Looking to turn mundane into fresh and contemporary? Take your lead from design consultant Wendy Silverstein, and her New York crew of design influencers. The go-to material in their projects is all natural American Hardwood, in plentiful supply and simply gorgeous! Here’s their ‘inside scoop’ on white oak, cherry and ash.
Gachot Studios (gachotstudios.com)
“Located in a late-19th-century brick building, a 2,500-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom loft belongs to a fortysomething single businessman for whom Gachot has designed a decidedly grown-up bachelor pad. The renovated apartment is sleek and modern, but also cozy and inviting, an expert blend of warm textiles, subtle colors, and natural wood finishes—notably American white oak, which is used for all the cabinetry, millwork, and flooring. Set against the predominantly white walls, the honey-color wood, complementary brass accents, and classic midcentury modern furniture give the airy spaces an impeccably tailored but unstuffy look.
Crisp Architects (www.crisparchitects.com)
As part of the renovation of a 19th-century house in Bridgeport, CT, Crisp Architects installed a splendid wet bar in a kitchen corner next to the dining room. The gorgeous woodwork is cherry finished with a hand-brushed clear stain, and the countertop … is a quartzite called Fantasy Brown with a leather finish. Even though the ceiling slopes, a single cabinet height is maintained here and throughout the kitchen, creating a sense of unity that cabinets of different heights would spoil.
Desai Chia Architecture (www.desaichia.com)
American hardwoods often play an outsize role in projects by Desai Chia Architecture, a New York firm led by the husband-and-wife team of Arjun Desai and Katherine Chia. A lakeside vacation retreat in Leelanau County, Michigan, designed in collaboration with Environment Architects (AOR) in 2016, is a good example of their masterly use of hardwood—in this case, ash.
The 60-acre site was thickly wooded, but most of the ash trees were dying, infected with the invasive emerald ash borer beetle. More than 100 of the plague-ridden trees had to be cleared for construction, but the architects were able to reclaim 40 of them for use in the home’s interior.
Everything from the flooring, ceiling beams and panels, cabinetry, trim work, and custom pieces of furniture are made from what had seemed unusable timber. The light, golden tone of the ash wood creates spaces that feel bright, airy, and welcoming.”
Gachot Studios Architecture Photo:Brittany Ambridge for NY Times
Crisp Architects Photo: Rob Karosis
Desai Chia Architecture Photo: Ike Edeani
Wendy Silverstein, a consultant to the design industry and a former editor at Architectural Digest, Home, Kitchen & Bath Customer Planner, and Home/Style magazines, is a regular content contributor to the American Hardwood Information Center. Visit www.HardwoodInfo.com for more of her work.