Discarded pieces of wood get new life
One of my passions is wood, old boards that make up walls or benches or doors, boards piled up for recycling, abandoned tables whose planks have so many stories to tell. Wood in its multitude of varieties is a universal building material. It’s readily available and can be sawn, carved, drilled and shaped to create the materials we use every day. Wood’s versatile nature is one reason it is a mainstay inside and outside the home. is, and the fact its raw beauty adds character and warmth, makes it invaluable.
Mark and Sally Bailey are owners of Bailey’s Home, a 30-year-old store and workshop for building and designing with wood that is nestled in England’s Herefordshire countryside. eir philosophy is the basis of how they live and work, what they sell and the topic that underlies each of their ve popular books, published by Ryland Peters & Small.
“Surrounding yourself with natural materials is a way to achieve a balanced and peaceful atmosphere in the home, and wood is the principle ingredient in that recipe for harmony.”
In their latest book, Made of Wood in the Home, the authors visit 12 homes that each capture the essence of living surrounded by wood buildings and objects. ey begin by examining wood’s outstanding features.
Wood is sculptural, easily taking on many forms. Everyday objects, bowls, spoons, utensils, games, toys, candlesticks share a handmade patina that glori es imperfections and individuality whether they are on display or used every day. Trade in plastic and metal for wood and you will feel the di erence.
Wood’s natural beauty often requires little adjustment. e texture and patterns in wood stand alone. Wayward grains, knots, rings and gnarly bits, beautiful in freshly cut wood, intensify with age.
A mix of natural and painted pieces sets up a contrast between light and dark. e Baileys prefer a light-handed touch of whitewash in white and grey. e lightly brushed layer of paint allows natural knots and grains to show through, even magni es them. In the bathroom shown here, a wall of reclaimed boards, each scu ed, marked and painted in a unique way, creates a focal point. e old corner cupboard balances on the side to store the practical necessities for bathing. And note how the light bounces o the boards. White and grey paint act as a unifying factor in a decorative scheme. ese light colours amplify daylight by re ecting it around the room.
Recycling is a recurring theme in my columns. Giving new life to discarded pieces is a thoughtful way to decorate and add character to your surroundings. e Baileys remind us that wood’s longev- ity and malleability means it can go through many lifetimes of use, changing its function as it goes. When you bring into your home a piece of wood furniture or object that has outgrown its usefulness, you prolong its history, giving it another story to tell.
Each “wood” home in the book encapsulates the owners’ love for this common material. Most are artists. ey surround themselves with old and new, repurposed and re nished. Seen here, e Great Hall of a medieval half-timbered longhouse dating back to the 1400s is linked to a resting place for 12 knights that fought in e War of the Roses. Centuries later, in the 1920s a spectacular parquet floor was laid by the Twinings family. Elsewhere in the house, tea chests are used as bedside tables and night stands.
e homes and philosophy behind their decoration is inspirational and yet simple, not out of reach for anyone who is inclined toward living with nature’s most cherished and majestic trees.
Old wood planks create a natural backdrop for bathing.