To celebrate World Environment Day this year, we’re paying homage to the magnificent British trees that surround us.
The biggest plants on the planet, they filter the air we breathe, offer nourishment for birds and wildlife, they make us happier and healthier (that’s a fact!), and have even been proven to reduce crime levels in cities.
Not only that, but they provide us with materials for tools and shelter. Beautiful, durable and renewable; wood is an extraordinary natural material with endless uses...including being fabulous for furniture, of course!
Over 70 species of trees grow in Britain, yet shockingly, 93% of hardwood sold in the UK is imported.
When we’re not giving reclaimed materials a second life, we source stunning local hardwoods from trees that have been felled due to urban development and would otherwise be destroyed, from our partners at Saunders Seasonings Hardwoods.
From oak and ash to hornbeam and walnut, these majestic beauties yield a treasure trove of rich colours, swirling grain and intricate patterns.
5 of the local timbers we love to work with:
The wise old oak, as it is fondly known, supports more life than any other native tree species in the UK.
Growing up to 20–40m tall, oak produces one of the hardest and most durable timbers used to make things such as furniture, flooring and wine barrels. However, it takes up to 150 years before an oak is ready to use in construction.
The oak’s bark has also been used to tan leather since Roman times.
Japan-inspired furniture set made from reclaimed and British-grown oak for a residential client in Notting Hill
2. English elm:
The deceptively named English elm was introduced to the UK by our Bronze Age ancestors, and once dominated the English landscape, but is now more commonly found in hedgerows and woodlands.
Its timber is strong with a beautiful tight-twisted grain, and is resistant to water, making it an excellent choice for boat-building and furniture.
Part of a bespoke residential commission, we made this bench from beautiful elm from Eastbourne milled by Saunders Seasonings Hardwoods, who re-purpose timber from locally felled trees
3. London plane:
Growing up to 35m and living up to several hundred years, this stunning species is London’s most common tree, favoured due to their ability to stay healthy despite high levels of pollution.
It’s timber is a little-known beauty, with a rich golden colour and a distinctive lacewood grain.
The distinctive grain of London plane hardwood used for a bespoke reception desk we made for a South London yoga studio. We sourced this material locally, from trees that had been felled due to development, turning it into a stunning focal point for welcoming guests into the studio.
4. English walnut:
Walnut was first introduced to the UK by the Romans who, like much of our native wildlife, valued it for its nuts. It also has unique medicinal qualities used to treat skin ailments.
With a short trunk and broad crown, they can grow to 35m. One way to spot a walnut is the leaves that, when crushed, smell like polish.
Its timber has a rich and dark colour with a fine decorative, wavy grain that is popular for furniture.
Our Hex Pen handcrafted by Goldfinger Alumni and West London-based artisan Rick Powell, in its handmade walnut case
A member of the olive tree family, ash is one of the most common trees in the UK. Tall and graceful, they often grow together, forming a domed canopy. They can live for up to 400 years old!
Ash timber is one of the toughest hardwoods, as it absorbs shocks without splintering. Ideal for tools and sports equipment, ash has an attractive grain, making it a popular choice for furniture.
A workspace created for Fore Partnership, from British ash that had been felled in Gloucester, featuring butterfly joints and a 'waney-edge'
We are spoilt for choice in the UK with so many stunning trees surrounding us, and truly appreciate the materials they provide. To read more about our bespoke furniture projects using Britain's beautiful trees, and find out how you can commission us to make a piece of furniture for your home, click here.