Home Design Trends That Put Wood Front and Center

Two years into the pandemic, homeowners are looking to return to their roots. For home design trends in 2022, that means a pivot away from the cooler, white-on-white décor of years past to warmer living spaces accented with wood tones that help residents relax and reconnect with nature, especially as families continue to spend time indoors.

“Life has become incredibly complicated, and homeowners are insisting that ‘at home’ means a return to simplicity,” says Curtis Wasmer, the founder of Built on the Rock Driftwood Decor located in Nashville, Tennessee. “Now, warm, easy-care, and no-fuss spaces and furnishings are the go-to choices.”

To Wasmer, the natural choice to achieve that streamlined aesthetic is wood. “Wood has the innate ability to bring us closer to nature—a coveted feeling that incorporates both warmth and simplicity,” Wasmer says. “Introducing wood pieces, regardless of the overall decor theme—rustic, industrial, or even contemporary—adds color, texture, and a natural feel that cannot otherwise be achieved.”

Indeed, some of the top home design trends this year include features that incorporate biophilic design, sustainability, and reuse. Tastemakers say natural materials are becoming popular again, which means wood elements and finishes are being used in surprising places—beyond just floors, great rooms, and living spaces.

Continue reading for ways to keep your clients’ homes current while leaning on wood’s restorative nature to give them the calm and peace they’re seeking today.

On the Counter and Cabinets

Natural wood finished have returned to the kitchen, says Lizzy Antonik, lead designer at custom residential contractor Oak Development & Design in Hingham, Massachusetts. This trend brings more biophilia to a space often dominated by steel and stone.

“We are using and seeing a lot of wood in the kitchen, specifically cabinetry,” Antonik says. “There has been a huge shift from the all-white kitchen by using natural wood to warm up a space. Even mixing wood with painted cabinetry can give a homeowner the best of both worlds without fully committing in either direction.”

Cedar and pine cabinetry are two cabinet choices that can help achieve a rustic, knotty aesthetic. Some home professionals note that wood can even be incorporated over the stove, where it is used as a skin on venting systems above the cooking area.

“We’re seeing a lot of wood being used for range hoods,” says Amanda Oninski, an interior designer at Madison, Wisconsin-based design studio FLOOR360 who has also worked on projects that incorporate wood into bathroom ceilings, as built-in floating shelves above kitchen sinks, on kitchen islands, and as accent walls. Wood features are showing up in other ancillary spaces as well.

“We have been using and seeing more and more built-ins done in wood—both shelving and breakfast nooks, or mudroom benches,” notes Antonik

wood kitchen design with large window

On the Ceiling

Exposed wood ceilings are another emerging design element that contractors and designers are employing to achieve a sense of calm and relaxation.

“Among this year’s top design trends is the wood ceiling,” says Eugene Colberg, principal of Colberg Architecture in Brooklyn, New York. “Not only does it look beautiful, it’s a good way of bringing a different scale and natural material into one’s home in an unexpected way.”

One of those unexpected elements is the unique, one-of-a-kind pattern inherent to the individual grain of every wooden board, particularly those that are reclaimed or reused. “The pattern of the wood grain has its own scale and properties, so no two rooms are the same,” Colberg says. “It can make a space feel homey and it offers a connection to nature”.

wood dining room with large windows

Not only do wood ceilings bring beauty to a space, but they can provide flexibility and functionality as well. “Wood slats on the ceiling have great potential. They provide acoustic benefits, a unique, natural look, and the flexibility to allow for integrated lighting and installing systems behind the slats,” Colberg says.

“This can be a great strategy for creating beautiful, custom interior ceilings.” In addition to the signature slats of tongue-and-groove ceilings, other structural or decorative ceiling elements also stand out, including planks and rough-hewn finishes.

“We have been using and seeing more and more built-ins done in wood—both shelving and breakfast nooks, or mudroom benches,” notes Antonik

interior design with wood elements