My Plywood Interior Hunt

by Caitlin Kelch


I recently bought my first home and, as the stars would have it, it came complete with a lot of brown paneling. It was built in 1975 and has a wonderful pyramid or hip roof with a huge 5′ x 5′ skylight right in the middle and an open floor plan. Yes, that means I can literally lie in my living room, kitchen or dining area and watch the clouds go by. As for the paneling, I’ve decided it has to go.

While researching online alternatives that would fit my budget and would marry well with the clouds and sky, I came across this video from IKEA that features an interview with one of the designers of the famous POÄNG chair, which celebrated its 40th anniversary at the beginning of this month. Noboru Nakamura speaks in the video with modest, heartfelt words about the origins of the chair and the importance of movement in design. It’s definitely worth the watch. What struck me about the video, beyond Noboru’s fond reminiscing, was his home. Its minimalist design seems to hold so many secrets of a productive and peaceful life — exactly the type of feeling I’m looking for in my own home. And the best part of Noboru’s interior? The plywood covering the walls. It’s exactly what I was looking for. Thank you stars!

Click through to a slideshow with 10 more beautiful plywood interiors + some lovely images from the updated POÄNG series, especially if you need a quick dose of calm. –Caitlin

P.S. There’s some pink involved with the updated POÄNG series!

Images above from The Lunchbox Architect and IKEA; Video below from IKEA




We actually have three rooms with doors off of our main open space, but I love the idea of less walls and partitioned off spaces like this one. You'll see the partition closed in the next slide!
The slender book space next to the three-hued sliding doors is my idea of near perfect design.
I can just see this new pink cover from the updated POÄNG series nestled in the corner of the open space of the home we saw in the previous slide.
This plywood interior has a more cabin-like feel and provides a cozy space complete with a warm, wood stove.
In the Noboru Nakamura interview video, he discusses how chairs should not bind those who sit in them, but rather allow for subtle movement while seated. That sentiment, along with the natural element of fire, seems like the best possible way to pass a long winter season.
This space is a little too minimalist for me -- a mother with a 10-year-old daughter with many magic markers -- but I have been admiring the floors as an alternative to my existing carpet.
This private sleeping nook has such a warm feeling from all of the blond wood.
This interior is most like my new home's and I'm loving the birch plywood extending all the way up to the vaulted ceiling.
To me, a plain plywood kitchen simplifies things so much. I would not hesitate to give up choosing paint colors, cabinet pulls and the standard accoutrements of the typical kitchen space.
I simply love all of the new cover color options for the POÄNG series - especially this earth tone on the "almost" quilted cushion.
The built-in angled shelving in this bedroom is pure genius. If this were my bedroom, I'd fall asleep each night feeling as though I was in a sculpture.

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  • I love the plywood! My only concern is clean-up. Would this stain very easily or is there a treatment/finish that goes on top for easy clean-up?

    • Hello,
      Nowadays the products to protect plywood are very good, they are liquid latex paints that protect the wood from stain and water. Having said that as a matter of fact only artificial materials are totally safe from stains and scratches but the inevitable damage is part of the beauty of natural material.

  • Question about blond wood – how well does it maintain its color over time? I feel as if many woods become orange.

  • I have the same question expressed by others — how does plywood hold up against darkening and showing stains? I can imagine the oils from hands repeatedly placed in the same spots would change the wood’s color. Is the plywood we see in decor spreads protected somehow?

  • In answer to the questions above, we’ve had a few cabinets made from architectural ply which are around 9 years old now. Over time, ply will naturally age and go gold – this is the nature of the wood and is a reflection of the product itself. You can get different grades of ply, and the higher the quality the less ‘dark’ it will appear. If you’re concerned about how yellow it could be, some people also get coloured washes on the wood, such as white or pastel pink.

    In terms of protection/cleaning, you can get it coated with a light treatment, almost like a wax, which will help prevent day to day marks. However, we never got this done, and its surprising as to how not-dirty it is. Architectural ply comes with a basic treated coat already, meaning it doesn’t get as grubby as the stuff from IKEA. The worst we’ve had is food stains, wet mouldy rings from pot plants and such, which I removed with a hand sander.

  • I have a plywood interior home, and we applyed a very matte seal which makes wiping the walls easy and protects them from staining. Apparently seals with a higher gloss can yellow over time. I’ve noticed some slight deepening of colour of the walls but nothing very noticable, and the walls are two years old now. No splinters, and overall very low matinence. I’m still enjoying the aesthetic two years on, depsite some concerns I’d get sick of it.

  • I used plywood on the walls of my finished basement/office/bedrooms. I used tung oil cut with a little orange oil to treat the wood. It’s been up for almost 3 years and held up with no weird stains or anything like that. I like the look. I’m a little nervous about what will happen if/when I have to open up a wall for something (leak, critter removal, etc.) Pics here https://goo.gl/photos/CvQjC3MQM5HCWvZc8

  • Wow! It really looks great. And you know what, I am also excited to try this on my own. You’ve been a good inspiration also when it comes to doing diy project that is not complicated like this. Thanks for sharing.

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