Wood is a material with universal appeal, one that is never out of fashion and seemingly improves with age. Of all the rooms in the home where the properties of wood can best be appreciated the kitchen is perhaps the most appropriate for showcasing its specific properties for work surfaces, fitted cabinets, dining tables and chairs, floor finishes and even cladding walls. The instant warmth and endless versatility of wood just requires a little TLC to remain practical and functional for a long life span. Here below are some things to consider when thinking about choosing natural wood kitchens.
Wood, an endlessly versatile material
The beauty of natural wood is that there are so many different types of wood, each with their own unique properties. Broadly speaking wood is divided into hardwoods and softwoods, the hardwoods are usually deciduous (broad leaf) while softwoods are coniferous. Hardwoods take longer to grow and tend to be darker in colour; examples are oak, maple, walnut or mahogany. Softwoods on the other hand such as pine or spruce grow more quickly and are clearer in tone. Then there are engineered woods such as MDF (Medium density fibreboard), plywood, fibreboard or OSB (oriented strand board); these are composite man-made materials that use the natural qualities of wood but are enhanced using adhesives or other fixing methods.
Matching the right wood with the right style
Whether it be contemporary wood kitchens or more traditional rustic styles wood is endlessly versatile in the kitchen. The timeless Shaker style for example has been popular since the middle of the 19th Century and still has a contemporary feel. Then there are new woods such as bamboo which have the added advantage of being low VOC (volatile organic compound) meaning that their treatment is less harsh on the environment.
The grain of the natural wood gives the material its character, like a painterly composition that can be decorative in and of itself; dark wood kitchens are generally more uniform and sombre while light wood tends to reveal the texture of the grain. A straight or parallel grain can provide a regular effect while a wavy or irregular grain can be visually appealing. Contemporary kitchens can include a range of rough cut finishes for cabinets or less orthodox parallel stripe grain that celebrate the intrinsic qualities of the wood that feel fresh and modern. Especially if combined with a cutting edge, high tech work surface.
Wood flooring for kitchens
As well as for the cabinets the other common use of wood in the contemporary kitchen is for flooring. Here hardwoods or engineered woods tend to perform better than traditional softwoods because the kitchen floor is subject to greater ware and tear. It must resist humidity, traffic and stains. But the end result can be warm and tactile which combined with the right cabinets and furniture can provide a room that becomes the heart of the home.
The look without the hassle
With advances in technology and the search for materials that require less maintenance in the kitchen the wood aesthetic can be achieved with the wood look tile. Just by looking most people would not be able to distinguish real wood from the tile. The difference, however, is that the wood effect tile requires zero maintenance. No oiling, sanding or staining just mopping like any other typical floor finish.
Wood staining for kitchen cabinets works in the same way as for wood flooring, providing a broad spectrum of choices that is very subjective for every individual kitchen. White wood cabinets in the kitchen whether stained or painted lend a clean and yet warm, organic feel. If stained the grain of the underlying wood can be appreciated. And if combined with a timber floor the different aspects of the same material combined together can be visually complimentary.