New designs on old wood: the patina, the texture, the history

Trending more prevalently in new construction, reclaimed barn wood offers a fresh perspective of rustic.
kitchen flooring design
Photography By Kaity

Situated on a cove of Hudsonville’s Georgetown Shores Lake in West Michigan, a Parade home crafted by Grand Rapids-based Celebrity Builders, LLC exudes a unique eclectic style that blends contemporary appeal with vintage ingenuity.

“Many of us have a growing love of barn wood — the patina, the texture and the history,” says Laura Davidson, owner of Dwellings interior design studio in Grandville. “One of the things I love about barn wood is that it can assume a variety of styles, from rustic to modern.

“In this kitchen, it added great depth to a transitional home: I love how it mixed with the modern quartz countertops, handmade blue-gray tile, slat wood door and refurbished apron sink.”

Davidson also used reclaimed wood for the hood and suspended barn beams from the sunroom’s cathedral ceiling.

Further east in Marne, builders and designers at Homestead Timbers, which specializes in log and timber home construction and reclaimed materials, view every board salvaged from a barn laid to rest or restoration project as a unique piece of history. Along with sister company Fence Row Furniture, they infuse nostalgic character into new and remodeled cottages and homes through custom-made wood beams, floors, posts, railings, furniture and tongue-and-groove paneling.

“After the harsh winter we just experienced (last year), the availability of reclaimed wood is up, particularly because many deteriorating barns caved in from the heavy snow,” notes carpenter and marketing manager Chad Klein. “Generally, we’re harvesting wood from barns dating back to the 1940s and earlier.  

“When we find unique boards like 10 x 6s or those of unusual texture and coloring, we make them the focus.”

Klein notes that barn wood merged with steel can also add a unique industrial touch. “I’ve come across boards with shot gun blasts to them and pulled slugs out,” he shares. “There’s definitely character.”

“You cannot dream
yourself into a character; you must hammer
and forge yourself one.” 

— Henry David Thoreau

kitchen sliding barn style doors
Photography By Kaity

new options

Paralleling the burgeoning popularity of reclaimed barn wood are manufactured options that echo real wood charm. Homestead Timbers offers two.

reclaimed wood panelsKebony Wood utilizes an almost pollution-free process that takes soft woods such as 30- to 40-year old pine and maple and pressure treats them to emulate tropical hardwoods. “This product,” Klein says, “requires minimal maintenance. “

Ghost Wood is wood harvested from forest fires and beetle kill that replicates barn wood or wood often found in ghost towns. “This certified ‘green’ product is color consistent, available in exact cuts and sizes and less expensive than reclaimed barn wood,” shares Klein.

While reclaimed barn wood lends rustic charm in this Hudsonville home (above), Montana Ghost Wood available through Homestead Timbers is the first new wood mass-produced to replicate old barn wood; it weathers and changes color over time.

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— Lisa Healy and Lisa M. Jensen, Michigan BLUE Magazine.

Photography By Kaity & Bitteroot Valley Forest Products 

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