About Dennis Shanoff
Dennis moved from Connecticut to south western New Hampshire 12 years ago to be closer to the outdoor recreational opportunities northern New England offers. His hobbies include regional travel, motorcycling, hiking, camping & woodworking. Dennis' main inspiration for writing is to share the great
things he discovers about northern New England while out exploring the small cities & countryside.
Posts by Dennis
Vermont’s Newest Fine Furniture Showroom Coming Soon.
It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the one year mark in bringing Stonehurst to it’s new life. The journey began last June when during our search for a unique and special place for our new HQ we found Stonehurst. (I am pretty certain it was love at first sight for Peggy) That was a summer of contracts and inspections plus a boat load of paperwork. But by fall we had keys in hand and so we began our search for the “just right” construction team. One that could transform our dream and visions into reality. Winter soon arrived and so did all the heavy equipment, tools, material and construction talent and work began. With Vermont winters being what they are the construction team was certainly counting the days till spring but they made great headway during a classic Vermont winter. We have now seen Stonehurst through 4 seasons, taken her apart and put her back together (well almost!) We know her so well now and our team is very anxious to make this our new home.
According to the construction timeline plan we should be ready to occupy Stonehurst on May 17th. The site is certainly active right now as the various and carefully coordinated tradesman do their thing to ensure we get in by that day. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, painters, landscapers and a few other trades all working together and putting the finishing touches on it. Very busy indeed up there.
Then we have our work cut out for us in seamlessly moving our whole operation, fortunately and thankfully just a few miles down the road. Very fitting that Vermont Woods Studios remains in Vernon, it’s birth town. You will no doubt hear when we make the move and we will let everyone know when the new showroom is open for business. It shouldn’t be long. We hope you get the chance to visit and we hope you find Stonehurst to be a special and unique place too. We hope to see you there!
Bluebird Nesting Boxes Installed, Who Will Move in First?
Back in March I wrote a blog post about our Bluebird nesting box project. Since our new Stonehurst property had the right environment (open grassy fields) for nesting Bluebirds and we had some extra lumber the Green Team went into action. It was a tough winter so it took a bit this year for the snow to finally melt away so we could complete the final phase of our project. Plus that’s about the time Bluebirds return to these parts. But what we really needed was some thawed ground. These nest boxes need to go out in the open field which necessitated driving metal mounting posts a few feet deep into the ground. Bluebirds forage on open grassy ground and we were able to get 4 boxes in. (Bluebirds prefer some space between their nests)
For those of you who may not have heard, Stonehurst is going to be the home of our new Vermont made furniture showroom. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians and painters have been very busy since January remodeling this old farmhouse. According to the latest project schedule we should be able to begin the move in sometime mid May. Everyone here sure is eager to move into our new home! But I suspect the Bluebirds should discover these recently installed nest boxes any day now and will probably be moved and settled in before we do!
In the meantime, I will go up to Stonehurst every few days to check the nest boxes and look for signs of move in. (Bluebirds use grass for a nesting material) While I am up there I will check on our construction team to see when our new nest will be ready. Stay tuned for future blogs to see what our nest box project yields.
Best Outdoor Furniture
When it comes to the best outdoor furniture, what would your criteria be? After many conversations with our customers we have found five things that is on everyone’s wishlist.
1. Zero Maintenance
2. Sturdiness and Durability
5. American Made
Polywood Outdoor Furniture
We have only been able to find one manufacturer that fits our customer’s 5 point criteria, and that is Polywood.
1. Zero Maintenance
Polywood is constructed with recycled plastic lumber, which is designed to resist fading; won’t splinter, crack, or rot; and never requires refinishing.
2. Sturdiness and Durability
Polywood is as thick and heavy as conventional wood lumber, assuring that it will hold up for heavy use or won’t blow all over your yard.
With 20 collections and 13 colors to choose from, there’s a piece of Polywood outdoor furniture for all tastes.
90% of Polywood’s lumber is made from post-consumer recycled plastic. Typically, containers such as water bottles, milk jugs, ect. The average Polywood adirondack chair requires 500 milk jugs to manufacture.
5. American Made
Polywood is 100% made in America for over 20 years and is the premiere plastic outdoor furniture maker in the industry. In recent years, there have been a lot of companies trying to produce a similar product, but Polywood innovated this process, and no one can beat the original.
We offer the full Polywood product line, and you can check it out on our website. As an authorized Polywood dealer, we try to keep it competitively priced, tax-free, and offer free shipping. If you have any questions about our Polywood outdoor furniture, feel free to contact us.
It’s officially Spring, but you wouldn’t know that from the outside temperatures this week. But, it hasn’t slowed down our remodel crew a bit. Based on our most recent construction meeting, it looks like the last hammer swing will be around the third week of May. Of course we are anxious to move in and excited to welcome our customers to our new home.
So most of the recent activity has been on the interior and the different spaces are taking shape quite nicely. One area we really love and feel our customers will love too is the customer welcome area. This space was formally a kitchen, and it never really took advantage of the gorgeous view. We decided to put in as much glass as possible to best capture this view. We think this is a perfect space for our customers to soak in the scenery. Our photo below shows the transformation of this space.
Check back soon to see this room when it is finished and see how the rest of the spaces are coming along. Looking forward to opening our doors for you this Summer.
To get caught up on the Vermont Woods Studios showroom remodel, see the Stonehurst section of our blog.
Vermont Tourism, Travel well informed with guide in hand
Planning a trip to Vermont? We at Vermont Woods Studios like to promote all the great things about Vermont and help our showroom visitors get the most out of their visit to Vermont. So, we’ll tell you what we tell them: get a copy of Vermont: An Explorer’s Guide. This aptly named guidebook is the definitive Vermont travel resource for anyone interested in exploring Vermont. First published 30 years ago and recently refreshed, this 13th edition will take you through the entire state and highlight the best of what Vermont has to offer. It is the work of veteran travel writer, Christina Tree, and coauthor, Rachel Carter who had the enviable task of traveling all over the state to experience first hand all the best in Vermont lodging, dining, recreation, and sightseeing. What else will you find in the guide? Over 100 inspiring photographs, detailed maps, popular event and festival listings, plus essential travel information. To quote Yankee Magazine, “Our #1 travel tip: get this guide.”
You can order the book or learn more about this comprehensive guide book and it’s authors by visiting their website. In Vermont’s buy local spirit, I decided to purchase my copy of this book from a Brattleboro, Vermont independent bookseller, Everyone’s Books.
When we first purchased Stonehurst, it was evident that about six different trees needed to be removed, as they were much too close to the house. Not wanting them to go to waste, we sawed what we could into lumber and trimmed the rest for fire wood. One of the trees was a Norway Spruce, so Ken didn’t have his eye on it for furniture. So, we decided it would be perfect lumber to make some bird nesting boxes. We called in the help of Vince Johnson, of Vernon, who set up his portable sawmill on site. He was able to get a good amount out of that Spruce tree and we had plenty for our project.
Part of Stonehurst is potentially creating a nature center and we will always look for ways to preserve the natural habitat for all the native species on the property. With Stonehurst having a fair amount of open fields, it is a perfect habitat for the Eastern Bluebird and Tree Swallows, both cavity nesters. Also, the field edges would make a good spot for some Black Capped Chickadee nest boxes.
We found a bluebird nesting box plan and some members of the Green Team took over Ken’s workshop. We made a bunch of nesting boxes for the bluebirds, but ran out of time for the chickadees, so that’s something that we will get back to. The next step is to get out to the fields to mount these in just the right places. We want to get them up before the end of March, which is typically the time these species start to look for a nesting place. We will report on that in the coming weeks as well as keep you updated as these nest boxes become occupied.
Platform beds with storage drawers are seeing an increase in popularity these days, especially where bedrooms are small and and storage space needs are large. And with the average apartment size bedroom offering only 100 – 140 square feet of floor space it only takes a queen size bed to consume 25 – 35% of your precious floor space (not including nightstands). So, by starting your bedrooms furnishings with a storage bed with drawers you will have the equivalent of a good size chest of drawers without encroaching on any valuable square footage.
Even if you have the luxury of a spacious master bedroom suite there still might be a better use for all that floor space under the bed? Not to mention one less place to dust as often. And while plastic storage tote boxes can be used under the bed, I think we would all prefer not to have to see those. Plus these tote boxes can scratch your wood floors finish over time as they are dragged in and out from under your bed. Definitely not the solution for fans of neat and tidy.
Under bed storage drawers are a perfect space for your everyday items, seasonal wear, or even your extra bed linens, blankets, etc and we have been getting more calls for this type of bed / storage solution. At Vermont Woods Studios we offer a variety of wood platform storage beds. These beds all have 2 large drawers per side creating the perfect his and hers storage space. All feature solid hardwood construction, are naturally finished in your choice of Cherry, Walnut, and Maple with sizes ranging from Twin to California King. Included in our storage bed lineup is our Copeland line which includes 5 platform styles that are available with optional unique open nightstands which allow full opening of the bed drawers.
So if you are looking for a more attractive, easier to use system and give those items hiding under your bed a better place to live then you just may want to take a closer look at some platform storage beds with drawers.
Wood and Metal Tables
Vermont furniture ancestry traces back over 200 years. Beautifully simple and functional designs in pure, natural hardwood is the Vermont signature style today. Could it be something very different is in the works? Within the past few months we have seen a new trend with tables large and small that is quite popular in the major metro areas. It’s a blend of live edge or reclaimed woods with sturdy raw or finished metal underpinnings, metal industrial in look. For decades metal furniture was commonly paired with glass tops and the ornate metal work was the style focal point. However, in traditional and even most contemporary Vermont furniture metal is typically reserved for simply the hardware components.
What’s the inspiration behind the pieces? It is driven by a love or appreciation of real wood in it’s minimally altered state. Others want a connection to the past when reclaimed wood is the chosen top. The choice of metal legs is one of pure function and minimal distraction allowing the unique wood top to float in your space. The style certainly makes a handmade statement.
Is there a name for this style yet? Not sure anyone has claimed one yet but my associate Heather likes to call it industrial meets rural. I have been calling it wood-n-metal. At first I wasn’t seeing it for me, but the more I look at this pairing the more it grows on me. I now can see where pinning wood legs underneath may distract from the beauty of the carefully chosen wood top which, rightfully, should get the most attention.
We’ve recently added this new (indus-tree-al) style to our online gallery with three coffee tables. Our versions include a reclaimed, live edge, and a hardwood plank top. Each of these unique wood tops are supported by a powder coated steel base.
Look for more Furniture Fashion posts in the future!
Guest Blogger: Dennis Shanoff
Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture
Love Vermont Maple Syrup? Check out Vermont’s Maple Producers Open House Weekend!
Vermont sure has a whole lot of trees and it is estimated that over 75% of the state is forested. And the biggest percentage of these trees just happens to be of the maple variety.
Well year round these abundant maple trees provide wood and lumber for a variety of products such as wood bowls, cutting boards, wood toys, and of course maple wood furniture.
But come February and March these maple trees are known to produce a very special treat, real Vermont maple syrup! And no wonder with so many sugar maple trees that Vermont is the largest producer of pure organic maple syrup (not a single ingredient added) in the United States. And Vermont’s perfect climate and soil conditions also play a part in our quantity and quality of maple syrup.
So with the maple sugar season in full swing, now is the time to plan to visit Vermont and see first hand what this sugaring is all about! And you can’t beat the upcoming Vermont Maple Open House Weekend (held March 24th and 25th) to experience maple syrup production up close. This is a public celebration of the maple syrup season in Vermont and a great opportunity to visit one or more sugarhouses and see just how the clear sap of the maple tree is transformed into a delicious golden syrup.
See you at the Sugar House!
By Dennis Shanoff
Since tropical storm Irene hit us this summer I had taken a little break from writing about Vermont’s happenings and attractions. I wanted to allow some time for the people, businesses, and roads to heal from the unexpected and in some cases overwhelming destruction. And just about all my favorite destinations and roads were hit pretty hard and I felt it was best to just stay out of the way until things had a chance to mend. Well tremendous progress has been made the past few months so I have begun to revisit my favorite places and resum my deeper exploration of this interesting and beautiful state.
Most of you probably know that Vermont is renowned for its fine arts & craft population. Scattered about the state are thousands of artists and craftspeople who make their living from their handiwork. And throughout the year various regional Vermont craft associations sponsor a “craft tour” weekend. What this means is that you visit a region where you can drive from artist studio to studio. And one of the more famous ones is coming up soon! Thirty two years in the running, the Putney Area Craft Tour will host their open studio event during Thanksgiving weekend from November 25 – 27. Putney has a great concentration of fine artisans so here is your chance to visit 27 working studios, meet the artisans and see where and how these unique craft objects and fine art are created. You name it and you will find it here, from all art mediums, to jewelry, textiles, wood & metal works, and of course pottery and glass blowing. You can preview the artisans work and plan your visit at the Putney Crafts Tour website. Here you will find a tour map as well as information on places to eat and stay. And it’s timed just right so that perhaps you can make this part of your American Made holiday shopping experience. Sounds more fun then the typical “mall madness trip” experience, doesn’t it? Hope you can make it!