How “Wood” You Like It?
Recognizing and realizing the full potential of one of nature’s most wondrous materials
In addition to being a fundamental ingredient to how homes are built and hold themselves up, wood brings an enormous amount of expression and character into a home. It can be rustic, it can be modern, and it can be both at the same time. It can be something textured in a clean environment or conversely, something chic in a traditional environment.
Most people notice and appreciate wood, but don’t fully realize the amount of thought and craftsmanship that goes into creating elements that add so much to a home’s design—there is a subtlety to its contribution.
With that in mind, here are four things I think about in my work as an architect and designer when it comes to designing with wood.
A piece of wood goes through many steps by the time it’s in your home. Generally, each step makes it squarer, smoother, and more refined. But when you are processing wood, you can stop at any moment and emphasize the texture…smoother isn’t always better. And when using reclaimed wood, the fun really begins because the magical ingredients of time, patina, and weather are added and you’re given the chance to manipulate it again. You can also sand out and make an old timber smooth, revealing what’s been hiding beneath the surface, which opens up a whole world of color and character.
There are endless possibilities of pattern and movement in wood that stem from the species of tree, how it gets cut into boards, and then how the boards are assembled or repeated. In the photo above, a chunk of reclaimed driftwood graces the home’s entrance, framed by planks of a similar vintage. At the far end of the room, the exposed structure reveals planks set on a diagonal for lateral strength- a celebration of a traditional building technique.
Wood should have an attitude about it—let it establish the mood. Paying attention to this can reinforce a style, or provide interest by contrasting with the surrounding style of a space. For instance, in the photo above, the recycled ceiling is interestingly detailed while the stacked cordwood below is a defining design element. The design professional, craftsperson building the element, and finisher (i.e. painter) all need to be in alignment to create great results, especially as walls, floors, cabinets, doors, and furniture all can have a role in a single space.
As a building and its elements come together, they tell a story. With wood, this is especially evident, as we have choices in how it’s done. For example, with wall applications, we can consider how do individual pieces meet (or not meet)? What goes in between the pieces? With joinery, we can ask how are the pieces designed to interact and connect? The options you choose for the craftsmanship, tone, pattern and surface of the wood in your design can bring immense character into your space.
Justin Tollefson, AIA is a principal architect at Pearson Design Group, a Bozeman, Montana-based integrated architecture and interior design firm that offers a broad range of design aesthetics. View their profile or contact them at 406.587.1997.
Content for this article provided by Pearson Design Group.