Trendy yet incredibly timeless. Here's how to shop for and integrate reclaimed wood into your home—from walls and countertops to coffee tables and desks.
Eco-aware, sustainable living is an essential in today’s home design scene. Part of this movement is the use of reclaimed wood in furnishings.
For those of you who don’t know what reclaimed wood is, we’re here to lend some easy insight. Reclaimed wood is any wood that has previously served a purpose (whether as barn siding, basketball court flooring, you name it!), which is then restored, offering its own unique history and character. Designers love the lived-in layer it adds to a space and it’s delightful dichotomy—the vibe is warm and yet unfussy, rugged, yet refined. It harkens to a deeper backstory—making it the perfect conversational piece. Whether you choose reclaimed wood walls, live-edge coffee tables, open-grain desks, or butcher block countertops (or all of the above), it’s natural beauty will capture more than just the attention of tree huggers.
Although the concept of reclaimed wood is nothing new (it’s actually centuries old), today’s homebuyers have become drawn to the concept of purchasing recycled goods or refurbishing pieces themselves. Reclaimed wood comes from a wide variety of sources. You can hunt for pieces taken from ancient barns and bowling alleys, from decommissioned ships and previously whiskey or wine-filled barrels. You can search for pieces from local spots, beaches, and the like, but if you don’t happen to live near an idyllic place with gorgeous driftwood lying around, local salvage yards and building resuse vendors are your best bet.
When purchasing reclaimed wood (or reclaimed wood pieces) there are a few things to look out for. First and foremost: understand that you’re buying something has been properly preserved. Pieces need to be de-nailed and kiln-dried (they absorbed plenty of moisture over the years, plus the process protects you from bugs). Then try to find out as much as you can about about where your wood has been reclaimed from—technically anything that’s been used as been reclaimed so there’s a chasm of age and quality out there. Each piece will differ, so be sure you don’t get too attached to any unusual knots, patches, mineral deposits or paint pieces you might see in a similar item.As wood ages, richer colors develop to keep an eye out for deeply dimensional tones.
The Joy of Craft
We not-so-secretly love a good fixer-upper project. So why not try your own hand at harnessing the distressed beauty of reclaimed wood. Not only is it a pretty fun way to spend a day, but choosing to refurbish aged wood is a conscious effort toward preserving something that was once a valued piece of our earth and continues to maintain beauty and utility. What’s better than doing arts and crafts and saving money at the same time? Well, nothing really.
If you consider yourself a reclaimed wood novice and are seeking some advice, turn to the experts on the matter. Salvage warehouses will usually help you with things like removing stray nails or and knowing what wax finishes work best, or ask your local hardware store for advice. For any project—you’re better of safe than sorry. So make sure you are following all instructions when using chemical treatments.
Unlike many materials and items you’ll find in a home, reclaimed wood can be found in an array of styles, textures, treatments, and shapes. And it isn’t limited to only furniture—accessories, hardware, lighting, flooring and more are also in the reclaim game. One of our favorite wood pieces that truly speaks for itself is the Fiore Coffee Table (below). Its perfectly rounded edges and jaw-dropping hues of orange, brown, and yellow will immediately add character to a home. Pieces such as this provide a space with natural (literally and figuratively) originality, zest, and attractiveness.
Reclaimed wood has the unique ability to morph into a variety of aesthetics while still maintaining its own distinct personality. Almost any home, whether it is a Santa Monica coastal escape, a rustic Lake Tahoe cabin, or even a modern New York City apartment, can use a touch of warmth by way of reclaimed wood. Layer it into rooms that feature a wide range of natural textures; think linen, sisal, wool, and the like. If you especially lean towards an eclectic or bohemian aesthetic, pairing multiple shades of reclaimed wood within the same space will give your worldly look and old-world touch. Or let its natural patina shine by using it as a contrast to more modern furnishings. Mother Nature got it right, so you really can’t get it wrong.