Thursday, February 11, 2016

Reclaimed Wood Beams

For the past year or so I have been obsessing over interior spaces that have high or vaulted ceilings and reclaimed wood beams.  I love it when my clients share my passion for that type of character and request that we incorporate it into the new design. Reclaimed wood is everywhere these days, so apparently I am not the only one who can't get enough of it!  Sometimes I wish my present, oh-so-crazy life, could somehow be transported to an old farmhouse in the South of France, where every day I could gaze at thick, plaster walls and lovely, rustic beams.  Alas, I live in the Pacific NW, in a rather plain 70's house with low ceilings and no Old World character to speak of.  Room by room, we're doing our best to add some character and charm back in, but it's a slow process.  We just finished adding some fun, handmade, barn-style doors to our coat closet and game closet and I am thrilled with how they turned out.  Now I am on a mission to find more ways to add more!  Here is a sneak peak:

                     GAME CLOSET DOOR
The little door to the left of the fireplace is what started it all.  During one home improvement session, we ripped some plywood  paneling off of these walls, only to discover that there was a really neat, little closet on the left, which the previous owner had boarded over.  We always need more storage, so we turned it into a game closet.  It just needed shelves and a door.  I liked it so much, that I decided to add a second door to the right, just around the corner, where we have our main coat closet.
                                              COAT CLOSET DOOR

This is the new coat closet door which you can see when you come in our front entry.  There was originally a very boring, 6-panel, hollow-core door here.  It definitely wasn't any thing that caught your attention.  Now when people come in, they notice the barn door right away and ask about it.  Character added--mission accomplished!

My little DIY weekend projects pale by comparison to some of the lovely images you can find on the internet.  These interior spaces all incorporate reclaimed wood and in some instances it is hard to tell if you are looking at a new-build or something truly rustic.  Let's see if we can guess which ones are the real-deal and which ones are fabulous fakes, made to look like they are centuries old!

Mediterranean Spaces Reclaimed Wood Farm Table Design, Pictures, Remodel, Decor and Ideas - page 2:
This one almost had me!  At first glance, I thought the furniture indicated a beautifully-aged Mediterranean home, complete with low, humble seating and crumbling, brick hearth.  Then I took a second look and noticed the very precise, symmetrical layout of the room and the clean lines of the plaster walls.  Everything looks just a bit too perfect!  Definitely new build.  Great imitation though! 

Amazing corner. love how beam over window and drapery combo is done. club room:
This next project is by Oz Architects and is definitely new-build, but I love the wood headers along the over-sized windows.  That is a detail I haven't seen before.  I like that they have a cozy little reading/visiting nook adjacent to the kitchen island and the big wall of windows.  I would love to spend some time in that room!

greige: interior design ideas and inspiration for the transitional home : Vineyard Farmhouse in Napa:
This one looks pretty convincing, but I had a hunch it was new because of the height of the ceiling and the large, roomy scale of the space.  Old houses almost always have odd quirks, angles and ceiling heights.  Wouldn't you know it--this lovely home is in Napa!

Floors with reclaimed beams:
This one is tough!  The fireplace looks positively ancient.  So simple, homey and pretty!  Even the floorboards look old and worn.  So I checked the link, only to find that the article was written in a language I don't speak.  I am pretty confident though that this is the real deal, because at the beginning of the article was an image of the exterior, which fairly screamed crumbling French Farmhouse.  So happy to find a nice example of everything I love.  The only thing I don't really dig is the crystal chandelier.  I'm all for eclectic, but this one I just don't "get".

Blue decor is the hottest design trend in 2015, learn from Creative Director Jeff Lewis how to use it in your home. See more inspiration rooms. #LivingSpaces:
And this one I KNOW is a "newer" home where they have added reclaimed beams, but I love how livable this feels.  It's fun, eclectic, and arty, with just the right mix of sophisticated and laid back.  If only I could have those nice, vaulted ceilings in my 70's house.  Ha!

Since we are in the Pacific NW, and there are no crumbling French farmhouses to be found, sometimes one just has to add the character back in.  Here's what that can look like.  First I study the ceiling plan to see where it would make the most sense to add some faux beams.  Then I check the plans and elevations to determine what the height, width and length of the beams should be.  Finally, it is off to the lumber yard to do some shopping!  The one I've been using lately is a good hour from where I live, but going there feels like an extra-special field trip so I don't mind the drive.  It is so fun poking around, looking at all the cool pieces, and imagining where they might have come from or how they could best be incorporated into a new design.  Here is a shot from one of those days:

In the lumber yard, checking out sizes, level of distressing and degree of "checking" or splitting in the ends of the beams.

After I've made my selections, I arrange for the contractor to pick them and haul them back to the construction site.  Then someone gets to work on sprucing them up.  Usually we don't put them up as-is.  That might look great if you were going for the dilapidated barn or warehouse look, but usually the clients want something a bit more refined.  So we lightly sand them and/or add additional distressing (nail holes, burn marks, wire wheeling) until we have just the right look.  Here is what that might look like.  These happen to be remnant ends, cut off the beams and then set aside for finish experimentation.

Here are the beams, back at the house, after the builder had done some sanding to them to achieve a slightly smoother finish and more uniform color.  As you can see, the beam in the middle has some paint on it, which we wanted to remove so as not to detract from the finished look.  Character is good, but distracting color is not.

And finally, here are the beams installed in the space.  The room was still in-progress when this shot was taken, but you can see how much character and warmth they add.  Beautiful!  Stay tuned for final-final shots of this particular project.  My photographer is currently wrapping up the photo edits and I am super excited to add them to my portfolio in the near future.