Given that so many adjectives – beautiful, warm, ageless, and tactile, to name a few – are so often used to describe timber, it’s no surprise that timber kitchens are on trend right now. In fact, it’s no surprise that they have never really lost their appeal.
Those who own a wooden kitchen – or simply timber kitchen cabinets – are no doubt used to complements about how ‘earthy’ and ‘calming’ they are, but there is more to their popularity than that. Whether they feature jarrah, oak, recycled wood or timber-look laminates, timber kitchens are also functional and durable.
And, importantly, they are not particularly expensive. In these terms, compared to designs relying on other materials, modern timber kitchen designs tend to be about mid-range. A timber kitchen benchtop, for example, tends to cost about half the price of one made of quartz or engineered stone, though more than a laminate alternative.
What’s on trend in timber kitchens?
As Scarlet Opus notes, an explanation for timber’s appeal can be found in the Japanese Wabi Sabi philosophy and the concept of finding beauty in imperfection. Whether its on solid wood kitchen cabinets or a floor or ceiling, the warmth, texture and comfort of wooden kitchens derives from this concept.
While a timber kitchen designs can include wood anywhere from its floors, windows, or doors to the furniture, timber kitchen cabinets and ceiling, they tend to not include the material everywhere. Restraint is key, as is contrast. Thus, we have the concept of the white and timber kitchen in which timber adds life to an otherwise white design.
Similarly, timber kitchen benchtops may complement a largely grey black or navy pallet, or a designer specifying a stone tile floor may decide to increase wooden kitchen cabinets to strike the right balance.
This wooden kitchen trend applies across the board. Regardless of design style, it is not difficult to find numerous examples of timber kitchen designs featuring timber kitchen cupboards, floors, ceilings or benchtops.
What types of wood are used in a modern timber kitchen?
The short answer is many. Choosing which suits a given project comes down to the application, design, cost and taste. In terms of Native Australian species these include, but are not limited to: Tasmanian oak, Victorian Ash, Blackbutt, Spotted Gum, Brushbox, Blackwood, Jarrah, Ironbark, Red Ironbark, and Tallowood.
Some of the non-native timber species found in Australian timber kitchens include: Birch, Ash, Walnut, European Oak, American Oak, European Beech, and Bamboo.
On top of that, there are several melamine and laminate products available that achieve a realistic timber look and feel.
How difficult is a wooden kitchen to maintain?
Because it is an organic product, care must be taken to ensure timber kitchen designs are practical. Whether the fitting in question is a plywood benchtop, flooring or timber kitchen cabinets, it is important to choose a suitable wood and it is also important to maintain it correctly.
A timber kitchen benchtop is more likely to scratch, stain or chip than most other typical kitchen surfaces. To minimise these occurrences it can be finished, prior to installation, with a durable varnish or polyurethane coating. Depending on its condition, it only needs to be resurfaced about every two years.
Alternatively, those who have a timber kitchen benchtop with a natural matte finish should treat it with an oil coating once a year.
In terms of day-to-day use, it is also a good idea to deal with spillages as soon as they occur and to avoid placing very hot items (out of the oven) directly onto the wooden surface. Here the use of chopping boards or similar is the obvious solution.
In the case of timber veneers, it’s important to ensure the kitchen is well ventilated and/or has an adequate extraction fan. Otherwise, the glue attaching the veneer can fail more quickly than expected.
In terms of timber flooring, there is a choice between using an oil-based finish coating or solvent-based coatings of polyurethane. While the latter will last longer, the good thing about oil-based finish coatings is that they can be patched whenever necessary. If there is a scuff or scratch, dealing with just that patch is not a problem. Apart from, the floor will need to be completely recoated every three to seven years.
Timber kitchen design ideas
Regardless of whether the materials and furniture are sourced from ikea or any other supply, there are countless wooden kitchen ideas to be inspired by. Here are some examples.
1) White and timber kitchen
The addition of timber to an otherwise predominantly white kitchen adds warmth and earthiness to the overall design. In this example, the contrast between the different timbers on the floor and the upper cabinets strikes just the right balance.
2) The Industrial Kitchen
Timber softens materials, like concrete, steel and tiles, which are typically used in industrial kitchens. In this example, the stylish dark hardwood floors lend a touch of elegance to the overall design, and contrast nicely to the softer hues of the timber cabinetry.
3) The Hamptons Kitchen
Striking the balance between elegance with casual summer living that the Hamptons style epitomises, timber proves the ideal choice for this contemporary design.
4) The Shaker Style Kitchen
This timber kitchen benchtop with natural wood-stain finish is the perfect partner for the Shaker style free-standing unit, with its clean and minimalist style. Together they provide a familiar traditional look.
5) Rustic Timber Kitchen
Repurposing is the order of the day in this country kitchen. Apart from the island bench, which is clearly from another era, the light fittings have been salvaged and recycled from some old farm machinery. And, once again, the timber is contrasted with the dominant white walls and shelving.
6) Light vs. dark
In this example, the choice of a polished dark hardwood floor contrasts nicely with the light walls and cabinets.
7) Scandi Kitchen
Scandi kitchens are all about style, the absence of clutter, and the cool colours of the Scandinavian landscape. The use of timber in this example becomes a marriage of nature and modern practicality.