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Oak has been considered one of the classic types of wood to use in the design and production of furniture for centuries. During the Middle Ages, oak was generally considered to be the wood of choice for Medieval furniture craftsmen. This was because oak is considerably stronger than most of the other woods that carpenters had at their disposal, and the high tannin content of oak helped ward off insects and other pests. Early oak furniture was very different than the solid oak furniture that is currently on the market. Medieval noblemen and other landed gentry rarely relocated from one home to another, so most early oak furniture was very large and not designed to be moved more than once or twice.
In fact, many nobles preferred large, bulky oak furniture that gave their homes a sense of permanence and communicated to guests that the family would not be going anywhere for a long time to come. Very little furniture that was made during the Medieval period was made out of any types of wood other than oak, so the meager furniture that was owned by peasants like simple tables and chairs was generally made out of wood as well. However, tastes in furniture have changed drastically since the Medieval period, a very little furniture is still made in this style today. Two classic examples of early oak furniture that continue to influence furniture making today include the turned chair and lindenfold panels. Turned chairs are made out of cylindrical arms and legs that have been turned on a lathe. Lindenfold panels are a created through a type of crude relief carving that was designed to imitate folded linens or draping cloths. These panels were frequently used to decorate the sides of chests and influenced the evolution of relief carving for many years to come.
Modern furniture manufacturers have a much wider range of building materials to work with, and solid oak furniture is not nearly as common as it was a couple of centuries ago. Nevertheless, solid oak furniture is available in a wide range of styles and price ranges, and virtually all home owners are likely to find some types of oak furniture that fit their personal sense of style. In most of North America and Western Europe, the most popular styles of solid oak furniture are designed with a rural style that invokes a sense of nostalgia for the bucolic setting of country life.
Many people prefer to invest in entire bedroom sets of matching solid oak furniture that gives a home a similar air of permanence that European nobles enjoyed so many years ago. However, most of this type of solid oak furniture has a much slimmer design than early oak furniture and is not nearly as heavy as the bedroom sets that previous generations preferred. Solid oak furniture is also a popular choice for dining room sets. There are oak dining room sets that range from rustic farm tables with turned chairs to elegant dining tables and brilliantly designed chairs that have a very modern and sophisticated charm about them.
Many types of solid oak furniture are considered treasured family heirlooms in many households. Parents often go out of their way to keep these pieces as well maintained as possible so that they can pass their furniture on to their children and grandchildren once they are ready to start families of their own. Unlike some types of furniture, solid oak furniture does not require a great deal of care in order to stay in good condition so long as the wood is polished from time to time.
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