Going through the furniture department of a mall has long since been a little hobby of mine, as I really like imagining all the infinite possibilities the rooms in my own home could look like if I bought this or that piece, and matched it with this or that fixture. But have you ever thought about having furnishings custom-made specifically for you? Is picking ready-assembled plyboard furnishings and cheap painted metal beds and stools found in malls better or even so different from artisan-made woodcraft found in Paete or Bulacan?
Mall store furniture are usually made of cheap compressed wood pulp or plyboard reinforced with glue and sandwiched between two thin sheets of wood material. It’s not so hard to see that they are not really made to last. I once had a desk that literally disintegrated when it drowned in flood waters that seeped in our home during the typhoons, and not only was it totally disappointing, it was also one of the grossest things I’ve ever cleaned up...the wood pulp of plyboard turns into an ugly mush when soaking up flood water, just like soaked cardboard....yuck.
Real solid wood however, is sturdier and can withstand inconveniences like a flood. The wood piece you choose for your furnishings can also come out in many different and better forms than cheap plyboard stuff, depending on what kind of hardwood is used, how it is cut, how the furniture is put together (with nails for lesser skilled artisans or without nails by master craftsmen), and how it is finished.
For example, Rattan wood is very flexible, so it is often used in making wicker chairs, porch swing sets, folding lawn furniture, or cool daybeds. But Rattan has to be treated with some chemical preservatives so it won’t be affected by mites and rot.
Mahogany is a particular kind of hardwood, used to make very heavy-duty furniture like dining sets and chairs, sofa supports and the like, and it is not as flexible as rattan for contouring into shapes. There is usually a lot of wastage in making woodcraft furnishings with any of the available hardwoods because sculpting the design means that craftssman reduces the wood until he decides that the piece is beautiful enough for final finishing.
There are also different kinds of shades that really good hardwood can be finished. A few examples of shade names are Natural, Walnut, Maple, Mahogany, and Wenge. These “finishes” are the tints, glossiness and overall looks that a wood can acquire once applied with the right wood preservative or varnish technique. You can choose your piece of furniture to have a matte finish, or a shiny, glossy one. Most woodcraft artisans have years of experience when applying preservative wood finishes.
But that’s not the only type of “finish” a woodcraft artisan can do. Sometimes people like the “antique” look for their sets, so a certain application procedure using a particular wood preservative is made to achieve that “old-world” charm. Sometimes people even go for a “crackled finish” for a more sophisticated wood product for their household. Still, many would also like the simplicity and the sleek chic of ultra-modern minimalist furniture that can be painted in simple solid colors.
If you would like to check if any piece is solid wood furniture and NOT the cheap kind they sell at department stores, you can confirm your hunch by just knocking on the 'wood' and listen to the 'thunk' if it sounds solid or not. I’d recommend going for solid hardwood products any day. Not only would you be acquiring an heirloom and a good quality item, but you’d also be supporting our local artisan businesses and help with our economy!
There are a few shops all around you. So try walking around your neighborhood. But if you would like to order some quality wooden designs, I really recommend Silid Palamuti. A shop in Kamuning that has good and affordable pieces.
They also have an online store showcasing their designs and custom furniture that are specifically for your home furnishing needs. They have a showroom at K1 street in Kamuning. Not only is their furniture proudly Pinoy-made, but their products are really top-of-the-line classy and modern, a really sweet addition to any home. If you have your own home unfurnished until now, or even an empty little house and are just starting to make a home out of it, what kind of furniture would you like to get? Get the best you can afford, of course!