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One can only assume when I popped out, kid number 5, over 22 years ago, my mother rationalized, “That’s probably enough- one of them will keep me out of a nursing home.”  Well, the results aren’t in for that prospect yet (the sanity clock miraculously ticks on), though she does occasionally reap the benefits of breeding an army.  One of them- awesome Christmas presents.  When we get our pockets together, the Francese kids can really rev up the opportunity to give back; this Christmas, Mom was blessed with a new coffee table.

Mom’s New Coffee Table

A second-hand store enthusiast, Mom has an eclectic array of furnishings sprinkled through out her home.  When it came to designing this beauty, she had a few goals in mind.  First it had to match a very unique, sofa-table-esque piece she must have found at the corner of Lost and Forgotten.  Of course, the sofa-table thing undeniably brings the room together but it is a one of a kind in terms of build and style. Second, it had to be large enough for five grandchildren to simultaneously play, color and read.  Third, it had to withstand the sticky, smearing, careless hands of those same five grandchildren (with the inevitability of more to come).

Mom’s Small Army

We threw all that into the Vermont Woods Studios custom furniture crock pot and, in due time, served the beauty now resting front and center in the family room.  The top is a natural Cherry with a rustic finish to match the antiquated look Mom loves so much.  The base is Maple, painted black.  I chose Maple for its durability and light color.  Overtime, the Cherry will darken and serve a smooth transition from bottom to top.  And finally the finish-a non-toxic, kid friendly and kid resistant, lacquer.

Mom is thrilled with her new coffee table and the results her small army is yielding. And next year?  Her outdoor coffee table won’t last for long- why not some POLYWOOD furniture that will last a lifetime!

 

Christmas 2013?

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

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.