Published on November 21, 2019

If you’re anything like us, you could spend all day scrolling through images of transformative kitchen counters. This story is for you. Lately, one particular material has stuck out among the sea of stunning rooms in our Internet deep dives: butcher block. 

If you think about it, the material basically turns your kitchen into a giant cutting board—and that’s only the beginning of its benefits. Most versions will come pretreated with some kind of wax or oil to make upkeep easier (just try to keep them as dry as possible). Any wear and tear, including burn marks or nicks from that one time you went a little overboard chopping onions, will only add character. Plus, butcher block brings warmth and rustic charm to any space. While going the custom route can be a little expensive, IKEA makes a resource-efficient option that’s only $149 per plank.

But the big draw lies in its sustainability. Eco-conscious decorators, take note: Compared to other luxe-looking materials like granite and marble, whose extraction and manufacturing process is neither energy efficient nor pollution-free, butcher block counters are pretty green because most are harvested responsibly. Bonus points for Mother Nature if you can choose reclaimed wood, too. 

Only one question remains: Do you go for a sleek, contemporary look or stick with a more traditional rendition? 

If You’re Not Afraid of a Little Color…

green mint kitchen cabinetsPin It
Photography by deVOL Kitchens

Take a page from Devol Kitchens’s playbook and use the wood as a neutral to break up one bold color, like this head-to-toe mint. (Psst: These counters are made from reclaimed Iroko school countertops—how’s that for upcycling in style?)

If Getting Lost at a Thrift Market Is Your Worst Nightmare…

black kitchen with wooden countersPin It
Photography by Jo Henderson; Styling by Pippa Jameson

Choose a dark stain and pair the surface with matte black cabinet fronts, then complement the whole thing with slim pulls à la this Pippa Jameson–designed space. Stick to clean lines and sharp silhouettes to keep these surfaces from veering into rustic territory. 

If You Dream of an All-White Oasis… 

all white kitchen with wooden countersPin It
Photography by Bri Ussery

You can still keep the heart of that fantasy alive, but choosing a natural surface over another white material will bring some depth to the room. Bri Ussery crafted the ideal bright kitchen, using different types of tile and textured cabinets to add even more intrigue. 

If You Like an Industrial Edge…   

wood counters and wood shelving in kitchenPin It
Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Not only should you go for a raw finish, but try continuing the wood look past just the countertops and onto the cupboards and open shelving, as in Krissy Jones’s apartment. Her space also includes stainless steel appliances and hooks for pots and pans to complete the utilitarian-chic vibe. 

If You Could Never Pick a Favorite Color…

eclectic kitchen with green fridge and wooden cabinetsPin It
Photography by Rikki Snyder

Lean fully into your eclectic roots and don’t choose one predominant style—do it all! Blue Stallion Farm’s vibrant space has everything from royal blue shelf brackets to Kelly green window trim; the wood countertops and cabinet doors serve to anchor the space.

If You’re a Fan of the Classics…

black kitchen cabinets white stove wood countersPin It
Photography by Jeska & Dean Hearne

Embrace a more traditional feel, as in this timeless kitchen by the duo behind The Future Kept. With a retro stove, gentle patina on the walls, and no shortage of quaint accessories—the mini wooden spoons!—this vignette is a lesson in farmhouse done right. 

See more kitchen inspiration:
The Brits Have a Shelf Just for Cheese in Their Kitchens
We Want to Curl Up With Our Morning Coffee in These 8 Breakfast Nooks
The Simple Trick That’ll Get You Excited About Open Shelving Again

Discussion