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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.

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Choosing A Wide Plank Wood Floor For Your Kitchen

Long plank Red Oak floors emphasize the wide open space of this Soho loft kitchen.
Figure 1: Light toned Red Oak flooring provides a pleasing contrast to the shiny dark cabinets in this Manhattan loft kitchen. The long plank lengths of this floor are especially well suited to the wide open spaces of the loft. (Hull Forest Products red oak wide plank floor #302)

Thinking about installing a wide plank wood floor in your kitchen? You’re not alone. Adding wood flooring is one of the most popular kitchen upgrades.  And homeowners adding wood flooring are likely to see a return on their investment. According to the National Association of Realtors, homes with real wood floors are easier to sell, sell faster, and sell for more money than homes without them.

Wood Floors Establish A Tone

Wood adds warmth and interest to a kitchen like no other floor covering can. Because floors are generally the largest visible canvas in your kitchen, they set the backdrop for your furnishings and the tone for the space. Wood floors connote quality and craftsmanship, and wide plank floors can be used to convey a sense of luxury or history. (Retailers know that customers associate wood floors with quality, so they will often upgrade stores by installing wood flooring in key areas.) Installing wood flooring in your kitchen immediately raises its profile.

Since durability is especially important in high-traffic areas like kitchens, we recommend the use of harder woods such as red oak, white oak, hard maple, hickory, and ash wherever wear is a concern. But some folks find wear charming and they want a wood floor that will develop a patina more quickly.  It really depends on your tolerance for dings, dents, and wear. In an old house you may want to choose a floor that looks like it belongs there, such as the wide pine kitchen floor shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: The homeowners chose wide plank pine flooring for their kitchen (Hull floor #418) for a period look and utilized an oil finish that would be easy to touch up and repair.
Figure 2: The homeowners chose wide plank pine flooring (Hull floor #418) for a period look and utilized an oil finish that would be easy to touch up and repair.

Try to pick a wide plank wood floor that will make your kitchen look its best. Love an all-white kitchen but don’t want it to look sterile? Use a warm toned wood floor to inject color and life  into an all-white kitchen.

Reddish toned American Cherry wide plank wood floors from Hull Forest Products
Figure 3: The homeowners used our warm and naturally reddish toned American Cherry wood floors to add color and life to their all white kitchen, making it a very inviting space that is anything but sterile. (Hull Forest Products American Cherry wide plank floor #616)

Choosing a contrasting tone floor is one way to go, as shown in figures 1 and 3.  On the other hand, if you love the wood tone of your kitchen cabinetry and want to build on that color, consider choosing a similar wood tone for your floor.

White Oak floors same tone as the wood in the cabinets of this kitchen.
Figure 4: These homeowners chose to coordinate the tone of their cabinets and wood floor. (White Oak select wide plank floor #231 from Hull Forest Products.) The matching cabinets and floor really put the emphasis on the red of the stove, the dark countertop, and the white of the ceiling paneling.

You can also add interest and character to your kitchen with rustic or figured wide plank wood floors.  The owners of the New England kitchen shown in Figure 5 chose natural grade Ash wood flooring  for its durability as well as for its character markings and color variation–then they stained the floor to emphasize the open grain and achieve a darker tone that suited their tastes.  The result was a kitchen wood floor with character that  has proved to be one of our most popular wood floors.

wide plank ash kitchen floor from Hull Forest Products
Figure 5: Rustic grade Ash wide plank flooring with an ebony stain adds a cottage vibe to this coastal kitchen, contrasting nicely with the stainless appliances.

Looking to contrast darker cabinetry and finishes with a lighter colored wood floor? Check out the pale White Oak kitchen floor shown in Figure 6.  The homeowners chose a lighter tone floor to contrast with their cabinetry and trim and went with all five inch planks rather than random widths in order to emphasize the contemporary design of their home.

Figure 6: Light colored select grade White Oak (Hull wide plank floor #211) with five inch plank widths, finished with a water-based poly. The floors provide a pleasing contrast to the kitchen's darker cabinetry.
Figure 6: Light colored select grade White Oak (Hull wide plank floor #211) with five inch plank widths, finished with a water-based poly. The floors provide a pleasing contrast to the kitchen’s darker cabinetry.

In case you need more reasons to choose a wide plank wood floor for your kitchen, don’t forget that wood floors have an exceptionally long service life, which makes them an attractive investment. Solid wood floors have a service life of 100+ years, and they can be sanded and refinished many times as homeowner tastes change. And that’s just one advantage.

Environmental Advantages of Wood Floors

Wood is a renewable and eco-friendly building and finish material. Solid wood floors require less energy to produce than any other type of floor covering, and they hold up to the scrutiny of life cycle analysis. Choosing responsibly sourced wood floors helps conserve working forests, which provide ecological benefits in the form of enhanced air and water quality, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration. Learn more about what makes wood good.

Need more inspiration for your kitchen floor? Check out our wood flooring galleries, our pinterest board on kitchen wood floors and our  houzz profile.

Contact us by email or phone 1-800-928-9602 or visit the wide plank flooring showroom at our sawmill in Connecticut.