Wood interior design: considerations and design ideas for your next project

Wood is not only an important material used structurally in architecture, but also a timeless element to feature in interior design. Few materials are as versatile and adaptable, making aspects of wood interior design present in everything from rustic, country homes right up to the most modern, artistic of spaces. Wood is able to catch a certain organic warmth that is difficult to replicate otherwise.

When it comes down to wood interior design, there are a few important factors to keep in mind during the material or furnishing selection process.

Goal for the interior style

wood interior design ideas (University of Southern Denmark, by Henning Larsen Architects, photo by Jiri Havran)

Firstly, in order to put together an attractive interior that flows together there must be some goal for the overall style of the space. Examples of common interior design styles include:

  • Industrial - Often characterized by a mature, rugged vintage appearance. Darker, antique aesthetics are most popular for this style. Rich tones and distressed elements work perfectly here. Can also be changed to a Bohemian or Shabby Chic style.
  • Farmhouse - This style is best described as a modern rustic theme. This style is light, with white and beiges being popular as a color foundation. Distressed elements are common, but tend to focus on lightness over deepness. Can easily change to a Nautical look with added decor.
  • Urban Modern - Synonymous with the modern design of high-end urban lofts. This style combines minimalism and edgy chic for a very glamorous look. Overall sleekness is important, with added decor serving as a way of adding a personal touch.
  • Mid-Century Modern - Another common look that became most popular during the '30s to 60's, yet remains sought after today. Consists of a classic, clean look focusing mostly on functionality. Sleek lines as well as a mix of organic and geometric shapes are included (with the above picture as an example). 

There are certainly a wide-variety of different interior styles, with the above 4 examples just some of the more common choices. Once you have an idea of the style of your space you will be better able to select the right wood pieces and furnishings to compliment the room rather than detract from an otherwise cohesive look. 

Color scheme of the space

With style aside, the next consideration is the color scheme of the interior. If there is already a color scheme present you must match your selected wood furnishings or cladding to match. Too dark of a color can overpower the rest of the room, throwing off the entire look. Going with too light of a wood can make a bold color scheme look weak.

wood interior design for homes (By Homes N All, photo by Markus Photography)

The above kitchen interior is a perfect example of how the right color/tone of wood can really bring the entire room together. This kitchen already consisted of creamy walls and beautiful white hanging pendant lights. The addition of a wood floor meant that a similar but slightly lighter color of wood would be most appropriate for the island and additional cladding touches.

A good rule of thumb is if you wish for the room to be open, airy and light, stick with natural lightly stained woods. If you wish for some depth and drama, consider a darker stained wood to function as a statement.

(Kebony Coffee Bar, by Hoi Chi Ng, photo by Tommaso Sartori)

When working on an interior with appliances, such as a kitchen or bar top, you will also need to keep in mind what appliances and hardware are present. In the above example the designer paired a beautiful, wood countertop with three dimensional siding. The combination of these textures, both smooth and rigid give the bar top a warm, inviting feeling. 

Custom wood furnishings

Wood is an excellent material choice for custom furnishings of all types. It is an effective way of bringing personality into a space and putting the final touch on your interior design.

(Vestre Furniture “Go April”, by Vestre)

This pair of custom made furniture is an excellent example of how wood not only works with mixed media furniture, but also can be wonderfully simplistic. This bench and chair can easily be at home in a modern-contemporary interior. The wood is a very neutral tone and the use of light stainless steel makes this set adaptable to essentially any industrial or modern style.

(Bespoke Kebony Shelves, by Edward Collinson Design)

Practical furnishings don't have to be boring. Wooden shelves are common, but as you can see in the above photo, they can be very visually pleasing. These Kebony shelves are a rich tone, nearly mimicking mahogany in appearance. The straight lines and gentle curve of the shelf brackets make this style of shelf work in essentially any type of interior design. It particularly stands out on this wall as the deep wood against white tile is very complimentary.

Wood as alternative wall coverings

Wood is already a go-to material for exterior siding/cladding, but consider bringing this idea indoors. Wood covered walls are more versatile than many think and are not at all limited to rustic-themed interiors.

(Waldorf School, by LINK Arkitektur, photo by Jiri Havran)

This vibrant yet cozy interior features beautiful wood clad walls and modern spherical lights. This interior is very reminiscent of a ski resort or vacation cabin, looking much more upscale than a wood siding you may find in a cottage-like settings. The use of wood with high-character (i.e. strong grain and natural knots) adds visual interest while the vertical board placement makes this room seem very tall and open. 

(By Wall Wonders)

On the opposite end of the spectrum is this minimalistic slatted design, which could be equally useful in residential or commercial interiors. This deeper toned wood and use of thin boards nearly has a natural Asian theme to it. The surrounding white walls and ceiling along with a dark tile floor match work perfectly with this choice of wood clad wall.

Wood is equally at home in the interior of a building as it is on the exterior. If the interior you're designing seems to cold or clinical or simply lacks visual interest, touches of wood or even an entire wood covered wall could be the perfect solution. 

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