I was in the warehouse the other day looking over some pieces when I was reminded how much reclaimed, recycled and/or renewable materials are definitely a growing trend. A quick Google turns up a range of articles from Reclaimed furniture: Give trees a chance to buzz on various designer blogs. Even Furniture Industry trade publications are recognizing this trend which really started to take off last year. Furniture Today wrote an article entitled “Several sources introduce lines with reclaimed wood.” Another from FurnitureStyle Magazine is called “Las Vegas Furniture Market: Beyond Distressed.”
Reclaimed & salvaged materials are environmentally friendly in that there are no new trees cut down to make the piece. Sources of wood may be old railroad ties, beams from old houses that have been demolished or even old doors. Old elm tends to be a favorite as Elm in fairly common in China. Pine is also an option as well. Other woods are also used like cypress, walnut or beech though these woods are much less common and not available in large quantities.
Since the material has been aged it tends to be more stable then new wood (which must otherwise be kiln dried and chemically treated before it can be made to be stable). In essence, pieces created from salvaged materials are antique in a very unusual way – as the materials themselves have their own story, rather then the finished piece. Finishes are less of an issue to as rather then spend time carefully creating the right distressed finish, the focus is on the already distressed natural appearance of the wood. Construction is typically using the traditional methods of tongue/groove and Chinese joinery.Reclaimed wood furniture tends to fall within either one of following three classifications:
- Antique / Vintage: Often these are antique farm items which have simply been given a clean up. In other cases they have been stripped down and their original finish removed. Often traces of the original finish & color remain giving each piece its own unique “hue.”
- Salvaged & Rebuilt: Old doors converted into tables tops with bases added are a good example of this. The prime element here is that a good portion of the piece is in fact antique and can be distinguished as so.
- New designs from old materials: These are basically new pieces built with primarily reclaimed materials and its for this reason that the line between salvaged and new can become a bit blurry. The dining table below from ACF China Co as well as the “Haider Natural” Dining Furniture from Horchow Collection & Four Hands are good example of this. The design on the Horchow table has clearly been updated for the western buyer as the bottom stretcher would not an original feature on a Chinese type of table.
So, where is it reclaimed wood furniture being sold on the web? What are the popular looks?
Here are a few nicer examples:
Reclaimed Elm Table from Neiman Marcus.
From the The Olde Good Things Webstore. Looks so similar I wonder if it originally came from us?!