If there’s one decorating myth we’d love to eradicate, it’s that neutral spaces are flat and boring. In fact, they can be dynamic and—dare we say?—fabulous when filled with different shades of neutrals, contrasting textures, and unusual materials.
Which brings us to petrified wood. Yeah, we agree that the name (from the Greek petro, meaning “rock” or “stone”) is less than compelling, but the result—where all the organic materials in a tree have been replaced with silicates, such as quartz, and thus turned into stone—is incredible. In the most common petrification process, wood from fallen trees is buried under a layer of sediment, thus preserving its original appearance and structure from the decomposition that happens with exposure to oxygen. Mineral-rich water flowing through the sediment then deposits minerals in the tree’s cells, and as its organic matter decays, a three-dimensional stone “mold” forms in its place. Depending on the types of minerals deposited by the water, the wood can take on hues from gray to brown to black and even red and green.
The most famous petrified forests, many containing hundreds or acres of petrified wood, exist in the United States (especially Arizona, Wyoming, and the Dakotas), Brazil, Australia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. And there’s no shortage of artisans and importers selling décor and accessories—from dining room tables to sculptures and jewelry—made of this amazing material. Take a look at some of our inspirations.