Want to know why bare wood is one of the hottest trends in kitchen design right now? Read on
Houzz UK deputy editor. I’m an interiors journalist and editor, previously for the… More
The use of bare – as in unpainted – wood in kitchens is something seen more and more in the Houzz photo stream of late. And browsing the designs here, you’ll probably see why: bare wood can add edge, and it can also bring warmth, texture, character and more. There are just so many ways to make it a key feature in your cookspace. Check out a few of them below.
Wrap it around
This stunning, Scandi-influenced cookspace gets its drama from the use of the same wood on the cabinets as on the walls, with a worktop in soft grey barely breaking up the lines. Douglas fir or birch ply would both be good options for recreating this pale aesthetic.
Note, too, the effect of opting for a slab-front, handleless kitchen – these two details really put the emphasis on the wood and keep the look clean and uncluttered.
Bare wood with decades of history has character and a warmth you just can’t fake. So if that’s the feel you’re aiming for, consider either using reclaimed wood to make your cabinets or, as in this heritage-style kitchen, a whole piece of antique furniture.
Here, it’s a mid-height drawer unit that fits neatly under the worktop, but a freestanding dresser or even a statuesque old pine wardrobe reconfigured for use as a pantry would provide comparable timber impact.
Pairing your piece with a kitchen tabletop made from timber in a different tone is a good idea. Wood on wood works in most combinations, and mixing like this ensures the space doesn’t feel uniform.
Remember that – just as with wooden worktops – furniture like this should be treated with an appropriate finish to protect its surface in the steamy, splashy and oily environment of the kitchen.
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Add practical panelling
In this kitchen, the effect of matching cabinet doors with wood panelling is quite different from that in the first room featured in this story.
The Shaker-style doors and chrome handles add detail, while the black splashback forms a strong visual break between the two wooden elements.
Arguably, though, the key design feature to notice here is the panelling itself. Rather than boards joined seamlessly, there are prominent dark grooves, which are more than just a style statement. These allow shelving and other storage fixtures to be slotted in and moved around whenever required (a feature developed by the kitchen’s design firm, Teddy Edwards).
Introduce just a touch
In this new-build home’s kitchen, bare wood only has a supporting role – but it certainly makes its presence felt. Cutouts that form the handles are the key bare wood feature; these are exposed birch plywood.
Though it may not look like it, the cabinet fronts are made from the same material; the white parts have been treated with lye to lighten them. “It gives them a lovely soft, chalky feel,” says designer Sam Shaw of Sustainable Kitchens. And one that works beautifully with the pale colour of the birch ply.
The high shelf, cooker hood and edges of the brushed-steel-clad worktop are also bare wood. The first two of these are made from Douglas fir, which, with its pale appearance, is a good partner for the birch ply. Adding touches like these is another nice idea for making exposed timber a feature, rather than the dominant material, in a kitchen if that’s not your bag.
See the rest of this kitchen
Let it shine as a secondary surface
In this bespoke scheme, although bare wood – in this case lacquered sawn oak – is the sole material used on the visible cabinets, it doesn’t feel like the primary material in the kitchen.
This is thanks to the use of a very chunky dark polished concrete worktop and the white, equally chunky supports.
The effect is to warm up a fairly industrial space where cool surfaces are prominent without dominating. The brass tap and scattering of antique accessories adds another layer of character.
Mix with black
This kitchen in Cornwall belongs to designer Tom Raffield, known for his steam-bent wood furniture and lighting, so it’s perhaps no surprise that it features quite so much wood. (You might have spotted this on the telly as the project featured in an episode of Grand Designs.)
The section of black-stained wood, particularly as it’s in a recess, adds depth and a cosy atmosphere. It also provides a break between the two different uses of wood: smooth and flat on the tall units; mismatched and reclaimed on the clad wall.
A good tip to take from this space is that, if you’re varying your surfaces or wooden finishes, it’s good to have something that lends continuity. Here, repeating the same handles – dark leather straps – throughout does the job.
Warm up your island
This room has a single key bare wood feature – but a kitchen island is a prominent one.
When blending bare wood finishes with colour, it’s really important to check out the timber in person. Just as important is to test a number of finishing oils and waxes on it to see how each affects the tone of the wood. Then make sure you try it out next to your proposed paint or cabinet colours elsewhere to ensure they don’t clash.
Lower the tone
So far, it’s all been about pale bare wood taking all the glory, but in this kitchen, a darker finish shows a very different look. Combined with grey concrete, steel beams and a stainless-steel range cooker and splashback, the style becomes confidently industrial and utilitarian.
The wood itself has an interesting story. Maxwell & Company Architects, who designed the kitchen, explain that the timber is pitch pine reclaimed from a school assembly hall floor.
If you want to make wood a feature of your kitchen, it can be worth going on a few trips to warehouses and yards to see what’s on offer. Reclaimed wood especially can look very different in each case and you might just fall in love with a batch and design your space around it.
Be the opposite of rustic
The idea of using bare wood as a finish can conjure up images of homely 1990s ginger pine overload, woodland cabins or even Nordic saunas. But this sleek Paris kitchen illustrates how fresh and contemporary bare wood can look, too.
Geometric flooring, handleless cupboards, bright white walls and cool pale grey wall units are an urban foil for the natural grain of the base cabinet fronts.
These fronts again look like good old birch ply, which does have a more modern feel than solid wood anyway, especially when treated with nothing but clear matt lacquer, rather than anything with a hint of colour in it.
Are you thinking of incorporating bare wood into your kitchen design? Tell us about your ideas in the Comments section.