Burl Wood Is the Rare and Unique Wood Taking Over the Design World

Burl wood desk.

Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography

I think at this point it’s safe to say that anyone who knows me knows how much I love burl wood, even if they don’t officially know what the pattern that dominates my apartment is called. Burl wood didn’t make its way onto my radar until a couple of years ago, but ever since I discovered the style, I’ve become obsessed.

Trust me, that isn’t an understatement. When a friend and I spotted a set of eight beautiful burl dining chairs listed on Facebook Marketplace for a steal, we didn’t let a 10 hour round-trip drive stop us. The chairs were so worth it, as I use and admire my portion of the set every day.

Burl wood dining chairs at table.

Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography

What Is Burl Wood?

A burl is an extraneous growth on a tree that, on the inside, has swirls and eye-catching patterns. The patterns can be complex and are unpredictable until the burl is cut open.

If you’re not familiar, burls are growths that appear on trees and can form eye-catching patterns on their insides—think of it as a tree's personal geode. The type of wood is rare and unique, and there’s something about it that just looks so elegant, glam, yet still is a bit edgy and unexpected.

While the pattern can be somewhat busy, burl wood complements a number of solid hues exceptionally well. For example, you can pair burl wood chairs with a black, white, or even a marble table—they’ll shine no matter what. Burl wood boxes, which come in all shapes, tones, and sizes, will look gorgeous on any type of shelving or placed atop a coffee table. 

Burl wood boxes on top of shelf.

Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography

Before you get too excited about decking out your home with burl everything, note that unfortunately, such pieces are often quite expensive. In fact, burl furniture often costs several thousands of dollars, especially if you’re purchasing a vintage item.

If you’re trying to get the look while staying within budget, browsing secondhand sites is your best bet—I’ve found many of my burl pieces on Facebook Marketplace. The key is to maintain a wide search radius and keep checking back for new postings. 

Burl wood frame on shelf.

Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography

Craigslist, estate sales, and auction sites are also worth consulting in search of burl beauties. Additionally, what’s great about burl wood is that a little goes a long way. No, that hasn’t stopped me from featuring a burl piece—or several—in every room of my apartment, but know that even the smallest touch can make a major impact style-wise.

Opting for pieces such as trays, picture frames, and boxes is an excellent way to introduce the trend into your home without breaking the bank.  

If you are willing to splurge on a pricier piece, know that you’re making a solid investment. Yes, burl wood is having a major moment right now, but it’s truly a timeless style that will remain relevant in the years and decades to come. A nice desk that can also be structured as a vanity, a coffee table, chairs, or a pair of nightstands are all wonderful choices.

Another burl wood box atop a shelf.

Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography

Feeling creative? You can also go the DIY route—you’d be surprised as to how much little imagination and a bit elbow grease can pay off.