Taking dismantled pieces of wood from tear-down homes and other found demolitions, J&S Reclaimed Wood Custom Furniture amazes by giving new life to these historic salvaged pieces. Founded in 2012, Josh Hooge and Steve MacFarlane built their company from the ground up through the passion for their craft and constant creative adaption of spaces and elements in the wood they reclaim. Being an eco-friendly business and working individually with every client request, Josh and Steve have become high in demand for the ethically savvy individuals who want unique and beautiful pieces for their homes and businesses. Not only does the duo take requests for custom ordered pieces of furniture, but they can also transform an entire space with custom storage and shelving options handcrafted by them in their local Vancouver workshop. Because they have featured pieces in publications such as Vogue U.K, GQ and The World of Interiors, we at Metro Living Zine are excited to share the entrepreneurs’ work and get some insight into their world of custom, reclaimed wood furniture.
What first interested you in woodworking?
J: I worked under my Dad, who has been a finish carpenter for 25 years.
S: I took woodworking classes through high school and loved working with my hands.
Our company started by chance. We were two college students who needed furniture for our house, so we started building it in our back yard using shipping pallets we found in an alley. Friends and family saw what we built and wanted items for their places. We listed our stuff online and soon we had clients of all kinds placing orders.
When sourcing reclaimed wood, what are some of the specific things that you look for?
We salvage all of the wood ourselves. Most recently, we took down a barn in Chilliwack, BC. It was built in 1904 and needed to be torn down, so we salvaged 95% of the wood and used it for our furniture. We also salvage wood from Vancouver Character house demos. We try to recycle anything we can as long as it is not cracked or filled with toxic paints.
What have some of your favourite projects been so far?
We love bringing the client’s dream to life, and we ship worldwide. One of our most famous clients is comedian and actress, Whitney Cummings. She ordered one of the first desks we handcrafted in 2012. We are also excited to share that Vogue U.K discovered our herringbone coffee table. It was such a hit that they put it in their sister magazines GQ, The World of Interiors, etcetera. We have shipped many of those signature coffee tables around the world.
We have served many commercial and residential clients around Vancouver. It is always great when the client sees their dream come to life. We do not really have a favourite; every project is unique and awesome in its own way.
I love that you rescue antique wood and give it new life. Can you explain some of the benefits of using reclaimed wood as well as custom furniture?
Vancouver is home to a lot of unique spaces. There is no such thing as a traditional layout anymore. As the city grows, spaces are becoming smaller and more unique. That is where custom furniture comes in; a client can literally get anything built to fit their unique space. Coffee tables that turn into dining tables for those rare dinner parties, side tables that act as stools for when additional friends come over, beds that are custom to fit those awkward bedrooms and of course, unique storage solutions that are 100% custom to your space. Using reclaimed wood is not only good for the environment; it can also have a lot of history. Usually the wood comes out of building demos and is old growth, which means it was harvested from trees that are sometimes 100+ years old. Those trees no longer exist in BC and are only found in protected old-growth forests. People who are no longer on this earth harvested the wood many years ago. There is usually a story attached, depending on where we salvaged the wood. The wood also has a lot of character, nail holes, scratches, and cracks that really go with the aesthetic look of our furniture.
Can you describe a bit of your creative process?
Everything is handmade to order and 100% customizable. We work with our clients to design the pieces. Sometimes they bring photos. Other times they have a series of ideas. By designing the pieces with them, they end up with their dream product.
Everything is made by the J&S Team in our Vancouver workshop. We salvage the wood ourselves, sand, finish, and build. We use eco-friendly finishes made here in Canada and all of the metal work is even done by us. Nothing is outsourced.
Being a newer business, what has your experience as young entrepreneurs and craftsman been like, not only with the local Vancouver market, but international as well?
Owning a business is one of the hardest and most challenging things we have ever done. It is not as easy as it looks, but it is very rewarding. We literally started with nothing and have grown significantly over the last 5 years. I would definitely do it again.
Do you each have a certain style of design that you like to incorporate in your work and what elements would you say shine through in your custom pieces?
Every single piece we hand craft is unique. The clients come to us with the ideas, and depending on what we are building them, we suggest what would look best. It is important to ensure everything looks good before it leaves our shop. If we are not satisfied, it does not leave our shop. We want to be proud of the pieces we have handcrafted so the elements that shine through the most are the ones made with high quality precision in combination with the carefully selected pieces of unique wood for each custom design.
Have you noticed any frequent design trends in customer requests and do you anticipate any stylistic elements to become more prominent in your work?
More and more clients are coming to us because they want a piece that is timeless and will last. They want to make a difference in the environment. The trend of disposable furniture that lasts a few years and then is tossed in the landfill is starting to fade. People are willing to invest in a piece that will last a lifetime so we find that we often work mostly with classic, lasting style rather than passing design trends.
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