Wood is one of the most common building materials we have, and its strength and beauty can last many lifetimes. Old timbers have weathered years of storms and heavy traffic, and their usefulness can be prolonged in exciting new ways.
In an older home that I renovated, we took advantage of some beautiful old boards found in the basement laundry room. We were building a center island for the kitchen and seized the opportunity to add beauty and character by surrounding the island with the wood. The planks were cleaned up, stained, cut to size and adhered like a veneer to three sides of the kitchen island. The fourth side, not shown, has been left open to allow access to the storage space within the island.
Imagine the many ways you could put recycled wood to use in your home. Run beams along the ceiling of a dining room or den to create an Old World mood. Add style to walls with a chair or plate rail, or wainscoting. Wood tabletops, countertops, backsplashes and table or lamp bases will all exhibit a unique design that is inherent in the pieces of wood you choose.
There are options for finding reclaimed lumber. Check your local area for outlets that sell wood that has been salvaged from old buildings. If you see a building being torn down, ask where the wood is going; you might be able to make a deal. A walk in the woods or along a beach might unearth fallen logs and driftwood.
Once you have your “found” wood, take the time to bring out the best in its natural color and grain. Follow these steps to renew old lumber: Allow the wood to dry out. Clean, then sand the surface, ends and edges so that the wood is smooth and free of splinters. If you would like to change or augment the color, this is the time to apply a stain, as you have opened up the wood’s pores. Brush on a coat of stain, then wipe back to remove the excess. Let dry, as the color will change slightly. Add another thin coat of stain, wipe back and let dry. Repeat until you have the color density you want. Whether you are leaving the wood natural or are staining it, apply a wood sealer to heighten the color and grain. For counters or tabletops, rub with hemp or lemon oil for a safe finish that is conducive to use in and around food and dishware. Wood ceiling beams and wall treatments can remain raw if you prefer this look.
Wood sits harmoniously alongside new and manmade materials such as the kitchen island’s CaesarStone countertop. This durable solid surface enhances any style, from Country Casual to Urban Sleek. The quartz stone surface is stain-, scratch- and heat-resistant and offers a wide range of color and design options.
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.