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Rafters in residences are standard inclusions in construction, at one time almost always visible in interiors as a matter of course. As trends changed, the visible rafter has come and gone, and come back again. Here in our current era, with loft spaces, and the effects borrowed from spaces like that, the rafter is making a splash in all kinds of interior design contexts, including in modern, urban settings.

The same goes for wood flooring. This is also an element that comes from a long tradition of practicality and design. Where the late ’60s and ’70s covered wood flooring with wall-to-wall carpeting, our current century celebrates wood floors as a texture that can be rustic, refined, or boldly stylish.

With rafters above and wood floors below, what are some of the effects you can expect? Here are a few that stand out.

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Kitchen rafters and wood floors

This rafter and wood floor pairing is decidedly modern, even if the texture of the wood grain is known more for that country kitchen look. Here the contrast isn’t in texture and color so much as it is in function, with the rafters being a frame to place overhead lighting, over a warmly hued wood floor.

Orcas Island Residence contemporary kitchen

contemporary kitchen design by seattle architect David Vandervort Architects

Rafters and wood flooring in a dining area

The exposed wood rafters and the naturally varied patterning in the wood floors create a sort of vertical bookend effect to the modern decor of this dining area.

FINNE Architects modern dining room

Living area that is both cozy and open

Continuing with the idea that rafters and wood floors creates a vertical bookend effect in a space, this design is somehow spacious and cozy at the same time.

The Hillside House modern living room

Wood grain and color contrast from rafter to floor

The great thing about wood as a material is that it is naturally varied. Here, we see the benefit of a lighter, flat, unstained shade of the rafter that communicates a more rough-hewn effect contrasted with a dark-stain, glossier wood floor. The juxtaposition between these two solitudes really makes this pop.

Felton Gables contemporary entry

Vertical and horizontal dynamics with rafters and wood floors

A common ingredient in all of these instances are the interplay between the vertical and the horizontal. With this image, the horizontal lines of the rafters, and of the vertical lines of the “zone” of wood floor, plus the variation of the stonework at the far end creates all kinds of interest, without being busy.

Key Peninsula Residence contemporary living room

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The presence of wood rafters over wood floors can create a pretty traditional effect. But, as we’ve seen here, that’s not the whole story, with two basic elements that can affect all kinds of visual punch to as many different spaces.

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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.