Greyed by weather and time, the reclaimed wood in the Hidden Lake House in Tennessee creates a striking contrast to the grove of young maple trees.

“Homeowners Get into the Groove of Reclaiming Old Wood,” the Wall Street Journal headline called out in an article that ran earlier this month. Flagging a design trend that incorporates old wood into new homes, the story cited homeowners across the country who are seeking to add character to their new homes. “These days, more homeowners building something new are looking to add something old: wood taken from structures such as log cabins, barns and factories, typically constructed in the 1800s using centuries-old trees,” the article continued. The newspaper contacted JLF Architects for the article, quoting principal Paul Bertelli discussing our updated contemporary spin on the use of recycled wood and timber.

Incorporating larger windows and doors with stacked stone, hewn timbers, chestnut plank floors and hand-cut logs, this Wyoming residence is a successful blend of old and new.

While working with reclaimed materials is nothing new to JLF—we helped pioneer the practice 40 years ago—reusing old structures brings historical roots as well as rich patina and otherwise impossible-to-find dense hardwoods to create timeless residences.

Over the past four decades, our Design-Build team has cultivated the experience and skill to work with wood that has been weathered over time. Disassembling and reconstructing buildings and transforming them into modern houses requires deep understanding of the materials. Gauging weight and girth and the manner in which the old pieces will integrate with other materials requires finesse that can be garnered only through practice.

This Montana Mountain Retreat finds beauty in weathered wood and reclaimed beams.

Some of the most coveted pieces of wood may be sourced from the floors of 1800s-era factories, the walls of homestead cabins and barns, or the fence rails of a corral. It isn’t a simple process to fit these disparate pieces into the puzzle of a newly poured foundation. The firm keeps a warehouse of antique timber in Montana, and the team is always looking for a lead on wood materials. Reclaimed parts of a structure may sit in storage for years until our Design-Build artisans find a way to incorporate into a new design.

Because age darkens wood, which can make spaces look smaller or dated, JLF Architects uses lye and bleach to lighten it, as with the hewn timbers that form the walls of this Home of the Year-winning JLF-designed house in Jackson Hole.

Even some of the most contemporary-style homes are featuring barnlike timber beams on ceilings, milled antique floors and reclaimed accents to give living spaces a warm, lived-in aesthetic. JLF has adapted and evolved with shifting design tastes by creating a lighter, neutral palette with recycled and reclaimed elements. That evolving style ranges from classic to a more modern profile that combines timber with steel and glass.

Evolving with the times, JLF answers the surge of interest in Modern style with a soft, neutral palette for this Big Sky, Montana, home.

Crafting the technique to flawlessly join tempered glass and reclaimed wood is a skill that JLF has cultivated through 40 years of Design-Build practice.

The end result is a connection to nature through honest materials: The grain of wood that was once a living, towering tree adds serenity to a room. Whether the space tips toward the nostalgia of a traditional log cabin or toward sleek, modern lines, the stalwart element of antique wood is much more than a passing trend.

jlf architects

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