Live Edge Furniture

Live edge furniture has been around for quite some time and its popularity has continued to grow over the years. Live edge refers to the living part of the tree known as the outer ring. When used for furniture, the bark is usually removed. Live edge pieces have unfinished edges, rather than straight, clean-cut sides. It’s a beautiful style of furniture known for its organic lines and natural qualities.

Dining room with live edge dining table, Parson chairs, and brick walls.

I personally love the versatility of live edge furniture. Although rustic, it can fit as easily into a country-chic space as it can in a modern or minimalist space. Rather than being reserved for rustic environments, it is common for rich textured woods to be mixed with sleek lines and metal accents. The unique details of live edge furniture add character and depth wherever it’s placed.

Where the Live Edge Trend Began

George Nakashima is responsible for starting the live edge trend, aka the “free-edge” aesthetic. He brought it to the forefront of mid-century design. This legendary designer got his master’s in architecture from MIT and was later a prisoner of a Japanese internment camp during World War II. It was there that he met a Japanese craftsman that mentored him in woodworking.

Nakashima’s Philosophy

Nakashima believed in preserving the shape and color of the natural wood. In his mind, each tree had only one intended purpose. Rather than taking the credit for shaping the tree, he believed in simply allowing the tree to shape itself.

Live edge dining table with candlesticks on top and black chairs around.

George Nakashima believed furniture should be used, reflecting the life of its owners and telling a story. He didn’t think we should strive to keep furniture perfect. Instead, he thought nicks and scratches added more life and character to the pieces. 

After Nakashima was released from the camp, he worked from a studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Eventually, his daughter, Mira, began to work with him and continues to run the woodworking business today.

The Appeal of Live Edge Furniture

It’s likely that live edge furniture is increasing in popularity due to the biophilic trend. In our world’s unsettling times, turning to nature helps us stay grounded. In addition, people love that each piece of live edge furniture is an original, retaining its natural contours and character.

A teal blue sofa with a live edge side table next to it with a plant, books, and gold decor piece on top.

Live edge furniture can vary in grain patterns, colors, and bark. Woods like oak, pine, hickory, beech, maple, and cherry are all common choices for live edge applications. To avoid an uneven surface, knots are filled, and pieces stained and sealed to preserve the wood’s beauty.

A bedroom with a live edge headboard, lamp, and a white fuzzy chair.

Live edge furniture comes in many different forms from shelves to coffee and dining tables. I absolutely love the look of this live edge headboard. The dark wood adds richness and warmth into the room.

A kitchen with black cabinetry and a long island in the middle with live edge wood connected to the countertop.

Another unique application of live edge wood is an extension of a kitchen island. It tones down the formality of this kitchen while keeping its elegant look. It also pairs well with the geometric tile above the stovetops.

A living room with a live edge coffee table and a sofa with assorted pillows.

This live edge coffee table is a beautiful piece. The shape is gorgeous and its placement in the middle of the living room really grounds the space. I also like how it contrasts well with the lighter wood seating nearby. The reddish tones of the wood pairs well with the blue throw and pillows.

A live edge side table with a green vase of flowers and lamp on top underneath small white-framed decorative mirrors.

This side table with a live edge top is the most unique. It’s a true statement piece that contrasts well with the feminine pieces around it. I love the juxtaposition of the polished pieces and the intricate design of the side table.

I hope you enjoyed exploring this trend as much as I did. No matter what style your home is, live wood furniture is a great addition. Inspired to try this trend? What kind of live edge piece of furniture would you love to add to your home?