In recent years, some interesting trends have started to emerge in interior design. There has, for example, been a greater emphasis on the use of natural timbers in items such as nightstands and side tables, and petrified timber has proved to be very popular in creating authentic, natural and unique effects in furnishings. Manufactured materials are being combined with wood-based products, such as acrylic glass with tree trunks, to create a striking juxtaposition between the rough natural grain and the elegance of a metallic sheen.
Letting nature in
With the growing popularity of organic food and locally sourced produce, it was really only a matter of time before this new emphasis on natural materials would start having an effect on our tastes in interior design. Homeowners and designers are increasingly concerned about where home décor actually comes from, and how it was created. Materials such as seagrass cottons, organic rugs and the produce of local artisans are all becoming hugely popular, and natural wood is at the forefront of this return to traditional themes and motifs.
The era of espresso-stained, heavily polished wood of just a few decades ago has passed and the trend now is for really natural wood in all its unstained glory. Lamps and tables made from driftwood are becoming hugely popular, and reclaimed, rustic wood is increasingly being used to create unique dining tables and coffee tables. Designers are sourcing exotic woods from South America and Africa and deliberately leaving them with very rough, unfinished edges to achieve the effect that they and their clients are after.
Rustic chic and styles mixing
From country villas to New York studios, rustic chic adapts easily to a diverse range of interior décors and can be associated with many different accessories, from country-style to seriously antique. There is no need for a look and finish that is high-end anymore because a shabby-chic look is what it’s all about. Rock, stone and metal are used as well as natural wood to achieve the desired effect, and the warm atmosphere is becoming increasingly sought after.
Designers are going back to the Scandinavian and rural Germanic models to achieve the rustic chic effects that they and their customers want, mixing natural wood with contemporary furniture and bright colours for interesting juxtaposition. There is more emphasis on light to bring out the grain of the wood, and Scandinavian designs are adopted to create rustic chic interiors. Clean, bright lines and functional minimalism are the guiding principles here, with natural and eco-friendly elements.
Wood is a supremely multifunctional material. From outdoor design and decoration to architecture and home décor, its applications are practically limitless. It can be used as a sustainable foreground feature in its own right or as a flexible and infinitely adaptive background for any number of other features in the home.
The rustic look
Wooden floors and ceilings, and even walls, are some of the more traditional ways that wood has been used in the home environment, and a popular trend now is to adopt a lightly varnished flooring element. This is replacing the heavy staining that was once much in vogue, the idea being to leave the wood alone in its natural state as far as possible. Any room in the house can benefit from the warm glow created by natural wood flooring. To add a rustic element, wood ceilings and wall panels are increasingly being used to create a natural, “country” look and feel.
Wooden furniture is also increasingly in vogue with interior designers as an environmentally friendly, sustainable option. Although wooden furniture has always been a popular option, it has often been relatively expensive, and this continues to be the case. The upside is that the effect created can be quite stunning, and this type of furniture typically outlives items created from manufactured materials. The best of them may also double as investments, depending on the maker.
Timber windows and doors
Whether you’re building or renovating your home, bear in mind that timber doors and windows typically last up to 60 years. Compare that with windows made from uPVC, which generally last no longer than three decades. Natural wood windows and doors used these days in interior design are sourced from FSC certified forests, are naturally renewable and carbon neutral.
Wooden windows as well as practical and secure timber doors like those from Stanbrook & Nicholson, are incredibly efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is healthy for the environment as well as for the homeowner. Timber is strong as well as renewable and is an extremely good insulator. For performance, comfort and aesthetics, using natural timber for the doors and windows in your home is the obvious option on any criteria.
Timber is usually available as either hardwood or softwood, though this is a false division because some softwood is actually harder than hardwood. Generally speaking, hardwood is far more resistant to rot. Designers are increasingly turning to wood that has been sourced from sustainable, managed forests and are using both hardwood and softwood in their creations. They also employ treatments and finishes to varying degrees and try to strike a balance between the look of the natural wood and its resistance to usage.
Even if you don’t live in a conservation area, you’ll want your home to look good and feel comfortable as well as stylish and fashionable. Wooden doors and windows for the interior and exterior come in a range of styles to meet all tastes and also add value to the home.
Quite apart from design considerations, English Heritage found recently that replacement of wooden elements in the home by PVC products is regarded unfavourably by prospective buyers. If your home has original wooden windows and floors, then the advice is to leave them in place and to concentrate on using natural wood for internal décor. The signs all point to this being the general trend in home interior design, and a very welcome trend it is.
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