Burnt Beauty

Charred-wood siding, aka yakisugi (shou sugi ban), emerges as the dark horse for home designers.

Photos by Aaron Davis, Nakamoto Forestry

Architect: Willie Dean, Ground Up Design Works

In the race to blend style with sustainability, a new material is gaining ground: yakisugi, also known as shou sugi ban. The charred-wood siding — made exclusively from cypress and burned through a traditional Japanese process — is becoming a favorite among custom-home designers, with seemingly no limitations to what styles it can accommodate: farmhouse or barn roofs, ranch styles with low-pitch roof lines, outdoor living areas and ultra-modern designs. “Designers pick yakisugi when they are focused on sustainably manufactured natural materials, healthy living and organic beauty,” says William Beleck, general manager of Portland’s Nakamoto Forestry North America, the country’s only importer of the material. Yakisugi has other benefits beyond style. It is low maintenance, develops a rich patina as it ages, is bug and rot resistant, costs about the same as cedar, and is even resistant to fire. Bet on this one.

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