You only need to search for ‘Rustic farmhouse + exposed beams’ on Pinterest to know how much of a thing wood rafters are. Once the mainstay of timber-framed houses, for centuries beams were hidden away, only ever encountered on forays into the attic. Essential, but rarely seen – they were the architectural equivalent of showing your underwear in public.

But when the Seventies nostalgia movement heralded a revival of all things olde worlde, the exposed beam found its place in the style pantheon. More recently, the clever juxtaposition of modern materials with raw timber has seen the exposed beam graduate from the Tudorbethan pub to hip barn conversions and urban loft developments, plus improvements in insulation mean we’ve no need for such space-depleting extravagance as a false ceiling.

Today, the exposed beam is a great example of new functionalism – the design world’s antidote to minimalism, which is all about showing your workings instead of hiding it all away. See also: bare brick walls, exposed light bulbs and untreated floorboards…

Details: Lucky enough to already have a fine set of beams? Revamp them at Back from Black Beam Renovation, from £60 per sq m. You can also invest in faux beams, with prices startingat £45 for a 6ft design at Oakleaf Reproductions.

Shining a spotlight on the now and the next in home design and decor, Livingetc is the UK's best selling high end and contemporary home design magazine. As a brand, Livingetc showcases the world's very best homes, breaks and makes the trends, and has access to leading international designers for insight and ideas. It was first published in 1998, and is currently edited by Pip Rich.