Tag Archives: Warmth

Reclaimed Wooden Beams

Reclaimed Wooden Beams

We often discuss the importance of developing a storyline when creating or re-imagining a historic home. Doing so provides a creative script for our design team (and our clients) and helps us communicate the romance, character, and stories of that home. One way we bring that script to life is by introducing authentic architectural elements such as reclaimed wooden beams into our home designs. These beams provide a direct connection with the past while telling a wonderful story of their own.

The wooden beams in this master study date back to 1682.

Reclaimed wooden beams are just that – beams claimed from a previous lifetime. Most reclaimed wood is salvaged from centuries-old barns or homes where it underwent years of extensive weathering. The original timber had to carry the weight of structures built by settlers developing our farming industry hundreds of years ago. Many of these felled trees were already 200-300 years old – but considered “virgin growth” because they had never been cut before. Today, many trees are genetically augmented to grow more quickly, but at that time, trees grew at slower pace creating tighter growth rings and a denser consistency, which enhanced the overall markings and character.

The three most common types of reclaimed wooden beams are hand-hewn, rough sawn, and re-sawn beams. These styles serve varying design rolls and are differentiated by the process used to square the wood. Before the mid-1800s, sawmills were uncommon in rural areas, so hand-hewn beams (the most labor intensive) were cut and shaped by the blows of an axe. Hand-hewn beams often display unique tool markings within the wood, and because of their rich authenticity, we often use them to add rustic character when re-imagining historic homes.

Here, the beams picture frame the ceiling shape to provide a structured appearance. The flat stock bordering the rough sawn timber lends a more tailored look.

With the rise of machinery, saws eventually replaced the work of axes, and beams were cut and shaped with large, circular blades. Reclaimed rough sawn beams often display the original teeth marks from the blade, and, like hand-hewn beams, they are historically desirable in classic restoration. Lastly, reclaimed re-sawn wood beams provide a more finished design option; having been deliberately shaped over the years to show fewer markings, they offer a more refined look.

In this kitchen, the reclaimed antique beam is inserted to the underside of a cased beam to give the ceiling more vertical depth.

Centuries ago, wooden beams were strictly used for structural support within a building. Today, we introduce them as an architectural detail that adds age and patina to a space. They can picture frame the shape of the ceiling, giving it a more structured appearance while adding rhythm and scale that might otherwise not exist. While they work particularly well in dens, studies, and kitchens reclaimed beams can also add warmth and history to bedrooms and transitional spaces.

This master bedroom’s antique-wooden beams add to the rustic theme of this reimagined fisherman’s home.

When creating a storyline, we imagine how certain parts of a home were added on to or reconfigured as families grew over generations. For example, when designing a particular home on Martha’s Vineyard, our script said that, in the early 1800s, the midshipman’s barn was carefully attached to the original 1790’s main house. When re-imagining that space from a barn into a family room, we introduced a trussed ceiling using reclaimed beams to provide an authentic structural appearance while adding texture and character into the space.

In the barn vernacular, the space allows for a trussed ceiling that appears more structural than decorative.

Reclaimed wooden beams represent an important design element that directly connects us with the past by infusing a space with warmth and history. The character and imperfections of the wood provide us with tangible, visual hints of years gone by, reminding us of the craftsmanship, romance, and stories the beams could tell if they were able.

Romance in Architecture

Romance in Architecture

From Courtships to Courtyards

Today is Valentine’s Day – a date that many celebrate romance and love. The tradition began in the 14th century and flourished throughout the years until in the 18th century lovers began exchanging gifts such as flowers to proclaim their courtship.

Here we will recognize the day of love by sharing some romantic elements in architecture. Design, both inside and outside of the home, can articulate a distinct and timeless feeling of romance.

A home’s arrival sequence is the first opportunity to introduce a romantic tone. Grand, curving covered archways (porte-cochère), intimate portals and pergolas provide an appealing start to a sequence of encounters – and elicit a feeling of anticipation for what is to come. Traversing down a tree-lined, grass strip allée accented with beautiful plantings can frame and enhance the experience, while visual moments such as gardens or elements of surprise can add to the romantic sensibility.

While the approach is an important introduction, other exterior elements can play a meaningful roll in creating romance. A gambrel roof form, charming window boxes or a beautiful wrap around porch all create memorable architectural moments. Lighting is another way to add exterior romance to a home: A warm, layered glow can radiate romance throughout the property with a flick of a switch.

Of course, the inside of a home can exude meaningful of romance as well. These impressions come in varying forms – from arched openings to reclaimed beams to coffered ceilings, to name a few. Sometimes, romance comes in the form of rich wood paneling or a wainscoting. Other times, it can be the intimate design of a sitting area, or a window seat with a stunning view.

The essence of romance can also be a personal experience such as a hidden garden, an intimate dressing or bathroom – or even a private view. As they say, love and romance is in the eye of the beholder. For some, it may be the alluring curve of a Palladian window; for others, a Romeo and Juliet balcony.

Here’s to romance, in all of its many (architectural) shapes and forms. Happy Valentine’s Day!

See more romantic images on our pinterest page here.