Wood Patterns

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Wood Patterns

When it comes to home design, even a traditional material like wood is susceptible to fashion. While the latest trends in wood species, colors and styles move away from the more traditional set, the new breeds are so chic and durable, you won’t ever want to replace them again. The new eco-friendly options can also make a healthy, lasting impact on your home.

Light vs. Dark
Popular types of wood right now are richer, exotic varieties, many of which come from South America. The shift has definitely continued toward darker colors, switching from a more traditional oak to something like Brazilian cherry, Santos mahogany or Brazilian redwood.

Where cabinetry is concerned, the latest styles are complete opposites of one another. Cherry wood, especially chocolate tones, remain among the most popular hues. However, some people are going in the opposite direction with their cabinetry—light. Homeowners whose goal is a very clean, stark look are painting cabinets white or off-white. There is no middle ground at the moment between light and dark.

Light(er) on the Wallet
Not everyone can afford the more exotic varieties of wood that are popular. For those whose bank accounts don’t accommodate their expensive taste, alderwood is a good option. It has the look of dark cherry, but is somewhat less expensive. Another idea to consider is staining a less expensive wood. Maple can be stained to any color, such as ginger, nutmeg or hazelnut.

Eco Options
If hardwood floors and cabinetry beckon, but so does observing more sustainable living practices, there are plenty of eco-friendly options. Oftentimes eco-friendly materials can be expensive, but cork, bamboo and lyptus, a wood from South America that grows back 90 percent faster than oak, are all cost-effective “green” choices due to their rapid growth and renewal.

Distressed wood, which means the material is intentionally or naturally dented and bruised on the surface, is also en vogue. Reclaimed wood imparts the distressed look with the added benefit that it is green because it is recycled. It’s not inexpensive, but you will always know you have a floor that has a story behind it. Since wood floors can be sanded and restained instead of replaced, they are already somewhat eco-friendly in nature.

As far as cabinets are concerned, local companies are specializing in earth-friendlier practices. Some offer all hardwood face frames, moldings and veneer, made using adhesives with no formaldehyde-added material. In addition, all panel stock is made with a choice of veneer-core or agrifiber-core, and finishes are HAPS-free and low-VOC.

Forest Friends
Some furniture manufacturers are choosing to build from materials within a few hundred miles of their plant orworkspace. Others commit to planting a tree for each one they cut down. The key is to ask questions—find out if your local retailer offers Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood, which guarantees that the wood comes from a certified, well-managed forest.

Finish It Up
Floor finishes have become greener, too. Polyurethane finishes are now available without VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and natural oil finishes give off the a low-gloss look without any chemicals at all. Another (albeit less eco-friendly) trend is toward a different kind of low-gloss finish, also known as satin.

Should You Fake It?
Wood-like materials used for furniture are usually much cheaper than wood. The furniture is primarily made from pressboard, sawdust that is glued together and compressed, and composites, which are plastic. Real wood furniture is usually a better investment and becomes something that can be handed down to the next generation.

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