Three elements- concrete, stone and wood - work together on this fireplace surround. Okay, concrete is essentially stone, so maybe its only two or possibly two-and-a-half elements. Whatever the math, the fireplace is anchored by the dark, cool texture of the concrete hearth, surrounded by a sandstone veneer, and capped by a live edge big leaf maple mantle. The original incarnation of the fireplace in marble tile and painted mdf was still in good shape, but was on the other side of the spectrum of the clients' aesthetic sense. The goal was to create a fireplace with materials that emphasized their natural characteristics (split-faced sandstone and live edged maple) without feeling too rustic, while fitting into a fairly contemporary house at the same time.
The concrete hearth was assembled from four sections poured off-site. The design of the interlocking sections was to a large degree influenced by the difficulties of either pouring off-site as a single, #350+ piece; or pouring on-site and working with wet (and dusty when dry) concrete around carpet and interior furnishings. I felt it was important that the exposed faces of the heath have a fairly uniform texture (so the geometry of the concrete sections would be a dominant feature of the hearth) and if poured on-site it would have been difficult to produce a top surface with the same character as the sides and face by using a hand trowel. The concrete sections were only lightly polished in order to remove the subtle texture imparted by the melamine forms, but not so much as to grind through the cement cream layer and expose the aggregate. A handful of air pockets, intentionally left unfilled, add a nice smattering of shadows to the face of the hearth.
For the mantle, a hefty slab of big leaf maple from Curly Burly, with just a bit of spalting that adds an interesting pattern and contrast to the corbels. There were several iterations in sizing the mantle. The slab was nearly 16" wide, but after three or four rounds of test fitting, contemplating, and cutting down, it finished about half the original size. Two overhead spotlights cast a prominant shadow over the fireplace, and in the end we found a good balance between the light-accented mantle edge and its shadow across the face of the stone; and at the same time paying attention to the proportions of the three elements of the fireplace surround.
Much like the rug in The Big Lebowski that "really tied the room together", this breakfast bar unites the kitchen with the living room and outside spaces. Viewed from the kitchen, the big leaf maple breakfast bar glows with the abundant natural light that spills through the living room windows from the surrounding forest. Even on a typically grey, rainy December day in Eugene, the natural light in this home provide a surprising amount of warmth, (even if that warmth is in the form of light, rather than sensible heat). Live edges on the bar top and corbels with the highly figured grain show off the natural beauty of the wood. Really, I just cut it to fit the space, the wood is the real star on this project.
A slender bookcase of big leaf maple from Urban Lumber with black walnut accents and black-oxidized steel side panels. The side panels were designed by the client and were, in part, inspired by a balcony railing in the home (coincidentally, the only place from which the homeowners can see the wonderfully figured top of the six-foot plus high bookcase).
I researched kitchen science methods of oxidizing steel, and tried a few concoctions containing some combination of salt, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and home brewed ale (to fuel the science). The home brew was good, the science was faulty. Or more accurately, the kitchen science methods were not going to work on my time line. I was surprised to eventually find a solution to oxidizing the panels from a local gun dealer. But, not surprisingly, they don’t get many requests from customers about how to oxidize something that does not fire bullets; but they did have options and good advice. The side panels were oxidized using “gun blue”, a process which initially created an uneven blue-grey haze, but four applications yielded a even dark grey-blue patina to the steel. The contrast between the matte textured steel and the highly figured big leaf maple is what really makes this piece stand out.
A mere splinter of a once-towering tree, the base for this Douglas Fir and Bigleaf Maple coffee table is a remnant of "Doug ". Doug was a 420 year old, 6'+ diameter slab of salvaged Douglas Fir that had traveled more than 30,000 miles as part of the Ancient Forest Roadshow. Doug met thousands of people along its journey and was a tangible reminder of the threats to the last remaining ancient forests. This coffee table was auctioned at the 9th Annual Wonderland Auction to benefit Cascadia Wildlands.
It may have taken more than four centuries to grow, but after only a few years traveling on a trailer for the roadshow, the massive slab had begun to show the wear of being exposed to the elements. When I first heard Doug was to be decommissioned, I had a grand vision of making a meeting table of the massive slab. As we began to remove it from the trailer it quickly became clear that the slab would not hold together, and we focused on salvaging the most sound sections. These pieces were quite hefty, although their mass did not translate into strength, and I worried if I milled them too thin that they would further fall apart. For the coffee table, I used the fraction of Doug as the base and incorporated a slab of big leaf maple, keyed into the face.