Not everyone can see beauty in a stack of weather-beaten, sun-bleached wood. But in the hands of Tommy Banaszek and Jeanne Sullivan, salvaged wood turns over a new leaf and is transformed into handmade furniture.
KnoT New WooD, located in Kittredge at 26030 Highway 74, is the brainchild of Banaszek and Sullivan, who created the business to showcase wood repurposed into elegant, rustic or highly polished custom designs.
“People come in here and want to touch all the different woods,” said Sullivan.
Tucked around back of the building, the shop will have a grand opening on Oct. 2 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A discount is offered on furniture for people who live within a 30-mile radius, and they’ll deliver.
“We like to keep the locals happy,” said Banaszek.
Banaszek’s and Sullivan’s enthusiasm for their company is evident in the rapid-fire conversation, the laughter and the promise in each piece of wood.
Beetle-kill, storm-damage, rusted nails and saw marks tell the wood’s tale.
“You wonder about the people who touched the wood in the past, who built the barns or whoever has been in that facility,” said Sullivan. “It’s unique, and I think that’s why we both do this.”
Banaszek never sits still; he said his mind is always working on an idea, or his hands are scraping away time and the elements from a piece of wood.
He shows off broken and scarred timbers with the same fondness people reserve for pictures of their children.
Banaszek, who polished his trade restoring historic properties for the National Park Service, and Sullivan, a former executive assistant, estimate they’ve made thousands of pieces of furniture — 1,500 this year alone.
Most of the time they discover their raw material in burls, old mines, barns, flooring and building project remnants, or they fish chunks of wood from a river.
One impressive find is from shipping crates sent from India in the 1930s. The crates carried marble slabs for the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver and include teak woods, blond and red mahogany, and rosewoods.
Some of the wood has come from trees that are now extinct.
“We’ve had arborists in here that can’t identify some of this stuff … it hasn’t been allowed in the country since the 1920s,” said Banaszek.
Banaszek and Sullivan favor Colorado woods — Douglas fir, ponderosa pine — but they also use walnut and cherry wood. Banaszek said he likes working with old dark walnut the best, and each furniture piece is hand-tooled. Their custom-crafted furniture includes tables, bookcases, chairs, wine racks, cabinets, signs, Zen-beds and flooring. Accents can include metal details and natural slate tops, chosen for their texture and veins of color.
“Customers have ideas in mind, and we help to refine it,” said Banaszek.
They don’t charge to design a piece of furniture and ask for half the cost down and the other half on delivery.
Orders take between 60 and 90 days to produce. Each piece is handmade with a minimum of power tools; the work is almost all done by hand.
“If we run a big machine on it, it will take it all off, and you just have a flat board with no character,” Banaszek said.
When not making furniture, they travel around the country looking for would-be treasures.
“It’s fun traveling to find hidden treasures, and each piece has its own history and story to it,” Sullivan said. “It’s a conversation piece and a work of art.”
Occasionally they meet the people who owned a structure and can collect photographs of the wood before it was reclaimed.
They estimate they burn through about 20,000 pounds of reclaimed wood, and said it’s getting harder to keep good pieces in stock. Springtime is hunting season, when they tour the country to find raw materials and scramble to get pieces made before the rigors of the craft fair circuit. With each new wooden discovery, there’s always one question on both their minds.
“What will we create next?” said Sullivan.
For more information about KnoT New WooD, call 303-670-8184 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.