November 16, 2016


Homeowners’ shift toward more environmentally friendly lifestyles is reflected in the type of features they want in a new home. As they seek to minimize their environmental footprint, they’re embracing ideas such as using reclaimed wood.

As luxury home designers, we have to take those ideas and translate them into the broader narrative. What story are the home and landscape trying to tell? How do we incorporate reclaimed materials into that story?

Reclaimed wood — a designer’s dream

We love reclaimed wood because it adds warmth and charm to any space. But where this material truly shines is in its ability to create dramatic contrast between eras and styles.

The tones and textures evoke a rustic and rugged feel, which is certainly appropriate for more traditional and classic design styles. Where it gets interesting, however, is in the modern home — in the juxtaposition of clean and upscale lines against the worn-looking layers of the wood that add a sense of history and imperfection.

The narrative drives the design

In this home project, the narrative began with the location. The home is near the water, in a community built around a maritime heritage. At the same time, the property is surrounded by picturesque farmland.

Using our storyboarding approach and history as a springboard — first, the historical fishing village and then the story of homesteading farmers — we developed a concept that molded into a nautical and barnhouse theme.

The concept easily lent itself to a great room feature with a large fireplace and reclaimed wood for the ceiling, beams and walls. We sourced old, beautiful wood from an old barn and placed it both horizontally and vertically, giving the great room a character reminiscent of a period piece.

But the story didn’t end there.

The clients love modern art and own many colorful paintings. While the art itself provided nice contrast to the reclaimed wood finishes, we wanted to make a stronger statement.

The solution was to add a white accent wall — remilling reclaimed wood and painting it white. The clean lines of the white wood, which is spaced 1/8th of an inch, emphasize the contrast with the bold, bright paintings.

Everything in moderation

The goal was to create a great room that was warm and comfortable. So we relied on old-school techniques like adding the boulder-faced, centrally located fireplace. Then we mixed in modern touches like the white accent wall.

As we often do, we did meet some initial resistance from the homeowners, who didn’t want a white house. But our storyboard approach gives clients the confidence that we’ll deliver a product they’ll love.

Plus, we know when too much is too much — the secret to pulling off a cohesive look is in the right balance.

So the clients trusted us and became more relaxed as the project took shape. In the end, they did love it — and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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