found on eBay. You can find all the details in her instagram highlights under “banquette”. It’s a storage piece but there’s a shot where you can see the table surrounded by chairs and you can see how an L-shaped banquette is great as a zoning piece in an open plan room, as well as a space-saver in a small room and it’s a lot more comfortable than a bench. Of course vintage is lovely but the advantage of making to order is that you can add storage. And, of course, you can add cushions for comfort.

Cabinet sourced by, reglazed and restored by @cotedefolk
Cabinet sourced by, reglazed and restored by @cotedefolk

Next, the bedside table and I have spoken before about the difficulty of finding good bedside tables. The other issue is that bedrooms tend to be full of soft furnishings (unsurprisingly) and if you have an upholstered headboard as well the room is going to need something hard to balance all that fabric. Made to order is, of course, expensive so this is where vintage is your friend. The point of this Hanover table by Albion Nord though is that it the soft warm tones of the wood balance all that soft cream fabric and bring sense of warmth and luxury to this room, not to mention a large amount of hidden storage

Moving on to the bathroom and above is a vintage cabinet which has been completely restored by Sophie Rowell of Cote De Folk. Bathrooms are, by their very nature, full of new pieces and both rooms – above and below – have brought in an old piece (below is the stool) to add character and balance all that white porcelain. And I have deliberately chosen both images as one is a huge bathroom which you will probably only have if you have converted a bedroom, while the other is much smaller and yet the tiny stool plays just as important a role.

bathroom design by @chalkwhitearrow
bathroom design by @chalkwhitearrow

Finishing with this table which, again, looks as if it could be old – and could be replaced by something old if you found the right thing. For if the budget doesn’t stretch to bespoke, then never lose sight of eBay or Facebook marketplace. A battered old wooden table can be polished and shined and you can even source a marble (or Caesarstone) off-cut to sit on the top which will be scratch proof and more resistant to watermarks and hot mugs of coffee than the original wooden surface.

So whether you are shopping at 1st Dibbs, commissioning bespoke or scouring vintage sites – there is something for every budget if you know where to look and remember – we started with my first mantra we’ll end with my second – If you can’t afford to spend money then you must save up some time and spend that hunting for what you want.

The point to remember is that adding some natural and/or old wood to your room will be the perfect finishing touch adding both character and warmth as well as originality and show that you have taken the time to create a home that tells your story (bringing all my mantras together in one post here).

Harewood table from Jamb interior design by @emmamilneinteriors
Harewood table from Jamb interior design by @emmamilneinteriors 
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Wood is good. We have a mixture of wood items in our downstairs rooms and different wood types.
    You can’t beat it.

  2. Absolutely agree. Natural wood warms up a room, and vintage wood also prevents it looking ‘showroom’. However, the designer went a step too far with that banquette. Too many disparate elements. Cheers from Canada!

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