According to the Merriam-Webster online, the definition of au naturel is,
“in a natural state : without anything added.”
There is certainly a growing trend of getting back to the basics with organic food, homeopathic remedies, and the questionable popularity of kale chips. 🙂
The Au Naturel trend has bled over into interior design as well. The Industrial Chic / Restoration Hardware look is in with wood as a staple and reclaimed lumber being the thing to do. What does that mean for the 1990’s push for stained oak and the Tuscan revival of the 2000’s? It means there’s a new look in town.
There is so much beauty in nature and some hardwoods need minimal help to look amazing. One of my favorites is Walnut. There is so much contrast between the dark and light tones with a randomness in the wood’s character that only years of growth could produce.
There is a history hidden in each of the wood rings and the years of growth required to write this story. With the popularity of old floors rising, you write the tree’s sequel with the saw marks that crafted the raw lumber into something purposeful. Going Au Naturel brings this story front and center.
So what are the ways you can enjoy the unscathed beauty of a tree in your next project?
Some Species Should Bare All
Maple, Walnut, Hickory are gorgeous on their own with distinct coloring, grain patterns, and character. Homeowners have been taking alternate routes from the oak path, so embrace these other hard woods and let their beauty shine.
Keep It Rough
Reclaimed and old floors are very popular. Wire brushing is also a great technique that adds a little roughness and also brings out the grain. There are also many pre-finished lines that have wire brushing and knots that have just enough roughness to give you that well worn look.
Oil vs. Water
Your floor will need to be sealed with finish. Oil based finishes usually have an amber or yellow tone to them. Deep tone sealer may be something to also use to bring out the character in your wood with just a tiny bit of ambering, but not so much that you loose the natural coloring of the wood.
Very old floors didn’t necessarily have a lot of finish going on. Some floors only had the wear of foot traffic and scrubbing to polish them up, or at times a wax finish. Using a matte finish will seal your floor but still give it that old look.
Always a Winner
If you’re using wood, you’re a winner with your flooring project, well, that is just my opinion. However there is a special beauty that can only be found when you keep things au naturel.