What Wood Species Are Designers Specifying in 2023

I sent out a survey last week to our interior designer network. Last week for the record was the first week of February 2023. In the survey I presented popular wood species and asked them to pick their first and second choices for what they are specifying right now. I took the results and weighted them based on their preference (sort of a ranked-choice voting kinda thing) and got the results.

The idea for the survey came from my curiosity on ash specifically. It seems like every designer I’ve talked to in the last couple of months mentioned ash – which is interesting. Let’s see what that survey showed:

As you were probably already guessing walnut and white oak are still hugely popular. But I wasn’t wrong about ash – there it is at number three, and a fairly strong number three compared to the distribution of the other options picked.

To double check I also wanted to see what designers were actually specifying with Buildlane. To have a sufficient sample size I pulled data from the entire year 2022. I only am looking at case good furniture built through Buildlane – no upholstery as that would skew heavily towards alder and maple.

Now, looking at the entire 2022 dataset we’re not necessarily going to see very recent trends. But hey, I thought it would be more interesting to see what wood people specified last year anyways.

In actual produced projects white oak has a huge lead. No surprise there, my favorite lumber yard here in LA, GL Veneer, always says they have hundreds of exotic wood species and still sell 90% plain sliced white oak.

The amount of projects done in ash is pretty minuscule compared to what designers are planning on building with this year. I wonder if at the end of 2023 this graph will mirror the survey results.

Note that maple makes a strong showing here as that is the base wood for many MDF projects where the designer doesn’t want any grain showing underneath paint. Alder is also a great option for a darker wood when walnut is out of the budget.

Finally, I do want to point out I excluded exotic wood species that only appeared in a handful of projects. However, boy aren’t those the most fun. For example, here is a burl piece from Mohindroo Interiors.

You can take a fairly common design and really make it a statement piece with the right wood species. Which, if you are into that idea I would recommend checking out that lumber yard I mentioned before’s website:

GL Veneer Inventory

They do a great job of putting everything online.

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