James Treble's 5 top ways to use wood in your home

By James Treble, TV Presenter, Celebrity Stylist, Brand Ambassador and Interior Designer

One of the luxuries we have in our modern world is the choice of materials we can work with. It seems like every week, there's a new product with which to build, create and make stuff out of.

But one material I always return to, and always will, is one of the oldest: wood.

Think about it; how can you go wrong with something that is naturally reproduced and has been used for millennia, both as a fuel and as a construction material? It's been used to make an endless range of end-products—from dwellings, tools, weapons, and furniture, through to packaging, storage containers and paper.

Did you know, for instance, that remains of wooden buildings have been found dating back tens of thousands of years?

In our environmentally conscious age, wood also emerges as perhaps the most sustainable of materials. It's renewable, stores carbon and uses very little energy in its production compared to other building materials.

Finally, wood adds a touch of natural beauty to everything. The grain, the warmth, and the lines of its raw beauty are simply unbeatable.

So, here's some of my top ways to use wood in your home...

  1. Flooring

    Here in Australia, the tone and natural aspect of wooden floors have always been popular. There's something about the combination of our environment and wood that Aussies just love. The reflection of our unique local light on a wooden floor, the flowing lines of the grain or the warm tone it adds to those sometimes chilly winters, just can't be beaten.

    For floors, varieties like blackbutt and spotted gum are popular for their ability to bring outside beauty into an interior, creating a truly functional, cost-effective and beautiful space.

    More recently though, we have seen the popularity of engineered oaks beginning to challenge these more traditional choices.

    Luckily, these newer styles can be toned and coloured to better match the interior colour scheme of your home, and are not so tied to natural shades. Greys and washes are great examples of these forms that really work.

  2. Staircases

    It's also becoming a trend to use wooden staircases as a central feature in homes and offices.

    The fact that stairs are often physically central in a given space, and attract the eye easily, gives them the potential to make a real statement. Wood is the perfect material for doing just that.

    Think about contrasting the softer, mellower vibe of wood with hard surfaces like tiles, stone or brick.

    Another great technique is for the timber steps to be contrasted with an open riser, meaning it's see-through underneath, constructed from timber stringers to each side. Or it can be done using a central spine made from steel. This is especially effective in creating a floating style staircase, as the weightless effect is balanced nicely with the rich timber grain.

  3. Joinery

    Using wood in, say, your cabinetry is pretty much a no-brainer. The grains lend themselves well to providing a backdrop to your space, adding tonality, and feel to functionality.

    There are now lots of veneer options available too, allowing a more customised addition to the basic beauty of the wood.

    Joinery also gives the opportunity to be a little more expressive and extravagant with your wood choices, going for a more exotic look or rare varieties. Alternatively, you can opt for creative staining techniques to provide added character.

  4. Furniture

    One of wood's earliest uses continues to work well with the addition of modern and an appreciation for past construction techniques.

    The great thing about wooden furniture is that it can be easily repurposed, recycled and reused. That old period chair or vintage dining table can be quickly and cheaply dolled up, and presto, you have a great talking point in your home. Best of all, rescuing great wooden pieces from the tip is not poverty consciousness, it's fun.

    The durability of wood also ensures that quality wooden furniture will last and can be handed down through generations. Good furniture made from wood is not only functional and beautiful, it is an investment.

    Think about the simple quality of mitre cornering for instance. Envision the character-filled wood that boasts fine lines from nature, beautifully surfaced and finished. It doesn't get much better than this kind of raw beauty, and any home with a value for interior design deserves this touch.

  5. Lighting

    Finally, the use of wood in lighting has become more popular as options have increased.

    New, thinner timber products like veneers can be easily bent and shaped, for instance, opening up a range of fabulous creative possibilities.

    Wooden geometrics or pendant lighting provides a contemporary feel while still retaining the age-old majesty of natural materials.

    The material's natural lustre gives dimension to both the lit and unlit space, ultimately creating warming effects in shading and a play of shadows on walls and ceilings.

In short, there's so much you can do with this humble yet amazing material. As you can see, bringing some of nature's beauty through wood into your home will positively impact on your well-being and allow your to stay right on trend.

Time to start creating!

Photo: Philip Abram Architects - Harris St House