How to Use Reclaimed Wood to Bring Warmth into Your Kitchen

Bring a sense of history to the heart of your home with reclaimed wood.

By Becky Harris, Houzz

Bring a sense of history and a rustic atmosphere to the heart of your Hudson Valley home with the uniqueness of reclaimed wood.

Everyone is buzzing about reclaimed wood. But why, how and where should you use it? In the kitchen, there are plenty of fantastic opportunities, from floors and cabinets to island accents and floating shelves, all the way up to ceilings and ceiling beams. You can also add the material in furniture, accessories and light fixtures.

Why choose reclaimed wood in the kitchen?

For one thing, lots of these woods are no longer available — today’s lumber comes from much younger, less dense trees. “The warmth from the natural colors from the reclaimed wood’s patina is remarkable, and the integrity of the wood due to the tree’s age is unmatched,” says Malachi Milbourn, who creates furniture from reclaimed wood. “We enjoy uncovering the character, texture and beauty that salvaged timber has to offer.”

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And so should you. Reclaimed wood will bring warmth, rustic charm, character, and a sense of history to the heart of your home.

Burns and Beyerl Architects, original photo on Houzz

Why Use Reclaimed Wood?

It brings a special charm to the kitchen.

Reclaimed wood lends a sense of history, as you think about where the wood lived in its former life — perhaps your cabinets were crafted from a sturdy beam, your floors were recycled from a house that is no longer standing or your butcher block came from a 19th-century charcuterie in Paris. It can also contrast beautifully with the sleekness of surfaces like stainless steel, tile and stone.

It can add age to a new kitchen in an instant.

This stunning European-style kitchen looks decades old, thanks to the planks of reclaimed white oak on the ceiling and island. The planks originally came from a mushroom farm. The carpenters planed, sanded and treated the planks with an eco-friendly clear sealer.

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Wood fabrication: Exclusive Woodworking Crown Point Cabinetry, original photo on Houzz

It gives you the chance to use a wood that is no longer available.

One of the homeowners of this Connecticut home had fallen in love with the aged look of kitchens she saw on her travels to Africa — nail holes, mortise and tenon joints, and imperfections in the wood just made it better in her eyes. The pros at Crown Point Cabinetry got their hands on this American chestnut wood from a dismantled barn in Virginia and made the cabinets and other wood accents in the room from the wood.

Be aware that working with reclaimed wood does have its challenges. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth the extra effort and labor costs. The pros on this project first had to X-ray the wood to find the hidden nails, then remove them and replane the boards. They finished the wood with a honey stain and a glaze.

Deluxe Design Studio, original photo on Houzz

How to Use Reclaimed Wood

There are many places to use reclaimed wood in the kitchen, from floors to countertops, open shelves to ceilings. The following examples show some great ways to add it to the style mix.

Contrast crisp white with warm rough-hewn textures.

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In this cabin, interior designer Lauren Piskula created a strong contrast in the white kitchen with boards reclaimed from a hundred-year-old Wisconsin barn. The rugged grain of the boards looks wonderful next to the elegant Cambria Torquay countertops.

Wall paint: Stonington Gray HC-170, Benjamin Moore; Madeleine Barstools: Restoration Hardware Parker House Inc, original photo on Houzz

Provide a contrast to sleek industrial style. Shelves in this kitchen combine iron straps and vintage boards, mixing old and new with aplomb. The shelves bring the reclaimed oak seen on the wide-planked floors up the wall, creating continuity from floor to ceiling.

Custom shelves: Alba Custom Iron Fraley and Company, original photo on Houzz

Where to Use Reclaimed Wood

In the photos above, we’ve seen reclaimed wood used on ceilings, floating shelves and cabinets. But just one reclaimed piece, like this tabletop, will stand out as the star of the room when placed in the middle of other pieces in solid colors.

Create a beautiful kitchen tabletop. This farmhouse table serves as a rustic focal point in this Shaker-style kitchen. Milbourn, whose company is called Against the Grain, made the table from reclaimed oak, finishing it with natural linseed oil and beeswax. The table base is made from reclaimed Douglas fir that was given a dark stain and distressed. The materials were salvaged from old barns and historical buildings in Oregon.

New England Design Elements, original photo on Houzz

Use it in a light fixture. This piece of wood has special meaning to the homeowner — it had been part of his great-grandfather’s workbench. Designer Heather Alton had it fashioned into a unique custom light fixture over a kitchen island.

Find a vintage butcher block to use as an island. Give it a good scrubbing and you can use it as a chopping board. Evidence of your slicing and dicing will only add to its appeal.

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