Posted on Leave a comment

Warming Up a White Kitchen with Wood Flooring

Looking for a modern kitchen that’s also cozy ? Consider adding wood flooring.  For a primer on how to warm up an industrial space with warm wood tones, check out this white kitchen in Boston’s South End.  The cooler elements (white brick, white macaubus quartzite, white cabinets) juxtapose with the warm variegation of the Hickory wide plank floors, upping the cozy factor. The copper faucet and pot rail add another warm element.

The homeowners chose the Hickory wood floor because its character and color added a rustic element to their space. They also wanted a durable wood that would hold up well for their family, which includes two dogs. Photo by Matt Delphenich Architectural Photography.

Chris Greenawalt of Bunker Workshop in Charlestown, MA, transformed  the space’s quirks, including an old pizza oven and a triangular shaped alcove, into functional shelving (made from leftover hickory flooring) and extra storage space. With no upper cabinets, the space is open and filled with natural light.

Warming up a white kitchen with a variegated wood floor.
 American Hickory wood flooring with grain and color variation contrasts beautifully with the white elements, adding warmth and life. Photo by Matt Delphenich Architectural Photography.

The homeowners used Hickory flooring throughout to add a warm lived-in feel to an otherwise industrial and modern space and help pull the look together. The warm toned wood continues up the stairs with modern square edge and square ended Hickory treads and risers laid over white painted wood. The high color contrast between the light sapwood and the darker heartwood in the Hickory flooring and stairs adds texture and warmth–like a cozy blanket–preventing the space from feeling stark.

Hickory stair treads and risers with square edges and ends.
Hickory stair treads and risers with square edges and ends make a decidedly modern profile. Applied over a white background, they draw the eye up. Photo by Matt Delphenich Architectural Photography.

The original stairway in the home was traditional, and the homeowners wanted to modernize it, but due to building codes, they could not change the footprint of the original steps. Together with their c0ntractor, Michel Beaudry, and their architect, Bunker Workshop, they devised a zig-zag pattern that ensured each tread was the same size as it had been previously,  but with a modern line and no overhanging nosing. Hull Forest Products custom milled the Hickory treads and risers to their specifications.

The homeowners wanted to source their floors locally, which led to their decision to choose Hull Forest Products, the largest sawmill in the greater Boston area, and a producer of custom-milled wide plank floors and stairs from local wood.  “We absolutely love our floors,” say the homeowners, who completed their home renovation in 2014. “Their character is one of the favorite characteristics of our home.”

The wood flooring and stair parts shown in the photos above are Hull Forest Products’s natural grade Hickory, with knots and color variation, finished with a water based poly. No stain was used. Some of the knots were defected out by the installer to create a cleaner look that is closer to a premium rather than a natural grade floor.

This apartment has been featured in The Boston Globe, Apartment Therapy, and The Anatomy of Design.

Posted on Leave a comment

Hickory Wide Plank Floors

Warming up a white kitchen with a variegated wood floor.
Figure 1: Hickory wide plank flooring is renowned for its resilience and beauty. Note the color variation, which is typical of Hickory and which is at home in either a modern or a rustic interior.  

Hickory. Carya.

It’s hard to imagine a wood floor that conjures up the image of the American frontier more than wide plank Hickory, which has a distinguished American pedigree. Hickory trees are found throughout eastern North America, and “Hickory” is one of the few extant Algonquin words.  Along with moccasin,  tomahawk, and hominy, the word pawcohiccora, from which hickory derives, was among those recorded by the explorer John Smith in Virginia circa 1608. This word survived because the wood and mast of the Hickory tree were extremely important to both the Powhatan and the early English settlers.

The Hickory nut was a significant Algonquin foodstuff; pounded and mixed with water, it made pawcohiccora, or hickory milk, a  nutritious butter-like substance so prized that a quart of hickory milk was the barter equivalent of twenty pounds of pork.

Recognizing Hickory’s strength, Native Americans used its wood for their bows.  European settlers used Hickory to make wooden wheels, wagon axles, plows, and tool handles. Parents inflicting corporal punishment selected hickory switches because they did not break easily (ouch). Because of its high energy content, Hickory was also a favored fuelwood, used for firewood, charcoal production, and for smoking meats.

Hickory’s toughness was so legendary in early America that the word hickory became synonymous with “strength”: a hard-wearing twill cloth was known as “hickory cloth”, and General Andrew Jackson was dubbed “Old Hickory” by his troops when he demonstrated his toughness on the battlefield.

This California retreat's bunkhouse-style bedroom needed a wood floor that could accommodate heavy foot traffic, so the homeowners chose wide plank Hickory flooring.
This California retreat’s bunkhouse-style bedroom needed a wood floor that could accommodate heavy foot traffic, so the homeowners chose Hickory.

Hickory is the only wood with the quintuple attributes of toughness, stiffness, denseness, shock resistance, and hardness.  Because of these attributes, Hickory’s more modern uses have included flooring, furniture, tool handles, golf club shafts, ski bottoms, lacrosse sticks, ladder rungs, drumsticks, and other demanding applications.

Hickory floors are a perennial best seller at our sawmill; here at Hull Forest Products we utilize Hickory species native to the Northeast to make our wide plank Hickory flooring in grades from clear to character. Our Hickory floors are tough and impact resistant, and we recommend Hickory for kitchens and other high traffic areas.  If you have little tolerance for dings and dents, a Hickory floor may be a good choice for you.

The striking color variation in Hickory can be played up with a clear finish (see figure 1 above) or the color difference can be minimized with a brown or darker colored stain (see figure 2 below).

Hickory wide plank flooring, natural grade.
Figure 2: This natural grade wide plank American Hickory floor has lots of knots and character markings, and it has been stained a brown hue to minimize the color variation natural to Hickory.

In Figure 2 the floor has been stained brown to make the color more consistent.  This gives the floor a very different appearance from the floor in Figure 1, which shows the striated light and dark color variation typical of Hickory wood.

Hickory wide plank character grade floor.
Figure 3: Hickory wood flooring in the natural grade has the most knots and character markings of all our Hickory floors and it is popular with our log and timber frame home customers. The floor shown has a clear oil-based poly finish.

Many of our log and timber frame home customers choose Hickory because they appreciate the wood’s color variation, and these customers also tend to prefer natural grade Hickory for its character markings (see figure 3), sometimes opting for a skip planed surface to add to the rusticity.

As you can see, Hickory wood floors look different depending on your choice of grade and stain/finish, and Hickory is a wood equally at home in a traditional or a modern setting. American Hickory wide plank flooring is at once a utilitarian and an attractive wood flooring choice.

To see more photos of wide plank Hickory floors as well as other species of hardwood floors, visit us online at hullforest.com.