7 Reasons to Love Reclaimed Wood Furniture

Our hall bench is made from a piece of bowling lane.  A stamp showing that it was refinished in 1999 is visible on this side.  The other side shows the transition between the pine (which is used in the middle of a lane) and maple (which is used for the first 12 feet and the pin deck.)

Since I listed our condo and posted the photos, people have been asking me about our dining room table. While it's also my favourite piece of furniture in our home, I thought I would take an opportunity to mention a furniture trend I plan to continue supporting: Furniture made with reclaimed wood. 
It's no secret that most of our decor is vintage. We love hunting for treasures on Craigslist, cleaning and restoring them and making them our own. We think it gives our home a young, eclectic vibe... Almost as if fun people lived there instead of a high-strung Type A like me. :) Like a couple of bargain hunting magpies, we look for chrome and lucite, furniture with good lines and anything shiny and colourful. Once, we even found a church pew which was actually free as long as we could carry it! Still, I have a special love of old wood, especially if it has been made into new things. Here are my top reasons for hopping on this bandwagon and perhaps even leading the fan club of this trend:
1. It's good for the environment. Sure, we're only average recyclers and I swear we'll compost when we get a house but every small step counts, right?
2. Each piece is unique. Reclaimed wood has character. I love knowing that I eat dinner at a unique (instead of mass produced) dining table.
3. You're supporting your own community. This may not always be true but often these pieces are made my local artisans.
4. It is beautiful. This may be similar to point 2 but I love the look of knots in wood.
5. You can have it custom made to suit you. Our dining room table was designed to accommodate the dimensions of our dining room, the footprint of our chairs and it was stained to the exact shade I requested.
6. It is well made. Often, this furniture is made by skilled craftsmen and it is made to last. This more than justifies any extra expense for a beautiful piece.
7. It may not be readily available forever. The sources I am discussing today are bowling lanes and old barns. Many bowling alleys are now using synthetic alternatives to wood for their lanes and 150 year old barn boards don't grow on trees... anymore.

In my home, I currently have furniture made from both bowling lanes and barn board.  I would like to discuss each briefly.  The beautiful room photographs were taken of my home by the lovely and talented Thea Menagh.

I came across photographs of furniture made from reclaimed bowling lane wood while reading a blog article and I began searching Craigslist and Kijiji for the materials.  At the time, we had just finished our kitchen so the bowling lane counter idea, while fabulous was not something we could pursue at the moment.  We ended up deciding that we could afford the space for a small coffee table in my office and a narrow bench near the front entrance.  The problem with having a love of vintage furniture is about 50% budget and 50% finding the space. 
Corey made me a hall bench (top right) which I find helpful when putting on boots in the winter.  It bears a stamp (bottom right) from the last time it was refinished in 1999.  It also shows a lovely tongue and groove transition between the pine used in the centre of a lane and the maple used on either end.
He also made me a coffee table for my office (top and bottom left) which is made from the maple pin deck (the most expensive part of the lane, likely because it is so distinctive) and finished with some vintage hairpin legs from Etsy.
Overall, we love the look of the bowling lane wood and it looks light and artistic against our light flooring.  We bought more than we needed at the time and even have enough for a project or two for our next home.  Just keep in mind that the weight and thickness can make this wood difficult to work with.  To be honest, Corey and I could barely carry some of the longer pieces.  If you have the manpower and the tools, these would make beautiful flooring!  If you don't, companies like Counter Evolution provide the finished product:  No DIY necessary!
One of the most complimented items in our home is my gorgeous dining room table made from reclaimed barn boards.  We worked with Louis and Christee, a wonderful couple who own Provenance Harvest Tables and they allowed us to choose many features such as the type of wood, stain, thickness, style of leg, dimensions and even how smooth we wanted it sanded.  It was a perfect experience and I look forward to commissioning another table from them in the future.  They even delivered it to Toronto.  When we visited their store, Louis showed us the marks on the 150 year old barn board made by old saws.  We immediately asked that they left these marks and even small gaps between boards for a more rustic look.  On the website, our table is called the "De Sa Table" and the picture we originally sent Louis and Christee was taken before we even had baseboards installed.  On their website, Louis and Christee describe our table as being made with one inch hemlock (two inches was an option) wood which is over one hundred years old.  There is a smooth top but they (at my request) did not sand away all the character from the wood and so it has a rustic plank look.  They made it with 4 X 4 shaker style legs and stained it dark walnut.  This table is my favourite piece of furniture.  If I could make one change for next time, it would be to splurge on extensions to make the table longer.

I have never cared much for the rules regarding how many different types of wood could be mixed in one room.  For me, the variety makes a room feel more personal and fun accessories let people know that we don't take traditional decorating rules very seriously in our home.  What do you think?  How much is too much?

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