Naturally, the people who helped make “shiplap” a household name have plenty of it in their own home in Waco, Texas. Design duo Chip and Joanna Gaines, best known for HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” as well as their own home decor brand Magnolia, opened their doors to Architectural Digest to give us all a peek at their personal style.
The way Joanna tells it, she isn’t necessarily obsessed with shiplap as a universal design strategy – she just happened to move into a historic farmhouse full of it, and it influenced her style as a result. Now, the word is practically synonymous with her name, and strongly associated with her easygoing, livable but fastidiously curated aesthetic.
Joanna tells AD she was determined to make pine one of the most important elements in the home, digging deep to get to the original flooring. You can see in the photos how beautifully it has aged over the years – a key feature of the species.
“So, when we originally bought the farmhouse, I think it hadn’t been updated since the ’80s, so there was carpet everywhere and the ceilings were dropped really low. We wanted to get this thing down to almost the bare bones to figure out how we could make it work for our family.”
“We took out three or four layers of flooring to get to the original pine floors and then had to rework all the spaces. My master bathroom was once the hallway. The entry was actually the mud room. What was the front side of the house is now the back. So, the house was completely flipped. I love that, though. I love being given a space and then having to be creative and work within that box.”
You can see more photos of Chip and Joanna’s home in Joanna’s book Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave.
Wood finishes are one of the hottest interior design trends of 2019, according to magazines like Real Simple and Remodelista. People are seeking more connections to nature in their homes and businesses, looking to lighter, airier palettes and interesting textures. While dark wood was all the rage for much of the early 2000s, experts say all that walnut and dark-stained oak is falling by the wayside in favor of paler woods like pine. Wide plank floors continue to be more attractive to consumers than the narrower boards that have been common for many decades.
Not only can darker floors make rooms feel much smaller than they really are, they tend to show every speck of dirt and pet hair. Lighter colored floors feel fresher and more modern, and are a lot more family-friendly when it comes to maintenance.
If you love the look of wide planks, Eastern White Pine is definitely the way to go. Used in most of the old homes found throughout New England, Eastern White Pine offers the widest planks of just about any species, particularly when you want boards that are 10” and above in width. Eastern White Pine wide planks are commonly used for historic restoration and reproduction projects, and they lend a beautiful sense of age and history to just about any interior, making them a great counterbalance for modern spaces, as well (image via William & Henry Wide Plank Floors.)
Eastern White Pine is a great choice for Scandinavian-style flooring, which is associated with a wider plank and a lighter finish while maintaining a natural, organic feel. This style also usually has a matte or satin finish achieved with oils or waxes, and a stain that’s translucent enough to let the grain of the wood shine through. Whitewashing can produce a similar effect.
A raw, unfinished look is also on trend, even when it comes to knotty pine, which was huge in the ‘80s and ‘90s. While there was considerable backlash against knotty pine when the craze crashed, people are now returning to it in droves for its warmth, character and nostalgic familiarity. Embrace those knots and the speckled patterns they bring, like these floors from AE Sampson & Son. Subtle oil finishes maintain the natural look of the wood without altering the color.
Searching for the perfect flooring wide plank flooring for easy installation, no-fuss maintenance and lots of character? Wide plank Eastern White Pine is a durable American classic, developing its own unique character and actually growing more durable with use as the years pass.
These two examples from Bingham Flooring are classically beautiful. Here’s what the company has to say about it:
“Wide Plank Eastern White Pine Flooring has been a staple in the Bingham family for over 69 years. Harvested from Northeastern White Pine timber, our white pine flooring is produced in a few choice grades. Our select grade white pine will feature small pin-hole knots, varying grain patterns and a crisp white appearance. Our more traditional Sawyer’s Cut grade will contain varying degrees of sound, tight and red knot structure, varying grain patterns and a creamy white appearance. Eastern White Pine is our widest plank flooring option available and can be textured, distressed or stained to give an antique or ‘worn’ appearance.”
Carlisle shows how “hit or miss” white pine has a distressed, authentic old world look to it that reproduces the characteristics of centuries-old milling techniques used when watermills along river ways would saw pine logs into boards.
“Manufacturing capabilities were not quite as refined as they are today so the machinery would ‘skip’ across the boards, leaving original saw marks. At the time, if you were using these boards in your home you would hand scrape or sand these marks out, but our craftsmen re-create this skip milling here today and preserve it with our ‘Hit or Miss’ surface. This floor is popular for reclaimed wood enthusiasts who want wider boards or need something a little more economical. To create the most authentic look, consider a medium to dark stain to best reveal the rustic saw marks and our authentic hand-cut nails.”
Wide plank white pine flooring from Stonewood Products has a gorgeous knotty look in shiplap profile.
“Eastern White Wide Pine Plank floors are a softwood that grows in the Northeast US and eastern Canada. It is an appearance grade wood that is typically chosen for its warm tones and knotty character. It is sold in both clear and knotty grades, with the clear being more formal and the knotty being more casual. As a wide pine floor, it picks up the character and reflects the lives of those who are using it!”
This prairie style live/work studio set into a hilly 35-acre site in Wisconsin may be made of insulated concrete forms, but its interiors have the warmth and character of a timber structure thanks to interiors almost entirely clad in wide-plank Eastern White Pine. Architect Kyle Dumbleton of Midwest Modern LLC prioritized the selection of natural materials that are durable and long-lasting for the modern home overlooking the historic Wisconsin River Valley. That led him to a collaboration with a Carlisle Wide Specialist to find just the right wooden elements for the job.
When working with materials like concrete in a residence, it’s more important than ever to balance their cold, hard materiality with something rustic and organic. There are lots of reasons to choose Eastern White Pine, not the least of which is its sustainability, but in this case, the way it weathers over time is especially prized. Though its knots are muted by a dark stain to give the space a contemporary feel and contrast with the lighter surfaces, it will transform with age and use, giving the home a sense of history despite its newness.
Carlisle notes that Eastern White Pine is an especially smart choice when installing directly over concrete thanks to its flexibility as a softer wood. The material is carried up the walls and onto the ceilings for a cohesive effect that dramatically alters the feel of the space. Imagine how different its mood would be if all of its walls were white concrete or drywall instead.
Dumbleton envisioned the home as a study of opposites made of high quality materials that give it the status of a family heirloom. The passive solar design and high performance shell work in tandem with in-floor radiant and geothermal heating.
Here’s a fun flooring fact for building geeks: a type of flooring called ‘nightingale’ or uguisu-bari uses a special structure to make noise when an unknowing intruder walks across it, warning of their presence. They got their nickname because they seem to ‘sing’ in response to pressure when the mechanism is activated. Developed in Japan to guard treasures against approaching ninjas, the most famous example of uguisu-bari can be seen in Kyoto’s Nijo Castle.
The mechanism intentionally places planks of wood atop a framework of supporting beams loosely enough to enable a bit of play. When even a tiny amount of pressure is applied, flooring nails rub against a jacket or clamp, creating chirping noises that sound like little birds.
In fact, the quieter people try to walk, the louder the sounds. The floors are pretty complex, and not everyone could afford them, so they’re most often found in seats of power, and are still in use today.
The joints look like upside-down V-shapes when spotted under the Nijo Castle walkway, which was built during the Edo period in 1679. It’s said that when a commander visited the castle, bodyguards would be stationed in hidden doorways, waiting for signs of potential trouble. Guards and allies learned a special way of walking on them in a set rhythm so they weren’t mistaken for intruders.
How do you make a renewable, natural, oxygen-producing, CO2-storing material even more sustainable? Make it as close to zero-waste as possible. Wood waste left over after milling lumber already gets put to myriad valuable uses, from paper products to biomass fuel, and a new innovation will actually enable it to produce clean energy. Engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered a way to manufacture wood floors embedded with wood pulp nanofibers that generate electricity when you step on them.
Chemically treated, tiny cellulose fibers within the waste pulp produce an electrical charge when they come in contact with untreated nano fibers. Stepping on wood floors enhanced with these fibers generates electricity, effectively harnessing energy from footsteps without the need for complex equipment.
Published in the journal Nano Energy on September 24th, 2016, the method is ingeniously simple and inexpensive, with the potential to produce electricity that can be harnessed to power lights or charge batteries. The technology can easily be incorporated into virtually every kind of wood flooring that’s already on the market, including Eastern White Pine.
The functional section of the wood containing the electricity-producing fibers takes up less than a millimeter in thickness, so it doesn’t significantly alter the shape or look of the wood. To produce more energy, manufacturers could simply add more layers.
The technology is currently being tested and optimized on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, with a prototype in development to demonstrate the concept.
“Our initial test in our lab shows that it works for millions of cycles without any problem,” says Xudong Wang, an associate professor of materials science and engineering who’s working on the project. “We haven’t converted those numbers into year of life for a floor yet, but I think with appropriate design it can definitely outlast the floor itself.”