This post is one in a series about Vermont Woods Studios’ mission of rainforest conservation and our support of Bolivian environmentalists dedicated to reforestation and ecotourism in the AmazonPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4.

The Serere Reserve | Madidi | Bolivian Amazon Rainfdorest
The view of the Serere Reserve from Casa Grande, where we shared meals, plans and stories with the amazing people of Madidi Travel who are using eco tourism to fund conservation in the Bolivian Amazon.

The Rainforest & A Vermont Furniture Store

Where is the link?  Well, in the time it takes to read this series of blogs, an area of the Amazon rainforest larger than 200 football fields will have been destroyed.   Can you believe that?  Much rainforest destruction is done illegally, to feed the US markets for furniture and flooring.  Hmm… Vermont makes wood furniture.  With our 200 year tradition of  using local, sustainably harvested wood, we can provide an excellent alternative to illegal furniture imports.  At Vermont Woods Studios our mission is to raise awareness about the rainforest and persuade consumers to avoid illegal wood products (made from rare tropical woods like mahogany, teak and ipe) in favor of sustainable furniture and flooring made from North American woods (like cherry, maple, oak and walnut).

Massive tree in the Serere Reserve | Madidi | Bolivian Amazon
Riley is on the left, taking a break from his volunteer work to explore the rainforest with me and Severo, our knowledgeable (and entertaining) guide.

Finding A Way To Help

At VWS we’ve supported rainforest conservation since Day 1.  But quite honestly, donating our profits to reforestation NGOs (impressive and legitimate, as they are) operating 5000 miles away was not very satisfying.  We wanted to be more closely involved.  We wanted to see (and be a part of) the progress being made through our contributions.

My last post was about how my son Riley happened to end up volunteering for the legendary conservationist, Rosamaria Ruiz, of Madidi Travel in the Serere Reserve of the Bolivian Amazon Rainforest.  Perfect!  Kendall (my other son) and I went down to see Riley and offer to help Ms Ruiz with her efforts in reforestation and “conservation through eco tourism”.

Yellow Monkeys | Amazon Rainforest | Serere Reserve | Bolivia | Madidi
This troop of Yellow Monkeys crashed through the rainforest right in front of the Casa Grande where we were eating lunch. They seemed as curious and unafraid of us as we were of them.

Many Faces of Rainforest Destruction

After flying over huge expanses of the Amazon and trekking through the Serere Reserve, I realized there are many different rainforest destruction problems and approaches to solving them.  Some areas have simply been clear cut, the worst possible fate.  But “luckily” the Serere Reserve was ravaged by illegal loggers who were just interested in large, high value trees. For example, I did not see a single mahogany tree other than the saplings planted by Madidi Travel.  Cedar was also completely wiped out.  The good news is that, otherwise the Serere Reserve is still intact, extraordinarily beautiful & teaming with wildlife.

Ecotourism | Hanging with Monkeys & Tapirs in the Amazon Rainforest
The little spider monkey next to me is having a word with that 200 pound tapir nosing up to him.  The two are rescues who’ve taken sanctuary at Madidi Travel’s Serere Rainforest Reserve.  In many cases, rescued animals have lost their parents, flocks, herds or other companions to illegal loggers who shoot them for food or sell them as curiosities.

It’s an amazing place, filled with exotic birds, monkeys (we saw troops of howlers, yellow monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins and a nocturnal monkey all in one day) fish and other wildlife.  Serere is one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet– it’s a nature lover’s dream.  Rosamaria says that wildlife is so abundant here because the animals feel safe.

Massive Rainforest Tree | Madidi | Serere
Although illegal loggers cleaned out the huge, high value trees from Madidi Travel’s Serere Reserve, there are still plenty of massive 200 and 300+ year old trees that will amaze you.

Conservation Through Eco Tourism

Last week I learned there’s more to rainforest conservation than planting trees.  In places where the rainforest is still standing, the goal is to protect what’s left and restore what’s been stolen.  Illegal loggers are a constant threat so rigorous patrolling and enforcement are always required.  That takes money.  Rosamaria Ruiz is showing rainforest communities around the world how to raise that money through eco tourism.  Devoted wildlife and nature lovers pay to experience the wonder of the rainforest, thus providing jobs for indigenous people to conserve and defend it.

If you love being up close and personal with nature, check out Madidi Travel and their eco tourism opportunities at the Serere Reserve.  It’s the last little corner of the Garden of Eden.  Get down there soon. The rainforest continues to disappear at an alarming rate.  The clock is ticking.

Amazon Rainforest Trip
On my way to the Bolivian Amazon,  I’m holding the National Geographic article I read 15 years ago, about Rosamaria Ruiz and her rainforest conservation work in Madidi National Park.  It influenced me to create Vermont Woods Studios.  On the right, I’m in the Amazon, helping Ms Ruiz’s team members who are re-planting mahogany trees.  It was a good feeling!


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.


We just received the furniture today and are over the moon. We were so nervous about ordering online sight unseen but the dresser and nightstands are beautiful. Many thanks and please thanks the craftsman as well.” -V. Defrancis  

If you are feeling unsure about ordering furniture sight unseen, you aren’t the only one. Many of our customers take major leaps of faith when shopping for furniture online, and we’re always happy to see these nervous customers satisfied in the end. We get countless emails from our customers expressing gratitude for a quality product and great service, and we are proud to be a company people can really trust. We know that purchasing quality furniture is an investment, and we want our customers to feel confident that their investment is a wise one. If you are shopping around between different furniture companies, all offering furniture sight unseen, there are several things you should look for to make sure you can really trust the product and the company behind it.

5 Ways to Know if you can Trust an Online Furniture Company:

1. Ability to visit and see the quality of the furniture in person. Even if you can’t to go to the showroom and see the furniture yourself for distance reasons, having a showroom is a sign of confidence that the quality of furniture is most likely consistent with what the company promises online.

2. Transparency about the people behind the company. Can you meet the people who work there–from the owners to the customer service members? Can you atleast read and learn about them on the company website? Learning about the people who work at the company is a great way to get to know the company you are working with. If a company doesn’t tell you about who they are, how can you be sure they are people you can trust? You want to know that real people are there to handle your order and guide you through the process.

3. Quality testimonials. Check the website for a testimonials page, this should give you an accurate picture of the quality of their service and their product. Sites like sitejabber are a good resource as well.

4. Accessibility. Does the company offer you many different ways to reach and interact with their customer service team? Is it easy to contact them if a problem were to arise? Are they quick to respond? A trustworthy company won’t make it hard for you to reach them by phone, live chat, email, or in person.

5.  Lifetime guarantee. A company that is worthy of your trust is one that will stand by their product 100%. A lifetime guarantee should give you the confidence that what you are buying is top quality and crafted with care.

What else do you look for when shopping online for furniture sight unseen? Let us know in the comments!

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.

Finally, a deep seating outdoor furniture collection that is as lush and comfortable as it is stylish. 

polywood-harbour-cat-1The Harbour Collection by POLYWOOD is the perfect furniture to create your summery outdoor retreat. Imagine spending long afternoons relaxing by the pool with a good book and a fruity drink, or warm summer nights enjoying lively conversation with your closest friends and family…sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? No matter the occasion, the Harbour Collection will inspire feelings of ultimate luxury and relaxation all summer long.

Less Maintenance, More Relaxation

American Made Deep Seating Outdoor FurnitureWhy waste precious time trying to maintain flimsy & faded outdoor furniture? With the Harbour Collection, there is hardly any maintenance, leaving you more time to relax and enjoy the sun! This low-maintenance deep seating outdoor furniture collection is constructed using high quality POLYWOOD recycled plastic lumber combined with premium stainless steel hardware ensuring extreme durability all year round.  Each chair, settee, sofa and ottoman is made complete with newly designed Sunbrella waterproof fabric cushions, specifically designed for the highest quality of comfort. The fabrics are durable and weather resistant, giving you four seasons of enjoyment. Available in Black with Granite cushions, Slate Grey with Natural cushions, Teak with Antique cushions, or White with Air Blue, each style is sophisticated and modern.

Shop Now & Avoid Being Left with an Empty Patio!

American Made Outdoor FurnitureSure, it’s only April now but before you know it you are going to wake up one morning and realize that A) It’s the middle of July and B) your patio is completely empty. How will you entertain your friends? Where will you relax? Our advice is to start shopping now, or at least start planning for the perfect patio. You deserve an oasis of fun and relaxation, and our Harbour deep seating outdoor furniture collection will give you just that.

What do you think of the Harbour Collection? Would you use it to beautify your space? If you love it, shop it now!

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.

Modern Craftsman furniture, handmade in Vermont. Quality USA made!
Vermont is America’s last great bastion of consummate craftsmanship. The Green Mountain state boasts over 2000 small furniture making companies. They’re keeping the spirit of American craft alive! Commission Vermont made furniture from one of the masters in The Guild and you’ll enjoy your investment everyday as it’s value appreciates over time.

New flash: the stock market’s volatile and the price of gold just took another tumble.  Here’s an idea… invest a portion of your money in something you can literally appreciate every day:  handmade Craftsman Furniture!  I was looking on the Stickley Museum website this morning and noticed that Gustav Stickley’s “Columbus Ave Sideboard” which he crafted in 1900 for his own home was sold by Stickley’s heirs to Barbara Streisand in 1988 for $363,000. Eleven years later, Barbara re-sold the sideboard to an un-named buyer at a Christie’s auction for $596,500.  $233,500 in appreciation just over 10 years– that’s not a bad rate of appreciation is it?

Bedroom furniture: Craftsman and Shaker style. Made in Vermont, USA
It’s not Gustav Stickley and it’s not going to sell for half a million dollars at Christies.  But it is high quality, solid cherry wood furniture, made in the USA by Vermont craftsmen and women.  And it’s guaranteed for a lifetime of service.

The Stickley museum website highlights other antique arts & crafts, mission and craftsman furniture pieces that have shown tremendous appreciation in value, including:

Now… original antique furniture is not for everyone.  Most of us would probably prefer to have beautiful, high quality furniture that we’re not afraid to use.  Which brings me to Vermont.  It is America’s last great bastion of consummate craftsmanship.  The Green Mountain state boasts over 2000 small furniture making companies.  The cream of the crop are members of an elite association of master level furniture makers, The Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers.  Tomorrow’s antiques can be commissioned from Guild members today, with a good bit of certainty that their value will increase over time.  Check out The Guild’s website and visit one of their shows or tour their workshops for an up close and personal view of truly fine craftsmanship.

Mission Style Buffet Sideboard
This Vermont made Mission style buffet & sideboard, is handcrafted of real solid cherry wood and guaranteed to last a lifetime.

We have a selection of craftsman furniture for sale at Stonehurst, our furniture and home decor showroom and we can also help you map out a tour of Guild members studios, focusing on those best suited to the type of furniture you’re looking for.

When you invest your money in tomorrow’s Vermont made antiques, you are also investing in American jobs and in the future of American craft.  What other kind of investment could give you this kind of appreciation?

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.

Accessory Furniture Pieces
Make your room feel new again, by adding one or all of these great accessories!


To make your bedroom feel new again, you don’t need to hire a designer and do a total makeover. There are several fun and simplistic things you can do to give your bedroom that freshness you’ve been craving!

1. Decorative pillows: Prices can range from super high end to nice and affordable. My favorite place to shop for new decorative pillows is the local thrift store. Mix & match for an eclectic look, sure to bring new life into your space.

2: Plants: Literally bring life into your bedroom! When things are feeling a little dull and uninspiring, introduce your favorite houseplant to your bedroom. They’re nice to look at, and many are super good for your health!

3. Accessorize with wood furniture: There’s a lot of wood furniture than can be used in a variety of different ways. This beautiful Copeland dining chair is very versatile, and would nicely complement your bedroom furniture! Put a pillow on top of it or leave it on its own, the beauty of this chair speaks for itself and makes a truly stylish accent piece.

4. Change your hardware: Are you currently using regular, cheap hardware for your windows & etc? Switch over to something a little more stylish! There are many options for high quality curtain rods & accessories.

5. Temporary Wallpaper. From bold and daring to modest and traditional, there is a temporary wallpaper for you. Add a statement wall or use it all across the entire bedroom to give you a totally new look without much cost or effort!

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.