A wood exterior on a contemporary house is more than just a casual doff of the cap to modernist architecture and a certain seventies style. Trend-mongers may credit the popularity of Mad Men, the revival of martinis, and a fascination with all things mid-century, but that gives short shrift to the simple truth: When done well, wood exteriors look great on modern homes, and for plenty of reasons. Wood adds texture and color. It brings a soulful and expressive style. But most of all, wood is the great mediator. It unifies, helping dissimilar elements like glass and cinderblock make visual sense when used together. What’s more, a house made of steel, concrete, and glass is better linked to its site and its natural surroundings when there’s wood on the outside. For a little inspiration, check out these beautiful examples of wood-graced exteriors.

Amy Albert is a senior editor at Builder.