Integrating Wood into Kitchen & Bath Design

shutterstock_313014473Wood adds a unique spirit and character to a space. It’s beautiful, versatile and timeless.

However, utilizing wood in wet spaces isn’t without challenges. Many homeowners are unsure and shy away from integrating wood into their designs.

With a little foresight, wood needn’t be a “no go” for your kitchen & bath!

Richness & Warmth in the Kitchen

Wood countertops are making a kitchen comeback. Gentle on dishes and much quieter than stone or laminate countertops, wood is soft, handsome and natural.


  • Affordability – Butcher-block beech or birch costs less than half of what you’d pay for natural stone.
  • Restorable Surfaces – Dings, gouges, burns and scratches can be sanded out and the refinished.
  • Eco-Friendly Materials – Many manufacturers offer sustainably grown timber.
  • Easy Installation – Wood is lighter and easier to work with than natural stone, resulting in lower costs of labor.


  • Maintenance Required – Unfinished wood countertops require monthly oiling. Clear-coat finishes must be reapplied every 5 years.
  • Prone to Stains – Even a sealed wood countertop can stain if liquids linger on the surface and seep into pores.
  • Movement Over Time – Wood must be properly installed to prevent shifting and warping with atmospheric changes.

Bear in mind that you cannot set scorching hot pans directly onto wood as you can stone, concrete or stainless steel. Use trivets to avoid burn marks.

Pro Tip: High-end wood countertop manufacturers feature 10-step varnishing processes to permanently seal surfaces.

Splish, Splash: Wood in the Bath

Wood looks great in a bathroom vanity, but opt for more water-resistant species. Redwood, yellow cedar, mahogany, white oak and teak are well-known for their ability to repel moisture. Cherry or other hardwoods also make great choices.

Consider installing a thick wood platform to house one or more vessel sink.

Homeowners looking for a fresh approach can lay cork flooring, or install wood inlays in place of ceramic tile.

Face Grain vs. End Grain

The direction wood is laid prior to gluing determines how durable and warp-free a wood surface will be.

Face grain showcases more of the wood’s natural patterns. It is sufficient for dining islands, tables or bar tops. Heavily used surfaces such as kitchen counters, however, fare best with end grain.

Vary Colors & Styles

Wood pairs well with different colors and textures of timber, as well as totally different materials.

Use wood’s versatility your advantage by mixing and matching species, stains and finishes.

Implement Wood Accent Pieces

If you’re not ready to use wood as a construction material, think about providing contrast with wood furnishings or accessories.

Simple additions such as classic wooden chairs and broad picture frames can bring cozy, chic cabin details into your home.

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