Since first arriving in 17th century homes, wood has become a home-design staple (easily upstaging the dirt floors of the day). In fact, the question isn’t, can wood work for me? The question is, how many different ways can wood work for me?

Today, you’ll find lumber underfoot in living rooms, kitchens, and even bathrooms; in floors, on walls, and in accents; in wide, medium, and narrow planks; in hardwood and engineered formats; and even simulated by porcelain and laminates. As home décor goes, wood is nothing if not pliable.

Behold some ways wood can add luster to your home.


Hardwood is the purest type of wood flooring. Made from a single piece of timber, these planks aren’t engineered or made from composites. As such, hardwood can boost a home’s value 3 to 5 percent, according to Money—and that goes for styles from rustic (more knotty) to modern (fewer flaws; more sleek). More importantly, though, hardwood can bring warmth to a room, making it more inviting. (Seen here: Hand-scraped Richmond oak.)

Other benefits: Hardwood is durable, easy to clean, long-lasting, and, over time, develops a natural patina that creates character.

Accent walls

Time and again, wood has had its don’t-tread-on-me moments, moving from floors alone to wall paneling too. (In fact, even before becoming common in flooring, wood paneling made its appearance in the homes of nobility during England’s Tudor period.)

Of course, wooden-wall fashion has trickled down from mansion libraries to the dens of the 1970s, albeit in cheap plywood or pressed fiberboard form.

Today, wooden walls are hot again, particularly in accent form. And most importantly, today’s panel materials, made from hardwood, are quite the step up from the basements of Wayne’s World. They can even come in peel-and-stick form, with adhesive strips on back. (Seen here: Peel-and-stick ancient pine wood planks.)

Water-resistant, engineered hardwood

Wood and water don’t mix, right? Actually, engineered hardwood (plywood or particleboard topped with a layer of solid hardwood) can be made water-resistant, allowing it to prevail in areas like full bathrooms and kitchens.
Of course, engineered hardwood also works well in living rooms that see lots of action (wet dogs; cocktail parties). (Seen here: Palomino-white, oak-distressed, engineered hardwood.) Plus, they look great there too.

Wood-look laminate

Of course, you may still worry about laying down wood floors in wet areas. That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to give up the wood look.
Laminate flooring is one way to go. These boards are topped with a photographic applique (in this case, wood patterns), finished with a clear, protective upper layer. (Seen here: Ocean-view oak.)
Another wood-like treatment . . .

. . . Waterproof wood tile

Porcelain bathroom tiles are a no-brainer. But to bring some extra warmth, why not consider tiles engineered to look like wood planks? (Seen here: Carolina ash wood-plank porcelain.)
Here, you get the best of both worlds: The durable, waterproof properties of porcelain combined with the warmth and style of wood.

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