Wood: The Perfect Ingredient

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We live in an increasingly digital world and many people are becoming burned out from technology-infused lifestyles rife with pings, alerts, likes and other intrusions that vie constantly for our valuable time and attention.

As people tire of living so much of their lives online, more and more seem to seek ways to reconnect with nature to find a more down-to-earth approach to life. And the latest interior design trends most definitely reflect that — particularly when it comes to the use of wood.

Natural wood is enjoying a major resurgence in design, as folks try to surround themselves with nature. And there’s no space where this trend is more apparent than in dining areas. Both commercial and personal kitchens are bringing wood into their aesthetics, and the same is also true for home and restaurant dining spaces.

It makes sense. There’s no other material that creates the feeling of welcoming, homespun warmth quite like wood does. Infusing our dining spaces with wood makes them more comfortable and inviting, setting the perfect tone for breaking bread with loved ones. Natural wood is also incredibly versatile, offering a nearly infinite range of hues, textures, and forms, making it a great complement to virtually any dining aesthetic.

A home kitchen with dark wood with white accents

Wood in Home Kitchens

When it comes to using wood in the home, there are truly limitless possibilities. For example, the timeless staple of the butcher block is being re-integrated into kitchen designs, either as a stand-alone piece or built right into countertops.

Butcher blocks are the perfect combination of form and function — bringing familiar warmth to a place for friends and family to congregate and decompress from the day while also serving as a great cooking companion, given that their primary use has always been to make preparing food easier and more convenient.

Additionally, people are opting for wood floors in the kitchen in lieu of tile. Not only is wood practical and easy to clean, like tile or linoleum, but it also adds more sophistication than the alternatives. The important caveat here is that you must install the highest quality of wood floor and have it properly sealed.

Wooden cabinetry has a similar aesthetic effect as wooden floors, adding more warmth and sophistication to kitchens. And if you opt for both wood floors and cabinetry, it can be fun to mix and match different finishes to add create complementary layers for a more dynamic look.

Of course, wood doesn’t need to be the main element in the kitchen to have an impact. Incorporating decorative wood accents like shelving, serving trays and wooden utensils is a great way to incorporate all of the aesthetic benefits of wood without making too much of a commitment.

Home Away From Home Kitchens

The wood craze reaches beyond residential kitchens, as well – restaurants of all kinds are getting in on the action and incorporating it in a wide range of compelling ways.

For instance, wood-burning ovens have become staples in more and more kitchens as patrons gravitate to the uniquely smoky flavor and character they bring to meals. You’ve also probably noticed that more restaurants are serving meals directly on wood – from delicious charcuterie boards to cedar plank fish.

As well as being more prevalent in commercial kitchens, wood is also increasingly used in various restaurant design elements. In recent seasons, a revival of mid-century design has had a major moment in both homes and restaurants.

Across the country, eateries are adopting elements inspired by this clean, minimalist style, and wooden paneling is highly characteristic of this aesthetic. On the other hand, many other restaurants are integrating refurbished industrial elements into their spaces, adding a homespun character into which natural wood also fits perfectly.

Carlisle Hickory wood flooring in a beautiful restaurant

Restaurants of all types use wooden countertops and tables. In addition to making a space feel more personal and inviting, wooden tabletops add exceptional visual flair when each looks a bit different from the next. That effect is even further enhanced if the wood is reclaimed and refurbished, with each piece bringing a unique story to the space.

Speaking of unique stories, the malleable nature of wood makes it particularly amenable to a wide range of customizations, which is fitting given that people are gravitating more to hand-crafted pieces over mass-produced items.

This is likely because all manner of hand-crafted wooden elements — be they small accents, entire pieces of furniture or our wide plank flooring — showcase a level of mindful care and deliberation that simply can’t be achieved with mass-produced items. And that quality provides diners with a more personalized experience than if the space were outfitted with more run-of-the-mill alternatives.

In addition to wood’s inherent warmth and character, people are also drawn to it for its sustainability. Our culture is becoming ever more cognizant of the need to use sustainable materials to protect Mother Earth, as well as the importance of local craftsmen to the health of local economies.

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All of that said, natural wood is truly having a major moment in today’s dining experiences, both at home and in restaurants. It’s a timeless material that offers a resonant level of warmth and comfort, and a welcoming quality that simply can’t be found elsewhere. Not to mention, it never fails to add rich sophistication to a look.
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