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interiors & styling: The Return of the Wood Kitchen

Obviously I have all things kitchen on my brain with our current renovation, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share my reasoning in selecting wood cabinetry for our home. Have you guys noticed wood materials resurfacing in kitchens? I certainly have and I wanted to address it’s longevity, the “trend”, and why it made the most sense for my own space. Click through for lots of inspiration imagery that influenced my kitchen design, as well as my thoughts on the return of wood cabinetry. 

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W E    W E R E    S O L D

When Emmett took an accounting job with a local custom cabinetry shop, we both agreed that wood cabinetry made the most sense for our kitchen reno. I love the warmth wood adds to a space and our Utah home is currently lacking those natural wood elements. Since the cabinetry is being custom made, all of our hesitations were put to rest:

  • I could mix and choose a custom stain color
  • We could select any type of wood species we wanted
  • I could design a custom door style that worked well with the wood grain
  • We also knew it would be solid wood and built to last

Not all wood cabinets are created equal and I didn’t want to fall prey to a cheap looking laminate or a wood-look material that wasn’t as easy to customize. Although our cabinets are still in production and have yet to be installed, I’m really confident with the process and the materials we selected. I can’t wait to show you guys!

T H E    T R E N D

Lots of people think of 80’s and 90’s kitchens with standard orange-toned oak or reddish cherry cabinetry when they think of “wood kitchen cabinetry”. Gone are the days of dated wood cabinets! We’re seeing wood in the kitchen comeback in a big and modern way. It’s a very versatile material that can work with any aesthetic.

If you’re trying to avoid the dated look, but are interested in implementing wood cabinetry, here are some guidelines that will help keep your kitchen fresh:

  • Opt for a clean and simple, or modern / flat door style
  • Don’t go too saturated (find a neutral wood tone / stain)
  • When in doubt (or if you can’t fully commit), try a two-toned wood kitchen… wood lower cabinetry and painted uppers- or better yet, maybe a wood island? How about wood appliances doors to cover your fridge?
  • Bring wood into the space elsewhere, aside from the cabinetry (ceiling beams, bar cabinet, dining chairs, bar stools, etc.)
  • Add metal hardware or die-cut pulls

To me, wood is actually less intimidating than selecting paint grade cabinetry because it’s SO versatile. It goes with everything! The bottom line is this… if you’re going to commit- do it and embrace it.

L O N G E V I T Y

I get lots of questions about “trends”. It’s a crazy word… it can get you really excited about something, and all the same- it can also be used in a negative way when things are overdone. Trends are all the rage while they’re “in”, but once they’re on their way “out”, it’s game over. That could mean an expensive mistake.

I’ve talked about my aesthetic evolving over the years, and how I’m less likely to hop on a trend these days, as opposed to doing what feels right for me and the house I’m designing. Wood cabinetry has been no exception. I will say, it’s gaining popularity- which could be classified as “trendy”, but it also feels classic and timeless to me.

As I previously mentioned, this home doesn’t have any natural wood architectural details and that’s really something I’m missing. My general rule is this… too much of a good thing isn’t always good. It’s all about balance. Bringing wood cabinetry into the kitchen will actually highlight the painted millwork and will make for a nice contrast. To me- that’s not trendy at all… it’s a timeless and smart design decision.

If you’re worried about wood cabinetry becoming too trendy, be sure to focus on a classic door style, countertop material, tile, plumbing fixtures / finishes, and  lighting that feels timeless and compliments the cabinetry. Just because you have wood cabinets doesn’t mean your entire kitchen is “trendy” or “dated”… it’s how the space is working together as a whole. That goes for any trend! Moderation and application are key.

C O M P A R I S O N    T O    P A I N T    G R A D E

The last question I feel inclined to answer is the upkeep and maintenance for wood cabinetry. Maybe I’ll do an entire post on caring and cleaning wood cabinetry once we live with it for awhile, but for now- I’ll say it’s pretty similar to paint grade cabinetry.

You want to clean it with non-abrasive cleaning supplies. I don’t use harsh cleaning chemicals anyway, so that’s not really an issue- but definitely avoid bleach, ammonia, solvents, etc. The only other thing to be aware of is moisture. Like any wood surface, it absorbs moisture or water. However, unlike a coffee table, cabinetry surfaces run vertically rather than horizontally, so it’s pretty impossible to sit something wet or dripping directly onto a cabinetry surface. It really isn’t an issue. Cabinetry manufacturers also seal the cabinets with protective material to help keep the wood water resistant. We opted for a medium rub clear coat… that basically translates to a finish that falls in between matte and gloss.

When deciding on wood or paint grade cabinets, I didn’t think twice about the durability of wood cabinetry. I’ll have to post next year about how everything is holding up and maybe my cleaning routine. Would you guys be into that?

That pretty much sums up my thoughts and design process for wood kitchen cabinetry. How do you guys feel about it? I hope you’re into it because you’ll be seeing it in our kitchen soon enough! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

images: waterworks / redmond aldrich designjean stoffer / change & coagent bauer / hgtvjean stofferest living

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