Teak Furniture — How to Style

When we think of teak, we have a tendency to think of poolside furniture, cabanas, yachts, and maybe the musical stylings of The Lonely Artist’s “I’m On A Boat” song from the late ’00s. We think of warm, tropical locations and days spent lounging by a pool with a good book and an umbrella in the drink next to us.

There’s more to teak than movies and music videos and resorts. The uses of teak vary from the ecological (moth larvae food source) to the fashion industry (handmade, carved printing blocks for textiles). Mostly, though, we are familiar with its use in furniture.

Where does teak even come from, anyway?

Teak is a hardwood that comes from trees grown in the countries of India, Indonesia, and Myanmar, to name a few. While much of the world’s old-growth teak has been depleted, some countries have adopted sustainable methods of growing the trees on plantations for commercial distribution.

What’s the allure of teak furniture? 

Teak has several properties that make it appealing for both indoor and outdoor furniture, as well as any utilization that is exposed to the elements frequently. It has a high oil content, a very high tensile strength, and a very tight grain. Think about a waterproof rain jacket:  the fabric is tightly woven, the fibers used to make the fabric are very resilient, and there is typically a coating on the exterior that repels moisture.

Of course, the beautiful look of teak wood, finished or not, is visually stunning and adds a natural element to both indoor and outdoor spaces. Whether unfinished, oiled, or varnished, treatments can alter the look of teak furniture in many different, aesthetically pleasing ways.

What are some recent trends in teak furniture?

You may have seen the word “jungalow” hashtagged on Instagram, or noticed a resurgence of macrame plant hangers and wall art on Etsy. Houseplants and indoor gardening are having a moment all over again as a throwback to the 1960s and 1970s. Monstera Mondays are a thing on social media. Fiddle leaf fig trees are ubiquitous. Houseplants and teak furniture just happen to go together like avocados and toast, so when you’re designing a room be sure to incorporate lots of greenery.

Teak furniture is available in sleek, Scandinavian styles, and retro, Mid-Century Modern ones, too. A living room console made of teak would look even more amazing with a split-leaf philodendron perched on its surface. Bring in all the natural fibers in textiles for your room–linen, cotton, silk, even wool–to amplify that natural, boho look. Large doses of bright color, pattern mixing, and the use of various textures make the environment in which your teak furniture resides even more interesting.

If you want a sleek, contemporary look, consider some simple, yet stunning Scandinavian-style teak furniture pieces. Two occasional chairs and a coffee table, for example, studded with decorative pillows in neutral colors lets the wood speak for itself. Bring in a boldly patterned black and white rug, and you’ll have a room that’s really tied together, Big Lebowski-style.

Teak furniture is meant to be enjoyed for decades due to its durability. Have fun with changing up its surrounding decor and you’ll never tire of your heirloom-quality teak furniture, indoors or out.