Making Vintage Wood Look Good

Here’s a fun game to play. The next time you’re going shopping in town, take a second to look around a shop and take notice of how everything is presented. We’re not talking about the actual clothes you see but where they’re displayed.

Are they on a rail? Are they in a cabinet? What does the display itself look like?

You might be asking why we’re asking these slightly off questions. Well there’s a simple reason why. It seems to us that any trendy new shop or restaurant is turning to vintage furnishings in an effort to look cool. Don’t believe us? Take a look at these examples of wood looking old and good on the high street.

The first of a store using wood (in a rather understated but important manner) is any Apple store ever. They all look incredibly sleek and modern, but every single product is sitting on a big thick table that wouldn’t be out of place in a beer hall and there’s a big reason why this wood is used: to counteract the phone. A shiny new phone or Macbook sitting on a table will stand out much more than a white table. It’s a very smart way of making a product stand out.

bbq restaurant

You can’t move around a corner these days before finding yourself in a burger or BBQ joint. And to make sure everyone gets that American feeling whenever they’re choosing whether to have pulled pork or ribs, restaurants are using wooden furniture to make rooms like as homely and “authentic” as possible. In many cases though restaurant owners aren’t going to local dumps and vintage shops to find tables and chairs. They’re making sure that anything someone has sits down on is durable and looks good. That involves hiring a commercial joiner to custom build everything from table and chairs to panelling on walls.

American Apparel Store

Of course there are shops that try their best to look vintage and modern at the same day. American Apparel is a great example of this. All of their stores look exactly the same and they try to let the clothes do the talking with vintage style sunglasses, backpacks and bowties attempting to grab your attention. This layout though can give off a feeling of the shop looking a bit cheap when in reality it is selling high street clothes on the higher end of the price scale.


With the rise in craft brewing, we’re also seeing a lot of pubs in city centres try their best to give off a warm vintage tone with the use of wood as much as possible. Take the above example of the West Beer Hall in Glasgow. From the floor to the ceiling it’s nothing but dark tones in wood and heavy/hearty accessories in sight. From the curtains, the sacks of grain, to the deer’s head, it is all made to feel like you’re in a traditional German bar when in reality you’re hundreds of miles away.

Now there is one big brand in every town centre that seems to mix modern furniture with vintage and actually pull it off. Whether you like to have a “cheeky” one of not, Nandos is a great example of using vintage wood decoration in their restaurants. Look at the flooring here. It’s straight out of a 1950s dance hall look. Compare it to the interior of what a McDonalds looks like in 2015 (a mish-mash of new design ideas that feel quite cold) and you’ll get an idea of why some people would prefer having chicken and chips here.

And we wouldn’t be doing this blog post justice if we didn’t mention the biggest high street name who show a big love of vintage style cabinets and displays in store. Jack Wills stock their clothing in the same way your gran would her prized china in the dining room. It’s a truly unique look that you’d never see in TopShop or Urban Outfitters and it doesn’t age the clothing they sell. It goes to show that a nice vintage wooden unit always has a use.

What do you think? Are there any examples of this wood work you see on the high street that you want to replicate? Or are there examples that look beyond horrible.