Hardwood is synonymous with high quality residential flooring, the ultimate in underfoot durability and good looks. But as sophisticated architects, designers, and homeowners regularly demonstrate, there are many other applications that exploit wood’s functional and aesthetic possibilities just as successfully as floors do.
“We are constantly surprised and delighted by the inventive and attractive ways hardwood is being incorporated into today’s interiors,” says Linda Jovanovich, of the American Hardwood Information Center. “A new, design-savvy generation is turning a fresh eye on even the most ‘traditional’ species like oak, walnut, cherry, and maple, and coming up with creative approaches to their use.” Here are six examples of what Linda means.
1. Built-in hardwood furniture as architecture
Built-in furniture looks and functions best when it’s an integral part of the architecture. This gorgeous maple box not only houses lighted display shelving, ample storage cabinetry, two walk-in closets, and a traditional Japanese bathroom, but also separates the bedroom from the home gym in this Sunnyvale, California, house by John Lum Architecture.
4. Hardwood barn doors offer charm and flexibility
Either singly or in pairs, barn doors offer a simple and effective way to create instant separation and privacy in even the most open-plan house. In this San Francisco residence by Feldman Architecture, a kids’ play area effortlessly transforms into a guest room thanks to a Murphy bed and a seven-foot-wide painted hardwood barn door.
2. Tongue-and-groove hardwood boards make for great walls
Tongue-and-groove hardwood walls create a relaxed yet crisply tailored look, especially when painted. Falmouth, Maine–based designer Linda Banks paneled the great room in her own home with poplar boards, “which take paint very well,” she notes. Banks specified nickel-width gaps between the six-inch-wide boards, which heightens visual interest, like pinstripes on a suit.
5. Interior hardwood shutters are characterful yet practical
Not just for hot-weather locations, classic louvred hardwood shutters bring a touch of tropical glamour to interiors in any climate zone. Along with their decorative appeal, operable shutters like these custom models from the Hunter Douglas Heritance hardwood collection, shown with a Salt and Pepper finish, allow for control over ventilation and light.
3. Slatted hardwood screens are ideal for small spaces
A slatted screen can be a marvelous way to divide a pint-sized space without making it feel claustrophobic. And as this custom maple partition in a Manhattan micro apartment by Allen + Killcoyne Architects demonstrates, if the slats are made of hardwood, you get the beauty and character of the material as a decorative bonus.
6. Reclaimed hardwood provides timeworn authenticity
Reclaimed hardwood is a beautiful, sustainable material that can be used in many modern residential applications to create a sense of warmth, age, and texture. SUBU Design Architecture used reclaimed wood for the cabinets and island countertop in this Santa Monica, California, loft conversion, creating a hospitable oasis that pays respect to the building’s industrial heritage.