We talk about a lot of design trends on this blog, but one of the biggest ones we’ve seen with our client base is the move toward reclaimed materials.
Our clients are consistently more aware of and concerned about the history of the materials that go into their home’s construction or renovation. One of the ways we help our clients find materials that tell a story is through reclaimed wood surfaces, sourced from local companies like Wellborn + Wright.
Wellborn + Wright (W+W) has made a name for themselves in Central Virginia and far beyond as one of the most experienced and prolific reclaimed wood providers and craftspeople. Wellborn + Wright began as a small reclaimed lumber provider in 2009, but as it became clear that concerns over materials and their sourcing was not just a trend, but an ingrained part of consumers’ requirements, the business grew by leaps and bounds. Today their 32 employees provide reclaimed materials for projects all over the country in addition to manufacturing their own flooring line and expanding the business into metalworking as well. This team includes an in-house designer, millworkers and metal fabricators, which means essentially everything can be done in-house.
We began working with W+W several years ago on a project where three interior decorative reclaimed timber trusses were involved. W+W sourced, fabricated and installed them, and thus began a partnership that has brought our clients amazing opportunities to include unique, beautiful and sustainable materials in their homes.
Steve Smith, COO at W+W, hit the nail on the head so to speak when asked why reclaimed materials have become so popular with homeowners. “People just want something truly custom and they want the character of a totally unique piece. Wood takes on its own persona.” We have seen the character that these surfaces create over and over again in the projects where W+W have been involved, whether that’s flooring, beams, wall coverings, doors or any other design element.
In a recent project, W+W created custom wood wall coverings for a client’s great room.
The warmth that the wood wall brings to this space, flanking a see-through fireplace, is palpable. Visually it draws the eye into the space, but physically the materials make you want to curl up on the couch and stay there for a very long time.
Interestingly, we see the reclaimed wood projects we collaborate on with W+W to be mostly for walls, rather than floors. In one client’s home, they provided wood walls for both their laundry room and their wet bar. Two areas that could easily be overlooked were brought to life and became thoughtfully designed spaces just by pulling in these materials.
The reclaimed wood business is a tricky one. It involves following what Smith refers to as “the yellow brick road” in order to find quality, authentic materials. When W+W purchases a lot of reclaimed wood, they generally expect a 60% yield, as they discard any piece of wood that shows signs of rot or that is not absolutely solid. Much of their material comes from barns that are being torn down in the Blue Ridge and Appalachian regions and are made of wood that has lasted decades, if not a century or more.
Regardless of the material being used, every project where we collaborate with W+W starts with a number of preliminary meetings to define the scope, nail down a budget and create the design. This ensures expectations and products are clearly defined, vetted and result in a happy client. From there, W+W is able to offer a turnkey solution, taking on everything from sourcing to design to installation, while keeping in good communication with the JRC team.
While most W+W projects are residential, they have also done some impressive recent commercial work. The new Hardywood Park at West Creek required taking down some major trees before construction began. Those trees were salvaged, taken back to the W+W shop where they were milled, dried and then built into the tables that now sit inside the brewery. Additionally, W+W fabricators provided metal cladding for the outside of the building.
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Long-time W+W team member, Max Greissbach, perfectly sums up the impact their work has in a space, “All of our architectural products (whether it’s flooring, beams, millwork, or steel) are handcrafted elements that tell a story and compliment each project’s individual and overall concept. Sometimes our products are the main focus, other times part of the canvas that brings all the pieces of the project together.”