A few times a year I go into home improvement mode. Usually it’s triggered by seasonal shifts (new storage solutions for winter clothes!) or the occasional curtain rod breaking over my head in the middle of the night (new window treatments in every room!).
Most recently, I found myself in need of something standard to many homes: a coffee table. For more than a year, I had been using a well-placed ottoman for things like holding stacks of magazines or putting my feet up at the end of the day. But the cushioned stool was small, and I was sharing couch space with someone whose feet were bigger than mine. It was time for an upgrade.
I started by shopping the big box stores – West Elm, CB2, Pottery Barn – but the results were underwhelming and overpriced. If I was going to plunk down my pretty pennies for a new piece of furniture, I wanted it to be beautiful, handmade, and basically last the rest of my life. That’s when it hit me: reclaimed wood.
With a new goal in mind, I found three designers using supplies like old barn doors, floor beams, and discarded lumber to create unique decor out of would-be landfill fodder.
The first, Andre Joyau, was a French-born artist who had been designing eco-friendly tables, chairs, and beds for more than 25 years. His modern aesthetic mixed sharp angles with organic shapes (such as the Natural End Coffee Table that looks like a sliced tree stump with three different colors of wood and a polished top). Once I saw that his pieces had been featured in magazines, like Architectural Digest, I knew they were outside of my price range but left me with something to aspire to.
The second studio, Recycled Brooklyn, was started by Matt and Steve Loftice, two brothers who filled their homes with furniture they made from found items (doors, pipes). Most of their big and heavy pieces feature welded steel – either as table legs or drawer handles – and salvaged fir floor beams, although pine, oak, and walnut make appearances in their online shop. With two coffee table designs to choose from, I was leaning toward the two-level model with mesh steel side panels but ended up feeling the design didn’t jive with the rest of my living room. However, as soon as I have more space, I’ll be back to pick up their six-foot tall Monster Mirror wired with Edison bulb light fixtures on top.
After scouring Etsy for what seemed like hours, I came across a husband-and-wife design and fabrication team based out of Chicago who owns the studio Dendro, Co. Their profile said they work out of a 7,500 square foot warehouse, shaping bar stools, wine racks, and tables out of recycled barn wood. I was immediately hooked on an old-growth douglas fir coffee table with slender, mid-century modern hairpin legs. I received the piece within a week and it came with a surprise gift of wood-scrap coasters burned with my husband and my initials.
There’s really nothing like handmade.