Although already familiar with The Old Wood Co (having worked with them to develop a custom dining table for a Westlake, Texas project), I was so pleased to attend a presentation at Caffrey & Company (Austin's only dealer) a few weeks ago. Not only did I get to see more of The Old Wood Co's amazing products, but I also developed a deeper understanding and appreciation for their mission and process. And who doesn't love a fun demo and transformation of an unfinished piece!
Bringing Art and Culture back to Asheville
Having worked for some of the most respected and environmentally & socially conscious furniture manufacturers in the US (such as Lee Industries and Thayer & Coggin), Darren Green set out on his own in 2007 to develop a company that would establish these philosophies as the norm, not a passing trend. At their shop in Asheville, NC you will find a collection of talented craftsmen (and lady) creating each piece with love and care. The home furnishings industry is vitally important to the economy in North Carolina, and elevating the process of manufacturing has brought The Old Wood Co to the forefront of the wood furnishings category. Through the use of high quality materials, unique design details, customization options, non-toxic finishes, and unparalleled service Darren has spent the last 11 years building a sustainable business that captures the spirit of the mountains.
Remade in the USA
The Old Wood Co specializes in reclaimed wood furnishings, and one of their signature products is live-edge tables. These tables make a gorgeous centerpiece for any dining or living space. Often fabricated from a single wood slab, the individual natural beauty and characteristics of each slab dictates the design of each piece. Knots, nail holes, worm holes, grain patterns, and lighter sap wood are all inherent to these pieces and add to the character of the space they are placed in.
Reclaimed wood is a large part of what sets The Old Wood Co apart. Working with locally sourced reclaimed wood (i.e. from old barns in North Carolina) they are able to create pieces out of woods that are no longer available - such as American Chestnut. American Chestnut is now extinct, however when salvaged from barns, truly one-of-a-kind heritage furniture can be created.
Custom. Details. Quality.
While reclaimed and live edge pieces are where they started, Darren has focused the direction of The Old Wood Co on custom pieces. Currently servicing a 30% residential and 70% commercial client base, The Old Wood Co boasts such customers as Starbucks, Panera Bread, and our very own Austin local Alamo Drafthouse. Creating custom elements ranging from freestanding furniture (coffee tables, dining tables, benches) to elaborate built in elements he adapts his talented team of craftsmen to the needs of each project and location.
Plays Well With Modern
Integrating what might be perceived as a 'rustic' element within a modern aesthetic is incredibly satisfying. Being a Designer with a modern aesthetic myself, sometimes proposing the use of a reclaimed product can be a tough sell to a client. However, I really love doing so as this is one of the ways to bring life into a space and I love the addition of warmth and texture that a reclaimed piece introduces with more modern elements.
In this dining room, the inspiration came from our client's love of nature and a desire to bring natural elements to the interior of her home - while maintaining an overall modern vibe. I kid you not the view from this room is everything - and THE reason they purchased this home in Westlake! You really feel like you're dining in a treehouse. Partnering with Caffrey & Co and The Old Wood Co we custom designed this dining table including the shape and size, as well as the finish. The powder-coated steel base allows for maximum seating (no legs to hinder chair placement) and is a sleek sculptural element. The oak top is fabricated from reclaimed wood and finished with an ebony stain. We celebrated the natural beauty of the wood by keeping all of the knots, wormholes, and nail holes - in fact the more the better! Finally we enhanced the beauty and visibility of the grain with a subtle white wash. This beautiful table really epitomizes what it means to bring natural elements inside of the home.
In this living room, the finishes are modern and monochromatic. This coffee table fabricated from a slab of walnut maintains the live edge of the wood - however this time the live edge is placed to the interior of the table and creates a 'river' through the table - enhanced by a piece of glass cut to match the live edge. If you look closely at the larger wood side, you can see the face of a fox! (This table was created by another amazing fabricator - Austin local 4th Edition Design.)
Reclaimed wood on the walls - oh YES! In this bathroom we designed for a lakehouse, the inspiration was to create the feeling of bathing in nature. We covered an entire wall with reclaimed wood and through a special technique, burned the silhouette of a tree right onto the wood after it was installed.
Right before our very eyes!
The most fun at our day at Caffrey & Company had to be the finishing demonstration. Darren brought a gorgeous side table that had what at first appeared to be an etched tree pattern on the top. In fact, this pattern was not etched but was created by fractal burning. Essentially fractal burning is the art (science) of burning lightning or tree-like figures into wood using high voltage electricity. The process creates a 'struck by lightning' effect. To begin, the wood is dampened and a tool that creates a live electrical current is attached to the wood. The tool is activated and the burning begins. While there is a great deal of randomness in the patterns created, experienced technicians can help guide the currents to develop the pattern to their liking. While this is a cool technique that produces a beautiful effect, please leave the fractal burning to the experts!
Demonstrating his simple yet effective finishing technique, Darren transformed the raw wood to a finished product with a coat of FDA approved linseed oil. The color and grain of the wood is immediately enhanced by the oil, and a protective barrier develops utilizing a safe non-toxic natural material rather than a chemical compound. And since this is a natural finish, the piece can easily be refinished as needed without having to strip away a heavy coat of chemicals.
With a wet sanding technique and a few coats of the linseed oil, this table is ready to go to its new home and is just gorgeous! I wish I had been able to bring it home with me!