Oak vs Ash vs Walnut: Choosing The Right Wooden Furniture For You

Over recent years, the popularity of wooden furniture has risen steadily, with growing trends of minimalist Scandi designs, natural homes and rustic decor. From an increased demand for sustainable pieces to the reemergence of mid-century modern frames, quality wooden furniture continues to be a staple of modern interior design in 2024.

But with so many different wood options to choose from, it’s important to know which variation will suit your space, your style and your routines. Each different wood variety will require a different level of maintenance to keep it looking its best, and to keep your furniture as long lasting and sustainable as possible. 

In our latest article, we’re going to be sharing the most important insights into the most popular wood choices of modern interior design, and help you choose the perfect wooden furniture for your home

Why Choose Wooden Furniture

So why do we choose wooden furniture in our homes? What makes wood such an appealing and versatile material for both modern and traditional interior design? 

From as far back as the Neolithic era, wood has been used to create simple seating and storage, with stumps and branches being used to form temporary furniture for the nomadic dwellers. For these small communities constantly on the move, wood was a constant, easily found, easily assembled and easily removed no matter how far they travelled.  

As the concept of ‘home’ became a little more sophisticated, over time carpenters and designers began to develop the staples of the furniture we recognise today -  tables chairs cabinets  and  beds . Wood became profitable, a commodity and an essential part of everyday life. 

In fact, throughout the entire history of interior design, the accessibility and diversity of wood has made it a staple of both luxury and everyday homes, from the elegant Tudor palaces to the everyday 21st century flat. 

We use wood in every single room of the house, from our  bed frames  and  display units  to our  coffee tables  and  sideboards , and with wood trends on the rise once again, it’s safe to say that wood will never ever go out of style.  

Which Wood Should I Choose? Oak , Ash or Walnut?

At Milola we find that there are predominantly three woods that respond to our design philosophy and that of the brands that we work with. These are Oak, Ash and Walnut, all working harmoniously with our design philosophy of minimalist structures, curved edges and ribbed designs  

These popular wood choices allow for more elegant furniture items to emerge, with a natural finish adding a relaxed and earthy feel to the home. All three are a solid choice for authentic wooden furniture, but how do you know which wood is the right fit for your space? 

The Advantages of Oak in Furniture

Widely recognised as one of the most widely available and popular wood types, Oak is a stand out choice for a range of furniture items in your home. From the clean curves of the  MONOGRAM  Dining Table from Kristensen to the  SIRLIG  collection of bedroom furniture, the usability of Oak is evident in our Milola store. Durable, accessible, adaptable and robust, Oak furniture is built to last. 

The Benefits of Oak Furniture

  • Hardwood status: Falling into the category of a hardwood, oak furniture is designed to be solid, sturdy and can withhold both weight and pressure 

  • Easy to maintain: Oak requires very little maintenance, as long as it’s kept in a dry environment. A simple and regular dusting should be all the maintenance requiredWhen it comes to treating your wooden furniture, an oil base stain can often be enough to protect your wood from damp and marks. 

  • TimelessOak is one of the few wood types to never fall out of style. Where interior design trends might come and go, oak has remained a consistently popular choice for designers and buyers alike.  

Some Considerations with Oak Furniture

  • Design Style: For many, the knots and lines of Oak furniture are an attractive feature, but for some they might detract from the overall look of the piece. There is the possibility with our Kristensen Kristensen tables to have these removed for a cleaner finish. 
    Some may prefer the smoother lines of the Ash or the richer tones of the Walnut instead.
  • Price: Due to the quality of the wood to work with and the scarcity compared to Ash, this does typically make Oak a slightly more expensive alternative to Ash. However, when compared to Walnut, Oak is much more affordable and accessible.
  • Weight: Whilst oak is a sturdy choice, furniture items made from it can carry a lot of weight, be fairly heavy and difficult to transport. So, if you're planning to move items up stairs make sure you have help!

There are pros and cons to using oak in your furniture collections, but the versatility of the material itself is undeniable, and it’s a beautiful wood to decorate your home with. 

Alternatively Ash: The Pros and Cons of Ash Furniture

Looking for a slightly lighter variation on the traditional oak woods for your home? Ash woods are often seen as a close second to oak’s widespread popularity when it comes to wooden furniture, but it shouldn’t be discounted when choosing Scandi furniture. Not only can beautiful ash products be found in the elegant VELVET Desk, but also the ZET Dining Table as well, highlighting the eye-catching details of the woodgrain and style. 

More than just a simple cut wood, Ash itself is steeped in legend and history, with links to the Scandinavian region from years past.

Similarly to oak, ash is a hardwood, making it naturally durable and sturdy, yet is often lighter in weight and tone - a popular choice for modern designers. But would it work in your home? 

Benefits of Ash Wood Furniture

  • Natural Protection: Ash wood is recognised as the hardest of hardwoods, making it hard to damage or split. 

  • VersatilityAsh wood can also be used in a big variety of styling options and is incredibly versatile when applied, even being used in kitchen joinery. 

  • Inbuilt Resistance: Moisture and shock-resistant, Ash wood can be incredibly durable and adaptable to a wide range of environments and spaces in the home. 

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Stylistically, Ash wood is also regarded as an elegant and refined choice, due to its clean lines, fresh appearance and lighter finish. 

  • Price: Typically, Ash is the least expensive of the three, with the abundance of Ash forests making it less expensive as a raw material thus a great alternative to its Oak and Walnut counterparts.

Some things to consider with Ash Wood Furniture

  • Grain Texture: The open grains and texture of Ash wood furniture might not be an ideal design feature for your chosen interior style. Whilst many furniture items can mask these, grains and line variations are a common feature of most Ash wood products. 

  • Treatments: Ash has a propensity to absorb any stain with a greater variance than Oak or Walnut, so you can see greater patternation across the surface for example on a table top. In fact there are some lighter finishes we do not offer in Ash v Oak where the wood is more consistent 

  • Maintenance: The lighter, white tones of Ash wood furniture can fade or change over time so correct maintenance and treatment is required for general upkeep. Clear oil staining or soap waxing can be used to help the wood keep it’s original appearance.

When making a furniture purchase for your home, it’s important to consider all aspects of the piece - from its longevity to the durability of the wood in your environment - as well as its aesthetic appeal.

Warm Toned Walnut Woods

Every home, every space, every room in your house should embrace the idea of warmth. That unique, comforting feeling that comes with entering your home and feeling safe within its walls. So for those with an eye for warmer toned woods and styles, it’s time to embrace Walnut. 

A premium, luxury wood type compared to its Oak and Ash counterparts, Walnut is often the softer, more elegant choice for carpenters and designs with its deep chocolate brown undertones and stunning natural grain pattern. With a long history of decadent furniture use and craftsmanship, Walnut is the ideal wood for intricate carving, striking pattern making and detailed designs.  

Once considered the ‘exotic timber’ for its unique finish and untapped potential amongst carpenters, Walnut wood is now one of the most popular choices for designers and interior stylists in Switzerland. With a stunning range of Walnut finishes and wooden furniture products in our store and showroom, here at Milola, we’re ready to showcase the best that Walnut wood can offer.

Walnut Wood

Benefits of Walnut Wood Furniture

  • Colour & Tone: Aesthetically, Walnut wood has always been a popular choice in elegant homes, due to the rich tones and appealing pattern of the natural wood. 
  • Carving Potential: Walnut is also a strong, durable wood that can withstand delicate and detailed carving, allowing it to be used in a variety of furniture pieces and decorative items 
  • Functionality: Finally, Walnut’s unique functionality makes it a versatile and adaptable choice for furniture collections - suitable for every room in your home.

Considerations of Walnut Wood Furniture

  • Maintenance: With high quality wood comes high quality maintenance, and it’s likely your Walnut Wood product (like all solid woods furniture) will require a certain level of polishing, finishing and maintaining to keep it in good condition. 

  • Discolouration: Whilst Walnut is a stunning and eye-catching wood, it can often suffer discolouration over time if left in bright sunlight or simply through age. It may become darker or change tone over the years if not properly maintained.

  • Price: Often Walnut furniture comes at a premium over the other two woods, due to a combination of the quality of the wood to work with and the rarity of sourcing it. This is why many Walnut products are priced higher than their Ash or Oak counterparts by retailers and manufacturers

What Finishes Can These Woods Come In?

When choosing the right wood for your furniture, it’s also a good idea to learn about the different types of finishes available as well. From stains and lacquers to oils and varnishes, these finishes can affect the overall appearance and feel of the furniture, as well as their durability in your space.  

They can also transform the appearance of the woods, taking a natural colour and turning it black or dark brown or even make it appear lighter.  

Different Oak wood finishes


Staining a piece of wood can alter the colour, warmth, coolness and grain of the material, without drastically affecting the texture of the wood. By following the existing grain of the natural, unfinished wood, the stain is absorbed into the wood, creating a more organic appearance when finished.  


For hardwoods, such as oak, ash and walnut, an oil-based stain is typically applied to bring out the intricate details of the wood grain and can leave a more professional finish. Stains can also be used to enhance the existing colour or refresh it after years of use.  


An oiled finish for wood is a popular choice for a more natural, organic appearance in everyday furniture. With some protective properties, oils are often used to maintain and penetrate the wood, rather than just affect the surface layer.  


From linseed oil and cedar to pine oil and tung, this sustainable and environmentally-friendly finish can leave a clean texture on the wood, as well as a either a smooth satin or matte finish on your furniture. 


If you’re looking for a glossier, more hardwearing finish on your furniture, varnish is a popular choice. With little to no colour pigmentation, varnish coats the entire surface of the wood leaving a smooth, shiny and protected finish on your piece.  


Typically used on floorings, cabinets and furniture in high traffic areas such as dining rooms and offices, a varnish will leave a hard coating designed to last.  


A combination of various shiny wood finishes, lacquer is a transparent gloss applied to common furniture items and floors to leave a clear coating across the surface.  


Based on the strength of a shellac coating, a lacquer finish is designed to be strong, durable and easily cleaned, making it a great option for kitchen and dining furniture. Difficult to chip or mark, lacquer is one of the most durable finishes available for hardwood furnitures. 

One consideration of lacquer is that any maintenance normally has to be carried out by a professional. With other treatments (oil, stain etc) if you mark the table or leave a water mark from a glass, it is possible to lightly sand the top and reapply a protective coat. This is not normally possible with a lacquer finish.

SIRLIG Bedside Table
OPTIC Coffee Table
Oak Wood

From Dining Tables to Bedside Tables

Here at Milola, we understand the complexity and struggle of choosing the perfect wood for your home. From aesthetic grain choices to strength and durability, you need a product that suits each aspect of your life. From cabinets that can withstand kids' crayons and puppy teeth to dining tables that can handle any number of wine spills, the wooden furniture you select can be a game-changer for your home. 

With such a big range of beautiful wooden furniture in our showroom, and in our online store, we can help you select the perfect pieces for your space. Speak to one of our team today, or  drop us a message , to find out more about our stunning selection of wooden products this season. 

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