Reclaimed Wood

By Dan Gregory

Reclaimed teak (from Terramai) was used for the cabinet fronts on this pool counter.

Going with the Grain

Reclaimed wood is an important, relatively new option for your new home. I am reminded  of the timbers reclaimed from urban forests that the remarkable Zen priest Paul Discoe mills and then shapes into furniture like his Tenon Bench,Paul Discoe tenon bench redwood IMG_4597
where the joint becomes a simple but sculptural gesture of connection and 
Paul Discoe tenoin bench detail
support, and the grain and knots express the nature of the material — as Frank Lloyd Wright so often advocated. Paul is the craftsman who designed and built the elegant, nail-less, Japanese tea house, gateways, and otherPaul Discoe gateway 1415WoodOne0922-2
structures at Larry Ellison’s (CEO of Oracle Corporation) extraordinary Woodside, California estate that is essentially a reinvention — and riff on, not a rip off — of Katsura, the great Japanese Imperial Villa in Kyoto. So he knows a lot about wood. Paul’s company is called, appropriately, Joinery Structures (images courtesy JS). And a Discoe bench costs somewhat less than an imperial villa.

But if there is no Zen priest master builder in your neighborhood — or wind-downed trees ready to be milled — here are some other ways to explore the possibilities of reclaimed wood. An increasing  number of companies specialize in dismantling old barns and other usually derelict buildings and re-milling the wood for floors, cabinetry, siding and more. There is Pioneer Millwork, which offers six reclaimed wood flooring species that run about $7 per square foot. The company’s reclaimed “Mixed Brown-Gray Barn Siding” adds rustic elegance toPioneer Millworks -- Jennifers-Tub1
this modern bathroom: it’s on the walls and wraps  the base of the platform tub (I like the way the highly textural rug cleverly resembles wood chips). Pioneer Millwork’s office-showrooms are in Portland and McMinnville, Oregon and Farmington, New York. The company has an entertaining blog called Designing Against The Grain that gives a running commentary on current projects.

Barnwood Industries, founded in 2004 and based in Bend, Oregon, sources its
Barnwood Industries -- Exterior-Beams-2
mostly fir and pine from Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and Northern California and offers everything from cabinetry and millwork to dimensional wood beams and vintage timbers, as shown in this porch photo (courtesy Barnwood Industries).

Yet another Oregon-based company is 20-plus year-old Terramai, which specializes in reclaimed woods from around the world and does a lot of commercial as well as residential work. They provided decking and benches for The High Line in New York and some years ago Sunset magazine used Terramai reclaimed wood in an Idea House project.
Terramai Residential_Los Angeles Residence_Cabinet_Slide teak
Terramai is where you will find reclaimed woods like teak, which was used for the cabinet fronts on this pool counter in Los Angeles. Interestingly, some of Terramai’s wood comes from wood harvested from underwater forests flooded for water storage and power generation. Their network is very wide (photo courtesy Terramai).

There are numerous other possibilities. For example, a friend used beautiful, cinnamon-hued, sustainably harvested madrone butcher block for  the top of his kitchen island; it’s a good way to warm up a cool modern design. Green Depot, a major source of eco-friendly home building materials — and also, inevitably, based in Oregon — offers countertops in Douglas Fir, Red Alder, Western Maple, Oregon Myrtle, Pacific Madrone, and Northwest Orchard Walnut and
their madrone comes from “urban salvage and windfall.”  I once saw a remarkable dining table milled from a single plank of old growth redwood — well, the Green Depot approach can have a similar effect, but without the 2,000 years worth of guilt (photo courtesy Green Depot). 


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