Saturday, September 8, 2012

From a Fairy Tale Farm to My Client's Kitchen: Creating A Reclaimed Wood Island

I love using reclaimed wood to design furniture and cabinetry, and I'm always intrigued by the stories about where the wood came from.  I've sourced reclaimed wood from an old tobacco farm in Kentucky, from a Mennonite Church Community Farm up North,and even my own backyard.   For a recent project, the wood from an old, tear-down barn in Wisconsin, The Fromm Brothers Farm, was used to make kitchen islands and a bath vanity for two of my clients.  The story behind where this wood came from is really interesting. I actually read it to my kids.  They kept asking, "Mommy, is this a true story?"

Photos of two old barns that one of my local salvage yards received wood from recently. The Farm Brothers Barn is pictured above.

Below is a summary of the Fromm Brothers Farm from the Fromm Bros. Historical Preservation Society, Inc. but the actual tale is much more interesting and can be read here.

Nestled in the heart of Wisconsin’s Northwoods is an amazing story of success, innovation and persistence that will inspire and amaze you, a story that proves “truth is stranger than fiction.”    

In the 1930's, the Fromm Bros. Farm was noted to be the largest commercial fur farm in the world, known as the home of the "million dollar foxes" after the New York Auction Co. wrote a $1.3 million check for the fox pelts in 1929. After losing 1/3 of their foxes to disease, the Fromms invested $1 million and hired a researcher who developed a distemper vaccine which is still used in animals today. In 1934 they built a grand 5600 square-foot clubhouse to entertain the world's most elite guests. This clubhouse can be toured in its original condition, including an original 1935 Brunswick four-lane bowling alley.

Of course the fur operation is long gone, due to changing times among other things. The last of the family's personal effects were sold at auction in 1991.

And now the wood from one of the old barns fell into the hands of the salvage yard I use in Petaluma, Heritage Salvage, to build beautiful reclaimed wood cabinets drenched with character and in this case a rich historical past.

This is the pile of wood from the Fromm Brothers Farm my clients got to visit when they were selecting the materials and reviewing the specifications for their custom islands and vanities.  It's such a treat to see where their actual cabinetry materials came from!

Here is the wood up close.  We thought it was white oak but after they milled the wood, I got a call from the yard saying it was something else instead. We didn't care.  The wood is gorgeous anyway.  The beauty of using reclaimed wood is you really don't know what you're going to get until you get it!

I think this the machine they use to plane the wood.

Here we are in the "office" reviewing the design of the island and talking to the head craftsman about how he's going to take that old barnwood and turn into a beautiful new kitchen island.
And here is the final product in my client's new kitchen.  It's so much more interesting than what you'd purchase from a regular cabinet shop.  It comes with history and the feel-good notion of using something old that's completed its lifecycle to create something new.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed working with Jenna, she a great designer!