Launch Slideshow

Design Details: Wood Exteriors

The great unifier, wood acts as the perfect intermediary between dissimilar exterior elements, as well as between a home and its surroundings.

Design Details: Wood Exteriors

The great unifier, wood acts as the perfect intermediary between dissimilar exterior elements, as well as between a home and its surroundings.

  • Scout Island Residence

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    Paul Finkel

    Ipe’ mediates between the brick façade and the outside plantings of this modernist house, located in an Austin subdivision. Location: Austin, Texas; Architect: Alterstudio Architects

  • Riverbank House

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    Steve Keating

    Mixed-grain fir on the underside of roof overhangs helps reinforce this open, casual home’s strong connection to the outdoors. Location: Big Sky, Mont.; Architect: Balance Associates

  • Flowing Lake Residence

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    Mark Woods

    Walls clad in tight-knot cedar channel siding provide privacy and link the house to surrounding trees. Location: Snohomish, Wash.; Architect: David Vandervort Architects

  • ArtHaus-2

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    Brent Haywood

    LEED platinum certified, this San Diego remodel gets a touch of warmth from grade A red cedar siding. Location: Encinitas, Calif.; Architect: Smyer Architecture

  • Tulip Avenue House

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    Jason Schmidt

    Eastern White Cedar treated with a light stain adds warmth and texture to stucco and pewter-gray brick on the exterior of this modern house. Location: West Orange, N.J.; Architect: Deborah Berke and Partners

  • Ice House

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    Liam Frederick

    Reclaimed wood from the original 1923 Arizona Ice and Cold Storage building (here, converted to lofts) contrasts with the corrugated steel skin of the building, and gives shade from the western sun at the entry door. Location: Tucson, Ariz.; Architect: Rob Paulus

  • West Plains House

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    Tyler Stephens

    The stained cedar soffit for this home’s roof truss is a warm contrast to the glass façade, and its upturned shape makes the roof appear to float above the house. Location: West Plains, Missouri; Architect: Core10 Architecture

  • Äkta Linjen

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    Matt Feyerabend

    Wood helps this home, titled Äkta Linjen (Swedish for “Authentic Lines”), meld with the trees that shade it. Location: Siloam Springs, Ark.; Architect: Matthias Pearson

  • Provincetown House

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    Jessica Marcotte

    Located on a coastal dune, this home’s wood exterior evokes the piers of Provincetown Harbor, as well as Cape Cod’s history of boat-making, fishing, and whaling. Location: Provincetown, Mass.; Architect: Michael Winstanley

A wood exterior on a contemporary house is more than just a casual doff of the cap to modernist architecture and a certain seventies style. Trend-mongers may credit the popularity of Mad Men, the revival of martinis, and a fascination with all things mid-century, but that gives short shrift to the simple truth: When done well, wood exteriors look great on modern homes, and for plenty of reasons. Wood adds texture and color. It brings a soulful and expressive style. But most of all, wood is the great mediator. It unifies, helping dissimilar elements like glass and cinderblock make visual sense when used together. What’s more, a house made of steel, concrete, and glass is better linked to its site and its natural surroundings when there’s wood on the outside. For a little inspiration, check out these beautiful examples of wood-graced exteriors.

Amy Albert is a senior editor at Builder.