Everything but the Kitchen Sink—Building the Softwood Kitchen of Your Dreams

Picture a modern kitchen, and you might conjure stainless steel and concrete. After all, kitchens are hard-working spaces—libations are flowing, noodles are flying at the walls, and sauce is splashing around everywhere.

For many contemporary homeowners, however, the kitchen is more than just a work zone. It’s a safe place for stress-baking or after-work debriefs, command central for party planning, or even the beating heart of family and community life. 

The multipurpose modern kitchen is the perfect place to showcase the beauty and resilience of wood. Check out these gorgeous, functional, and welcoming kitchens lined with wood for inspiration that could benefit your clients—and their friends and families—for years to come.

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Vaulted Ceilings, Cedar Walls

One of the goals of this Portland, Oregon, mid-century modern renovation was to bring texture and warmth to the home’s main gathering spaces—and wood is uniquely suited to this task. Research shows that designing with natural materials like wood can promote a phenomenon known as biophilic response, which increases a sense of well-being in a building’s inhabitants.

To capitalize on the benefits of wood, architect Risa Boyer designed a feature wall made from clear-grade cedar for the kitchen and wrapped the pantry door in a matching cedar treatment. The feature wall, crafted by general contracting firm Hammer and Hand, shows off cedar’s natural variation, bringing visual interest to the space and drawing the eye upward to this 1955 home’s original tongue-and-groove softwood ceilings for an airy, lofted feel. To preserve the vaulted ceilings while making the structure more energy-efficient, the design team added an insulated second layer of framing above the space.

Image of a wooden kitchen with skylights and an open island
Glen Road Residence
Photo Credit: Jeremy Bittermann
Image of a wooden kitchen with hanging lamps
Glen Road Residence
Photo Credit: Jeremy Bittermann

That Bungalow Glow

One of the many charms of softwood lumber is its aesthetic versatility—wood is just as effective in a minimalist modern home as it is in a rustic cabin retreat

This 1950s-era cabin renovation, located in Barryville, New York, lands somewhere in between these design extremes, pairing original tongue-and-groove pine ceilings with painted pine walls for a refreshed look that preserves the traditional charm of the original structure. 

Sullivan County Restoration Group opted for the tongue-and-groove pine walls instead of drywall to ground the renovation in the historic building style of the Catskill region. Vertical pine paneling echoes the style of the amber-colored original pine ceiling for a modern, functional space with a nod to tradition.

Woman in wooden bungalow kitchen with dog watching
Highlight Bungalow
Photo Credit: Natalie Chitwood
Highlight Bungalow
Photo Credit: Natalie Chitwood

Fir Real

Inspired by what the architect calls “West Coast modernism,” this modern kitchen designed by Mork-Ulnes Architects and interior designed by The Office of Charles De Lisle adopts a bright, contemporary reinterpretation of indoor-outdoor living.

Nestled in the Sonoma hills in northern California, the home’s interior features bleached Douglas fir walls and ceilings that frame a concrete floor. The kitchen complements these walls with cabinets made of custom-planked Douglas fir, sealed with a clear matte sealer. The wood brings warmth and texture to the space, fulfilling the client’s goal of complementing the minimal architecture with a casual vibe and bold color. The home’s floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the Manzanita Canyon, allowing the natural light at dawn and dusk to illuminate the wood with a warm glow. 

Dubbed the “Frame House,” the home also boasts western red cedar siding as a nod to the area’s vernacular agrarian architecture.

A photo of a wooden kitchen with a view looking outside
Frame House
Photo Credit: Bruce Damonte
A straight-on photo of a wooden kitchen on a sunny day
Frame House
Photo Credit: Bruce Damonte
It Could Be Wood

We all know that wood cabinets can provide texture and warmth to any style of kitchen, but the upgrades don’t stop there. These inspiring wood ceilings, walls, and cabinetry demonstrate how wood can create warmth in one of the home’s most important (and hardest-working) spaces.

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