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5 Materials That Are Trending in the Home: Bold Stone, Natural Woods, and More

It’s usually the furniture and decor that play the starring role in luxury interiors. A home’s materials—flooring, walls, millwork—are often under-appreciated supporting players that do way more than they’re given credit for. But along with the many shifts of the past year, people are becoming much more attuned to all the components that go into creating a space.

“Overall, our clients don’t want anything too precious,” says Enrique Vela, director of interiors at Olson Kundig. “The global pandemic has highlighted the importance of easy-to-clean surfaces and materials—it doesn’t make sense to have anything too delicate that might be ruined by chemical and cleaning agents.”

That doesn’t mean those materials still can’t look luxurious. From kitchens and bathrooms to more unexpected uses, here’s what Vela—along with Cavin Costello of Arizona-based architecture firm The Ranch Mine and interior designer Stephanie Goto—are seeing emerge as the key material trends this year.

Wild for Wood

“Wood has seen a resurgence in all parts of the home,” says Costello. “More people are aware of its positive psychological effects and are wanting to use more in their spaces, whether on ceilings, walls, floors, or for built-ins.” In addition to white oak and walnut for interior finishes, the most popular varieties he’s seeing right now are treated woods such as Accoya, Lunawood, and Thermory, which are more durable and sustainable choices.

Vela agrees that sustainability is influencing people’s decisions. “We’ve seen a big shift away from exotic, tropical, or slow-growing hardwoods—clients are more attuned to the impact of using these materials and want to make more sustainable choices.” Many of Olson Kundig’s recent projects feature natural textured or brushed finishes. “Brushed oak and larch are especially lovely—they have lots of texture and expressive grain patterns,” he says. “Bleached walnut seems to be a common choice, as well as ash, especially in furniture as an alternative to oak. It’s really beautiful in its natural/blond state, and when blackened too.”

“Utilizing wood in its natural state without embellishment is powerful,” Goto says. “A muse for furniture and architecture, Hinoki—Japanese cypress used to create the most famous temples of Japan—is a strong, subtly aromatic tree with a natural antibacterial quality.”

Wood reigns supreme in designer Roman Alonso’s apartment, which features custom dining chairs by Commune and Michael Boyd, with a table by Boyd.

Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson. Styling: Michael Reynolds.

Statement Stone

For everyday surfaces like countertops and vanities, honed and matte marble is still on trend, along with engineered quartz and Dekton, which people love for their low-maintenance properties. But Vela says his clients are also increasingly favoring stones that act as statement pieces. “Unique species or colors, or slabs with lots of veining—for example, Calacatta Monet or Calacatta Gold. People want that inherent sense of drama, to allow the stone itself to act as a piece of art.”