The Barrow House: A ‘sleek farmhouse’ restaurant and parlor.

Sleek farmhouse. Not commonly paired together, but that is the result of The Barrow House restaurant and parlor in Clifton, New Jersey. Assorted rooms are strung together with eclectic decor sure to feed the hipster in all of us.

reclaimed-mushroom-board-ceiling-and-settlers-plank-floor-pioneerWhen we first started talking with Dean and Thomas about their vision for their restaurant, we were excited to learn how much they appreciated the history of the barn/restaurant space they were re-working. It was first started as a steakhouse building that housed other restaurants over the years with countless additions and alterations made for each one along the way.

settlers-plank-flooring-by-pioneer-millworksDean and Thomas wanted to maintain the rambling concept and celebrate the imperfections that might come along with such a storied past including roughly textured wood, chipping plaster, varied colors, original artifacts, and different flooring throughout the space. Parlor, bar, farm food – what could be better? Now that they’re open, let’s peek inside some of its remarkable spaces.

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Cocktails on tap, a solid selection of beer, and cider…it was hard to move past the bar. But we’d be doing a disservice to this blog if we didn’t mention the wood: Decades of water over pouring over the surface of our River Skins (cladding the bar front) give it a driftwood texture, raising the knots and grain reminding us of drift wood.

 

Overall Pioneer Millworks provided 12 different reclaimed wood materials which were used throughout the restaurant on a variety of surfaces. In the bar area you’re greeted with a variety of libations including cocktails on tap and cider. The space has Foundry Maple flooring while the ceiling is clad with an original-whitewashed V-groove siding. When the Dean mentioned wanting the bar front to look like an old boat haul, we immediately suggested River Skins. These skins were cut from the outsides of Douglas Fir timbers that were once used for rafts to float hardwood logs downstream to sawmills in southern Canada. What we love most are the details that pepper the space like vintage hooks added to the bar front, a convenient place to hang your hat (or purses, of course).

inside-out-barrow-house-reclaimed-wood-pioneerAcross from the bar, the outside is…inside – a whimsical result of the building’s add-on history. There’s something to discover in each pocket that makes up The Barrow House, which is part of the fun.

telephone-box-barrow-house

Our Settlers’ Plank grade celebrates original saw marks, nail holes, ferrous staining, and other signs of its previous life.Much of the dining area has Settlers’ Plank Oak flooring in random wide widths, a favorite choice for a restaurant. The inevitable wear and tear blends easily into the original character (think: saw marks, nail holes, insect trails, ferrous staining) common to this grade.

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Another gem. An old-school built-in corner cabinet updated with lighting and three dimensional ‘art work’.

 

Throughout the restaurant are different grades of American Prairie (our version for that popular barn siding look). Boards salvaged from agricultural wood that were once heavily painted but have been worn and chipped away at by time. The Barrow House highlights paneling with paint ranging from nearly opaque to light remnants in yellow, red, and white. Weathered brown boards, having developed their deep chocolate color through a century of high temperatures inside agricultural structures, adorn vertical surfaces in several different spaces within the restaurant. All those chocolatey tones wet the appetite for dessert.

reclaimed-mushroom-board-ceiling-and-settlers-plank-floor-pioneerWandering a bit further, you’ll discovered the wine room. Stone walls frame the back-lit wine cabinets (which hold a very nice list of vino) surrounding a large farm-syle table. Overhead Mushroom Boards clad the ceiling, offering higher texture and deep color that plays off of Settler’s Plank Oak floor.

 

 

wine-behind-glass-the-barrow-houseWhen you’re outside, you arrive at a classic wrap-around porch and American Prairie Brown Board on the exterior of the winding spaces. The barn shows off American Prairie Painted, salvaged a number of years ago from the classic red barns common throughout the northeast. The barn and wrap-around porch are actually Douglas Fir timber frames designed and erected by our sister company, New Energy Works Timberframers.

Our desire to keep the American tradition and history of agricultural barns alive and well has lead us on a journey of discovering additional sources of softwoods that offer the same character we love in barn wood, but are from more sustainable sources. We’ve found planks from fences, livestock pens, and other less historical exterior facades to supplement our barn wood collection. the-barrow-house-nj-reclaimed-barn-siding-pioneer-2new-energy-works-timber-frame-at-the-barrow-houseInside the timber frame you’ll see more American Prairie and a one-of-a-kind thresher floor milled from stock reclaimed from barn structures as well. We were happy to see this floor, it isn’t one you’ll see on our website, but it is a good example of project collaboration. We love when conversations lead to use of an uncommon material where its character can be celebrated. Our favorite part though, is the roof of the barn timber frame. It retracts half-way, letting diners literally sit under the stars!

the-barrow-house-parlor-njWe really enjoyed working with Dean and Thomas to find the perfect materials for all the various needs of their project. We can’t say enough about the unique experience they’ve created with The Barrow House or the fun Jered and Jennifer recently had exploring. Our suggestion is that when you visit you plan to time to wander.

Unique, rare, atypical – hey, that’s what makes our jobs fun and your projects outstanding. Thanks Dean and Thomas!

Meet the Team Featuring: Carolyn

Carolyn is one of our Reclaimed Wood Experts helping out folks in Colorado and Texas along with other Rockies and Southwest regions. She’s quick to smile and great with interiors. We asked her to share a bit more about herself:

carolyn-with-dogsWhere do you live/work from? What do you like about it?
I live in Colorado – part time in the city /part time in the mountains. I never get tired of the scenery here.

What’s your background with wood or reclaimed wood in particular?
I have been an Interior Designer and Artist for more than 20 years. I have a BFA in Interior Design and Architecture from U-Michigan. I’ve worked with lots of materials and have special affinity for wood. I’m also married to a custom home builder – one of the best perks, is having a direct customer line for our unique products!

You get to cover some neat territory. What is your role on our sales team?
Reclaimed Wood Expert for the Rocky Mountains and Southwest States. I focus on Colorado and Texas. It is pretty amazing to have a role that allows me to do things I love: focus on interior design, travel, meet new people, and have unique experiences, all thanks to a company with products I believe in.

What about wood, or reclaimed wood, appeals to you?
I love the characteristics and stories that reclaimed wood hold. It really feeds the artist in me to work with the variety of wood. The sustainability of giving these products new life, and new use, is so important.

We reclaim Foundry Maple from old factory buildings. Each batch is unique and full of character.

We reclaim Foundry Maple from old factory buildings. Each batch is unique and full of character.

Which product is your favorite? Why?
By far my favorite are our Foundry sourced reclaimed Maple.  Each of them is so specific, telling the story of a business or industry that supported a community with jobs, made a specific product, and is from a building with character and quality that you do not see very often these days.

carolyn-concertWhat are your hobbies outside of work?
Remodeling our home in the Colorado Mountains keeps me busy (and my husband, and our kids). Outside of that I focus my time with my family, though I’m also an avid reader.

What’s your favorite book?
Hard to pick a favorite – I have several:
–       “The unbearable Lightness of Being” Milan Kundera
–       “People of the Book” Geraldine Brooks

We’ve heard you talk about your puppies. Tell us more?
I have 2 dogs: (1) red tick healer mix named Posey (35 lbs), and (1) saint Bernard named Oscar (160 lbs). Despite the contrast in size Posey is the boss, Oscar is the cuddler/hugger. They’re best buds, wrestling, playing, and napping together all the time. (Scroll back up to see Carolyn’s faithful canines ‘posing’ (snuggling & hugging) with her.)

If you catch us at a trade show you're likely to see Carolyn's smile in person!

If you catch us at a trade show you’re likely to see Carolyn’s smile in person!

Share something quirky about yourself…
On occasion, I have exhibited extraordinary bowling skills!

I enjoy any adventure and one of my favorite adventures was a Wilderness Yoga camp trip, where we rode horses into a camp deep in the Troublesome Basin, Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest – horses, yoga, hiking, camp fires, gourmet camp food and some amazing women.

I Love Chicago

Over the past few years, Chicago has become one of my favorite cities to travel to for Pioneer Millworks. Architecturally magnificent and with a vibrant mid-town area, Conde Naste Travler just ranked Chicago as the #2 city favorite for tourists.

South Michigan Ave Selfie

We do a lot of work with architects, designers, and builders based in the windy city on projects all across the country. But if there’s one thing I’ve found that’s nearly as awesome as the midwestern charm of Chicagoans, it has got to be the food. Fortunately for me (and my stomach) our reclaimed wood adorns plenty of the best new restaurants around town.

One Fifty One Kitchen & Bar opened just within the past couple of weeks out in Elmhurst, clad with our Patina Vat Stock on the front and trimmed with our American Prairie Gray. After a look at the menu, I can’t wait to get back there for dinner.

Reclaimed wood, inside and out – Its what we do.

Nando’s is a name familiar to those from the Mid-Atlantic, Chicago, and South Africa where the chain began back in the late 1980’s. I have to admit, I had lunch at a Nando’s twice last week. The chicken is just that good. And depending on the location you might see any number of our reclaimed wood materials in use. This location on Wabash uses our Black & Tan Oak in multiple areas, even some with painted planks for a vibrant accent.

A little paint on our reclaimed wood unifies it with other bright colors throughout the restaurant

River Roast has arguably the most awesome location, right on the Chicago River, with outdoor dining right next to the LaSalle St. bridge.

Outdoor heaters keep the patio warm at River Roast

We provided two different batches of our Foundry Maple for the logo walls in the restaurant. One is a unique sandblasted floor with a light yet warm tone, and the other is a replica of our first foundry maple batch, crafted by our finishing experts. You guess, I won’t tell you which one is which.

Foundry Maple in the main dining room

Foundry Maple behind the hostess stand

Before heading out of town, I swung by the new Starbucks up on Broadway, which was recently outfitted with Heart Pine salvaged from the Pullman Couch Factory right there in Chicago. This building became infamous in 2013 when the Chicago Fire Department battled a large fire there in sub-zero temps, earning the name “Fire & Ice Building” and documented in a previous post on our blog.

Three different depths of Antique Heart Pine which in its past life was charred and encased in ice

After 3 very full days it was time for the rails to lead me home. Passing through Union Station to board my train, a pair of Metra trains waited to shuttle commuters home to the suburbs just as they’ve done for decades. Chicago’s mass transit is unique in that there’s so much of it above ground, it becomes a great way to see the sights, and to make your way to a spectacular meal, hopefully surrounded by some of our beautiful reclaimed wood.

If you get a chance to ride the commuter rail in Chicago, go upstairs and sit in the “upper deck” for a better view.

Meet the Team Featuring: Alex

Alex joined our team over ten years ago, beginning in our de-nailing group and moving into acquisitions. He has a broad history here and we asked him to share a bit about life at Pioneer and about himself:  

Alex in the shopYou grew up in upstate NY near our HQ and stuck around. What do you like about living here?

I like living in the landscape that I grew up in. This area has a nice balance of elements and I’m not just talking about the seasons. Within a half hour drive of my home there are urban and rural environments, liberal and conservative neighborhoods, nooks and crannies that I still haven’t explored and old childhood stomping grounds.

Alex (right) and Cal (left)

A somewhat younger version of Alex (right) on lunch break with long-time co-worker, Cal (left).


You’ve been here for over a decade, right? You started de-nailing and learned plenty of other roles – can you step us through your transitions?

I’ve been here for 12 or 13 years – I forget which. I started with the de-nailing crew, worked in the yard for a few years, carried the sample department until Steve arrived and then started custom quoting and doing acquisition/inventory work in the office.

What is your role on our team today?

Officially, I am the “Acquisitions and Product Leader”. My  responsibilities include developing pricing for standard and custom projects, being a sort of liaison between Acquisitions and our Sales team, and supporting Michele’s Acquisitions efforts. On any given day I may be maintaining an inventory database, visiting a local barn, updating a spec sheet, or quoting a custom engineered floor. Each day brings new tasks and challenges.

What’s your favorite story as part of the team at Pioneer Millworks?

interior-jail

The jail in NJ was no longer in use when Alex visited to inspect the wood we’d later reclaim.

Exploring old abandoned buildings and factories is always the best.
I remember an old complex in New Jersey that once was a pharmaceutical factory which had room after room filled with old beakers and chemistry ware. Then there was the abandoned prison in New Jersey where I got to pull the giant lever that opened and closed a dozen cell doors at a time. I also looked at an old barge that was dredged out of the Meadowlands in New Jersey which was filled with rats…yes, there have been lots of memorable New Jersey moments.

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Alex (right) is also a Wood ID expert. He hosted a Wood Identification class, complete with his favorite wood ID book, which co-worker Hans (left) won after answering a series of wood questions.

What about wood or reclaimed wood appeals to you?

I love that all of our products are tactile and have personality. Even our most uniform products like C-Select Vertical Grain Douglas Fir have subtle organic variation in tone and grain density that just can’t be duplicated in a synthetic product. No matter how tightly we grade a product for  consistency, each individual board is going to be unique.

 

Which wood product is your favorite? Why?

black and tan 50/50 oak pioneer millworksBlack and Tan 50/50 is such a cool dynamic product. The random remnants of black paint add some rock and roll to this classic and sturdy oak floor.

 

What’s your background?

Alex selfie 2006

We mentioned Alex was creative – this is a selfie he took during an acquisition in 2006 (well before selfies were even a ‘thing’).

I have a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the Cooper Union. [We make use of Alex’s creative nature and writing skills from time to time in Marketing efforts.]

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I buy the Sunday New York Times Early Edition every week at a local Barnes & Noble (where they often mistakenly charge me several dollars less than the cover price). It takes me all week to read it and several days to do the crossword puzzle. By Saturday night I Google search the answers to the clues that I’m hopelessly stuck on. I have no shame.

Share something quirky about yourself…

I always carry a quarter in my pocket. If I’m feeling indecisive, it’s either Heads or Tails and I always follow through.

What’s your favorite book?

“Speak, Memory” by Vladimir Nabokov is my favorite. In this book
Nabokov writes about his childhood and beautifully captures how a child sees the world before becoming an adult. Immediately after reading this book I bought a net and spent many spare summer hours chasing butterflies.