Dis­carded pieces of wood get new life

Its nat­u­ral beauty of­ten re­quires lit­tle ad­just­ment

The Southern Gazette - - Saltwire Homes - Deb­bie Travis House To Home House to Home by the one and only Deb­bie Travis de­liv­ers quick wit, on-trend ad­vice and the ba­sics of clas­sic in­te­rior de­sign.

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. This, and the fact that 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. Their phi­los­o­phy is the ba­sis of how they live and work, what they sell, and the topic that un­der­lies each of their five 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. They 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 glo­ri­fies im­per­fec­tions and in­di­vid­u­al­ity whether they are on dis­play or used ev­ery day. Trade in plas­tic and metal for wood and you will feel the dif­fer­ence.

Wood’s nat­u­ral beauty of­ten re­quires lit­tle ad­just­ment. The 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. The Bai­leys pre­fer a light-handed touch of white­wash in white and grey. The lightly brushed layer of paint al­lows nat­u­ral knots and grains to show through, even mag­ni­fies them. In the bath­room shown here, a wall of re­claimed boards, each scuffed, marked and painted in a unique way, cre­ates a fo­cal point. The old cor­ner cup­board bal­ances on the side to store the prac­ti­cal ne­ces­si­ties for bathing. And note how the light bounces off the boards. White and grey paint act as a uni­fy­ing fac­tor in a dec­o­ra­tive scheme. These light colours amplify day­light by re­flect­ing 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. The Bai­leys re­mind us that wood’s longevity 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. They sur­round them­selves with old and new, re­pur­posed and re­fin­ished. Seen here, The Great Hall of a me­dieval half­tim­bered long­house dat­ing back to the 1400s is linked to a rest­ing place for 12 knights that fought in The 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.

The 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.

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