An Insider’s Point of View

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Folks that are passionate about a hobby, their profession, their home, a color, an author, a material, a movement—about anything at all—are fun to talk with. Their enthusiasm is often infectious and they always have something new (and many times unknown to others) to share. I found myself having such a conversation with Roblyn. A naturally creative and design passionate person, armed with an Interior Design degree from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), she has helped many of our clients achieve just what they envisioned with our wood products. Her excitement about color and textures or the latest and greatest in the design world is genuine. It comes across within moments of meeting her. We found comfortable spots in our lounge to chat about what she’s seeing in the design world, what role Thoughtful Sophistication plays, and what she expects we’ll all see more of in the future:

Megan: Thanks for taking the time to chat.

Roblyn: Of course!

M: I wanted to pick your brain a bit. I know you’re into design and often take what you see and create your own experience; personalize it. And you bring that to clients. So what do you think is the next wave, the next trend in our industry?

R: I think we’ll continue to see an aesthetic where designers are taking existing spaces and materials and incorporating them into a modern environment without losing the history or value of what already existed. We’re definitely in a time where there’s a strong desire to celebrate the history—and story—of our environments while marrying them with new elements and the high tech products we want and need to live and work with.

Pioneer Millworks American Gothic Mixed Hardwoods reclaimed paneling

Pioneer Millworks American Gothic Mixed Hardwoods reclaimed paneling

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DIY Approved

Thinking wood cladding and paneling? Us too! Walls, doors, cabinets—whatever your desire. Which is why we’d like to introduce you to our Thin Plank. It can be installed over a variety of vertical surfaces bringing texture, color, and character to any space.

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DIY: glue it up, nail it on, apply some velcro—the lightweight, 3/8″ thickness reclaimed wood planks are made for enhancing and refreshing upright surfaces. While thinner, they still maintain a variety of authentic texture and patinas.

thin plank pioneer millworks edge

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The ‘Random’ Trend: Firewood Panels

A trend in design for the past few years has been “random”.  Random colors, textures, shapes, thicknesses, widths, and character have become the norm in many projects both residential and commercial. Playing off this random concept, a national retailer asked us to create a random firewood wall panel for their stores.

firewood-panel-pioneer-millworks-macroSome people think the roots of this look is in Scandinavian design, while others get more of an Adirondack or Rocky Mountain lodge feel. The simplicity and organic nature of stacked firewood is beautiful – I’ve always marveled at how every piece is unique in shape, size, and texture. Translating this beauty to a prefabricated panel would prove to take considerable work, but our team of craftspeople are always up for a challenge.

First, we had to figure out what we would be using for the wood itself. The firewood we generate in our shop comes in the form of off-cuts from the timbers we salvage. Usually its the “bad part” of the beam on the ends, perhaps with some rot or damage from the deconstruction process. We don’t waste this, and in fact it is burned in our high-performance boilers which heat our kilns and our shop in the colder months here in NY. So we had to find something that wasn’t cut from old timbers – and we didn’t need to look any further than the trees growing around our yard. Nothing too big, just some Poplars and softwoods which, coincidentally, were being trimmed around the same time as they were encroaching on our yard space. They were the perfect size to form a nice arrangement on the panels for our client.

fire-wood-panel-whole-pioneerFor the retailer’s project we split the logs to give them a genuine wedge-profile, cut them to the requested depth, carefully dried them, and then mounted them to a specially prepared plywood backer and frame.

Stepping back and looking at it, our shop thought it was a really cool project that we probably wouldn’t be asked to make again. Fast-forward a few months though, and a longtime client of ours in New York City called up asking about a similar effect, this time for the exterior of a restaurant.  Working with an outdoor application presented its own set of challenges but once again our team developed a solution again sourcing small, fast-growing species overtaking the edges of our yard in NY.

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Just this last week, we shipped another set of panels, this time for the lobby of an apartment building outside Philadelphia. This project combined both of our prior efforts, using small diameter logs of similar species and color with the bark intact, but for interior use next to a fireplace.firewood-panels-apt-lobby-paWe’ve done other random projects with a more refined look using reclaimed timbers including a curved end-block wall crafted from Poplar and Basswood, and a really cool custom stained Red Pine wall at a coffee shop in Michigan. What’s your random design desire? stained-red-pine-random-wall-pioneer-product

US Builders Review – Greenbuild Edition

In November, we traveled to Washington, D.C. for the 2015 Greenbuild Expo –  the premier sustainable building event of the year. After joining more than 600 suppliers and top manufacturers of the latest green building equipment, products, services, and technology available in today’s market, we really felt like we were renewing our commitment to our eco-friendly practices with other like-minded eco-conscious folks. And by golly, we were excited to share new products, including naturally textured reclaimed Hemlock and custom finishes too.

US Builder Reviewthe magazine for leading construction executives – published a special Greenbuild edition of the magazine, covering the several trade show Editor’s Choice honorees. (We were one of the lucky ones!) The Editor’s Choice 2015 honorees represent the most forward-thinking businesses and the brightest of thousands of industry leaders, experts and professionals dedicated to sustainable building in their everyday work.

Read our feature here (on page 96) or below.

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