Recently we were alerted to new photos of a Whole Foods Market in Chicago, IL that features a variety of our wood products throughout, plus custom trusses in the bar area from our sister company, New Energy Works. It’s funny how often “finished shots” of a project don’t arrive until a year or two (or more!) after its completion. This project was no exception having opened in early 2017. I struck out to learn more about it, connecting with Mark Scherrer, Senior Associate at BRR Architecture and lead architect for this particular Whole Foods, known to us as “Lakeview”. Mark recalled the store with ease and answered questions before I even asked:
If you’re not familiar with Whole Foods, they’re an award-winning national grocer with a solid ethos and product focus on natural and organic foods. The stores are an experience, each one unique–any chance we have to visit one, we take it!
Each Whole Foods Market is one-of-a-kind, fitted to the region and needs of customers. Departments within the stores are very purposefully designed and carefully integrated with each other to create a cohesive look and feel. Mark explained that for Lakeview: “The wood products from Pioneer Millworks were used as both defining and unifying elements. Cleaner and lighter wood planking installed at an angle welcomes customers and defines key areas such as the Cheese Shop and Juice Bar.”
A few weeks ago I would have said there was no way I could possibly like Reclaimed Ash in Custom Grey any more than I already did. Turns out, I was wrong. I visited a New Energy Works Timberframers lake home where Ash paneling is paired with tones of lavender and hickory in the master suite. I’m totally enamored! (Okay, yes, I do have an affinity for purple and my ultimate favorite species is hickory…still, I wanted to share this tranquil space with you):
The master suite. Grey, lavender, high-craft reclaimed goodness.
And here is a fun close up of the stone fireplace back with the wood paneling and flooring. Lavender and grey tones paired with the stone–yes please:
In the past five years our finishing department has grown into a well trained, well equipped, team of detail oriented professionals. This can be credited in large part to our Finishing Team Leader Steve Pettrone, who with the support and encouragement of management has deftly guided this devoted crew. With years of flooring installation experience, a strong personal environmental ethos and an easy going swagger that inspires camaraderie, Steve is quite a rock star. In addition to streamlining and updating our processes, he has proudly steered our in-house finishing options away from Tung oils and 2 part polyurethanes to the Zero VOC hard-wax oil finishes that have become the industry standard in the world of reclaimed flooring.
There is nothing radical about these finishes. They aren’t groundbreaking or cutting edge. They aren’t Pantone’s color of the year (though we do have plenty of custom one-off finish possibilities, but that’s another story).
What they are, are well tested, expertly applied, high performing finishes that will expand the tonal options available to both the cosmopolitan designer and the renovating homeowner.
In general, clients come to us looking for authenticity. That’s what reclaimed wood delivers best. The time-worn surface, the rich depth of color found in original patina and old growth wood, the nail holes and fastener marks that testify to a past life. Faux finishes make us cringe. As anyone who has worked in our sample department will tell you, nothing is lamer than receiving a request for a stain that will make red oak look like walnut. Or the request to apply some Rumplestiltskin magic to make fresh-sawn Douglas Fir look like it has weathered grey naturally for 20 years under the Wyoming sun.
We prefer the modernist tenet of remaining true to the material. But we are also aware that natural color tones – no matter how lush – are not right for every project. Our three custom finishes are complex and transparent, highlighting Ash’s tight grain pattern rather than masking it. Like your neighborhood sommelier, Steve has paired finish and wood so that each works to one another’s strength.
These custom finishes take full advantage of a product that we are very fond of: Rubio Monocoat. This hard-wax oil is favored for its ease in application, maintenance and its tested durability.
Our custom process begins with a wire-brushing to open the wood grain, a hand-applied Rubio “Pre-color” stain which gives the final finish extra depth, and a thorough denibbing which removes any raised fibers.
At this point the flooring is laid out on a platform and the oil finished is applied with a buffer. We then inspect and wipe down every board by hand and let the finish cure for 24 hours in a rack. Before it is shipped, the finished material is lined with a sheet of protective padding and then wrapped into hand bundles of approximately 25 square feet.
From start to finish, this diligent process is free of shortcuts and it results in a product that we feel is equal if not superior to any prefinished wood floor on the market. Steve is confident that you will agree.
We’ve got a lot of beautiful things around here. Everyday I’m surrounded by unique, gorgeous wood in a myriad of different forms with exciting, new-to-us reclaimed projects coming in every week.
Settlers’ Plank Reclaimed Oak is a great example of one of our most popular core products, reclaimed mostly from barns.
Our core product line, those items that we make time and again, consists of some of the most exceptional and storied wood species and grades you can find (reclaimed or otherwise).
While it’s hard to pick a favorite, I find that once in a while I’m struck by something. Sometimes it’s an exclusive, limited edition item that is source specific. Sometimes it’s a new finishing technique on an old favorite. Sometimes, like today, I find myself drawn to a particular species from our core product line. I’m fascinated with its inherent beauty and also its surprising flexibility: American Gothic Reclaimed Ash.
Our Reclaimed Ash has been knocking my socks off. It’s cool and modern. It’s rich and warm. It’s black and white and even blue. Ash is one of those species that can be anything you need it to be, without sacrificing its own character.
The grain pattern is somewhat pronounced and the natural tones are neutral, with a slight iridescence that makes for a stunning floor, wall, or countertop with just a coating of polyurethane or tung oil. (We sometimes say the grain pattern appears “flame-like”.)
Apply any sort of stain or color, Ash’s light, neutral color tone makes it the perfect base for a dramatic finish.
You can add a pigment or color, something natural or something wild, and it just shines. The grain doesn’t get lost, rather the light neutral color tone makes it the perfect base for a dramatic finish.
Simple and natural, or bold and colorful, I find it to be a spectacular choice for just about any project or application.