What’s Hot in Architectural Woodwork in 2020

Up until the last 20 years or so, architectural woodwork was mainly about windows, doors and staircases. Nowadays, it is so much more than that, and there are plenty of places within a residential, retail or industrial building that you can customize with woodwork. Let’s explore the hottest trends in architectural woodwork in 2020:

More Diversity

In recent years, especially with the explosion of affordable furniture and DIY trends, it’s common to see similar styles everywhere. In 2020, it’s going to be a little different. Bespoke, handcrafted design elements and unusual woods will become more popular in a bid to establish our own unique mark on our space. It will be more popular to design spaces around our personalities rather than taking the same ideas as everyone else from social media—and that means we’ll be creating our own sanctuaries and using our spaces to tell our stories.

Sustainable Materials

This will probably be on every “what’s hot” list until using sustainable materials is the accepted norm. It’s obviously critically important for us to be as eco-friendly and environmentally conscious as possible in everything we do—and as we’re becoming more knowledgeable about it, we’re using that knowledge in our buying decisions. That means using sustainably harvested woods, locally grown or reclaimed wood, and avoiding those species which are at risk from extinction.

Multifunctional Spaces

Wood is a diverse material that is great for creating multipurpose spaces; think office space combined with a walk-in closet, a kitchen that opens out through bi-fold doors onto a large decked area, or an open-plan kitchen diner. Opening up your rooms and combining functionality actually gives you more space and, in turn, more light.

Biophilic Design

Biophilia is an emerging concept that will become an interior buzzword in 2020. Biophilic design is all about being exposed to nature. This can be “live” nature in the form of plants and trees, daylight, and views of nature, but also natural and organic materials, such as wood. Living amongst nature is calming and relaxing, warm and welcoming and improves our overall sense of wellbeing. The benefits of biophilic design in the workplace are especially well-documented.

Dark Wood

In recent years, light wood has been popular, but this year it’s dark wood’s time to shine. We’re going back to the classic dining room of sumptuous, elegant dark woods, such as walnut and mahogany. But it’s not just about solid wood; high-quality wood veneers are a mark of luxury.

Historic Restoration

We’re riding a wave of historic restoration, and that trend is set to continue in 2020. Renovating old buildings to give them a new purpose or to re-establish their previous use is happening in cities across the country. On a smaller scale, refinishing old woodwork and giving it pride of place in your home is part of this trend.

Building Taller

A little outside this hot list but interesting nonetheless, changes to the International Building Code are enabling more sustainable and creative ways to build taller mass-timber buildings. In the U.S., it’s now possible to build up to 18 stories of timber construction, and in Canada it’s up to 12 stories. More changes are set to follow and are being made in response to growing support.

About the Author

Randy Estabrook
Randy Estabrook is the executive director of AWI-QCC and has more than 30 years' experience in the architectural woodwork industry. Not only is he passionate about woodworking, he is an engaged potter and adventurist. He has participated on the AWI Quality Standards Board, as well as the AWI - AWS joint standards committee.

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