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How To Warm Up Your Home With Natural Choices

Interior design continues to evolve rapidly. But it's not just going in one direction - it's branching out in new ways and giving homeowners fodder for ideas about how they can turn their existing house into their dream home. There is something for every taste, too, as different design concepts become more fully developed, catering to all people and all styles of homes.

The wide variety of options that homeowners have means that they need to keep focused on a specific design goal. Exposed ductwork or industrial-looking concrete floors won't work in some houses, while antler chandeliers or tufted chaises won't work in others. There are a few elements that can be mixed and matched across styles, but the inclusion of organic materials, particularly wood like Western Red Cedar, for interior design works for all styles of homes.

Today, more homeowners are improving and renovating their homes - updating both the decor and the functional elements - rather than taking on the challenge of selling and buying in the current market. Many of them are also using and developing their own skills, when it comes to both design and bringing their ideas to life. And as winter closes in, do-it-yourselfers are looking for low-cost, high-impact projects that will make their homes feel updated and more inviting.

Figuratively, bringing the outdoors in can have a warming effect on your home. Look to nature for inspiration on everything from color to materials to elements that reflect the landscape that surrounds your home.

"Modern technology allows us to blur the lines between indoors and outdoors," says Ray Johnston, an architect with Johnston Architects in the Pacific Northwest. "To enhance this blending, exterior materials can extend through windows to inside walls. This treatment welcomes the outdoors in and has the effect of expanding space.  At the same time, the rich color and texture of a natural material, like a warm wood, adds great character and depth to an interior space."

Minor structural additions and interior treatments add appeal to a stagnant room. Also new, environmentally friendly clay treatments are available in a variety of colors, and add a rustic but subtle tactile quality. The rich color and attractive grain of Western Red Cedar panel provide immediate interest without the added struggle of learning to create faux finishes with paint or mastering a trowel. If you want to add a unique touch of color, cedar takes stains exceptionally well. And if you just want to preserve the natural color of the wood, sealing it will help it last for years.

Adding smaller design touches is a great option for those who don't feel comfortable tackling big projects. Many newer homes don't have the classic character of houses from years gone by, but there are ways to incorporate it. "Homeowners are adding natural wood molding and trims as a low-cost way to add warmth and elegance to a simple room," says Paul Mackie of the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. Look for a stable wood that will not warp and twist over the years. Cedar is a great choice for ceiling, picture and floor moldings, as well as other trims, because of its uniform grain.

Switching out older, hollow-core doors with new wood models will not only help to diminish noise, it will add a long-lasting extra bit of character to your home, no matter its age. Windows are a key design element in any home, too, and can be enhanced by adding new cedar frames, blinds or shutters in styles ranging from embellished and traditional to minimalist and modern.

The dynamic appeal of nature can be applied to your floors as well. Add new interest to kitchens, foyers, bathrooms and more with tiles made of natural materials like cork, bamboo, slate, wood (new or reclaimed) or travertine - the possibilities are almost endless.

Western Red Cedar is also a great choice to create architectural details, like a post and beam look in a home, or to conceal visually distracting elements like support beams or duct work. For more ideas on adding warmth to a home with Western Red Cedar, visit www.wrcla.org.

By updating your home with natural touches, you add long-lasting appeal that won't go out of style. Not only will you be able to enjoy it for years to come, but it will provide added enticements for any potential future buyers. 

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