Is Your Wood Furniture Brought to You by Organized Crime?

Last updated on August 14th, 2018 at 03:54 pm

Luxury Furniture | Avoiding Global Rainforest Destruction | Choosing Sustainable American Made Furniture
Organized crime is currently responsible for an unprecedented rate of rainforest destruction.  Unchecked illegal logging is rampant in tropical countries too poor to effectively monitor and enforce conservation regulations.  You can help save the rainforest by avoiding the purchase of imported forest products like wood furniture and flooring.

Forest conservation is at the heart of our mission at Vermont Woods Studios and we’re always trying to raise awareness about where your wood furniture comes from.  If you’re committed to buying American made furniture— no worries.  Chances are it’s made from legal wood, sustainably harvested from well-managed forests right here in North America.

But if you’re buying imported wood furniture (and according to a Washington Post article 70% of furniture sold in America is imported) then: Houston, we have a problem.

A recent Washington Post article by Brad Plumer entitled Organized Crime is Getting Rich Cutting Down the Rainforest describes how the illegal logging trade has become just as lucrative (and far more destructive) than the drug-trafficking industry.  50 to 90 percent of forestry in tropical areas is now controlled by criminal groups!  “A great deal of logging simply takes place illegally — much of it in tropical areas such as the Amazon Basin, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia.” (ref: United Nations and Interpol)

The U.N. estimates that illicit logging is now worth between $30 billion to $100 billion, or up to 30 percent of the global wood trade.  That illegal wood is often shipped from pristine rainforests to China, Vietnam and other third world countries where it’s fabricated into low quality furniture which is sold to US consumers. We’ve written quite a bit about the links between rainforest destruction, global warming and the furniture and flooring you choose for your home:

If you’re considering buying furniture at IKEA, Home Depot or any big box store… ask where the lumber originates and let us know what you find on our Facebook or in the comments section below.  Then re-discover sustainable, American made wood furniture and join us in feeling good about your furniture and your green home.

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont

Last updated on August 15th, 2018 at 04:53 pm

Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont

 

If you’re familiar with our company, the name Renfrew may ring a bell, because of our Renfrew Shaker Furniture Collection. But, do you know the history behind the collection name? We like to name some of our collections after Vermont conservation heroes, and Dr. Rosalind Renfrew, or as she likes to be called, Roz, is one of them. Roz is a dedicated wildlife biologist in Vermont, and her name has been popping up in the local news recently. She is the editor for the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont, a comprehensive publication that came out this month.

This second edition publication has taken many years of research to complete. For ten years the Vermont Center for Eco Studies and a number of volunteers from all over the state surveyed the same land that was surveyed in 1985 when the first edition came out. The goal of this publication was to focus on population patterns, rather than the reasons for change. In addition, this atlas includes, “a guide to the biogeography of Vermont; and essays on change in habitats, climate, land use and their impact on Vermont’s bird communities over the past quarter century.” This comprehensive wildlife atlas is 576 pages! Inside you will find photographs, maps, charts and graphs.

The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont will be a great reference for hobby birders as well as conservationists. This large, extensive book is available for purchase through the publisher’s website for $75. There will be 150 of the books donated to libraries across Vermont, so that everyone can have access to the information.

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

How About A Room With A View?

Last updated on August 8th, 2013 at 10:32 am

Vermont Furniture Showroom

It’s officially Spring, but you wouldn’t know that from the outside temperatures this week. But, it hasn’t slowed down our remodel crew a bit. Based on our most recent construction meeting, it looks like the last hammer swing will be around the third week of May. Of course we are anxious to move in and excited to welcome our customers to our new home.

So most of the recent activity has been on the interior and the different spaces are taking shape quite nicely. One area we really love and feel our customers will love too is the customer welcome area. This space was formally a kitchen, and it never really took advantage of the gorgeous view. We decided to put in as much glass as possible to best capture this view. We think this is a perfect space for our customers to soak in the scenery. Our photo below shows the transformation of this space.

Vermont Furniture Showroom
The former kitchen becomes a room with a view!

Check back soon to see this room when it is finished and see how the rest of the spaces are coming along. Looking forward to opening our doors for you this Summer.

To get caught up on the Vermont Woods Studios showroom remodel, see the Stonehurst section of our blog.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

A Stained Glass Window for Stonehurst

Last updated on May 7th, 2018 at 02:46 pm

Stained Glass Window in Our Stonehurst Bathroom
This Stained Glass Window, handcrafted in the 1800s for St Patrick’s Church in Jaffrey NH, was donated to our Stonehurst Gallery by Annette Roydon.  The picture and painting on the mantle above the stained glass show Stonehurst as it was in the mid 20th century when the property was a ski area and year round resort.  Our thanks to former owners Bill and Elaine Ellis for passing these and other artifacts along to us when we purchased the property.

Remember that old Beatles song, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window?  It’s been going through my head these last couple weeks as I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to get my way on a plan to install this stained glass window into the restroom at Stonehurst, our new furniture and fine art gallery.

The window has a great history.  Annette gave it to me.  It was one of just a few things she was able to salvage when her 1814 Vernon farmhouse down the road, burned to the ground on Christmas eve 5 years ago.  At the time, our Vermont Woods Studios showroom was housed in the sun room of Annette’s house.  She had been letting us use her space in return for an occasional farm chore (actually it was kind of a lop-sided affair on my end but Ken helped out quite a bit and Susan Holmquist– salesperson extraordinaire at the time– helped Annette deliver a baby horse so it wasn’t entirely a one-way street).

Anyway, this stained glass window and three others were removed from St Patrick’s church in Jaffrey, NH back in the days when the Catholic Church was modernizing their decor.  Annette’s father happened by and saw the windows in a dumpster and got permission to salvage them.  Eventually they made their way to Annette who had them restored by Rick Neumann of Neumann Studios in Brattleboro, Vermont.  She installed the window shown above in the bathroom of her  farmhouse.

Since the fire, the small window has been out in the back corner of the barn, with only Annette’s annual crop of Thanksgiving turkeys around to enjoy it’s beauty.  So I was really excited to be able to bring  it back to life when Annette donated it to the Stonehurst project.  No one else thought we’d have an “appropriate place” for it, but Douglas finally broke down and pointed out the perfect sized spot for it– in the public restroom.  What a coincidence!  You’ll have to stop by and see it once Stonhurst is complete.

Now I’m wondering about who created this piece of art and when?   Any ideas?  St Patrick’s Church was founded in 1885 so I figure the window must have been crafted well over 100 years ago.  I guess I’ll have to take a trip over to Jaffrey and see what I can learn from the folks at St Patrick’s.

Honoring the history of a piece of art (and the artist who made it) is something that makes you feel great!  I’d like to think that the furniture we’ll be featuring at Stonehurst will be around 100 years from now and people will be appreciating it (and the Vermont craftspeople who made it) just like we appreciate this stained glass.

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Vermont’s Working Lands Initiative: Our Proposal

Last updated on August 14th, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Vermont Working Landscape Grant
This is the “backyard” of Stonehurst, our future Vermont made furniture gallery and nature center.  We’ve applied for a grant from the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative to close the final funding gap so we can complete Stonehurst renovations by mid-summer.

What do you love best about Vermont?  Our maple syrup?  Organic cheese?  Skiing or snowboarding?  Mountain climbing?  Our farm to plate restaurants?  Chances are whatever your favorites are in Planet Vermont, they are here for you because of Vermont’s working landscape.  That’s the term Vermonters are using to refer to the Green Mountain state’s pastoral forests and fields– and there’s a concerted effort afoot to ensure they will remain sustainable.

Last year our Legislature passed the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative which  allocated $1Million to “stimulate a concerted economic development effort on behalf of Vermont’s agriculture and forest product sectors by systematically advancing entrepreneurism, business development, and job creation.”  A request for proposals to carry out the WL initiative was issued last year and yesterday was the deadline for submittals.

Hundreds of entrepreneurs from all across the state have offered ideas and projects that will eventually add up to a wave of renewed commitment and progress in sustaining our working lands.  We at Vermont Woods Studios are among the group.

Our proposal seeks to use WL grant monies to close the final funding phase of renovating our Stonehurst Furniture Gallery and Nature Center.  From a Working Lands perspective, one of the advantages of Stonehurst is that it tells the story of where Vermont made furniture comes from and how it’s made– sustainably.

Putting our Working Lands proposal together has been quite a process and regardless of whether we win an award, I think it’s been time well spent.  I know the grant is highly competitive.  It’s my understanding that the WL Board received some 268 proposals  for a total request of over $12 million.  They are working with only $1Million in funding, so the odds aren’t good.

But I feel our proposal answers an important need in providing a market for Vermont’s wood furniture and a destination that will attract customers from beyond our borders.  We’ve been able to forge many new partnerships and collaborations as a result of the grant application process and that alone makes the effort worthwhile.

Decisions on grant awards are expected in April and we’ll keep you posted.  Best of luck to everyone who has invested their time into this important project!

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

We’re Not The Only Ones Getting A New Home!

Last updated on November 14th, 2018 at 04:31 pm

Blue Bird Nesting Box
We used the lumber from one of the “hazardous trees” we had to cut down to make blue bird nesting boxes.

When we first purchased Stonehurst, it was evident that about six different trees needed to be removed, as they were much too close to the house. Not wanting them to go to waste, we sawed what we could into lumber and trimmed the rest for fire wood. One of the trees was a Norway Spruce, so Ken didn’t have his eye on it for furniture. So, we decided it would be perfect lumber to make some bird nesting boxes. We called in the help of Vince Johnson, of Vernon, who set up his portable sawmill on site. He was able to get a good amount out of that Spruce tree and we had plenty for our project.

Part of Stonehurst is potentially creating a nature center and we will always look for ways to preserve the natural habitat for all the native species on the property. With Stonehurst having a fair amount of open fields, it is a perfect habitat for the Eastern Bluebird and Tree Swallows, both cavity nesters. Also, the field edges would make a good spot for some Black Capped Chickadee nest boxes.

We found a bluebird nesting box plan and some members of the Green Team took over Ken’s workshop. We made a bunch of nesting boxes for the bluebirds, but ran out of time for the chickadees, so that’s something that we will get back to. The next step is to get out to the fields to mount these in just the right places. We want to get them up before the end of March, which is typically the time these species start to look for a nesting place. We will report on that in the coming weeks as well as keep you updated as these nest boxes become occupied.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

All Under One Roof

Last updated on August 8th, 2013 at 10:34 am

Vermont Furniture Showroom
Much work has been done to the previously detached accessory building. The former studio apartment is now connected to the rest of the building and is under some major remodeling.

Since the new addition was built to attach the two existing buildings, the crew has been hard at work connecting the new “L” shape structure to make everything under one roof. A key part of this project was aligning the roof lines. The detached accessory building’s roof line was substantially lower than the new addition and the main house’s roof. Another key part of this project was getting all the floors at the same level. The original flooring structure was removed and lowered almost two feet. In the “After” photo above you can see the lowered floor in comparison to the old entryway door.

This room is going to get new, larger windows in a later part of construction, in addition to a cherry wood floor and a ceiling made out of reclaimed wood boards. We aren’t certain what this floor space in our showroom will house, but we think it will display our bedroom furniture pieces.

The accessory building was last used as a studio apartment, so it needed a lot of dismantling. You can see the living room area in the “Before” photo above. On Facebook we have a Stonehurst-Before construction album, where you can see a photograph of the apartment’s old kitchen, bathroom and loft sleeping area.

Much remains to be done but the hard parts and hard weather seem to be passed us. There is still construction work being done in other areas of Stonehurst, and we will bring you up to date the next time around. We are expecting the showroom remodel to be completed in mid May!

Continue to follow our blog for construction updates on the Vermont Woods Studios Showroom, Stonehurst.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Vermont Road Trip: Dorset Custom Furniture

Last updated on March 13th, 2019 at 04:28 pm

Custom Furniture Makers | Dorset Vermont
Meet the master craftsmen of Dorset Vermont.  From left:  Bill Laberge, Bob Gasperetti, Steve Holman and Dan Mosheim.  These guys are world class expert furniture designers and woodworkers.  Their beautiful creations grace the Green Mountain State as well as public and private homes, businesses and galleries the world over.  

Dorset is one of the prettiest hamlets in all of Vermont, so Dennis and I were happy to make the trek to Dorset Custom Furniture last Friday.  For us, the main attraction wasn’t the quaint New England Village architecture or the view of the Green Mountain Forest.  It was to meet with Dan Mosheim and three more of Dorset’s famous custom furniture makers.  I guess it’s no coincidence that four of the country’s finest craftsmen have set up shop in this idyllic spot.  Dorset is quintessential Vermont at it’s finest and it’s natural beauty inspires artists and craftspeople from all walks of life.

Once we found our way to the slice of paradise that’s home to Dorset Custom Furniture we caught up with Dan, his wife Kit, and their sons Will and Sam.  The whole family is involved in the arts, creating not only furniture but also jewelry, musical instruments and sculpture.

Dan had invited three other powerhouses in custom furniture to meet with us:  Steve Holman of Holman Studios, Bob Gasperetti and Bill Laberge.  We were brainstorming ways to collaborate in shining a light on Vermont’s long legacy of creating sustainable, high end, custom furniture.  Dennis and I extended an invitation to the Dorset crowd to show their furniture at Stonehurst, our new fine furniture gallery so we will be working with them to make that happen before our grand opening this summer.

If you’re wandering around the world of Vermont arts and crafts before that, be sure to drop by Dorset and visit these fine furniture craftsmen in their studios.  I think you’ll find that in commissioning a piece of their custom furniture, you are acquiring much more that a functional piece of art.  I’m not sure how to describe but it has to do with getting in touch with a level of authenticity that is often missing in our lives.  I think you’ll just have to go to Dorset and check it out for yourself.  Then tell us about your experience on Facebook.  Happy travels!

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Extension Tables

Solid Wood Extension Tables
This eco-friendly Solid Wood Extension Table is handmade in Vermont using sustainably harvested wood.  Have you ever wondered who thought up extension tables in the first place?   “Let’s saw this table top in two.  Then we can stick a couple boards in between the 2 halves and extend the table when company comes.”  Just saying…  it might have sounded a little crazy at first.

January is a popular month to shop for dining tables.  I guess every year, around the holidays people decide “this is going to be my last year entertaining around this old table!  It’s too small, it’s too old, it’s not the right shape…”  So we build a lot of dining tables in January and this year, they are almost all extension tables.

Who ever thought up the idea of extension tables in the first place?  I mean… “let’s saw this table top in two.  Then we can stick a couple boards in between the 2 halves and extend the table when company comes.”  Pretty innovative, but it must have sounded a little crazy at first– don’t you think?

Extension tables have come a long way since some creative person designed the first one.  Now you can get extension tables with 1, 2, 3 or more leaves (our furniture makers have been known to build custom tables with as many as 5 leaves).  The leaves can be self-storing, with butterfly mechanisms or little cubbies under the table for convenient storage.  With 3 or more leaves there is usually an extra leg tucked under the table top for extra support.

At Vermont Woods Studios, our extension tables are handcrafted of real solid wood and 100% American made by Vermont craftspeople.  They can be customized in Cherry, Maple, Black Walnut, or Oak wood.  And you can choose from different designs to suit the shape and style of your dining room: drop leaf, trestle, split pedestal, single pedestal and double pedestal.

Looking for a particular style or shape?  Browse through Shaker, modern, mission, French country, traditional, craftsman and mid-century modern styles in round to oval and square to rectangular shapes.

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Finding a Beautiful Vermont View After Nemo

Finding a Beautiful Vermont View After Nemo
We found a beautiful Vermont view after Nemo blew through Vernon yesterday.  The storm made for great skiing and sledding on Vernon’s lost ski area, Pine Top and throughout the state.

Like most Vermonters we were lucky to find Nemo pretty tolerable– for a winter storm, that is.  Vernon got about a foot of fluffy white snow and our dedicated road crew was out pushing it around in no time.  Finally it’s winter in Vermont!

When I was a kid, storms like this were routine throughout the winter.  We grabbed our skis and happily headed towards the slopes.  So today I thought it fitting to give the snowy slopes of Pine Top, aka Stonehurst a try.  I found the old toboggan my parents gave my siblings and me for Christmas many years ago and pulled it up to the top of the hill (fortunately Ken had re-conditioned it when Kendall and Riley were little and it’s still in great shape).

I found a spectacular Vermont view on the knob where the old Pine Top warming shed used to be!  Today was a beautiful day for sledding and the snow was dry and fast.  I made a few trips up and down the slope before I started pining away for the ancient rope tow that used to be installed at Vernon’s former ski area.  Or even the old horse tow that preceded that.

Ken Enjoying the View at Pine Top | A Lost Ski Area in Vernon, VT
Ken’s version of sledding.

Then I saw that Ken had finished plowing and had found an alternative way to enjoy the view, so I wrapped up my sledding and joined him for a drink.  After all the winter weather watches and warnings, it turns out Nemo wasn’t so bad after all.

If you’re in the area, stop by Pine Top, take a sleigh ride and enjoy the view before the snow melts!  We’ll supply the drinks.

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.