American Hardwoods
Real American Hardwoods

​Looking to give a lackluster room a vibrant makeover without breaking the bank or undergoing a major renovation? Try adding wood slats. “Architects, designers, and homeowners are specifying Real American Hardwood® slats to enhance various indoor and outdoor spaces,” says Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center. “They’re an easy, versatile, and cost-effective upgrade that pays aesthetic and practical dividends.” Slats can be used to clad walls and ceilings, act as screens and room dividers, create striking decorative features, add dimension and movement to a space, or even revitalize built-in furniture and cabinetry. Plus, you’ll be introducing a natural, organic material—and its health and wellness benefits—into your home. Here are six recent examples that showcase the fresh and exciting possibilities of Naturally Authentic™ hardwood slats.

Architect Laura Schaeffer (@lauraarchitect) uses white-oak slats to clad the walls and ceiling of this modern addition to an 1890s Victorian house she gut renovated in Boulder, Colorado. The wood battens serve multiple functions: unifying the space, which encompasses a dining area, kitchen, and covered patio over which the ceiling extends; creating a cocoon of natural, tawny warmth (the oak is oiled, not varnished); and helping establish what the homeowners call a “Scandi-Asian” vibe, one that fuses Japanese and Nordic influences seamlessly.

Screening a staircase with hardwood slats is an increasingly popular home design strategy. As B. Costello Design & Consulting (@BcDcDesign) shows in the living area of a new Denver, Colorado, duplex, it’s a good way to create a dramatic statement without overwhelming an interior. By constructing the screen from the same white oak used for the floors, the architect unifies the  space visually even as he divides it physically. Light, space, and movement seem to flow freely but are actually skillfully orchestrated by the sturdy yet porous structure.

Hardwood slats can be used successfully outdoors, too. Charged with renovating the exterior of a mid-century house in Minneapolis, Christian Dean Architecture (@christiandeanarchitecture) created a dynamic composition by cladding individual volumes in different materials—cypress siding, cement board, stucco. But he framed the large terrace and balcony on the second floor with slatted-cypress railings, dematerializing those elements so they add dimension and texture to the boxy structure without increasing its visual bulk.

Black-stained ash slats in this sleek New York City apartment bedroom by Sharon Blaustein of B Interior (@b.interior) are a smart way of dealing with several design requirements at once. First, they provide a soothing, shadow-animated backdrop that shifts and changes depending on light conditions. They also introduce a pleasingly crisp texture into the space while the dark stain sets up a slightly moody vibe. Last, unlike flat reflective surfaces, the battens break up sound waves, offering acoustical dampening that makes the bedroom quieter and more restful.

Quarter-sawn white-oak slats form an ethereal room divider in a Seattle, Washington, kitchen-dining area by Serra Wersinger Architects (@serrawersingerarchitects). The screen’s subtle color and refined design make the partition eye-catching and yet pleasingly unobtrusive at the same time. Not only does it create a focal point without in any way overpowering its surroundings, it also clarifies the space, separating the dining area from the open stair and offering a sense of privacy while leaving the flow of air and light unobstructed.

Hardwood slats in the garden? Dane Spencer Landscape Architecture shows how with this handsome arched portal in a Sarasota, Florida, backyard. Made of cypress finished with Sherwin Williams WoodScapes exterior house stain, the structure frames the rear garden while also partly screening it, creating a feeling of privacy along with a note of intrigue. The slats are robust enough to give the arch architectural heft yet light enough so it’s not heavy or forbidding—the keyhole for the tree branch being an especially charming touch.

Real American Hardwood is a registered trademark and Naturally Authentic is a trademark of the Real American Hardwood Coalition.

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