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A Very Cool Place to Call Home


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Domestic and International Woods Compliment Each Other in Unique Applications Throughout This Home. Red Grandis was stained to highlight the beautiful grain for the doors and casings, as well as the exterior shutters, while the porch swing is painted red grandis. Painted shiplap cypress was used for the exterior siding. 


Ground was broken for the Mitchell family’s 3,700 square foot ranch-style residence in Cummings, Georgia in June of 2013. Despite pesky zoning and rain delays hampering the construction process, the Mitchells are not out of the woods yet. Indeed, they may never be out of the woods. Their brand new home literally abounds with wood of all kinds, including both exotic and domestic species.

Hal Mitchell, a self-described “wood fanatic,” selected much of the wood for the Lake Lanier home, including the sapele and red grandis which is used extensively in the home. Jillian Mitchell, a commercial interior designer, was largely responsible for the home’s interior and exterior design and many of the innovative wood applications. 



Red Grandis: Sustainability and Beauty

Red grandis (Eucalyptus grandis) is abundant in the residence with more than 23,000 board feet of the species throughout the home. The interior and exterior doors, Bahama shutters, base and crown moldings, door jams and casings and plinth blocks at the base of the doorways are all made of red grandis. Inside the home, eucalyptus ship wrap siding clads the walls instead of sheet rock.





“We used 5,000 board feet of red grandis for the doors alone,” said Mitchell. “I even used it to build a bunk bed with a fire truck ladder for my son who is crazy about fire fighting equipment,” he added.


“I became familiar with red grandis when we received a shipment of it from Uruguay in 2007,” Mitchell said. “Since the wood was not up to our quality standard, I went to Uruguay to advise the producer on improving their grading and kiln drying processes. While I was there, I just fell in love with the product.”


Uruguayan red grandis is plantation grown and harvested using FSC certified forestry practices. The species resembles mahogany in hardness, density and grain structure. It is aesthetically similar to cherry, mahogany or Spanish cedar when first sawn. Over time, the wood oxidizes and its color deepens to a rich dark red. Among its positive attributes are its physical workability, stability, durability and resistance to decay. In addition, it is highly sustainable and FSC rated so availability and quality are very consistent. Another plus is that the price point is significantly less than mahogany or sapele. 





Mitchell, who holds a master’s degree in Wood Sciences from Virginia Tech, says, “I have always loved the beauty of hardwoods.” His passion for wood began when he was a youngster growing up on a family farm in Virginia where he and his father sawed poplar for local farmers at their sawmill. Today, Mitchell is Vice President of sales at Atlanta Hardwood Corporation.



Adding Drama with Quarter-sawn Ribbon-striped Sapele

Another exotic hardwood, Sapele (Entandrophragma cylindricum), makes a dramatic statement in the foyer of the Mitchell home, where there is a four-paneled accent wall of quarter-sawn, ribbon-striped sapele. “The wall is somewhat of an anomaly since it’s quite different in style from the rest of the house,” Mitchell notes. “But it’s very striking and beautiful. I think it’s my favorite feature in the entire home. The panels are finished with a clear, natural finish so the sapele grain really pops and the ribbons stand out.”


Besides the distinctive ribbon pattern seen on quartersawn boards, sapele is also known for various other figured grain patterns, including pommele, quilted, mottled, wavy, beeswing and fiddleback.

Infusing Exotic Species with Local Woods for a Distinct Look  

In addition to the exotic species, there is a profusion of domestic wood applications in the Mitchell residence, including cedar shake roofing, cypress siding and decking and flat sawn sequence-matched paneled cabinetry. A screened-in porch features western red cedar walls and flooring made from thermally modified sweet gum.



The thermal modification treatment process involves heating the wood to 400 degrees to burn off sugar carbs previously locked in the wood. Once the sugar carbs are gone, the wood is no longer susceptible to decay or fungus. In addition, it turns a luscious rich chocolate color and becomes very stable. The process was used to treat the sweet gum wood of the porch and the exterior garage door of the Mitchell residence.

“The house has a very natural, rustic look and feel. It’s just a wonderful, warm, comfortable place and a very cool place to call home,” notes Mitchell.   IW


Hal Miitchell
Atlanta Hardwood Corporation