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Astrid Predicts: Danish Soap Finish

Astrid’s back at it again, making predictions about what’s going to be hot in interior design.  This time she’s not looking at a specific piece of furniture, but something that spans across furniture and flooring.  That’s right, Astrid’s figured out what wood finish you’re going to start seeing in homes everywhere. Influenced by the perennial popularity of Scandinavian design and continually growing eco-friendly movement, Astrid has figured out that the Danish soap finish is the trend to watch.

Basic Info

So what is Danish soap finish?  Basically it’s exactly what it sounds like – a soap solution washed onto the wood surface.  Since natural soaps are made from oils, a soap finish protects the wood in a similar way to oil or wax finishes.  The soap clogs the pores of the wood keeping dirt and other oils out. It also helps to slow the exchange of moisture between the wood and the surrounding environment.  A soap finish can require more maintenance and frequent re-applications than other finishes, but it’s worth it if you love the look of raw wood. The main benefit of a Danish soap finish is that it leaves light colored woods like white oak and ash looking as natural as the raw wood itself.  Since it’s an “in-the-grain” finish the wood only gets a subtle sheen; it doesn’t add any color or give the bright reflective shine of other finishes.

The Process

You can’t use just any old soap to apply a Danish soap finish, but it is a process you can do at home yourself.  First you’ll need to find natural soap flakes. This is soap that’s just an oil that’s been mixed with an alkali solution and doesn’t have any added chemicals or fragrances.  Once you have the right soap, you make a paste by mixing the soap with an equal part hot water. Once the paste is ready simply apply it to the wood with a lint-free rag, letting it dry between applications.  You can find more detailed instructions here.  You may have to sand down the grain a bit again after the process, but once it’s complete you’ll have a super smooth finish that’s a joy to touch.

In the Home

We talked about the trend of adding organic materials to your space last year and it’s still going strong.  Danish soap finish goes hand in hand with this trend.  If you buy some pieces of raw wood furniture and apply a Danish soap finish it will keep it’s natural, raw look and still feel organic.  A Danish soap finish is also probably one of the most eco-friendly wood finishes you could choose, since it’s just natural soap and won’t release any nasty chemicals into the environment.  Soap finished furniture and floors will look great in minimalist interiors since it’s a more muted aesthetic. The raw look of the wood will also work well in more bohemian inspired spaces as well, due to its organic nature.

Danish soap finish is already a popular choice of finish for wood furniture and floors in Denmark and other northern European countries.  Seeing as how most other aspects of Danish design have already gained popularity in other countries, it seems like a no-brainer that Danish soap finish will soon catch on as well.  With all of its connection to other trends (organic materials, Scandinavian design, minimalism, etc.) the odds are in its favor to become a trend in and of itself. We love the look of the Danish soap finish and can’t wait to see it start popping up in more spaces.