From floor to ceiling, old pine and cypress make this cozy cooking space one of the most attractive rooms in the house.
Enrich Your Kitchen With Wood
Credit: Sylvia Martin / styling Lisa Allison

Forget its rough, solid demeanor--wood brings coziness to any room, including the kitchen. With the abundance of cabinets and other built-ins found in cooking spaces, wooden features make a great choice for enhancing walls, ceilings, and surfaces.

Bring in the Outdoors
This Baton Rouge, Louisiana, kitchen pulls out all the stops with earthy materials. Old pine cabinets and a matching, storage-savvy island would make any woodworker drool. The cabinetry's light stain allows the wood's grain to shine through.

For extra brightness, three large windows above the sink illuminate the subdued surfaces. "The kitchen reinforces a relaxed, natural feel found throughout this home," says architect Cynthia Stewart. "Ample windows, as well as French doors in other rooms, establish a strong bond between the outdoors and interiors."

Warm Colors, Rich Details
Cynthia and homeowner Wilfred Barry also made sure this kitchen reflects South Louisiana's architectural heritage by specifying a framework of exposed cypress beams. Instead of brick floors, stained and scored concrete warms the space with caramel color. Above the cooktop, a copper hood adds another nature-inspired element to the mix. Completing the scene, highly polished granite countertops cover the base cabinetry and island.

Which Woods Work for You?

Light woods: To make a small kitchen appear larger, consider pale yellow and tan woods.

  • Oak: strong hardwood that resists wear and tear
  • Maple: uniform color with a tighter grain than oak
  • Pine (Southern Yellow): inexpensive wood with a bold grain pattern; accepts stains and paints very well
  • Ash: used in curved cabinets because it bends easily; good to stain

Medium woods: Casting a pinkish, light brown, or tan hue, these woods bring warmth to a room.

  • Beech: fine, even texture with straight, sometimes interlocking grain
  • Cherry: reddish-brown; expensive

Dark woods: From medium brown to black, these woods make a statement.

  • Butternut: straight-grained with a satiny luster; stains well
  • Mahogany: high-priced with a variety of grain patterns
  • Walnut: sought for high-end paneling and cabinetry; has a straight grain and uniform texture

Quick Color Tip: When in doubt, choose a lighter wood such as oak or maple. It's much easier to darken lighter woods than to make dark woods lighter.

Pages 116-117: Architecture by Cynthia M. Stewart, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, (225) 767-4926; interior design by Dixon Smith Interiors, contact Dixon Smith or Jim Smith, Baton Rouge, (225) 927-4261.

"Which Wood Works for Your Kitchen? (Enrich Your Kitchen With Wood)" is from the March 2006 issue of Southern Living.