American Made Furniture vs Imports
While we’ve watched the price of most home decor items skyrocket over the last 30 years, have you noticed that the price of furniture has actually tumbled? It’s true. For a couple centuries we Americans prided ourselves on making high quality, natural wood furniture that was coveted around the world. North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont and other New England states were leaders in the fine furniture industry.
But in the 1960′s and 70′s many of America’s big furniture makers (like Ethan Allen, Broyhill, Thomasville and Lane) started to move their operations overseas and superior quality became a thing of the past (along with hundreds of thousands of American jobs). Prices fell dramatically. Instead of preserving our grandparents heirloom quality wooden furniture for our homes, we began buying cheap, trendy furniture imports and replacing them frequently as breakage occured.
Natural Furniture for the Healthy Home
Fast forward to 2013 when home owners are getting tired of cheap imported furniture that ends up on the curbside in 5 years. And they’re worried about the health effects of toxic flame retardants and formaldehyde that come standard with imports. Especially in households with children, it is simply not worth the risk.
Families are coming back to American made natural wood furniture with non-toxic finishes. Yes the furniture is more expensive up front, primarily because the American worker is paid a livable wage (as compared to wages that often amount to just a few dollars/day in Asia). But the high quality and environmental integrity of American made furniture is winning customers over. In fact, many brands are offered with a lifetime guarantee, indicative of the superior value of American made furniture over time.
What kind of furniture is in your home? Where was it made? Is it time to rediscover the real thing? Learn more about American made, natural wood furniture on the sustainability section of our website.
Which Type of Hardwood Furniture Is Best For Your Bedroom, Dining Room or Home Office?
If you’re looking for hardwood furniture, there’s a good chance you’re narrowing your wood choices down to the most popular and plentiful species grown here in America such as cherry, maple, oak and walnut. These prized hardwoods are grown sustainably here in the USA with Vermont and New England being a favorite source for many woods.
We like these species because they are well suited to fine furniture making by virtue of their color, strength, hardness, grain patterns and workability. They are also readily obtainable in our local and regional area, making them a sustainable choice. Often our furniture makers will offer two-tone combinations of these hardwoods creating a custom, artisan look and feel to your furniture.
The photo above shows Copeland Furniture’s SoHo Bedroom Set in solid maple and walnut hardwoods. This striking two-tone wood combination has become a best seller in our metropolitan markets, particularly Manhattan, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Homeowners appreciate the modern, contemporary sensibilities of the SoHo solid hardwood design as well as the fine detail and craftsmanship that goes into every custom, made to order piece.
SoHo furniture is also offered in a two-tone walnut and cherry design. Which of these hardwood combinations would look best for your bedroom furniture?
By Loryn Dion
Here at Vermont Woods Studios, a big part of our mission is to support and give back to our local and global community, specifically to those that are helping to better our world through forest conservation. While many companies and organizations promote a similar cause in their missions, VWS staff members like to do more than just write out a check or sit in the office talking about our plans but not physically putting them into action.
Thursday, the folks at the Bonnyvale Environmental Educational Center (BEEC) welcomed Peggy and me to their beautiful sanctuary, a vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the average work day. BEEC is a member-based, nonprofit organization founded with the mission to develop a more ecologically informed citizenry through education and action in order to enhance and sustain the vitality of southern Vermont’s bioregion. BEEC’s land and facilities include 100 acres of mature forests, open pasture lands, hiking trails, sweeping hilltop views, and a classroom and office, all situated in a beautiful rural setting less than 10 minutes from downtown Brattleboro.
BEEC also coordinates and leads important community-based environmental research and conservation programs, including watershed stewardship, reptile and amphibian conservation initiatives, and biodiversity planning and protection.
We traveled to BEEC for a meeting with Patti Smith and Belle Coles, two staff members of BEEC, to brainstorm some ideas for a partnership between our organizations. BEEC has some fantastic programs that they organize throughout the year and they are always looking for volunteers and sponsors. Vermont Woods Studios is hoping to help them out with one or more of these projects in the not-so-distant future.
Although Peggy and I were there on “business,” we were able to go on a nice hike to see the amazing views of the Vermont landscape and meet a lazy little possum named “Samuel Gompers.” Samuel and his siblings were rescued when they were just babies after they lost their parents. Samuel is very happy at his home with BEEC staff and enjoys eating blueberries and Japanese Beetles! I’d say this was a very successful business meeting!
If you’re interested in helping out too, the next big event that BEEC is holding their annual Hike-A-Thon. Last year, they raised over $1400 through the fundraiser. To learn more about BEEC’s projects, check out the event calendar on their Web site.
Loryn Dion is a Marketing Assistant at Vermont Woods Studios, an online furniture gallery which showcases Vermont’s finest wood furniture. Follow our blog to learn about Vermont fine furniture, Vermont happenings, our mission, and our team.
Yesterday I wrote about Vermont's Lyndon Furniture, one of America's most admired green furniture companies– and one that has remained in America throughout the offshoring exodus of the last 40 years.
Lyndon's owner and founder, Dave Allard is shown here in Vermont's Green Mountain Forest with some of his hardwood creations.
We interviewed Dave yesterday to learn more about why Lyndon Furniture is considered one of America's greenest furniture companies and here's the second half of Dave's response:
Sustainably Harvested Hardwoods – Lyndon furniture is made with choice hardwoods such as natural Cherry, Maple, Oak, or Walnut which are harvested through sustainable forestry practices. The predominant method is Single Tree Selection where trained foresters select individual trees for harvesting. The cut logs are then removed with the least disruption to the surrounding environment. This method creates openings in the forest canopy allowing more precipitation, sunlight, and nutrients to reach the forest floor ensuring the health of other trees. Responsible forest management takes into consideration long term timber production, while addressing water quality, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, forest aesthetics and recreational opportunities. The same can’t always be said for Asian or Rainforest woods where responsible forest management practices often take a back seat to maximizing profits.
Green Furniture Finishes – Lyndon's furniture finishes and stains are all made in Vermont. Vermont has some of the strictest environmental laws in the country which coincide with our views and respect of nature. Consequently our finishes have far lower VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) than current American industry standards, and far exceed the standards of imported products.
Sustainable Manufacturing – Lyndon Furniture has an extensive recycling program. We recycle paper, cardboard, metal and wood waste. Most materials (with the exception of the wood waste) are picked up by our local recycling center for proper material reintegration. Wood scrap is utilized as a biomass heating source (which has allowed Lyndon to drastically reduce oil usage) while sawdust is used by local farms for animal bedding. We have also made significant investments in energy efficiency to reduce our costs, and more importantly our carbon footprint.
At a time when it seems every furniture company is "going green" it's nice to know that Lyndon Furniture and their fellow Vermont furniture makers actually have a history of using green practices from the start.
Vermont's Lyndon Furniture is one of America's most admired eco-friendly furniture companies. We've been partnering with Lyndon for many years and often customers ask "just what is it that makes Lyndon Furniture so green?"
We put the question to our friend Dave Allard, Lyndon's owner and founder and below are a few of his comments. We'll follow up with more tomorrow.
Use of Local Woods – At Lyndon Furniture "green" practices start with our Purchasing Policy. We purchase wood through responsible local partners, thus minimizing transport distances and helping our regional economy. This policy greatly reduces fuel usage and carbon emissions.
Sustainably Harvested Woods – The hardwoods we utilize at Lyndon are grown and harvested within a 500 mile radius of our shop. Some are even harvested less than two miles away, from my own property. This is unlike furniture imported from China or other places where the lumber might be sourced from thousands of miles away in Africa or South America, thus consuming great amounts of energy in transit before timber is even received for furniture production.
Green Technology – At Lyndon Furniture we utilize advanced technology and responsible manufacturing to maximize yield and reduce the amount of wood waste, making certain that all wood processing by-products are put to some use. For example, our sawdust is used by local farmers for animal bedding.
Pretty cool, right? In Vermont nothing goes to waste. It's part of our Yankee culture of ingenuity, innovation and oh yeah…thrift. In Vermont "green furniture" is not a new promotional slogan. Furniture making has always been this way up here and I'd guess it always will be. Vermonters just aren't very responsive to passing trends. It's more about quality, integrity and sustainability in VT.
We'll post a few other green characteristics of Lyndon's eco friendly furniture tomorrow.
Tomorrow is Green Up Day in Vermont. That annual Spring day when thousands of good, green Vermonters don their muck boots and head on out along our state's highways and byways to pick up the trash left by others who are… well, not so eco-conscious let's say.
This year Green Up Day has officially been designated part of Vermont's post-Hurricane Irene recovery effort.
Have you participated in Green Up day before? If not, how about giving it a try?
You can find out who's coordinating Green Up day in your community and join them.
In Vernon, Faith Jobin and her son Jemez have volunteered to lead the project this year. They'll get all the volunteers together in the morning at the Vernon recreation center, send us out with trash bags and snacks, then throw a pizza party at noon to thank everyone for helping. It's a good time to get outside with your neighbors and help steward your community's natural landscape and waterways.
Manjula has volunteered to lead our Green Up efforts at Vermont Woods Studios tomorrow and we'll be working to clean up the Vernon Pond on Newton Road. If you live nearby, come and join us! We'll post pictures on our Facebook next week. Green on.
Earth Week seems like a good time to roll out Copeland Furniture's new collection of high end, eco-friendly solid wood dining chairs.
This one is Copeland's ultra minimalist (that's an oxymoron, isn't it?) Catalina Estelle chair in solid walnut wood. It brings you back to that mid century modern style of the 1950's with it's clean, simple lines and retro design.
All of Copeland's furniture is made right here in Vermont from sustainably harvested wood. Many Copeland items are available in FSC green-certified wood. You can read more about Copeland's green furniture and the many prestigious awards they have won for sustainability on our website.
Stay tuned for the roll out of additional brand new Copeland dining furniture pieces in the coming weeks. If you're looking for authentic green luxury you can't overlook Copeland. And their furniture is 100% American made. As we see all the big furniture companies talking about bringing their operations back to the USA from Asia due to global economics, it's good to know about Copeland Furniture– one of the few American furniture makers that stayed in the USA remaining true to their values of quality, sustainability and community throughout the mass exodus to China.
Fourteen years ago Patti Smith convinced me to keep Kendall and Riley (who were 2 and 4 at the time) up past their bedtime and march them outside into the streets of Vernon on a cold and rainy night in the early Spring. What kind of person would be able to persuade me and hundreds of other mothers and nature lovers to do such a thing?
Only Patti Smith. And why? To save salamanders, frogs and toads. Well you just have to check out her project on Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center's (BEEC) website to understand the animal magnetism that keeps me and other nature lovers padding along Vermont's country roads every Spring on cold, wet nights.
So with such a challenging job that goes unnoticed by many, we are thrilled to see Patti being recognized and nominated by the Central Vermont Public Serivce Corporation for the 2012 CVPS-Zetterstorm Environmental Award. Way to go Patti! And congratulations to the other nominees who help protect Vermont's natural resources to make our state the outstanding place it is to live and work in.
Oh… and just to let you know, we have a beautiful collection of natural, eco-friendly, handmade wood furniture we named after Patti Smith several years ago. In case you're in the market for a new bedroom set
We've been featuring our new mid-century modern American furniture by Copeland lately so when I came across this article about a beautiful new luxury mid-century Vermont home, I thought I'd share it with you.
The former Vanderbilt estate that sits along the edge of Lake Champlain now belongs to a Manhattan couple who've used natural materials including reclaimed barnwood and local river rocks to create a rural respite quite reminiscent of the homes of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Find a dozen more photos of this modern luxury retreat at The Globe and Mail.
Speaking of organic, did you know that Vermont is also famous for it's organic furniture? Last count there were some 2000 small wood furniture makers scattered across Vermont. Although the styles and methods of craftsmanship are quite varied, these furniture makers have in common a deep respect for the forest where their wood furniture originates.
I haven't been able to find a definition for organic furniture yet but I do think Vermont would logically be the place to start. Vermont woodworkers have a long history of sustainable woodworking, sourcing their wood from our local forests abundant in native hardwoods like maple, oak, ash, cherry and birch. And we avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in Vermont's sustainable forests, relying instead on Mother Nature to regenerate after careful selective harvesting.
When it comes to applying a finish to Vermont's furniture, you'll be hard-pressed to find harsh chemicals with high levels of VOCs or formaldehyde. Instead furniture makers use natural linseed oil finishes, clear non-toxic lacquers and even a natural coating made from whey (a recycled byproduct of our dairy industry).
Yesterday I wrote about organic food in terms of where it comes from and how it's grown. The organic food movement has been around for over a century but has picked up more steam in the last 20 years as people become more aware of where their food comes from. I think the next step for the organic movement is into the world of organic furniture. And Vermont will lead the way.