Material Spotlight: 11 Hardworking Uses of Western Red Cedar

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By Byron Loker / Published by Dwell
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Durable, long-lasting, and insect-resistant, Western red cedar has been a building material of choice for generations. In fact, Native Americans on the western seaboard were historically known to prefer this hardy wood for their building needs.

Along with its functional nature, its soft and warm visage makes it a strong candidate for any modern space. Here are a few homes that have put it to use in imaginative ways—in both interior spaces and on exterior surfaces. 

1. Wood Beach House in the Hamptons

The master bedroom of this East Hampton vacation home features a single wall of textured Western red cedar and lighting by David Weeks Studio. "We brought the cedar siding of the exterior inside strategically, both to blur inside and out and to give texture," Young says. "Simple forms and clean lines, if done right, have a calming effect and nicely contrast the furnishings."

The master bedroom of this East Hampton vacation home features a single wall of textured Western red cedar and lighting by David Weeks Studio. "We brought the cedar siding of the exterior inside strategically, both to blur inside and out and to give texture," Young says. "Simple forms and clean lines, if done right, have a calming effect and nicely contrast the furnishings."

The metal and cedar cladding, inspired by a nearby zinc mine, continues seamlessly onto the house’s roof for a minimalist shed effect. "The drip edge turns to make the wall," explains architect Brandon Pace, "but changes above the window to accommodate a downspout. Any place where the metal contacts glass, or where you walk underneath, we have an internal gutter."

The metal and cedar cladding, inspired by a nearby zinc mine, continues seamlessly onto the house’s roof for a minimalist shed effect. "The drip edge turns to make the wall," explains architect Brandon Pace, "but changes above the window to accommodate a downspout. Any place where the metal contacts glass, or where you walk underneath, we have an internal gutter."

Completed in 2002, this Boston project is clad in Western red cedar and copper, which is slowly acquiring a green patina. Named the Valentine House for its street—which was named for the soap factory—the structure cuts a striking figure in Cambridge. 

Completed in 2002, this Boston project is clad in Western red cedar and copper, which is slowly acquiring a green patina. Named the Valentine House for its street—which was named for the soap factory—the structure cuts a striking figure in Cambridge. 

In Carlsbad, California, Sebastian Mariscal designed a Japan-inspired modern house to include a charred cedar facade and interior accents. An integrated Sub-Zero refrigerator is almost unnoticeable behind its charred cedar cladding.

In Carlsbad, California, Sebastian Mariscal designed a Japan-inspired modern house to include a charred cedar facade and interior accents. An integrated Sub-Zero refrigerator is almost unnoticeable behind its charred cedar cladding.

On the shores of New Zealand’s Lake Wakatipu, architects Bronwen Kerr and Pete Ritchie designed a relaxed family home that reclines into its spectacular landscape. Linus, Archie, and Olive relax on the home’s cedar-lined front deck that opens off the main living area.

On the shores of New Zealand’s Lake Wakatipu, architects Bronwen Kerr and Pete Ritchie designed a relaxed family home that reclines into its spectacular landscape. Linus, Archie, and Olive relax on the home’s cedar-lined front deck that opens off the main living area.

Richly hued red cedar lines the corridor of a house on the Magdalen Islands in Quebec. The view from the master bedroom down the long cedar corridor into the living room is one of the home’s real pleasures.

Richly hued red cedar lines the corridor of a house on the Magdalen Islands in Quebec. The view from the master bedroom down the long cedar corridor into the living room is one of the home’s real pleasures.

Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarked on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley. The Citrons inherited the Modernica sofa, chaise, and table from the previous owners. They added Jasper Morrison cork stools by Vitra. The cedar interior walls were inspired by the exterior cladding and are finished in orange oil beeswax by Howard.

Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarked on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley. The Citrons inherited the Modernica sofa, chaise, and table from the previous owners. They added Jasper Morrison cork stools by Vitra. The cedar interior walls were inspired by the exterior cladding and are finished in orange oil beeswax by Howard.

Brian and Joni Buzarde’s self-designed home sits on a customized chassis by PJ Trailers that’s just eight-and-a-half feet wide. The 236-square-foot trailer is clad in cedar. "When we first set out on this crazy adventure, we always pictured parking Woody in a place like this," Brian says. "We honestly couldn’t have imagined it would be this spectacular."

Brian and Joni Buzarde’s self-designed home sits on a customized chassis by PJ Trailers that’s just eight-and-a-half feet wide. The 236-square-foot trailer is clad in cedar. "When we first set out on this crazy adventure, we always pictured parking Woody in a place like this," Brian says. "We honestly couldn’t have imagined it would be this spectacular."

Zen BathWorks strengthened this large tub with an apron that doubles as a cup rest. The room’s walls are red cedar-clad to reduce visual clutter and the tub rim is indented to direct water towards a floor drain shared by a shower. Soaking tubs are often smaller than conventional tubs as the bather sits with knees to chest—great if you have a small bathroom, but want a tub.  

Zen BathWorks strengthened this large tub with an apron that doubles as a cup rest. The room’s walls are red cedar-clad to reduce visual clutter and the tub rim is indented to direct water towards a floor drain shared by a shower. Soaking tubs are often smaller than conventional tubs as the bather sits with knees to chest—great if you have a small bathroom, but want a tub.  

This house features 16-foot-high ceilings and is heated and cooled primarily from geothermal ground loops, with radiant lines inside the concrete floors. It features low-VOC paints and interior finishes, locally sourced materials, blown in soy-based spray foam exterior insulation, skylights and solatubes for natural daylighting, FSC-certified lumber, and LED light fixtures. The exterior is clad in zinc and cedar, which extends into the interior.

This house features 16-foot-high ceilings and is heated and cooled primarily from geothermal ground loops, with radiant lines inside the concrete floors. It features low-VOC paints and interior finishes, locally sourced materials, blown in soy-based spray foam exterior insulation, skylights and solatubes for natural daylighting, FSC-certified lumber, and LED light fixtures. The exterior is clad in zinc and cedar, which extends into the interior.

The outdoor shower situated off of the master bedroom is enclosed to offer privacy and features a courtyard garden. Michael Arp of Lanoha Nurseries designed the house's landscaping.

The outdoor shower situated off of the master bedroom is enclosed to offer privacy and features a courtyard garden. Michael Arp of Lanoha Nurseries designed the house's landscaping.