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We love wood

(Image by Sara Alfred)

There’s something about wood that inspires us unlike any other building material. After all, you don’t hear people gushing in the same way about cement or metal.  But what is it about wood that makes it so irresistible? Well, there are several directions one could take to answer that question in terms of its color range, patterning, and even the scent of wood. The amazing range that wood species offers on these fronts is a conversation all of its own.

But apart from the beauty of individual species, one of the main reasons that we respond to wood in a way that we don’t respond to concrete, cement, and other materials that are manufactured, is that we have a commonality with wood; it grows, it changes over time, and it seasons with grace like we do. It connects us to the natural world, and it connects us with our own history as a species.

Wood has a history

We’ve survived as a species in part because we were able to use wood to help us do it. This is not just about building, of course. It’s been about fuel for energy, and a way that we’ve developed our diets. Wood is primal. And getting back to building, the use of wood from the dawn of history to the modern day has showed wood as being a supremely versatile material.

Maybe it’s a chicken and egg thing. It’s hard to know which came first; our use of wood for building because its practical, or our love of wood because of what it’s meant to our very definitions of what “home” has meant to us across eras and cultures. When it comes to figuring out why we love wood and wood surfaces, maybe it’s somewhere in between.

Wood improves our outlook

Being surrounding by a natural material that has a history, and shows that history on its surface in some way, is ultimately comforting. There have been studies on the positive psychological effects of wood, the results of which may not surprise you. Associations with warmth, security, relaxation, and inviting feelings might reflect your own thoughts without having to read those results. The presence of wood boosts our outlook. It makes us feel positive about our environment and our place in it.

Kempas hardwood flooring

Research from the University of British Columbia found that the presence of wood lowers our sympathetic nervous system activation, commonly known as the “flight or fight” response. Academics also believe that wood helps reduce stress levels and improve psychological health the way that getting back to nature does. In essence, wood in the home is bringing the outside indoors.

Wood goes beyond just a building material

Because of its long history, and all of the positive associations that we have with wood, it’s no wonder that it endures into the 21st century as it has. Wood appeals to our senses, and it boosts our mood. No wonder we can’t resist it in our home decor, and in so many stylistic varieties.

Wood in your space

What effects on your mood have you noticed in spaces where wood surfaces are prominent?

How have the benefits of wood inspired you when making decisions about furniture, flooring, or wall covering?

Tell us all about it in the comments section!

 

 

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.