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Natural Beauty

A kitchen is often viewed as the heart of a home, but with so many homeowners opting for modern and monochromatic themes throughout these spaces, it can be difficult to balance style and aesthetic with personality and warmth. Here, Tristan Lott speaks with Matthew James, sales director and designer for Better Bathrooms & Kitchens, to learn about the appeal of timber in kitchens and bathrooms.

When it comes to adding warmth and texture to your kitchen or bathroom, timber is one of the most effective and impressive materials to choose. Versatile and eye-catching, timber can bring a space to life. While we don’t often see kitchens built entirely from timber anymore, timber accents are an easy and effective way to inject personality into your kitchen or bathroom.

Timber can be modified to suit any design style or aesthetic. Its natural beauty is difficult to replicate, and as a material it’s relatively easy to install and there are varieties to suit every budget. Read ahead to learn some handy tips from an industry expert; from choosing how and where to incorporate timber in your kitchen or bathroom, to evaluating the many available varieties and the best maintenance options post-installation. Here, you will find ample inspiration for how you can incorporate timber in your own abode.

DROPPING HINTS

Whether your home is a modern, minimalist space or an elegant, Hamptons-inspired abode, there are countless ways to incorporate timber into a kitchen or bathroom to suit any style. From warm timber accents to impressive kitchen cabinetry, the versatility of timber cannot be overstated.

James’ favourite examples of kitchen and bathroom features include vanity units, shelving and storage, island benches and even timber furniture – a great option for anyone who is unable to renovate or rebuild their space.

James confirms that full-timber kitchens are sought after less and less, “largely because of cost, supply and demand”. Today, there is a preference towards solid colours and cohesion throughout a dwelling, which is why timber accents are a popular option. Timber accents are a more affordable way to incorporate timber into your home. Adding a beautiful buffet or statement dining table to the space can have just as much impact as a complete remodel.

James confirms that full-timber kitchens are sought after less and less, “largely because of cost, supply and demand”. Today, there is a preference towards solid colours and cohesion throughout a dwelling, which is why timber accents are a popular option. Timber accents are a more affordable way to incorporate timber into your home. Adding a beautiful buffet or statement dining table to the space can have just as much impact as a complete remodel.

James recommends using timber as a “feature theme throughout the home” and choosing a colour, stain or type of wood “that complements the space but doesn’t [overpower]”. By keeping the scope of your kitchen or bathroom in mind when choosing where timber might be most striking, you can avoid choosing a stain or variant that doesn’t complement the space. Between the colour of the timber, the thickness and various finishes available, there are plenty of ways to make timber work in your space. According to James, Tasmanian oak is a great option, “because of its light colour and excellent staining qualities”.

MAKE IT YOURS
When contemplating the most effective use of timber in your home, it is equally important to investigate the numerous options at your disposal. From beech to blackbutt, spotted gum and pine, timber is available in a dizzying array of colours and textures, so finding what works for you can seem like an impossible task.

The first thing to keep in mind is choosing a hardwood over a softwood. Hardwood varieties, such as those in the eucalyptus family, are durable and moisture resistant, making them a great option for your home. These high-density timbers offer greater bushfire-resistance than their softwood counterparts, making them especially popular in Australian homes.

JUST LIKE NEW

Like any natural material, timber has its own quirks in terms of properties, maintenance and longevity. The good news is that timber is relatively easy to maintain, even in a high-traffic area such as your kitchen or bathroom. James’ biggest tip would be to refrain from installing timber in the food prep area in the kitchen and the wet areas of your bathroom; while timber makes for a great island benchtop or vanity, it’s less effective as a splashback or shower base.

When it comes to ensuring the longevity of timber in your kitchen or bathroom, James recommends ongoing care, “reseal regularly and avoid food with high acidity [and] sanitise regularly.” Timber is naturally porous and will require ongoing polishing and oiling to ensure moisture resistance and longevity. Routine sealing and polishing will keep your timber looking like new, allow for easier cleaning and increase stain resistance. Day-to-day maintenance tips include regular dusting with a soft cloth and avoiding harsh chemical cleaners.

Photography credit: Fiona Susanto

The maintenance of timber may seem more complicated than that of stone and laminate, but the payoff is impressive. If you stay on top of these maintenance tips, they’ll soon become habit and you’ll be able to take pride in the natural qualities of timber in your kitchen or bathroom for years to come.

Timber is one of the most versatile, attractive and cost-effective materials at our disposal, and there’s no better or easier way to add texture and interest to your home. With its unbeatable warmth and personality, timber is the perfect addition to your kitchen or bathroom. No matter your styling preferences, there is a way to make timber work for you.

Images courtesy of Better Bathrooms & Kitchens