This wood material may be controversial, but it’s spot-on in this retro Australian kitchen


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There’s so much to love about Wendy and Fred Butterworth’s 1970s beach home in Anglesea, Australia. Vintage furniture from a bygone era, kitschy beach accents like surfboards and oars in the living room, and tons of charming original 70s touches. Their home is completely unique to them – layered with pieces that feel assembled over time – and you get the immediate sense that their aesthetic choices have a history. One design choice that particularly stands out, however, is the use of knotty pine on the kitchen peninsula.

Let’s be honest: Pine gets a bad rap. It is somewhat softer than hard woods such as oak, walnut or maple, and it is often characterized by the large, dark knots in the veins. The knots aren’t really a problem per se, but this species can yellow over time with sun exposure depending on how you finish it, which isn’t always ideal. That said, knotty pine is much more affordable than the more desirable hardwoods and readily available at home improvement stores. It can also develop a rustic patina with age, and with a decent whitewash and finish, it won’t yellow nearly as much as you might expect either, so if you’re picturing polarizing wood paneling from a bygone era, think again.

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The Butterworths decided to wrap their kitchen peninsula in pine boards and used it almost as tambour, fluting or beadboard wall covering. In my opinion – and I’m guessing theirs too – this design feature adds a warm, rustic touch to an otherwise retro space. In more contemporary modern homes, the pine might feel out of place for its earthy feel, but here the trim coordinates well with the couple’s taste in decor, which leans heavily on antiques with years of patina (storage cabinets, country house accents, floral rugs, for example).

These Australian homeowners are also not afraid to mix wood colors with lots of light, dark, warm and neutral wood tones spread throughout the house and even just in the kitchen alone. However, the addition of the pine boards is tactful; not only do they visually break up the kitchen from the dining room, but they also create a sense of cohesion in the eclectic space because they match the decor there so well. In summary: Even the most humble/controversial materials can be successfully integrated into a home with a little imagination, vision and purpose.

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