Project: The beauty of bare wood

Last year I was trawling though my mums attic (the BEST thrifting spot in Ireland) and came across a crusty wood and porcelain bathroom set that I planned to paint and use temporarily in my bathroom until something better came along. I soon discovered, after some generous sanding, that it was solid mahogany. What a beautiful wood! Not that glossy overbearing plum brown that we are so used to in Ireland, it is a much more subtle shade when left untouched. I finished the sanding and with a quick lick of satin clear varnish, hung them in the bathroom where they remain still.

I have been reluctant to paint old wood lately, even veneers, as I see more and more charming pieces of vintage furniture destroyed by overeager DIYers. I have been guilty of this too of course; it’s such an easy fix for battered wood.  But if there is a glimmer of hope for the wood, I say leave it alone! My home is brimming with tattered old wood pieces that I know, one day, will get my time and attention and be restored to their former glory.

In saying that, there is one of my pieces that recently got the attention of my paintbrush. This very old tall boy chest originally had a strange veneer frame made out of old tea boxes. It sounds charming but it was unsalvageable – a peeling, mouldy mess. I had originally planned to paint the whole unit but when I got up close the solid wood drawers I knew I couldn’t touch them.


The deep colour in my son’s bedroom is the ideal backdrop for the unfinished solid wood pieces that feature there. The walls are painted in Little Greene Paint’s Deep Space Blue. Photo: Alexia McInerney


This antique French sleigh bed was a gift from my mother. The Next bedclothes were bought for €5 at a Car Boot still in the packaging and the neon light is by Seletti at Heals, London. The rug is from T.K. Maxx and the wallpaper is from Komar. Photo: Alexia McInerney

There is real trend towards bare wood coming in this year, even pine has started trickling through to the mainstream again (check out the Ikea PS 2012 chest of drawers – love, love, want). But for the most part it’s currently being embraced by the ‘Farmhouse’ school of style, a beautiful, clean aesthetic, but not ideal when you’re a lover of colour like myself.

But whatever your style, there is a timber that will suit it, be it the darkest gothic carved mahogany, the clean lines of  Scandinavian style pine, renovated Victorian oak or even a modern, minimalist cherry wood – although its unlikely you’ll find the latter at the local car boot.

Happy hunting!

Click here to see more bare wood inspiration on the Rough House Style Pinterest board

All photos by Alexia McInerney





  1. It looks great! I love the combination of wood and white-wash and the drawer pulls are perfect. The comic wallpaper in your sons room is awesome, too!!


    1. Alexia

      Thanks craftymadre! The only finished room in my house at the moment and he still prefers to sleep in my bedroom!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My boy was the same way!!! (Enjoy it while it lasts.) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. […] Peeling veneers. Once you don’t mind some rough edges on your furniture, a peeling veneer isn’t the no-go you might imagine. Just give the veneer a light sand to eliminate any loose splinters, and then paint with a primer and topcoat. See one of my own painted veneer pieces here. […]


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