While many folks would like to do what they can to incorporate a sense of earth-friendly living into their home or business design project, it’s not always possible to reliably find reclaimed or green materials, especially for a major undertaking. But just like those salvage hunters you see on TV, scouring locations across the country for great antiques or vintage cars, there are also dedicated teams of individuals looking for quality, reusable wood—be it from demolition projects at old factories or the wall lining of a droopy barn.
Reclaimed DesignWorks has become nationally renowned for its ability to find and provide the absolute best in what you might call “previously used wood products.” Owners Don and Travis Rue and their partner, Scott Peckham, have established the contacts to source and prepare wood that has just a little bit of character built into it—perfect for builders seeking an authentically vintage feel in their homes or their businesses.
“A lot of people in the reclaimed wood business tend to overpromise and under-deliver, so if you don’t know where to go or who to trust, this can be a tricky business,” Peckham says. “We’ve gone ahead and vetted all of our suppliers, so our customers don’t have to go through those bad experiences. It’s all absolutely 100 percent authentic wood material, most of it from virgin-growth timber.”
Reclaimed DesignWorks’ team of wood finders have uncovered beautiful wood in tobacco and dairy barns and old granaries, ideal for those looking for naturally aged, richly colored wood … all of it with a bit of real history.
“We work with Amish gentlemen in Pennsylvania and other crews who have experience in salvage; they all identify the good stuff and then go in and dismantle it all by hand. They’ll go into an old factory and find us beautiful longleaf yellow pine, for instance,” Peckham explains. “The best wood is typically from locations east of the Mississippi, but we’ve also sourced wood from all over, all types.”
The result is a fantastic array of truly unique wood for wide plank flooring, beams, mantels or even specialized timber tiles, all custom milled to customer specification—with the option for both absolutely raw, totally original wood or pre-finished wood, which is more popular for flooring applications. Wood from wine or whiskey barrels also makes for some very cool and absolutely one-of-a-kind flooring or wall décor.
Reclaimed DesignWorks began in Denver in 2006 and has gradually expanded to a network of showrooms in Dallas, Austin, Charleston and Nashville—where the company recently provided some very beautiful antiqued wood to help outfit the interview room at the Grand Ole Opry. You may have also seen the company’s handiwork at locations such as the Lone Star Court or an especially wood-heavy Whole Foods, both in Austin. Other corporate clients include Harley Davidson, Polo and Starbucks, where the weathered but classic look of the wood has added a special feeling to public spaces.
Given the somewhat random nature of the sources of the company’s wood supply, Peckham says builders need to be prepared for some variation in color and type, though he’s able to provide good guidance with finished examples at the showroom. Turnaround time is about four weeks for the custom- milled results.
“The quality never varies, but what varies is the aesthetics. Our wood is all of different ages and different species, and it could have been from a south-facing building, or one that was exposed to more wind and rain—that all contributes to its history. And that’s part of the appeal, too,” he adds.
Andy Stonehouse is a writer and editor based in Boulder, Colorado, specializing in automotive, recreation and shelter stories. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.