natural cherry wood color
Our Contemporary Craftsman bed that has darkened over time to a rich golden red.

Big box furniture stores have tricked us into thinking natural cherry wood is a different color-we’re here to set the record straight.

I was working with one of our Vermont Woods Studios customers yesterday who was looking for a natural cherry bed to match existing cherry furniture in his bedroom.  He’s had the existing furniture for about 10 years and now it’s a lovely, rich reddish brown color.

natural cherry wood color
Our Cherry Moon Bedroom set is a nice rich reddish brown tone from being exposed to light over time.

The problem is that natural cherry starts out a much lighter wood, usually with a color similar to this Cherry Moon Bed and it takes time to darken as it is exposed to light.  The length of time to go from this light color to the darker color above varies with the amount of light in the room and can take anywhere from a few months to a number of years.  Most customers, however report that their furniture darkens within 6-12 months.

natural cherry wood color
Our Raised Panel Carriage Bed in natural cherry wood. You can see on the footboard one panel slightly lighter than the others to show the variation in tone of natural cherry wood.

Customers often ask if there is a way to speed up the process and the consensus among our craftspeople is that the best solution is just to expose the furniture to as much light as possible. Adding a dark stain is also a possibility but woodworkers always plead with us to have patience and wait it out instead.  For most customers, the result truly is worth waiting for, especially since our furniture is purchased for a lifetime of use. Check out more photos of our natural cherry furniture in the Cherry Moon Collection, Vermont-Made Shaker Collection and throughout our website.

natural cherry wood

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Bob-gasperetti-furnitureSo far, in an effort to define "fine furniture" we've discussed craftsmanship and the type of wood used, so now let's talk about finish.  One thing most people are surprised to learn is that even though a piece of fine furniture is crafted and assembled it's a long way from being finished. 

I like the way Vermont furniture maker, Bob Gasperetti of Mount Tabor puts it:  "The saying that it takes 90% of the time to accomplish the last 10% of the work couldn't be more true than in handmade furniture."

He is right!  I wish you could run your hand across one of Bob's table tops right now.  After a piece is built, Bob sands the surface to 320 grit (this requires multiple sandings with increasingly fine sandpaper).  That takes forever but there is no substitute if you're looking for the kind of smooth, supple feeling you get when touching Bob's furniture.

After sanding, Bob applies multiple coats of a non-toxic, environmentally-friendly oil until the surface of his furniture feels as smooth and soft as a baby's skin.

Some people would opine that an oil finish is the only option for "fine furniture" but as someone who doesn't like to take the time to maintain (aka re-oil and it's really no big deal, but I'm lazy) an oil finish  I'll say oil is not the only option.  Vermont furniture makers offer dozens of other choices, including a blend of oil and beeswax, non-toxic lacquers and even an eco-friendly clear finish made out of whey (a byproduct of our Vermont dairy industry).  Copeland Furniture is once again leading the green furniture industry in the research and application of eco-friendly water=based lacquer finishes.  I'll write about them next time when we wrap up this disucssion of fine furniture definitions with the topic of sustainability and karma.

Anyway, no study of fine furniture finishes would be complete without a visit to the workshops of a few fine furniture makers where you can run your hands over the furniture and compare the sensations from different finishes.  Information and driving directions to the shops I've talked about (and many more) are available in the Vermont Forest Heritage brochure.  If you're coming in from Boston or New York to go skiing, you'll pass by a number of them.  So if there's no snow, or it's too cold to ski or if you're just too tired… take a day off and treat yourself to a tour of some of the world's best fine furniture workshops.

Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Fine-wood-furnitureSimilar to the term American Made Furniture, there's no standard definition for "fine furniture".  But a customer brought this up yesterday so I thought I'd take a shot at it.  At Vermont Woods Studios we specialize in fine wood furniture, rather than upholstered furniture so I'll keep the discussion confined to that. 

This may seem odd, but I'm going to put style aside for another subject because I think each creative woodworker has his or her own ideas about style.  Naturally there has to be a strategic blending of form and function, but making a judgement about that is personal and subjective– you could write a library of books about it and still not reach a conclusion.  I'm not sure style belongs in a definition for fine furniture.

So for now I'll stick to tangible perameters like craftsmanship, uniqueness, joinery, type of wood, type of finish, sustainability and durability– plus one intangible which I'll call karma.  Today let's look at the type of wood a piece of furniture is made with first– then we can consider the other characteristics in the next few posts.

Fine-wood-custom-furnitureFine wood furniture starts with hardwood (like cherry, maple, walnut and oak) as opposed to soft wood (like pine and other coniferous woods).  Furthermore, in today's world (by my definition anyway) those hardwoods are grown sustainably in America as opposed to imported woods that are clear cut from the world's rapidly disappearing rainforests (like ipe, rubberwood, mahogany, jatoba and teak–this ties into a karma discussion).  You can learn more about American hardwood species here:  cherry wood, maple wood, walnut wood, oak wood.

It's not just the wood species that sets fine wood furniture apart.  Once a species is selected, fine woodworkers go to greath lengths to carefully select each board that goes into a piece of furniture, depending on where the board is being placed (like in a drawer front, part of a table top, an accent piece or part of the frame). 

Woodworkers select boards based on things like grain, color, texture, shape, character and whether it's part of the tree's heartwood (inner circles of the tree and dark in color) or sapwood (outer circles of the tree and light in color).  There are different levels of attention to detail in wood selection and they are reflected in the price of a piece of furniture. Many of our woodworkers in Vermont are aligned with the philosophy of George Nakishima who felt that wood selection is an almost sacred art that honors The Soul of a Tree. Others are more practical but both philosophies on wood selection can be the foundation of a great piece of "fine furniture" depending on what the customer is looking for.

Later we'll talk about how craftsmanship, origin and sustainability add to the definition of fine furniture.

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Our Outdoor Furniture=Eco Friendly, Kid Friendly, and Mom Friendly too!

Kid-friendly-durable-furniture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our kids are older now, but I remember when they were little we were always worrying about them getting hurt around our furniture.  Sharp edges and corners, glass tops, coatings and finishes were all a concern.

Well, now parents are getting much smarter about choosing kid friendly furniture.  One option is to bring the beautiful, modern outdoor furniture that’s become so popular over the last few years– inside.

Check out this outdoor POLYWOOD furniture,  It doesn’t look kid-friendly does it?  It looks like (and is) stylish, high quality, luxury furniture.  But guess what it’s made of?  Recycled milk jugs.  It’s all non-toxic, inert, virtually indestructible, super easy to maintain and guaranteed to last a lifetime.  There’s no glass, no finish or sharp edges.  Furthermore, you can choose from dozens of durable Sunbrella fabrics for the cushions without worry about spills and dribbles.  The deep seating mission collection shown here offers a choice of outdoor faux leather cushions or Sunbrella fabrics.

Parents of small children: give it some thought!  Bring the outdoors furniture in.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Charlie-shackleton-furnitureI can't believe it's leaf-peeping season already… an annual outdoor extravaganza that comes with great ambivalence among Vermonters.  Most of us are not really ready to think about the winter ahead yet, but on the other hand, Fall is pretty spectacular up here in New England. 

 

Over the last decade a popular new stop on the Vermont Foliage Tour has emerged and that's the Fine Furniture Festival in Woodstock, VT

 

It's an annual gathering of Vermont's fine furniture makers— undoubtedly some of the best, most meticulous craftspeople in the world.  Here you'll get to see, feel and sit in beautiful, handcrafted solid wood furniture that's unlike anything you've seen in the stores.  You'll get to chat with craftsepople whose pieces live in luxurious penthouses and mansions around the world.  And you'll find that they are approachable, down to earth and passionate about the integrity of their work.

 

Bill-laberge-furniture Honestly, if you're interested in furniture with authentic old world craftsmanship and/or creative modern style, Woodstock is the place to be.  And acquiring this kind of heirloom furniture is not out of reach– not when you're shopping in Vermont. 

 

OK, it's a totally different product than what you'll find in "luxury furniture stores" like Restoration Hardware or Crate and Barrel.  It's American made with sustainably harvested wood and it's made (and usually guaranteed) to last a lifetime so naturally the price will be higher than the imported furniture you're used to seeing in stores. 

 

 

But if you're looking for value, you won't find a better opportunity than this.  You'll be purchasing direct from the furniture makers and your solid wood furniture will be made to order just for you.  Shipping is no problem either.  These professionals have been shipping their work around the globe for years and they know how to do it right.

Shackleton-furniture So… designers, architects, homeowners- we'll hope to see you in Woodstock this weekend.  It will be a highlight of your foliage tour I promise!

 

Photos:

Shackleton Thomas Furniture

Bill Laberge Furniture

Shackleton Thomas Furniture

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.