The diversity and charm of wood in home design

There is nothing on earth which cozies up a home like wood.

Whether it is being used on the floor, on a feature wall or ceiling or as an exposed timer support – wood is natural and beautiful and has a definite presence in your home.

I recently spent a few days on Vancouver Island and the natural beauty of this place captured my heart. Wood is in abundance in every form from soaring cedars to imaginative driftwood scattered along beaches. Log cabins abound and artisans take every advantage to use the natural resources of the area to create beautiful one-of-a-kind décor items. In its element a wood plank ceiling in a seaside cabin is perfect yet I am consulting with clients who want to paint their wood ceilings because they are ‘dated’.

Back home in Alberta the lines of hardwood are simpler and straighter, we tend to regulate our hardwood choices and stay fairly safe in our stylings. The main reason for this is that our climate is not kind to wood; cold combined with desert-like conditions are brutal on woods cells and can cause shrinking and twisting. If a wood is raised in a very humid climate (Africa, Asia or B.C.) then installed in Alberta, chances are it will have issues if it is not properly acclimated.

It’s the same as going on a tropical vacation, the second you return your skin begins to dehydrate and your tan falls off!

Wood is comprised of cells just like our skin, the faster it grows the larger the cells are and the wood has a greater chance of shrinking when exposed to dry climes. Wood species which are grown in North America have a shorter, colder growing season which results in a harder, denser log allowing for wider width boards and more dimensional stability (shrinkage).

Hardwood manufacturers have definitely come to the table when it comes to developing products for our unique climate.

A new generation of wide plank, 3/4” thick engineered hardwood is the new rising star in hardwood floors. You are able to get everything and more with this innovative product, a full height hardwood which transitions perfectly to tile and carpet, wide planks that are more stable for our dry climate and a wonderful environmental story.

Engineered flooring has allowed us to spread the wealth where rare or exotic species are concerned. Because there is a veneer of the product on top of layers of more commonly grown wood, we are able to cover a home with a significant reduction in the amount of trees used.

This product, as I said, is perfectly suited for our dry climate and allows you to have wide and even rustic planks using rare and unusual species.

You can now afford to install a 5” engineered mahogany floor where 10 years ago that same floor was $20/sq.ft. in a solid format!

Plus that solid mahogany dried up and shrank like your poor frozen jack-o-lantern (if you haven’t thrown it away yet).

I ask you to take a look at the new hardwood, it is really wonderful and structurally sound and will give you many years of satisfaction. Will your dog scratch it? Yes. Will your dog choose to have his accidents on it? Of course not! They always head straight for the carpeted areas.

Kim Meckler is an interior designer in Red Deer with Carpet Colour Centre.

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