5 res­i­den­tial de­sign trends in hard­wood

Cecil Whig - - OURCECIL -

— Hard­wood may be one of the old­est build­ing ma­te­ri­als known to man, yet ar­chi­tects, de­sign­ers and home­own­ers are al­ways find­ing fresh ways to use it in the modern home. What’s the ap­peal? Flex­i­bil­ity and va­ri­ety, for starters.

“We’re con­stantly de­lighted to see how tra­di­tional woods like oak and wal­nut are be­ing em­ployed with re­newed flair and imag­i­na­tion,” says Linda Jo­vanovich, of the Amer­i­can Hard­wood In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter, www.hard­wood­info.com. “Sub­tle tweaks can make some­thing fa­mil­iar, look in­no­va­tive. The cur­rent trend is to take a clas­sic hard­wood ap­pli­ca­tion, like pan­el­ing or floor­ing, and give it a stylish, up-to-theminute twist. Here’s a look at what’s trend­ing.” Wide-plank floor­ing Per­haps no re­cent trend has been more in­flu­en­tial than the use of wide-plank hard­wood floor­ing. Tra­di­tional plank widths, rang­ing from 2 1/4 to 3 1/2 inches, are still pop­u­lar. But to­day’s home­own­ers of­ten ask for widths be­tween 5 and 7 inches, and there is even de­mand for up to 10 or 12 inches. “Wider floor­boards can make a space look larger and more modern,” says Melissa Mor­gan of M In­te­ri­ors in San An­to­nio, Texas, who has used the gen­er­ously pro­por­tioned planks in tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary homes. “With fewer seams, these floors can be treated like a can­vas: ebonized oak or wal­nut for a sleek, dark look; light woods like ash or maple for a chic, ur­ban vibe; weath­ered-gray tones for a slightly rus­tic af­fect — the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less.” Wood ceil­ings It used to be that hard­wood


planks pri­mar­ily went on floors or walls, but to­day they’re ap­pear­ing on res­i­den­tial ceil­ings too. “Sim­ple poplar bead­board, painted white or with a light nat­u­ral stain, looks crisp and airy over­head, adding vis­ual in­ter­est while re­main­ing quiet and unas­sum­ing,” says Re­becca Ascher, Ascher Davis Ar­chi­tects in New York and New­port, Rhode Is­land. “For a more as­sertive af­fect, I might spec­ify tongue-and-groove wal­nut or hick­ory, char­ac­ter­ful woods that pro­vide a de­gree of drama. For that rea­son, they’re best re­served for large, high-ceilinged rooms that are not eas­ily over­whelmed. In smaller, lower spa­ces, a ceil­ing with too much per­son­al­ity can feel op­pres­sive.” Mix and match Ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers, who once avoided us­ing dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of hard­wood in a sin­gle res­i­den­tial space, now mix and match them with new­found en­thu­si­asm. Clearly con­trast­ing wood tones — blond maple and black wal­nut, for ex­am­ple — cre­ate a strik­ing ef­fect that can work well in both tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary set­tings. This is par­tic­u­larly true in kitchens, where a fa­vorite con­figu- ra­tion fea­tures up­per cab­i­netry in a light-color wood such as birch, and lower cab­i­netry in a dark-color wood like cherry. The re­sult is a space that has strong vis­ual in­ter­est, and is light and airy, yet solidly grounded. Gray stains and fin­ishes Gray is a clas­sic “neu­tral” that never truly goes out of fash­ion. It’s cur­rently one of the most pop­u­lar col­ors, rang­ing from pale smoke to deep char­coal, show­ing up in hard­wood floor­ing, pan­el­ing and cab­i­netry. “Whether light or dark, gray stains bring out any wood’s nat­u­ral grain and tex­ture,” says New York in­te­rior de­signer Laura Bohn. “Grays are ver­sa­tile and time­less — quiet and sooth­ing col­ors that re­cede into the back­ground with­out los­ing per­son­al­ity or be­com­ing face­less. That’s why they work in any style dé­cor, yet al­ways look modern.” Distressed hard­woods Home­own­ers drawn to the pop­u­lar look of weather-beaten rus­tic and el­e­gantly time­worn are turn­ing to distressed hard­woods — new prod­uct to which scrapes, nail holes, notches, saw marks and other signs of wear and tear have been care­fully ap­plied, of­ten by hand. Man­u­fac­tur­ers are able to re­pro­duce con­vinc­ing fac­sim­i­les of any­thing from the bur­nished wal­nut floor­boards of an 18th cen­tury sa­lon to the rugged oak-plank sid­ing of a 19th cen­tury Penn­syl­va­nia barn. It’s a dis­tinc­tive look that of­fers a wide range of aes­thet­ics.

Visit www.hard­wood­info.com for more about res­i­den­tial de­sign trends and other ap­pli­ca­tions and prod­ucts us­ing Amer­i­can hard­woods.

Maple cab­i­nets by Well­born are stained in a rich grey tone, com­ple­mented by a char­coal stained cherry is­land and con­trast­ing hard­wood floor.

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