I have recently been surprised at what some people categorize as rustic furniture. Fourteen years ago when I began in the rustic furniture business, my definition of rustic furniture was furniture made from hand peeled natural logs and then combined with wildlife carvings or natural antlers. I have lived in Michigan most of my life and the cabins and cottages I visited as a kid had traditional rustic furniture made from pine or cedar logs usually adorned with a primitive bear or pine tree carving. This style furniture was called Northwood’s style rustic furniture, and it could be found in cabins that dotted the Au Sable or Manistee Rivers or cottages on the west side of the state from Leelanau to Mackinaw City and back around the eastern side of the state from Rogers City to Alpena. Really, it was found throughout the state as it was ubiquitous and basically the only Midwestern style of rustic furniture at the time.
Rustic furniture has been around since the first people came off the boats and landed on Plymouth rock and started pushing west. Yes, these early settlers may have had more refined furniture in their western European homes prior to departing, but they did not initially have the fancy equipment to produce this style so they fashioned furniture from logs, branches and whatever else they could find. The cities on the east coast grew as did the western settlements. Furniture styles changed, but an enduring love affair and respect for the rustic lifestyle remains. This is evidenced by the great lodges and camps built in the Adirondacks. Some lodges date back 150 years. These lodges and camps are full of handcrafted rustic furniture made in a distinct style now called “Adirondack furniture”.
Thomas Molesworth made a distinct style of western furniture using hides, natural wood and animal horns. He is credited with creating a style of furniture that is today called “cowboy furniture.” Molesworth operated the Shoshone Furniture Company from 1931 to 1961 in Cody, Wyoming. Mr. Molesworth’s furniture is also sought after, and original pieces bring some very high prices when they can be found.
A recent trend has been to recycle and utilize the weathered wood found on the thousands of barns that dot the back-roads of Midwestern America. These barns provided shelter to the animals and equipment that fed America while it was struggling to find its identity and economic engine. Tens of thousands of aging barns have wood that dates back 100 to 200 years. The wood exhibits the worn character of a maturing nation. Barnwood makes excellent furniture. The elements and oxidation give the wood a wonderful textured, aged patina. All the woodworking tricks in the world cannot replicate the look that Mother Nature slowly and methodically created over time.
Log homes became very popular and almost mainstream over the past 25 years. It’s hard to know the exact number of log homes built, but I remember hearing a report on Public radio a few years after 9/11. The report basically spotlighted how New Yorkers were reevaluating their high paced city lifestyles post 9/11. The report stated that over 5,000 log homes had been built in the 2002 in New York state alone. The report suggested that many living in the big city wanted a more natural, earthy and tranquil home life after the tumultuous events of 9/11. Thousands of city dwellers sold their city flats and townhouses and opted for a hand hewn log home nestled in the pristine mountains of upstate New York. Whether this was their primary home or just their getaway camp, the thought of having a tranquil sanctuary outside of the concrete jungle became much more appealing.
I am sure many other style of rustic furniture will surface in the years to come. I know the artisans at Woodland Creek Furniture are constantly pushing the limits of design by mixing in new elements. Right now we are experimenting with adding concrete tops to many of our rustic style bases. Of course not just ordinary concrete tops as our expert finishers have found ways to make concrete look like stucco, granite, natural stone using hand crafted artisan finish techniques – all available in a wide range of colors. Photos will be coming soon so for now this is just a tease.
On behalf of the entire Woodland Creek family we thank you for your interest in our handcrafted rustic furniture. Please consider this an open invitation to visit our workshop for a complete tour whereby you will see the talented woodworkers crafting and designing one of a kind rustic furniture. You will also see thousands of pieces of reclaimed and exotic woods from all over the country and world. We promise you an experience unlike any other and rustic furniture unlike any other.