One big challenge of interior design is striking the right balance between aesthetic and comfort. Of course you want your decor to be visually appealing–to look good–but it’s also important to keep in mind that your house should be a place to relax and feel at peace. Too many shiny surfaces or fancy embellishments can really drive the livability level down. I can’t count the number of homes I’ve gone into and been afraid to touch anything, or felt like I had to perch daintily on the edge of the couch to keep from messing up the cushions. You want a house, not a museum.
There are a lot of different ways to scale down the formality of your setting, and one of those is by using weathered, reclaimed materials. With age comes familiarity, and with familiarity comes warmth.
Reclaimed wood is exactly what it sounds like–it’s wood that had originally been part of a different structure, and has been repurposed and rebuilt into a new form. This way you can buy a new piece of furniture that looks aged without actually having to wait the requisite fifty years for it to become an antique. Bare wood strips decor down, reminds us of lodges and cabins and the outdoors. Wood is one of the oldest building materials, and evokes history, tradition, and a sense of comfort.
Another great thing about reclaimed wood–reclaiming is recycling. All materials have to come from somewhere, and reusing them means no more new trees have to be chopped down, and the old materials aren’t just being cast off to the elements. So not only is bare wood trendy, it’s also great for the environment. And recycled wood doesn’t necessarily have to be weathered and pitted and look like you found it out behind a barn. With some sanding and a stain, you can turn old wood glossy and smooth, and good as new.
Think Outside the Couch
Don’t just think in terms of furniture when you’re looking to install some wood–it can be used for all sorts of purposes. In this photo the decorator has used a reclaimed wooden beam to hang bare bulbs, rendering a really creative urban chandelier. And lights aren’t the only things you can hang from wood. Curtains, art, scarves–whatever you think will go with your motif.
Wood is not the only material that can be reclaimed! Metal is also pretty common in the recycled furniture market. Metal rusts, however, so it can look a little grungier than the warm, homey vibe of wood. It may fit better into an modern or urban loft vibe, rather than a more traditional house.
Odds and Ends
There is really no end to what can be repurposed to the task of upping your design aesthetic. And you don’t have to stop at support beams and furniture! Bottles, emptied cans, old vases, and vintage boxes are all great reusable items. I keep my jewelry in several old tin tea boxes that I found at an estate sale.
Whether you’re looking for a way to dress down your decor, or just trying to edge your lifestyle over to the more green side of things, using recycled materials is a great place to start. Using wood, metal, or just everyday objects makes for a fresh, creative, welcoming space.