The Beauty of Humble Materials

Humble materials aren’t costly or luxurious, but using them in residential design doesn’t mean you've got to sacrifice interest or refinement. Many architects find inspiration within the humble great thing about simple structures wearing plain materials that are used honestly. These materials don’t draw attention to themselves or pretend to be something they’re not. They’re chosen to modestly serve their purpose. As we analyze this approach within the following examples, it'll be easy to ascertain the appeal of choosing such unpretentious resources.

Natural Plywood
Aesthetic: Informal, warm, low tech
When to use it: this is often a cheap, easy-to-find, and easy-to-use material with big potential. Sheet-like and sturdy, plywood is employed everywhere in buildings, but it’s usually covered with more refined, finished surfaces. There’s particular messiness that accompanies plywood, which may be more or less pronounced counting on the grading of the faces. Generally, the imperfections are what makes this material so interesting.

For a more refined look, think about using higher-grade plywood that has been manufactured to be freed from knots and imperfections. Boldly figured graining is characteristic of southern yellow pine and functions as a warm ambient reflector during this lebensraum.

Plywood comes in 4- by 8-foot sheets, so installation labor costs are minimized. It also can be rip sawn into planks of any size, interlocked during a tongue and groove configuration, or butted together. Fasteners are often used as accents, concealed, or as contrasting elements. The plywood during this kitchen appears refined, utilitarian, and, of course, warm.

Here it functions as a guardrail that follows a stair to the lower level. The architect cut playful slits into the planar surfaces of plywood, accentuating its lightness.

Live-Edge Wood
Aesthetic: Rugged, frontier modern, natural, and neutral

When to use it: As a way to interrupt up and contrast rigorous building geometry. The live edge refers to the meandering, uneven fringe of the boards, which are milled to thickness but not squared. this enables the shape of the trunk from which the board was sawn to stay visible.

This home uses a really modern interpretation of the fabric and exploits
the contrast between the tight sculpted lines of the roof and therefore the natural siding veneer. Clearly displaying its function as a rain screen, the raw siding may be a simple means to shed water from the outside. But the heavily textured wrapper casts sculpted, irregular shadows on the long walls, creating visual interest.

Unfinished Wood
Aesthetic: Scandinavian, warm and modern

When to use it: To lend a clean, warm, and casual feel to an area. Knotty wood, when utilized in a minimalist aesthetic, without trim or ornate detail, is whole without pretense and develops an upscale patina while withstanding tons of wear and tear and tear. during this attic loft, the knots within the pine plank floor and wall provide the sole adornment. It’s relaxed and informal. employing a single material on both the walls and therefore the floor treats the surfaces with equal weight, creating a warm liner.

Exposed Natural Framing
Aesthetic: Informal, raw, casual, textured

When to use it: As a way of expressing how a structure comes together. It’s generally less costly to show the components of construction, though you’ll need to be ready to coexist with all of the items that finish typically hide (plumbing, electrical, framing connectors).

Finishing costs are often conserved also because there’s just less material to color and finish. The architects during this project have used engineered wood framing that’s composed of laminated parallel wood strands aligned for max strength. These materials have a really raw functional aesthetic that the architecture displays openly with exposed floor trusses, fasteners, and cross bracing.

Exposed Painted Framing
Aesthetic: Informal but tailored, modern, warm, inviting

When to use it: to realize a more tailored version of the exposed framing look shown within the previous example. Painting the framing members renders them slightly more tailored and, especially during this example, much brighter. Used sparingly on the ceiling, the painted framing offers the charm of an off-the-cuff cottage without the insulation problems one encounters when leaving framing exposed on exterior walls.

White paint may be a classic look, but any monochromatic color scheme will highlight the form and depth of the framing members while increasing the perceived volume of the space.

Reclaimed Wood
Aesthetic: Warm, vintage, loft industrial

When to use it: To infuse an area with warmth and a story. We all love an honest story. Reclaimed wood, whether authentically a neighborhood of a structure’s history, as during this Manhattan loft, or repurposed from a demolished structure, adds a narrative quality.

I would argue that there’s nothing more humble than repurposing old material. Here the beams and framing are stripped of paint to bring back their natural wood character. Reclaimed barn wood was used for the
counters and shelving. The beams display splicing joints, splits, and checks that infuse them with character and mark their age.

Painted plasterboard
Aesthetic: Minimalist, cool (concrete), modern
Unfinished plasterboard
Aesthetic: Industrial, raw, cool, modern

When to use it: once you really can’t plan to paint color. All kidding aside, this is often an industrial look not many can accept or appreciate. The plasterboard here has been partially finished, meaning that it’s been taped, mudded and sanded but left unpainted for its industrial appeal.

When utilized in homes where the systems of construction — metal conduit, industrial fixtures, steel beams, exposed mechanical ductwork, and plumbing — are laid bare, it is often an apt gesture

Steel Components
Aesthetic: Bold, industrial, machined

When to use them: If you appreciate the outward and expressive detail of systems, commercial steel components and their simple means of assembly speak a deeply modern kit-of-parts language of authentic ornament.

This custom-designed commercial-grade stairway has wire mesh for the guardrails, metal planks for the treads, and various shapes of common steel elements — bars, channels, and tubes — for the remaining structure. Note that the fastening and means of fabrication of the welds, bends, and bolts are plainly visible

Concrete Block Aesthetic: Minimalist, textured, neutral, cool When to use it: to spotlight geometric forms. due to its modular nature, concrete blocks (concrete masonry units, or CMUs) are best utilized in daily, orthogonal configurations. CMUs are manufactured in increments of roughly 8 inches, with the foremost common size being 8 inches wide by 8 inches deep by 16 inches long. With a spread of textured finishes, colors, and installation techniques available, the standard concrete block is often wont to create an excellent sort of surface appearances, from angular and sharp to irregular and stone-like, as during this example.

Concrete block is a particularly affordable and sturdy material that will be utilized in almost any environment. Perfectly suited to wet environments, the CMU here mimics a muted gray limestone. The even tone and subtle joint tooling make it an unassuming backdrop to the crisp white tub and polished fittings

Concrete Sheet Goods (HardiePanel, Cembonit)
Aesthetic: Crisp, vibrant (depending on selected color), sculptural

When to use them: to intensify volume and shape. These are slightly more versatile than plywood, as they need excellent weathering characteristics. They’re sold in 4- by 8-foot and 4- by 10-foot sheets, and joint patterning and module are important parts of the general design. The rectilinear panel shapes lend themselves to geometric compositions like the one here. And, while one could argue that the brilliant red is way from humble, consider the brilliant red barn: simple in form, volume, and material.

Simple details are the sole adornment this humble material requires. Exposed fastener patterns punctuate the planar wall surface here, quietly delineating the supporting wall studs behind. Shadowed reveals at the panel edges hint that the system is acting as a screen to shed water, allowing air to maneuver behind the skinny skin, keeping the wall system dry