Natural contours of wood edges give tables, benches, shelves and other room accents a sculptured quality.

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Live-edge wood is a popular interior design trend in the Pacific Northwest, where we value the beauty and simplicity of bringing nature into our homes. The rich contours of the wood edges give tables, benches, shelves and other room accents a sculptured quality.

People are drawn to live-edge furnishings and room accents because of the rich grain in the wood and unique shape of the lumber slabs,” says Stacy Kovats, marketing director at Issaquah Cedar and Lumber. “No two pieces are alike.”

You can easily spend over a thousand dollars on a live-edge focal point piece at a furniture store, or spend a few hours and a few hundred dollars doing it yourself with ready-to-use slabs. Even a casual do-it-yourselfer can build stunning projects using the following guidelines.

Planning a DIY live-edge accent piece

The first thing to do when planning your live-edge coffee table, end table or shelves is to decide on what size and shape you’d like. Be sure to consider the size and shape of the space in your room, and choose a design for your accent piece that won’t overpower the rest of your furnishings. Live-edge tables may appear heftier than you expect, dwarfing your sofa in comparison. So if you’re uncertain about the size, err on the smaller side.

Conducting plenty of research is key during the planning phase. Look at pictures in magazines, and snap photos at high-end furniture stores. Then, go to an expert — a store that sells a good selection of live-edge lumber — and ask questions.

Sourcing live-edge lumber

You maybe able to find a live-edge slab on Craigslist or eBay, but you’re taking a risk on quality. “You don’t want to just purchase a piece of wood from a tree someone’s chopped down in their backyard,” says Kovats. “High-quality live-edge wood is seasoned and aged to start the drying out process, then kiln dried and, finally, flattened.”

There’s a variety of lumber available that’s kiln-dried and ready to use. The hardwoods like maple, walnut and some exotic woods are especially good for furniture that gets a lot of wear and tear, such as the dining room table and a coffee table or end tables for the great room. Softwoods, such as spruce and pine, are great for decorative tables, headboards and display shelves.

Preparing live-edge wood for building

Read-to-use live-edge wood slabs require little preparation before using them to create your masterpiece.

First, smooth rough edges with a rasp, file or sandpaper, and hand-plane or sand smooth the slab’s top surface. Next, apply a clear-oil finish that accentuates the wood grain, and follow up with a few protective coats of varnish, polyurethane or shellac.

“Not only are live-edge furniture and room accents easy DIY projects, but they fit into any decorative theme — from contemporary to a cozy cabin in the woods,” says Kovats. “The satisfaction of creating something beautiful to enhance your home is priceless.”

Issaquah Cedar and Lumber has been in business for over 115 years. Specializing in more than Western Red Cedar, we supply the Puget Sound area with the highest-quality lumber products including siding, fencing, decking, timbers and custom-milled materials.