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March “Tour” Madness!

Date added: 08-04-2011

We had an incredibly exciting March 31st at our Woodbridge shop. At 10:00 am, two buses arrived in our parking lot, stuffed to the brim with first graders. At first sight, the buses were quite intimidating and I almost began looking for a table to hide under. I (luckily) regained my composure and greeted the newcomers, all 80 of them.  This crowd came about after we received a call about a month ago from Dale City Elementary School. They were interested in getting a tour of our Woodshop for all 80 of their first graders. My first reaction, echoed by many others, was ‘eighty?!’. However, once everyone got over their initial shock, we were all buzzing with excitement and ideas. We’ve given large tours before, but as far as I know, never to 80 first graders, so it was just as much of a new experience for us as it was for the kids.

I was speechless when I saw the two buses pull into the lot, but somehow managed to introduce myself and get them all into the showroom. In my flustered state, I was unable to take a picture of all of the children filing off of the bus, but I did snap a few of the hectic day! Check them out below and let us know what you think.

Here’s Kevin Carlson explaining the tour system to the first graders and their chaperones. Let me tell you, that showroom gets hot with that many tiny bodies packed in there!

They made themselves comfortable on the Showroom floor as the first tour was dispatched. We figured that a group of ten children would be manageable for one craftsman and two chaperones. I’ve never seen children that excited to put on a pair of safety glasses!

Emily Rupert and I tried to keep the children occupied by showing them some of the pieces in our showroom and answering questions.

I asked them what they thought our Library Wall Bed was and I received the answer ‘it’s a shelf, DUH.’ It was only when I pulled the bed down did the ‘ooh’s and ‘ahh’s start. The reaction to our Glasgow TV Lift was one of pure earsplitting joy, which is something the first graders and I have in common.

A few of the questions that Emily and I faced:

“Where do you get your wood?”

“Why do you make everything out of wood?”

“Are your lamps made out of wood?”

“How much does that cost?”

“How much does the entire company cost?”

“How did you become a craftsman?” (I’m proud to say that several of the children want to become craftsman when they grow up!)

“Can I buy that for a dollar?”

“How much does the world cost?”

“Is the world made of wood?”

It’s safe to say that these kids were very curious and did pose some very good questions!

Here is Jermaine with his first tour group!

Jermaine handed out ear plugs, just in case the noises of the shop became too loud. Most of the kids wanted to save the ear plugs for later. I hope they didn’t put them in when they got back to the classroom!

Here is Jermaine’s group touching the dried out lumber that we keep stacked in the front of the shop. They all wanted to know how it went from rough to smooth and finished like the furniture in our showroom.

Mike Chubb had an incredible height difference between him and the children. I think the kids might’ve had kinks in their necks after this tour, but Mike was great with kids and answered all of their questions, so I don’t think they minded much!

Greg Smith showed his group how the CNC machine works (Computer Numeric Control machine… which means that it’s like a giant printer). This is one of the largest machines in the shop.

Kevin Parker with the Bacci Machine and his amazed group!

This was Emily’s last effort to entertain the kiddos – she let them climb the Loft Bed ladder one by one, until all 80 had a turn. You want to test the durability of your furniture? Let 80 first graders have at it!

Here’s the final turn out in front of our Woodbridge Shop! Not everyone is looking at the camera, but I consider it a great success. (Let’s forget the fact that I had to practically stand in the street to take this photo!)

We sent the kids, teachers, and chaperones back to school with gift bags and a personalized sign with all of the craftsman’s signatures on it.

We all had too much fun giving these tours! We thoroughly enjoyed Dale City Elementary School’s visit and hope that we get to see them in the future (maybe as craftsmen themselves!) Always keep in mind that we offer free tours, even to large groups such as this. We benefit from it just as much, if not more, than you will. If you’re interested in receiving a tour, email me at lorelei@hardwoodartisans.com or come into our Woodbridge Shop and we will have one of our talented craftsmen show you around!

Photo Contest 2010 – Results 3/3

Date added: 03-02-2011

The third and final installment of our Photo Contest results contains several of our favorites. Enjoy!

This custom built-in window bench looks great in this room and made most of us want to pick up a book and settle in.

I can’t decide what looks better – the ship or the Hall Table underneath it!

Can you just say ‘aww’? This adorable dog makes this dining table look absolutely adorable.

Marleen’s Highland Dining Table and sideboard look great together!

Nicole has a great dining room set! And great photography skills – she was one of our Honorable Mentions.

This Waterfall bed fits in perfectly with the feel of the oriental decor in this bedroom.

This photo shows off the dovetail joinery of our drawers and the gorgeous cut of our wood… but it’s hard to look beyond the cute cat. Nick doesn’t need to get a cat bed – it looks perfectly happy in our Craftsman chest.

Thank you for looking at the results and entering the contest! We all enjoyed it. Keep an eye out for more blogs in the future – especially for one on our Cutting Edge event for those of you who can’t make it down for the festivities.

Bill and Dru Vodra: Just Like Family

Date added: 21-02-2010
Look inside the Vodras’ lovely home on the Potomac River in Alexandria, and you’ll find a collection of Hardwood Artisans furniture dating back to their first purchase in 1985.

Look inside the Vodras’ lovely home on the Potomac River in Alexandria, and you’ll find a collection of Hardwood Artisans furniture dating back to their first purchase in 1985.

Bill and Dru Vodra have so much of our furniture in their Alexandria home that when I went to visit the other day, he laid out one rule for the tour: “The default position here is, it’s Hardwood Artisans. We’ll tell you what’s not.”

Bill and Dru Vodra sit on one of our sofas in their living room.

Bill and Dru Vodra sit on one of our sofas in their living room.

The Vodras are among our dearest customers who keep coming back for more, and it’s with their constant support, input, and ideas that our lines have evolved from just loft beds to any imaginable case good for the home.

That’s why, when they walked into one of our showrooms recently and a sales associate who didn’t know them approached, co-founder Larry Spinks waved off the associate. “Oh, don’t bother with them – they’re family.”

Keep reading to get the full house tour.

(more…)

How Much Would You Pay for This Man?

Date added: 17-02-2010
Greg in his workshop

Greg in his workshop

Now think hard. This is our general manager, Greg Gloor, who will give you 30 hours of his time in our Woodbridge shop to help you make your own piece of Hardwood Artisans furniture.

You can bid on him at the grand opening of our Fairfax showroom at 2 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 20. And you can have fun doing it: Alison asked a member of her church “who’s a really funny guy” to do honors as the auctioneer.

Your money will go toward a great cause: Kids R First, (www.kidsrfirst.org) a charity based in Fairfax County that gives 98 percent of its donations to school supplies and college scholarships to children from needy families in our region.

So that’s where the money goes. And what do you get with your 30 hours, you ask?

Well, here’s an answer from our esteemed artisans, and I quote:

•          Have you always wanted to learn how to build furniture or pondered what goes into the process?

•          Have you always wanted to know how the objects you sit on and eat on are built?

•          Do you want to gain knowledge so you can build the perfect chair you have always dreamed of or a nightstand that is just the right height?  These 30 hours with Greg will give you the basic skills and knowledge to do so.

•          Have you always wanted to learn how to design furniture, how to get the proper dimensions for a piece, what type of wood to buy, what nails you should use, if any?  All of these details you will learn in the 30 hours.

•          Greg Gloor is the founder and general manager of Hardwood Artisans.  He and his friend Larry started Hardwood Artisans in 1976 as a simple two-man shop using only a router, Skilsaw, hand sander and drill.  They built loft beds and platform beds from birch wood.

•          Greg knows woodworking. Greg knows furniture design. Greg is also a wonderful, fun person to work with and learn from.  Not only will you learn great woodworking skills, but we believe you will have an great time doing it.

•          The best part of this auction is how you will be able to put the skills and knowledge Greg teaches you to a practical use.  You and Greg will go through the process of designing and building your own piece at our incredible wood shop in Woodbridge.

•          Greg is willing to work these hours into your schedule.  If the weekends are a better time for you, we can arrange it.  If the weekdays work better, we can make it happen. We want you to learn a lot, enjoy your time and leave the shop feeling happy, and with a piece that you can call your own.

Mad for Murphy Beds

Date added: 05-02-2010

For a while, I thought Murphy beds only lived on old sitcoms. Honestly? I didn’t think they existed anymore. I laughed when Mark Gatterdam first told me that Hardwood Artisans made Murphy beds – I thought it was a joke. I had in my head this image of some cheap bed falling out of the wall, hitting some poor slob over the head with a laugh-track voiceover.

Weeellll, not so much, it turns out. The way these artisans make enclosures for the Murphy bed, so you would never know there was actually a bed in back, was a surprise to me.

“People are so amazed to see they still exist,” Mark says. On most of the Hardwood Artisans beds, all internal bed mechanisms come from the original Murphy Bed company.

One of them is featured in the current online edition of Washington Spaces magazine, where Joan and Jack Dempsey hired us to build one for their small basement so it could be used as a guest room—when it wasn’t in use as a poker room or wine cellar.

Larry Northrop worked with the Dempseys to modify the standard measurements of the Library Bed so it would fit perfectly into their space. Photograph © Morgan Howarth

Larry Northrop worked with the Dempseys to modify the standard measurements of the Library Bed so it would fit perfectly into their space. Photograph © Morgan Howarth

“I’ve known about Hardwood Artisans for years,” Joan Dempsey says. When she and her husband downsized to a remodeled carriage house in Alexandria, they knew they wanted a Murphy bed. “We knew they did extremely high-quality work, so it was a no-brainer to go with them.”

And because these beds come with Tempur-Pedic mattresses, she adds, it’s much more comfortable than a typical pull-out. The ultimate compliment came from her 16-year-old nephew: “He said he had never slept in a better bed. He talks about it all the time. I don’t know what kind of cat nip they have in that bed, but it was amazing.”

Another project in DC’s Chinatown (which I blogged about for Washington Spaces last year) allows Annie Kammerer to work in a sleek, contemporary office by day, but still make it welcome for guests at night.

Not only does the custom unit fold down into a bed, a panel on the outside also folds down into extra desk space.

Home office with a modified Panel bed

The bed is more comfortable for guests than a sofa bed because it features a standard mattress.

The bed is more comfortable for guests than a sofa bed because it features a standard mattress.

The bed is more comfortable for guests than a sofa bed because it features a standard mattress.

Annie had this to say about the outcome, which she shared on the Spaces blog:

“The den really functions as both a spacious office and a cozy guest room–I swear it doubled in size with this installation. The guest drawers to the left of the double bed (coupled with the closet) make the room comfortable for two guests. The office is definitely the most Zen space I’ve ever had to work in.”

Joan Dempsey says she turned to us because no other company would agree to change their measurements for her space, and much of what Hardwood Artisans does is custom. “It wouldn’t have worked if they had not worked with me.”

Take a look at our Murphy beds online or in our of our four showrooms.

We Love Our Customers

Date added: 03-02-2010

We are blessed with great customers who keep returning over the years to add more of our furniture to their collections. We had a reception for them in the new Fairfax showroom this week, so they could see the place.

Adrian Small

Adrian Small

Adrian Small www.adriansmall.com is among this group. As an interior designer, she’s purchased through us for her clients as well as for herself. She’s such a great customer, in fact, that we asked her to be our in-house designer for kitchen cabinetry.

“I’m picky, they’re picky – two picky people, and it works fine,” she says.

Adrian Small and Designer Andrea Olsen

Adrian Small and Designer Andrea Olsen

Designer Andrea Olsen www.floor-to-ceiling.com was with Adrian the other night, as they often combine forces on projects. She said the furniture was right in line with what her clients are after these days.

“When clients buy furniture, it’s really an investment, and they want to make sure what they have will last,” she says. She particularly likes the Murphy beds:

A library by day…

A library by day…

And a guest bed at night.

And a guest bed at night.

“Especially with how expensive real estate can be,” Olsen explains, “it’s the perfect feature for the home office – it turns into a second bedroom real easily without having this huge bed in the middle of your office.”

Linda Hewes stands with the Waterfall secant table, which she purchased at the new showroom.

Linda Hewes stands with the Waterfall secant table, which she purchased at the new showroom.

Linda Hewes is another favorite of ours. Her first Hardwood Artisans purchase was in 1981, when pretty much all we sold were beds. “We really overextended ourselves buying the loft bed for our 10-year-old son,” she says.

And even though her own collection is small, she adds, “to me, it’s therapy to come in here and see all their beautiful things.” She especially loves our Waterfall collection: “I love the curves – it’s a beautiful, clean look.”

The Waterfall sideboard

The Waterfall sideboard

The Waterfall dining table

The Waterfall dining table

Linda purchased a small console table for her kitchen, in addition to a lamp stand that Mark let her take right off the floor.

It goes without saying that no business could survive without customers, but we really must say it because we feel like we have the very best customers, who ultimately become great friends. We will be posting from time to time on these interesting people and their environments, which we’ve been lucky enough to enhance.

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