Who doesn’t want to upgrade the looks, value, functionality, or comfort of their own home? From minor tweaks to major makeovers, renovating with hardwood is a sure way to achieve one or more of those home-improvement goals. “Beautifully milled and finished hardwood surfaces offer a variety of colors and textures that no other material truly matches,” says Linda Jovanovich, of the American Hardwood Information Center. “But most American hardwoods—whether classics like oak and walnut, or less familiar species like sycamore or basswood—are also remarkably durable, easy to work with, and sustainably grown.” Here are five hardwood upgrades well worth considering for your home.
REFRESH STAIRCASE BANISTERS AND BALUSTRADES
An outdated staircase balustrade—the collective name for the handrail, balusters, and newel post—can be replaced entirely or in part with stylish new hardwood elements. DeGraw & DeHaan Architects show one crisp and elegant possibility: A red-oak newel post and handrail, stained to match existing treads and flooring, with balusters painted white to match risers and wainscoting.
LAY SOLID HARDWOOD FLOORING
Solid-hardwood planks have always been the gold standard for residential flooring. But you can create an even bigger aesthetic statement by laying the boards in a sophisticated herringbone pattern—as AWH Architects does with natural-oil-finished oak in this Minneapolis master suite—a traditional style that’s looking very au courant once again.
INSTALL A BEVERAGE CENTER
If you entertain at home, a built-in wet bar or beverage center—dedicated hardwood cabinetry incorporating a countertop, sink and faucet, and maybe a small fridge—is an amenity worth its weight in gold. AsterHouse Design does it right with clean-lined wall and base cabinets, painted different colors and separated by a solid alder shelf.
TURN A CLOSET INTO A HOME OFFICE
With more people working from home, dedicated office space is increasingly a residential necessity. One way to achieve such a must-have amenity even in a small apartment is to transform a closet with hardwood built-ins. Michael K Chen Architecture shows how it’s done with this admirably compact yet surprisingly roomy example in a New York loft.
CREATE A HARDWOOD FEATURE WALL
A feature wall clad in hardwood planks or panels is a wonderful way to create visual interest or bring warmth and texture to almost any interior. Neuhaus Design Architecture achieves a cocoon-like glow by using burnished walnut for the custom headboard and bed in this Brooklyn brownstone.