After making the trip with me to pick out lumber for the table, the clients (recent retirees from the mid-west) remarked that Portlandia has more of a basis in reality than they realized. The book-matched western walnut pieces in the table top came from a farm near Peoria, and the western maple centerpiece from the eastern Coast Range. They joked, "can we visit where the tree grew"...was it a joke?...yes, it was a joke. We had been looking for something else for the table top; but then Clifford (http://curlyburlymilling.com/) showed us the book-matched sets of western walnut and they immediately knew it was right. By itself, the walnut set was too narrow for a dining table; and, the western maple centerpiece was a graceful way to incorporate the walnut into a larger top and preserved the book-matched effect. The trestle style base gives lightness to the large table (7'+ long) and complements the open, modern feel of the home.
Certain purchases stand out because they in some way symbolize reaching a milestone. A house is an obvious and big one; but not far down the list there are more mundane items, such as a washer and dryer or a first never-been-slept-on-by-another-human bed, that mark another rung up the ladder to adulthood. In this case, it is a dresser set of Oregon white oak made for a friend that had recently reached another adult milestone of a first job after college. Technically, a real job.
Curly Burly supplied the quarter-sawn white oak and black walnut lumber for the two piece dresser set: one short and wide with a vanity mirror and the other tall and skinny...and somewhere inside is a removable hidden compartment.
As part of an expansion of the outdoor deck seating at Vero, I added a chinquapin bar top in the hallway seating area. Although chinquapin is not a commonly used in woodworking, for this project it was the perfect choice: locally harvested, a warm-toned wood that would blend nicely with the Douglas fir floors and doors, takes a finish and will wear well in a coffee house, and relatively economical. Chinquapin is often a smaller tree (in comparison with the big leaf maple, Douglas fir, and other trees that live in its neighborhood) and yields lumber of relatively small dimension and abundant knots; but Curly Burly had some larger material with few knots and was perfect for this project.
The former fireplace surround was porcelain tile and painted mdf, and the homeowner was looking to make use of local materials to update the focal point of the living room. The tile was replaced with travertine, and the nicely figured black walnut was milled by Curly Burly. I used a hand-rubbed Polyx Oil finish to really help the figure pop. Often, some of the more muted violet and grey tones in black walnut will become less distinct when finished; and I was pleased that the color variations remained so prominent in the finished piece.
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.