American homeowners are rediscovering what their Scandinavian counterparts have known all along: Pale or light-finish Real American Hardwood® floors and millwork can help create clean and airy residential interiors filled with a sense of space and light—the kind of timeless environments that complement a variety of tastes in décor, from the warmly traditional to the coolly modern. Recently, three home-renovation projects caught my eye as outstanding examples of how savvy architects, designers, and clients are using blond wood—in these cases, oak or maple—as a key decorative ingredient for rooms that look and feel as fresh and full of promise as spring. Here they are.
Architect Richard Warner and home builder Allen Construction’s main objective in remodeling this Santa Barbara residence was to remove interior walls between four cramped, dark spaces—a living room, dining room, family room, and kitchen—to create an elegant “grand room” filled with natural light. Existing support columns were retained and sheathed in solid white oak to match new floors and custom kitchen cabinetry, the honey-toned wood providing a soft contrast to the otherwise white palette, which includes appliances and Caesarstone counter tops and backsplashes. Thanks to the skylights, patches of sunshine further animate the space, which couldn’t be more alive and welcoming.
At more than 10,000 square feet, the landmarked Chiclet Mansion in Park Slope, Brooklyn, was a major renovation project for local firm Horrigan O’Malley Architects, which turned the 10-apartment building back into the single-family home it had been originally in the 1890s. A complete structural and mechanical makeover was needed, but architect Christa Horrigan salvaged the magnificent woodwork, main stair, paneling, and plumbing fixtures while introducing fresh elements that instill the handsome rooms with a modern, youthful feel. A case in point: the light color and crisp pattern of the new oak-herringbone floor lend the impressively outfitted home office a pleasing insouciance.
JRP Design & Remodel’s clients were seasoned home renovators with a Malibu beach house in need of a major facelift after years as a rental property. The homeowners asked for a clean and contemporary aesthetic with an emphasis on functionality. The new open floor plan provides organic flow between the dining-living area and the kitchen, which formerly was small and tucked away but is now warm, spacious, and inviting thanks to the golden-hued maple floor, ceiling, and cabinetry complemented by white Caesarstone countertops and a glass-mosaic backsplash. New skylights flood the space with natural light, creating a tranquil oceanside ambiance.