Have you considered using solid hardwood cabinetry and millwork in your bathroom, but hesitated given the constant humidity? In fact, as long as the room is properly ventilated and the wood surfaces treated with a moisture-resistant finish—like tung oil, polyurethane, or varnish—such favorites as oak, walnut, cherry, and maple will stand up well to a steamy environment. "Real American Hardwood® can be used in the bathroom to add warmth, texture, and character to a space that may feel cold and clinical," says Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center. "And it adapts to any style, from the cozily traditional to the coolly contemporary." Here are six bathrooms that do just that.
Architects Hsu McCullough (@hsumccullough) show mastery of subtle color and texture in this Los Angeles bathroom. Slate-gray cement tiles on the floor and pale-smoke marble tiles on the walls provide a quietly glamorous setting for the main event: a custom vanity of lightly bleached white oak with a clear matte sealer—Rubio Monocoat, derived from natural plant oils—that allows the full beauty of the wood to shine through.
Cerusing—also known as "liming"—is the application of white-pigmented, non-toxic wax sealers to porous wood to bring out the natural grain without changing its color. Architects Michael McKinley and Associates (@mckinleyarchitects) make expert use of the finish for this custom cerused-oak vanity in a Connecticut bathroom. White subway wall tiles, chrome fittings and mirror frames, and oak flooring set the honey-tone cabinetry off to perfection.
For the renovation of an undistinguished 1980s colonial house in Minneapolis, architect Meriwether Felt turned the bland main bathroom into a sophisticated retreat with a somewhat rustic feel by installing characterful cherry moldings, trims, and casings. "The stained wood warms up the bathroom and provides richness," Felt says. "The client asked for a luxurious yet elegant feeling, and cherry fit the bill perfectly."
Modern Scandinavian design inspired the main bathroom in a Santa Monica, California, house by Hamilton Architects (@hamiltonarchla); ergo, the clean lines, warm materials, and uncluttered forms that characterize the effortlessly chic, spa-like space. Chief among the scene-setting elements are the sculptural tub, graphic black faucets, and the custom floating vanity. The rift-sawn white-oak cabinetry is an unbroken expanse that’s free of hardware or other visually distracting details.
Real American Hardwood is a registered trademark of the Real American Hardwood Coalition.