About Peggy Farabaugh
She is a CEO who brakes for salamanders, has bottle-fed rescued squirrels and spent her vacation building furniture for a rural school in Costa Rica. She believes in the future and in the people who will build it. A former distance-learning professor at Tulane University with a master’s in environmental health & safety, she turned an interest in forest conservation and endangered species into a growing, local business. She delivers rainforest statistics at breakneck speed, but knows how to slow down and appreciate the beauty of a newly finished piece of heirloom furniture.
Posts by Peggy
We work with fine furniture makers from all across the state of Vermont, representing their work for sale in our online furniture store as well as in our small Vernon, Vermont showroom. In getting to know these craftspeople and their work we’ve seen a unique “Vermont Style Furniture” emerge which is quite different from furniture made in North Carolina, Pennsylvania or any other furniture region of America.
I’ll take Vermont dining furniture for example, since it’s on sale this week. I think most furniture aficionados would categorize our dining furniture as belonging to one of these styles: Shaker, Mission, Arts and Crafts, Craftsman, Modern, Contemporary, Traditional or Transitional. In spite of the diversity of designs and the personalization that each craftsperson adds to their furniture, there are some commonalities that add up to the unique “Vermont style” that’s become so iconic.
First and foremost is the natural, wood character of the furniture. Vermont craftspeople tend to eschew the dark stains often seen on trendy furniture, preferring instead to focus on the natural beauty of the wood. Second is the embracement of simple, elegant styles such as the Shaker, craftsman and mission styles.
Whereas once fine Vermont made furniture was embellished with intricate hand-carvings, now the trend has been reversed. I think the advent of CNC routers was the main driver of this reversal. It became so inexpensive to produce carved detail with CNC machines in China that– in many customers’ minds– those details became less representative of fine craftsmanship and more indicative of mass production.
Vermont has always been about authentic craftsmanship and what we see here in the Green Mountain State is a consistent focus on quality, integrity and natural beauty. That’s what continues to set Vermont style furniture apart from products coming from other states and countries. What do you think of Vermont style furniture? We’d love to know. Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook.
Vermont woodworkers: the 10th Annual Vermont Fine Furniture Festival is upon us. Hard to believe it’s been ten years since VWMA (the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association) first led the initiative to share Vermont’s exquisitely beautiful handmade wood furniture with the rest of the world. Kathleen Wanner and a number of other visionaries in the Vermont wood working community began work in 2003 on what is now one of the Top 10 Fall Events in New England. It’s the Vermont Fine Furniture and Woodworking Festival and woodworkers throughout the Green Mountain State are encouraged to participate.
This year the Fine Furniture Festival is being held September 28-29 in Woodstock, Vermont at the Union Arena. Woodworkers can contact Erin Lorentz at VWMA to register for the show and/or the annual design competition (more about that later). Just to let fellow Vermont woodworkers know… the show really has an expansive reach. In addition to hundreds of craftsmanship fans from New England you may well meet customers from across America, Canada and beyond. We had a couple from California come to visit us at the festival a few years ago and we’ve run into shoppers from Alberta, UK and Germany as well. Vermont fine furniture has a good reputation and a far reach!
The woodworking festival is paired with the Forest Festival at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park on the same weekend and free shuttle buses run between the two locations. This gives visitors a chance to see and experience the sustainable forests of Vermont that supply the wood our furniture is made of. I can’t think of a better way for visitors to spend a sunny Autumn day, than taking in these two quintessential Vermont festivals. Be a part of it!
We have a couple new handmade dining tables that have been getting great reviews lately. This one’s the Vermont Modern Pedestal Table and it’s shown here in solid cherry wood. I love it! Such a simple design, but you’d be surprised how hard it is to pull this off with elegance. The proportions have to be just perfect and the curves (as they say) have to be in all the right places.
All of our dining tables are built to order and can be easily customized online or in the showroom, but for some reason this Vermont Modern Pedestal Table is becoming a favorite for customization. We’ve built it in solid cherry as well as solid maple, walnut and oak. You can easily customize the wood online using the drop down menus and many people do, although we are always at the ready if questions or concerns come up. Monday, a customer decided to choose cherry wood for the legs and maple wood for the top. That’s something we have to do by phone or in person but it’s no trouble at all.
Now about size. You can select from 5 standard solid top table sizes (36″ diameter, 42″diameter, 48″diameter, 54″diameter, and 60″diameter) online. For extension tables, we offer the same 5 diameter sizes, each with an 18″ leaf. If you still can’t find the right size, give us a call and we’ll customize your dining table to fit exactly into your space.
One last thing. Most of our handmade dining tables can be customized in the shape you need as well. The Rectangular Vermont Modern Trestle Dining Table is customizable online with the same four solid wood choices (cherry, maple, walnut and oak), 13 different solid top table sizes and 11 different choices for extension table size.
Not enough choices? Check out our other customizable handmade dining tables too!
Happy Birthday to President Washington, President Lincoln and all of our favorite American presidents! We celebrated Presidents Day yesterday at the local (and world famous) Harris Hill Ski Jump so today we’re back working with customers who are taking advantage of our Presidents Day Furniture Sale.
The beautiful Vermont made Shaker Moon Bed is our most popular item this week. It’s a classic Shaker style bed and it’s often vying for first place in our Best Seller line up with the Cherry Moon Bed. Both beds are handmade by a small group of craftspeople in a Montpelier workshop using real solid cherry wood that’s sustainably harvested. The beds feature an incredibly soft, hand-rubbed, natural linseed oil finish and they’re guaranteed for a lifetime.
Matching dressers, chests, mirrors and nigh stands are also available in the Vermont Made Shaker and Cherry Moon Bedroom Furniture collections and everything is on sale through tomorrow at midnight for 15% off.
Not needing bedroom furniture today? Our store wide Presidents Day Furniture sale offers the same 15% discount on almost* all our Vermont made furniture including Dining Furniture, Home Office Furniture and Living Room Furniture. Shop online or give us a call today.
If you’re in Brattleboro this weekend for the Harris Hill Ski Jumping events and you need an escape from the cold, why not head downtown and wander around Main Street? You’ll find lots of little independent shops and art galleries to duck into– my favorite being Vermont Artisans Designs at 106 Main.
Owners Suzy and Greg Worden always have an eclectic mix of handcrafted artwork by some of the most talented artisans in Vermont and New England. You’ll find paintings, sculpture, pottery, hand-painted silk, carefully turned salad bowls; exquisitely finished furniture, lamps and other wonderful items crafted by well-established and emerging artisans.
This month, Vermont Artisan Designs Gallery is featuring the portraits of Juan Jr. Ramirez, and paintings by a variety of artists including Deborah Lazar, Carol Gobin, Paul Stone, Jeanette Staley, Jim Murphy and Dane Tilghman.
If this weekend doesn’t give you enough time to take in all the art Vermont Artisans has to offer, come back for Brattleboro’s monthly Gallery Walk. It’s held on the first Friday of each month. You’ll see why Brattleboro was named the No. 11 Best Small Town in America by Smithsonian Magazine and has consistently been in the Top 25 Best Arts Towns with populations of 100,000 or fewer.
Enjoy your weekend in Brattleboro– inside and out!
Try celebrating Valentines Day in Vermont! Your romantic adventures could include anything from a visit to master craftsman Steve Holman’s studio to getting married on the slopes of your favorite ski resort.
Steve’s one of our favorite Vermont artisans, crafting the impossible out of wood and transforming it into beautiful, often whimsical furniture. Every Valentine’s Day I think of Steve’s bright red, heart-shaped chair. Wouldn’t this be a show-stopper gift for your honey on a day like today?
If you’re looking for an outdoorsy agenda for Valentines Day, how about a trip to Mount Snow for the second annual Cloud Nine Nuptials? Last year 20 couples renewed their vows and three couples tied the knot for the first time at the summit of Mt Snow. The event is free, taking place on the Cloud Nine trail where a local justice of the peace conducts a ceremony around a giant heart painted on the snow.
For more Vermont Valentines Day activities, check out Ski Vermont or stop by Vermont Teddy Bear where you can buy the world’s most expensive teddy bear. It’s the Big Hunka Love Bear and he goes for $30,000 including the 6 carat diamond ring he’s wearing.
January is a popular month to shop for dining tables. I guess every year, around the holidays people decide “this is going to be my last year entertaining around this old table! It’s too small, it’s too old, it’s not the right shape…” So we build a lot of dining tables in January and this year, they are almost all extension tables.
Who ever thought up the idea of extension tables in the first place? I mean… “let’s saw this table top in two. Then we can stick a couple boards in between the 2 halves and extend the table when company comes.” Pretty innovative, but it must have sounded a little crazy at first– don’t you think?
Extension tables have come a long way since some creative person designed the first one. Now you can get extension tables with 1, 2, 3 or more leaves (our furniture makers have been known to build custom tables with as many as 5 leaves). The leaves can be self-storing, with butterfly mechanisms or little cubbies under the table for convenient storage. With 3 or more leaves there is usually an extra leg tucked under the table top for extra support.
At Vermont Woods Studios, our extension tables are handcrafted of real solid wood and 100% American made by Vermont craftspeople. They can be customized in Cherry, Maple, Black Walnut, or Oak wood. And you can choose from different designs to suit the shape and style of your dining room: drop leaf, trestle, split pedestal, single pedestal and double pedestal.
Looking for a particular style or shape? Browse through Shaker, modern, mission, French country, traditional, craftsman and mid-century modern styles in round to oval and square to rectangular shapes.
Like most Vermonters we were lucky to find Nemo pretty tolerable– for a winter storm, that is. Vernon got about a foot of fluffy white snow and our dedicated road crew was out pushing it around in no time. Finally it’s winter in Vermont!
When I was a kid, storms like this were routine throughout the winter. We grabbed our skis and happily headed towards the slopes. So today I thought it fitting to give the snowy slopes of Pine Top, aka Stonehurst a try. I found the old toboggan my parents gave my siblings and me for Christmas many years ago and pulled it up to the top of the hill (fortunately Ken had re-conditioned it when Kendall and Riley were little and it’s still in great shape).
I found a spectacular Vermont view on the knob where the old Pine Top warming shed used to be! Today was a beautiful day for sledding and the snow was dry and fast. I made a few trips up and down the slope before I started pining away for the ancient rope tow that used to be installed at Vernon’s former ski area. Or even the old horse tow that preceded that.
Then I saw that Ken had finished plowing and had found an alternative way to enjoy the view, so I wrapped up my sledding and joined him for a drink. After all the winter weather watches and warnings, it turns out Nemo wasn’t so bad after all.
If you’re in the area, stop by Pine Top, take a sleigh ride and enjoy the view before the snow melts! We’ll supply the drinks.
I got a mysterious brown paper package in the mail yesterday. The return address label said Mountaine Meadows Vermont Made Pottery, South Ryegate, Vermont. I thought it was going to be a sample from one of our craftspeople in the Northeast Kingdom but instead it was an unexpected gift from my old pal, Doctor Blakley. I used to work for Sally at Tulane University in the distance learning section of the Center for Applied Environmental Public Health. She was my champion during a pretty difficult time in my life.
But anyway… inside the package was a personal note from Sally and a beautiful handmade wall plaque with the traditional Irish Blessing my mother’s had hanging on the wall of her home for over 50 years:
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again, my friend
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
What a perfect gift!
If you’re ever looking for something special for a friend or relative, check out Mountaine Meadows Vermont Made Pottery. They have tons of plaques, dishes and magnets with messages of all types: funny, inspirational, religious, irreverent, sentimental… you name it. All made in America, handcrafted in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
And thanks, Sally for your kind and thoughtful support throughout the years. Did you notice that Mountaine Meadow let’s customers submit sayings for new pottery pieces? I think I’ll submit one: “old friends are the best friends”.
When Ken, Kendall, Riley and I started Vermont Woods Studios 7 years ago we had just a vague notion of what this company could be. First and foremost we wanted a green company with a mission of forest conservation. That grew out of the boys’ attachment to Vermont’s natural world, especially it’s wildlife. And my interest in saving the rainforest.
I figured since Ken already had a full time job and the boys were in school, it would take 100% of my time for at least the first 5 years (optimistic and naive, it turns out) to get a new business off the ground. So if I was to have any time with Ken and the boys, it would pretty much have to be within the context of the business. The new company would have to be engaging for all of us.
One of our first ideas was to build and sell wooden bird houses. That satisfied Ken’s woodworking interests and the boys connection to the outdoors. But as we brainstormed lots of different ideas and got more involved with the Vermont woodworking community the concept of partnering with local craftspeople and marketing their Vermont made furniture online evolved.
Well, 7 years later, thanks to the help of Douglas Fletcher (Sales and Customer Service Manager), Dennis Shanoff (Marketing Manager) and the rest of our creative and hard-working staff, Vermont made furniture is now in all 50 states. We’ve come a long way. And we’ve got a long way to go.
Many thanks to all our craftspeople, customers, readers, vendors and cheer leaders. We are grateful for your support.