Walnut is the only consistently dark wood that is native to North America. Walnut is known for its very dark brown, chocolate and coffee colors. Depending on the tree it may also have yellow-gray streaks, lighter browns, red tones and sometimes even purples, greens and gold. The sapwood, which is part of every tree, is yellow to cream and sometimes almost white. It is a hallmark of natural Walnut wood to have a rich mix of colors.
We do not stain our solid Walnut furniture as its dark color is best showcased in its natural state with our Tung Oil finish.
The samples shown below are examples of the variety of different colors and grain patterns found in walnut wood.
Furniture grade Walnut is an American hardwood, Juglans Nigra, that is also known as American Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut, or Black Walnut. Walnut is prized for its dark, rich color and distinctive wood grain pattern. A mature Walnut tree will be 100-150 feet tall and up to 60 inches round and grow primarily in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana as well as throughout the Appalachian region of the United States.
Walnut is the only consistently dark wood that is native to North America. Walnut is known for its very dark brown, chocolate and coffee colors of the center of the tree, also called heartwood. Depending on the tree it may also have yellow-gray streaks, lighter browns, red tones and sometimes even purples, greens and gold. The sapwood, which is part of every tree, is yellow to cream and sometimes almost white. It is a hallmark of natural Walnut wood to have a rich mix of colors.
Walnut is a medium-density strong, durable, stable hardwood that is widely used for making for furniture, cabinetry and interior flooring. Walnut is also used to make gunstocks and musical instruments including guitars and pianos.
Walnut is a durable choice for furniture but is somewhat softer than other hardwoods such as Oak, Cherry and Maple. We do not recommend Walnut for surfaces that will receive significant wear such as for desks, table tops, desktops and children’s and pet furniture.
Walnut is less insect-resistant than other hardwoods such as Oak or Maple. If you live in an area that is known for bugs, we suggest that you research your local area and learn how these critters could be attracted to Walnut wood furniture.
European Walnut has a lighter honey-brown color and is a smaller tree producing more figured wood grain patterns and more knots and holes. It grows primarily in Europe but as far East as China. European Walnut is a good choice for furniture, but as its common name suggests it is less available in the United States and as a result is typically much more expensive than Walnut that grows domestically.
Walnut wood has long been prized by furniture builders because it is very stable, easy to shape, impact resistant, and of course has that a gorgeous dark chocolate brown color. Walnut furniture is found in a wide range of styles from traditional, Arts and Crafts and mid-century modern.
Solid walnut is an excellent choice for bedroom furniture as the dark, rich colors match well with a variety of bedroom décor. Beds, dressers, armoires, bedside tables and cabinets take on a dramatic look when created with Walnut.
While Walnut has a lower hardness and strength rating vs other hardwoods such as Maple or Oak, it is still a very durable choice for bedroom furniture and is our best selling wood for beds with headboards.
Yes! The dark hues of Walnut are a perfect match for the current trend of grey walls, floors and upholstered furniture. Dark Walnut furniture can be a show piece or perfect statement piece that “pops” against and creates a cool gray room. Not to worry, Walnut also works nicely with the emerging white-wall trend!
Walnut is well known to have been used in fine furniture as far back as the 17th century during the “Age of Walnut.”
According to Fine Woodworking Magazine: “The term “Age of Walnut” is not so much descriptive of any particular style of furniture as it is a means of dating furniture — roughly from 1600 to 1730. One reason for the gradual introduction of Walnut may have been improvements in sawing. While planks could only with difficulty be sawn thinner than an inch, it was natural to construct furniture using them as such, and to employ carving as the easiest form of decoration. But as people learned to cut thinner slices of material, it became possible to use such thin slices — especially when of wood remarkable for its contrasting color or unusual figure — as an alternative form of decoration. And, in fact, it was the gradual increase of this new technique (using Walnut inlaid or veneered upon Oak) that accounts in large part for the decrease of carved surfaces as the chief characteristic of fancy furniture.”
Many interior designers recommend that flooring be lighter than the furniture in a room. To incorporate Walnut furniture into your overall design, consider lighter color flooring such as Maple or White Oak so that your darker furniture will be highlighted. Some customers also enjoy matching the flooring to the furniture.
Solid Custom Heirlooms does not stain Walnut wood, rather we prefer to allow the the natural beauty of rich dark colors and grain variations be highlighted by our Tung Oil finish. Tung Oil does not darken the wood but brings out the natural Walnut color and highlights the stunning grain of the wood.
Walnut is more expensive than other hardwoods because it is more rare and grows slowly. Expect to pay a premium buying walnut furniture vs other species solid wood furniture such a Cherry, Oak or Maple. In our experience, handcrafted Walnut furniture holds its value over time and properly cared for will last a lifetime or longer!
Cherry wood is possibly the most popular American hardwood. Cherry is smooth, straight grained and prized by woodworkers for its strength, hardness, durability, smooth finish and workability. Cherry starts out a light pink color and ages to warm red to brown patina that only gets deeper and richer throughout its lifetime.
Both Walnut and Cherry woods grow in abundance in the Eastern United States and are very good choices for fine furniture. Where Walnut is prized for its beauty of its dark Coffee like colors, Cherry is known for the beauty of its stunning wood with a brighter color pallet with reds and browns. Cherry is well known to get darker and richer in color over time.
Cherry also takes stain very well and can produce a very consistent rich chocolate color when used with a Dark Walnut stain.
Oak species including Red Oak and White Oak hardwood are commonly seen in flooring, furniture and just about everywhere else hardwood is used in the United States. Oak is hard, very strong and works very well in solid wood furniture. Color of Red Oak is light to medium brown, commonly with red overtones. Color of White Oak is yellow to gray tones and is extremely popular in cool-toned modern décor.
Both Walnut and Oak are well known to produce strong, well built and long-lasting furniture. Oak, and in particular White Oak is harder and more durable than Walnut, which makes it a good choice for furniture that will have high level of wear such as children’s beds, desks, stairs and desktops.
Because Walnut heartwood is very dark, any variation in color is more noticeable than with other lighter wood species. While we work diligently to make our Walnut wood furniture consistent in color, part of the natural beauty of Walnut is in the organic variations and patterns that can include streaks of yellow, lighter browns, red and sometimes green, purple and gold. The photos below are examples of the unique figuration of this special wood – many of our customers ask for these types of variations!
If you are looking for a dark brown walnut color but prefer a more consistent grain and coloration throughout the piece, we suggest Cherry wood with an application of Dark Walnut stain. Cherry is lower in cost and more durable vs Walnut wood yet with the addition of stain produces a beautiful dark chocolate color.
Very smooth finished surface
Less insect-resistant than other woods
Solid Custom Heirlooms is a custom furniture builder based in Appalachia USA. We use American hardwood to craft a wide variety of furniture from simple platform beds to more elaborate luxury beds. If you don’t see what you are looking for, or want to talk more about achieving a specific look or type of bed, please contact us and we would love to help you make your dreams a reality.