Once upon a time, Americans threw away nothing. Well, threw away very little or what was beyond repair. Things were fixed, re-patched, re-sewn, rebuilt, or refurbished. Then something happened: We became a throw-away society. Perhaps we felt more entitled after liberating the world from fascism, or maybe we simply got too prosperous to be bothered with fixing old stuff when we could just buy new stuff.
But there’s a movement afoot. Companies offering salvaged and reclaimed products are springing up everywhere. One of my new favorites is Viridian Reclaimed Wood. The Portland, Ore.-based company offers a wide range of products made from old wood, such as reclaimed old-growth Douglas-fir flooring that comes from abandoned warehouses, docks, and old gymnasiums, among other sources; or Douglas-fir tabletops milled from old beams.
The tables are available in thicknesses of 1½ inches and up, in widths of up to 48 inches, and in lengths ranging to 12 feet. They also come in three varieties: Mixed Grain, which the company says has a variety of grain patterns from vertical to flat, planed smooth with beautiful edge work; Rustic Original Beam Face highlighting the character from its prior life as a structural beam; and Vertical Grain, tight growth rings and an occasional nail hole to signify that it’s reclaimed wood.
No one is saying that there aren’t kick-ass tables from Room & Board, or that the (more than likely) cheaper, funny-sounding version from IKEA is evil. We’re just saying that sometimes the real treasure is sitting in your attic, staring you right in the peepers.