Hardwood slats are having a moment in American home design. Whether they’re used to clad walls and ceilings, act as screens and space dividers, create striking decorative features, or enliven built-in furniture and cabinetry, simple timber slats offer such noticeable functional and aesthetic dividends that it’s easy to see why architects, designers, and homeowners are increasingly investing in them. Here are some recent examples that show just how fresh and exciting this classic Real American Hardwood™ application can look when executed with skill and imagination.
The white-oak slats in this Portland, Oregon, bedroom by Nick Noyes Architecture are a smart way of dealing with several design requirements at once. First, they bring unity to what would otherwise be a wall broken up visually by a door, closet storage, and fireplace. But they also introduce a pleasingly crisp textured element to the room while also adding the honey-toned warmth of natural wood grain. Last but not least, unlike flat reflective surfaces, the battens break up sound waves, offering acoustical dampening that makes the space quieter and more restful.
Nick Noyes Architecture, San Francisco, California | nnarchitecture.com
Made of ¾” x 1” inch strips of quarter-sawn white oak spaced ⅜” apart, this screen acts as an ethereal space divider in a Seattle, Washington, house by Bjarko Serra Architects. Its subtle color and refined design make the partition distinctly eye-catching and yet pleasingly unobtrusive at the same time. Not only does it create visual interest without in any way overwhelming its surroundings, it also clarifies the space, separating the dining area from the open stair and offering a sense of privacy while allowing light and air to permeate the volume freely.
Bjarko Serra Architects, Seattle, Washington | bjarkoserra.com
Hardwood slats can be used successfully in outdoor settings, too, as demonstrated by the handsome arched entryway to a Sarasota, Florida, backyard designed by Dane Spencer Landscape Architecture. Made of cypress finished with Sherwin Williams WoodScapes exterior house stain, the structure provides a definite sense of arrival, framing the 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 archway architectural heft yet light enough to keep it from appearing heavy or forbidding—the keyhole cut out for the tree being an additionally charming touch.
Dane Spencer Landscape Architecture, Sarasota, Florida | danespencer-landscapearchitect.com