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5 Ways to Add Character to Your Kitchen With Wood

Back in the 70s and 80s, kitchen cabinetry makers went to great lengths to conceal the wood grain and make things look uniform and frankly rather boring.

The reclaimed wood trend that began 10 years ago is still going strong. But it’s also opened the door to mixing more refined wood grains and finishes too. We’ve collected some of our favorite photos of kitchen designs — like this stunner from Highline Partners in Montana above — that show all ways beautiful woods can make your kitchen a more inviting place.

1. Add Warmth with Wood

Wood surfaces are my No. 1 way to add warmth and softness to any space. I love creating modern kitchens with shiny white cabinets, stainless fixtures, and marble. They feel so sleek and futuristic, but they can also feel a bit cold. Adding a wood surface instantly turns up the thermostat. Case in point: this sleek kitchen remodels we did starring white oak for a family whose home overlooks the Hudson River.

modern on the hudson kitchen
Photo credit: Studio Dearborn

2. Make a Color Statement

You probably wouldn’t think of painting multiple surfaces in your kitchen the same shade of brown. But when you layer on lots of wood surfaces, as in this gorgeous Shaker space by deVOL Kitchens, it just works.

Photo credit: @devolkitchens

And we love the way Jute Interior Design added a toasty brown color accent with wood on the beams and storage island — they even picked up the same tone in the artwork. When planning your kitchen, choose wood and finish according to the color you want to add. Bamboo and light maple adds a warm gold tone, while mahogany and redwood add a cinnamon hue.

3. Add Contrast with a Wood Accent

Kitchens feel cool and crisp and traditional in color combinations like black, gray, or navy paired with white. But these classic color combinations can also be a bit staid. A wood surface with a prominent grain full of ripples, stripes, or whorls has the same effect as adding fabric or wallpaper with a patterned design. Belliss Custom Creations warms up this tranquil white kitchen and adds energy with this great reclaimed wood chevron inset under the white waterfall counter.

4. Go High and Low to Frame the Space

Architectural wood beams draw the eye up and add warmth, while wood floors literally ground the room and give the eye somewhere to rest. Designers from S. Group chose similar — but not identical — wood treatments for this sophisticated and airy kitchen in Tasmania. And when you select a floor or counter that mirrors the look of the ceiling, it ties everything in the middle together, just like a picture frame does for a piece of art.

Photo credit: @sgroupofficial

5. Make the Space Feel Larger

Any time you add a long swath or expanse of any one color it draws the eye along and makes the room look larger. The same is true with an expanse of wood cabinetry. This San Francisco Bay Area kitchen recently featured on Houzz seems to go on forever, thanks to the minimalist teak veneer cabinetry designed by Tiffiny Johnson of Peninsula Modern and John Lum Architecture.

With all the wonderful ways wood with natural grain and texture can make your kitchen more interesting and inviting, there’s just one question: which one will you choose?