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by by Karla Nielson for DWC Magazine
Never before have wood and wood-like products been so widely available and so popular as they are today. Wood is a hot item-whether seen as real wood, vinyl or faux designs-and is used on floors; as window treatments in shutters, wood/wood-look blinds, woven wood shades and panels, decorative drapery rods and valances; and as wall treatments as moldings and wall coverings.
Wood in a natural, bleached or painted finish is seen in all styles of traditional and contemporary furniture, moldings, and hard or alternative window treatments.
Many factors and trend directions are at work creating an atmosphere in which wood enhances or becomes center stage in today's interior fashions. Perhaps the biggest factor is the long-term trend that began in the early 1990s away from pattern and toward texture. Prior to that time, there was a sharp focus on printed and woven patterns. Floral fabrics dominated much of the scene with their rich and flamboyant appearance. Beautiful as these patterns were, and still are, long-term directions shifted towards less pattern in favor of subtlety and understatement in textiles.
This trend has allowed designers to focus on the form and shape of the structural members of an interior such as furniture, art, sculpture and, of course, window treatments. Form is a key element in wood blinds where the linear composition makes a striking and handsome focal point. That is a part of the lasting appeal of blinds-the way the light and shadow form a pattern through shape and horizontal lines.
The power of horizontal lines cannot be underestimated. There is a calming, reassuring, sometimes relaxing and grounding psychology to these lines that are in harmony with earth's gravitational pull. They also make a room seem wider and more expansive. Open blind slats bring natural light into a room with a bit of class-more filtered and in an intriguing way, enhancing the beauty of bare or untreated glass.
Another reason why wood has tremendous appeal is its low upkeep. Other than an occasional dusting-or where the air quality is poor, an occasional cleaning-wood and wood-like products can hold their good looks and handsome appearance indefinitely with very little other maintenance. While it is true that horizontal surfaces are natural dust catchers, they also are fairly easy to clean.
In addition, natural wood hues and white (the two most popular color selections) don't show the dirt. Although this is not a call for living with or ignoring dust, it is a relief to many busy people to not have to see dust on a daily basis. For many women especially, visible dust tends to produce guilty feelings, as though the item to be dusted is calling out "Help me!" over and over again. The rule of dust is that dark colors and shiny surfaces (including horizontal glass) show the most dust. Selecting products that naturally do not call attention to the presence of dust will mean lower upkeep and less emotional strain.
Keep in mind, however, that where smoke or oil-borne impurities exist in an interior (such as generated from cooking with oil at high temperatures), the need to deep clean will be dramatically augmented. Real wood is much more difficult to keep clean of these contaminants as they tend to settle deep into the wood grain.
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