We all love objects that have stories to tell. One of our favorite projects to date was for a client in DC. Let’s call her Mary. She and her family reside in a more-than-a-century old home, the front porch of which needed to be completely replaced. Rather than remove the porch and scrap all the wood, Mary saved much of the wood in the hopes that it could be reused. She contacted us to see whether we could recycle any of the reclaimed material into furniture for her family home.
When she said the porch had been made of pine, we were a bit skeptical about what could be done with it until she mentioned the age of the home. We decided that if the porch were original, the joists might be as well. We were not disappointed. The timbers were, indeed, old growth southern yellow pine. As supports for the porch, the wood was perfectly air dried, not a drop of residual pine sap.
We assessed the volume of usable wood and spent a few hours with Mary discussing what she’d like to see made from the reclaimed timbers. We exchanged design ideas, finding just the right size and shape for each custom piece to suit her family’s needs. In the end, we made a round kitchen table, several small tables, and, the pièce de résistance, a coffee table for the front porch itself. The wood that made this new furniture had given shelter, strength, play space, and a welcoming entry to a home for more than 100 years as a porch—this wood that would otherwise be destined for the trash heap after such long service—it was reclaimed and woven back in to the story of this home and its family.
We loved the chance to make cherished objects to honor these beautiful former trees and the families that have loved this home. This wood now offers a casual, warm setting for passing the time with friends in the neighborhood, several serviceable workspaces from which new ideas will flow, and a gathering place for family meals for many years to come. We hope that these handcrafted tables will become new family heirlooms, reminding this family of its own history in our nation’s capital.
Laura Lambkin is co-owner and assistant maker at Lambkin Studios.