Walnut furniture has been one of our best sellers this year, in spite of the fact that there is a 10-30% premium on the wood. Walnut wood is becoming rare (due to a disease called Thousand Cankers) so we are super careful about making sure ours is sustainably harvested from forests where re-planting is well managed.
We use a couple different types of American walnut wood for our furniture.
For thick, organic slab tables we often use claro walnut wood from huge old (up to 100 years) shade trees that have been taken down (usually from city streets) because of safety reasons. These slabs typically have beautiful, interesting character resulting from things like burls and branches.
For modern looking furniture, customers generally do not want "character wood" so we use younger walnut trees with straight grain patterns grown in managed forests in the mid-west (since walnut doesn't grow well in Vermont). This is the contemporary SoHo walnut 4 drawer chest, made by Copeland Furniture with solid, walnut wood.
Whether you're shopping for organic, walnut slab tables or Modern walnut furniture, it's important to verify that you are indeed getting real, solid walnut wood, as opposed to cheaper woods that have been stained dark to look like walnut. Be sure to ask your salesperson to confirm the wood type and its origin before you buy. Ask if the furniture has been made from solid walnut wood or walnut veneers.
Learn more about walnut wood and see photos of beautiful walnut furniture on our website. If you take the time to find real solid walnut furniture as opposed to what most stores call "walnut" you'll probably have that furniture for a lifetime. Enjoy it!
Yesterday I wrote about Vermont's Lyndon Furniture, one of America's most admired green furniture companies– and one that has remained in America throughout the offshoring exodus of the last 40 years.
Lyndon's owner and founder, Dave Allard is shown here in Vermont's Green Mountain Forest with some of his hardwood creations.
We interviewed Dave yesterday to learn more about why Lyndon Furniture is considered one of America's greenest furniture companies and here's the second half of Dave's response:
Sustainably Harvested Hardwoods – Lyndon furniture is made with choice hardwoods such as natural Cherry, Maple, Oak, or Walnut which are harvested through sustainable forestry practices. The predominant method is Single Tree Selection where trained foresters select individual trees for harvesting. The cut logs are then removed with the least disruption to the surrounding environment. This method creates openings in the forest canopy allowing more precipitation, sunlight, and nutrients to reach the forest floor ensuring the health of other trees. Responsible forest management takes into consideration long term timber production, while addressing water quality, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, forest aesthetics and recreational opportunities. The same can’t always be said for Asian or Rainforest woods where responsible forest management practices often take a back seat to maximizing profits.
Green Furniture Finishes – Lyndon's furniture finishes and stains are all made in Vermont. Vermont has some of the strictest environmental laws in the country which coincide with our views and respect of nature. Consequently our finishes have far lower VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) than current American industry standards, and far exceed the standards of imported products.
Sustainable Manufacturing – Lyndon Furniture has an extensive recycling program. We recycle paper, cardboard, metal and wood waste. Most materials (with the exception of the wood waste) are picked up by our local recycling center for proper material reintegration. Wood scrap is utilized as a biomass heating source (which has allowed Lyndon to drastically reduce oil usage) while sawdust is used by local farms for animal bedding. We have also made significant investments in energy efficiency to reduce our costs, and more importantly our carbon footprint.
At a time when it seems every furniture company is "going green" it's nice to know that Lyndon Furniture and their fellow Vermont furniture makers actually have a history of using green practices from the start.
Vermont's Lyndon Furniture is one of America's most admired eco-friendly furniture companies. We've been partnering with Lyndon for many years and often customers ask "just what is it that makes Lyndon Furniture so green?"
We put the question to our friend Dave Allard, Lyndon's owner and founder and below are a few of his comments. We'll follow up with more tomorrow.
Use of Local Woods – At Lyndon Furniture "green" practices start with our Purchasing Policy. We purchase wood through responsible local partners, thus minimizing transport distances and helping our regional economy. This policy greatly reduces fuel usage and carbon emissions.
Sustainably Harvested Woods – The hardwoods we utilize at Lyndon are grown and harvested within a 500 mile radius of our shop. Some are even harvested less than two miles away, from my own property. This is unlike furniture imported from China or other places where the lumber might be sourced from thousands of miles away in Africa or South America, thus consuming great amounts of energy in transit before timber is even received for furniture production.
Green Technology – At Lyndon Furniture we utilize advanced technology and responsible manufacturing to maximize yield and reduce the amount of wood waste, making certain that all wood processing by-products are put to some use. For example, our sawdust is used by local farmers for animal bedding.
Pretty cool, right? In Vermont nothing goes to waste. It's part of our Yankee culture of ingenuity, innovation and oh yeah…thrift. In Vermont "green furniture" is not a new promotional slogan. Furniture making has always been this way up here and I'd guess it always will be. Vermonters just aren't very responsive to passing trends. It's more about quality, integrity and sustainability in VT.
We'll post a few other green characteristics of Lyndon's eco friendly furniture tomorrow.
Well, I'm no expert on Zen but I can see where the simple, organic forms of Copeland's Astrid Furniture Collection would appeal to someone looking to introduce an element of serenity into their home.
Astrid features pure, simple, minimalist style. It's designed to "create an oasis of quiet harmony for the modern urban bedroom". I guess that is rather zen-like. The fact that Astrid furniture is handmade right here in Vermont from local, sustainably harvested wood was an important part of Corey's decision too.
Our friends at Lyndon Furniture in Lyndonville, Vermont have come out with a number of exciting new solid hardwood furniture designs this year.
One of my favorites is this Vermont Modern Pedestal Table. Pretty charming, don't you think? I love the quiet curves and contemporary cottage styling.
It's definitely a high-end piece, handmade of eco-friendly, solid organic wood: natural cherry, walnut, oak or maple. And it works well in either a formal dining room or casual kitchen.
Here's another version of it: the rectangular table. The shape of the table top can be customized in round, square, rectangular or oval.
So many possibilities! You can customize online or give Shannon a call. And Lyndon Furniture is furniture you can feel good about. It's eco-friendly, 100% made in America and backed by a lifetime guarantee.
I guess we tend to take these opportunities for granted in Vermont because there's such an abundance of local, all-natural food.
Our good friend Annette has been raising organic, grass-fed beef on her Malhanna farm just down the road for many years. Some photo-journalists from the Vermont Center for Photography chronicled Annette's farm last weekend and I'm trying to get permission to share some of their photos with you. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy this beautiful video about Lilac Ridge, an organic family farm in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Shannon is always whipping us into shape here at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture. In the few months she's been here, she's made several suggestions to help us get greener. For example… do you use paper towels or hand dryers in your restroom? Neither is all that green…so Shannon got Ken to go out and purchase cotton hand towels for each person in the office (color coded, of course). She even has Douglas buying organic half and half for his coffee… who knew?
And now we have organic, shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee in our break room. I had written in January about the importance of buying shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee (we learned this from our friend Roz Renfrew over at the Vermont Center for EcoStudies). Unfortunately we've gotten spolied with our K-cup coffee brewer though and I was feeling bad that I couldn't find K-cups with bird friendly coffee. But Shannon came through as usual and found a company called San Francisco Bay Coffee, whose:
100% Arabica coffee is shade-grown on high altitude farms over 3000 feet elevation. These farms employ a bio-diverse natural cover of shade trees to develop the beans slowly – and give them more character and depth compared to full-sun, "monoculture" coffee farms. This shade grown farming also provides habitat to animals and birds and helps restore the ecosystems including local water supplies. We are committed to organic farming as well, and we’ve perfected innovative techniques to turn coffee pulp waste into organic fertilizer using vermiculture (worm composting)! We’re spreading that technology to organic farms (and even non-organic ones) throughout the world.
I'm happy to report that the coffee tastes great! I did take a picture of Shannon drinking a cup but she deleted it and sent this one over instead. Everyone around here is so camera shy.
“Whether people are fully conscious of this or not, they actually derive countenance and sustenance from the ‘atmosphere’ of the things they live in or with. They are rooted in them just as a plant is in the soil in which is planted.”
-Frank Lloyd Wright
Showcasing the grandeur of America's best prairie-style architecture, Copeland's Frank Lloyd Wright® Furniture reflects Wright's love of nature and the timeless beauty of his artistry.
Each piece of this high end collection is based on an original that was (and still is) seen in Wright’s Prairie Houses. Copeland starts with Wright’s designs, solid hardwoods, and superior upholstery; then employs traditional craftsmanship and state-of the-art technology to create these authentic, signed and numbered, heirloom- quality pieces for your home.
If you're all about natural, organic purity in your luxury home furniture, you can't help but fall in love with this classic collection. The pieces have a certain gravitas that's compelling in even the most posh, luxurious setting. Or as Wright put it,
“It opens, we enter, and an atmosphere of quiet strength and well-ordered repose envelops us, refreshes us, and gives us confidence in the personality of the “owners,” assures us of depth, warmth, and simplicity.”
Our customers usually come to Vermont Woods Studios with a pretty clear understanding of the benefits of natural, organic, eco-friendly furniture. They're looking to help protect the environment. They want to know that the wood used in their furniture has been sustainably harvested from forests that are going to be healthy and intact for many more generations. Customers are also looking to protect their families from toxic substances in furniture finishes that could off-gas and cause respiratory problems.
But did you know that choosing natural, eco-furniture also reduces your carbon footprint and helps reduce global warming? It's true. Scientists attribute about 20% of global warming to deforestation, particularly that of tropical rainforests, such as the Amazon.
If you're buying imported wood furniture, chances are it was made from illegally harvested wood that was clear cut from the rainforest. Because there is such widespread counterfeiting of logging documents, consumers are often unwittingly contributing to global warming and the eventual loss of iconic tree species such as mahogany and teak when purchasing imported furniture.
Vermont Woods Studios uses only sustainably harvested American wood in the crafting of our furniture. Much of it comes from our own Green Mountain Forest. We support the Forest Stewardship Council, the Nature Conservancy and other non-profits working to preserve the rainforest and stop global warming. When you purchase organic wood furniture from our store you can rest assured that both your furniture and the forest from where it originates will be around for generations to come.
For many of our customers, the finish on their wood furniture is the most important aspect. Beyond aesthetics and ideals, these "finishing touches" can be considered a very real health concern. Often, one or more members of the family is allergic or sensitive to certain chemical finishes.
More and more, consumers are being made aware of the adverse effects that even trace amounts of chemical exposure can have on those with fragile health. Here at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture we offer a number of standard clear, non-toxic finishes including natural linseed oil, poly gel, and low-VOC lacquer. Customers can also purchase custom "green" finishes, such as the Vermont Natural Coatings Poly Whey finish which is made here in Vermont from dairy products.
We work with individual customers to understand their specific concerns and needs and to suggest natural, non-toxic furniture finishes that we have researched and tested and found to be effective for protecting our health, our furniture and our planet.
The Internet, of course, has made it much easier for consumers to do their own research on natural, eco-friendly finishes and to really delve into a product's specifications. MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) are available online as well as anecdotal stories and opinions written by professionals and consumers.
Are you looking for help with natural, non-toxic finishes for your organic furniture? Feel free to give us a call and we'll help you select the natural, organic furniture with a chemical-free finish that's best for your needs.