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Using Wooden Walls to Connect Indoor and Outdoor Hotel Spaces

wood in hotel design

Using wood in hotel design is nothing new. As long as we’ve been putting people up in rooms for the night, we’ve used wood to construct and beautify hotels. It’s a versatile material with both aesthetic and acoustic benefits and conveys a cozy feel that’s sure to make guests feel comfortable.

There are a wide range of benefits that go along with using wood in hotel construction. Today, we’ll look at some of those benefits, as well as cover how to utilize the latest wood design trends to tie your indoor and outdoor spaces together with the warmth of wood.

Benefits of Using Wood in Hotel Design

Few things feel as warm and natural as wood. Going with wood in any construction and design project is also good for the planet, building acoustics, and our mental health. This extraordinary combination makes using wood in hotel design a win-win. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Wood is Natural

Using natural, sustainable resources like wood in our construction projects is helpful to the environment. Wood doesn’t use a lot of chemicals or produce a lot of waste in its production, meaning wildlife isn’t affected by toxic byproducts as a result. Choosing fast-growing species like pine, maple, or bamboo allows the plants to replenish their population, get cut into new construction materials, and repeat the process endlessly.

Wood is Versatile

Timber is made of strong fibers that are infinitely moldable. That means that we can use wood in hotel design to create all the elegant and intricate elements that will provide the details our guests will remember. Whether you’re after swirling staircase spindles, dark wood wall panels, or elaborate entryways, wood will deliver.

Wood Requires Simple Maintenance

When compared with other material choices, wood requires little maintenance and lower priced fixes. For outdoor spaces in a hotel, wood maintenance can be accomplished through annual staining and weatherproofing. The elements will take a toll, so this simple step can make your outdoor decor last. Failure to maintain can result in rotted, warped, or cracked wood. Fortunately, using wood means that we can often fix repairs by replacing one or two boards rather than an entire slab of concrete.

Wood Improves Acoustics

Another benefit of using wood in hotel design is that it has a very positive effect on the acoustics. That’s because it strikes a nice balance between hard and soft, between absorptive and reflective. This unique property allows wood to deliver acoustics that outperform nearly any other material. Spaces sound neither overly loud or soft when constructed with wood surfaces.

Wood Contributes to Biophilic Design

This article is all about connecting indoor and outdoor spaces, and I would be remiss not to mention the biophilic benefits that come along with natural decor. Biophilic design refers to decorating indoor spaces with natural elements that connect us with the natural world while indoors. 

The theory is that the calming nature of natural materials helps keep us centered and relaxed. While the concept of biophilic design goes far beyond simply using wood in hotel design, custom wall panels made of wood creates a solid foundation upon which to build your biophilic vision.

Connecting indoor and outdoor spaces with wooden walls

A natural way to begin decorating with natural materials is to blur the line between your indoor and outdoor spaces. Strictly defined indoor and outdoor spaces that were popular in the last century are on their way out, and designers are instead opting for a more flowing transition that connects the indoor and outdoor sections into a single, coordinated space. 

Hotels with wood floors can accomplish this fairly simply. As a natural element itself, wood is the perfect material to bridge the gap between your indoor and outdoor spaces. Here’s how to use it effectively.

Eliminate Steps

Level changes that require steps make transitions much more noticeable. Choosing linear wood floors that span the entirety of combined indoor-outdoor spaces at the same level blurs the line between the indoor and outdoor sections of the space. This creates harmony between the two and highlights the design choices you make with the walls.

The Walls

Just like it does with floors, utilizing long stretches of wood in your walls will blur the distinction between the indoor and outdoor portions of your grand space. Passing brown wooden walls through partitions keeps our eyes moving, turning the two spaces into a single stretch. If you’re looking to create defined spaces in the outdoor area without cutting it off from the mixed space you’re creating, you’ve got options.

Wood Screens

One simple way to segment outdoor spaces is through the use of wooden screens for hotel privacy. This allows sunbathers and guests looking for an outside oasis to retain a little privacy and provide protection from wind and sun, even in the middle of open spaces. Using matching or complementary wood species will visually extend your design aesthetic without cutting off sightlines or isolating guests completely.

Keep Decor Consistent

Decorating both the indoor and outdoor spaces with the same types of plants, planters, and other artwork creates a sense of cohesion between the two. This goes a long way toward creating a sense of unity and can be accomplished with every element from the lighting to the greenery.


Embedding lighting elements into the walls delivers big benefits in the overall design. It allows you to continue your lighting scheme and highlight the stretch without the need for overhead fixtures, and it also allows you to highlight any greenery used to punctuate the wood span.


Embedding greenery into your wood walls via integrated planters or a living wall can bring eye-popping landscape design indoors and further cement the bond between the two spaces. It also creates a great contrast to the wood in hotel design. Bridging the gap between indoor and outdoor spaces effectively requires you to both bring inside elements outdoors and bring outdoor elements indoors, and plants are a perfect place to begin.

Framing the Landscape

We can also use wood elements to frame and highlight the landscape elements beyond the hotel outdoor space itself. It’s a creative way to convey a sense of sitting at the edge of a tree line in the space between sun-soaked relaxation and protection from the elements. It’s also a great way to denote individual areas without losing the view.

wood panels in hotel design

Considerations for Using Wood in Hotel Design

Hotels are all about delivering comfort and relaxation. They are places where we can rest and recoup during bucket list vacations and where we can book a staycation to take a day or two off from our busy lives. It’s no wonder that hotel decorators spend as much time creating serene spaces as they do. 

There are some very important reasons we like to use wood in hotel transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces. The cost of hotel wood construction can get expensive without proper planning, so there are several variables that you need to take into consideration before you begin.

Wood Species

There are seemingly endless wood species’ to choose from these days, and each one delivers a slightly different feel in the final product. Dark woods with a dark finish create a very warm and cozy feel, while lighter species can contribute to an airy feel with ample contrast. Aside from color differences, there are other defining characteristics that will make one species better suited to your project than others. One of them is sound control.

Sound Control

The amount of sound control you require will have a direct impact on your material choices when using wood in hotel design. Some species are harder or softer than others, meaning the acoustics will be affected differently when using one species vs another. If you want a particular species that doesn’t contribute to acoustics the way you want it to, microperforated panels are a fantastic option to find the right balance.

Microperforated Panels

In order to get the best acoustic performance possible, many hoteliers choose to go with microperforated panels. They can be constructed with nearly any type of wood veneer you can think of and may be the best way to use wooden walls for hotel soundproofing. With microperf panels, you can get the species you want with the acoustic performance to match.

The real magic of microperforated panels is delivered by the thousands of tiny holes, or micro perforations, that are drilled into the panels themselves. They reflect some sound waves back into the room and allow others to pass through the panel and into the space behind. Some of the waves that pass through will return into the room, but these perforations effectively eliminate the kinds of reflections that cause acoustical issues.

If you want even more sound control, you can add an optional acoustical backing to your panels. This layer of acoustical material traps the sound waves and prevents those that pass into the perforations from returning into the room at all. It doesn’t matter if you prefer the look of pine, walnut, or oak wood paneling for your walls. Each will perform perfectly.


Few of these considerations matter more than budget. If the price is out of reach, the process becomes painful. Make sure to choose materials that fit comfortably within your wood design budget considerations and leave room for possible surprises. Not every project goes as initially planned, and we often incur unforeseen expenses as a result. 

Working with professionals will go a long way here. We can help you identify what variables are most important to you and help you get the results you’re after within your budget. We can even help you identify examples of biophilic hotel design that will get you extra excited about the project. 

Using wood in hotel design can be both exciting and daunting. Make sure you have the support you need to make your project a success. Whether you’re in the planning phase, design phase, or have already begun your build, reach out to learn more about all that we offer.