Trend spotting: Wood accents that go with the grain

Wood accents are having a moment.

With a natural ability to add depth and warmth to a range of stylish interiors, wood has designers branching out and going with the grain when it comes to creating meaningful home details with a fresh, modern look.

In an increasingly virtual world, wooden accessories are providing an organic, earthy sense of soul.

“Our customers are gravitating toward simple materials that have stood the test of time,” said Kate Sullivan, brand marketing associate for Rejuvenation, which makes hardware and fixtures. “We’re seeing an emergence in organic designs and manufacturing processes that aim to preserve and accentuate the natural beauty in untreated wood.”

Raw, “live” edges and knotty imperfections enhance everything from tabletops and mirrors to benches, desks and frames, while hand-hewn tree stumps serve as side tables, footstools or extra seating.

Polished, center-cut slices of sustainably harvested tree trunks with rings and rough edges intact find new life as tabletops, and twisted branches of driftwood are mounted and re-imagined as sculpture.

The effect is one of a kind.

“No matter what, no two trees are going to have the same grain,” said Casey McCafferty, owner and designer of Venice-based CBM Woodworks. “You’re going to have a unique piece.”

McCafferty credits social media with stoking interest in craftsmanship and building respect for creative processes. “People realize we take a lot of time and use really interesting tools to produce some cool things.”

The trend is also rooted in the serendipity of style.

With a shift from spare, unadorned interiors, the new year is ushering in a moody zeitgeist that prioritizes the welcoming warmth of a comfortably feathered nest over stark minimalism.

Luckily, a little can go a long way. 

Rustic accents — including wooden crates, ladders and barn board-tiled walls — speak to an urban farmhouse aesthetic, while contemporary interiors might incorporate abstract or sculptural designs that fuse the warmth of wood with marble, metal or glass.

Surfaces are left untreated, darkly charred or polished with a light oil, wax or lacquer.

To determine the best way to clean the pieces, McCafferty said it is important to know how the wood has been treated.

To be on the safe side, he advises simply wiping the wood with a soft, clean cloth.

When washing items like a cutting board, be sure to dry it immediately. “After it’s dry, put some mineral oil on it,” McCafferty said, “and keep it lubricated because if it dries out, it can split.”

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