We talk about sustainability, and what we as individuals do to reduce our carbon footprint. I recycle heavily, I live in a small house, drive a Smart Car, and otherwise re-use or re-purpose many things. Call it thrifty, cheap, or conscientious, but I do my small part. I’m able to do more with the company, and we do. Our sustainability position is pretty strong.

As time marches forward, I find myself coveting the past. By this I mean that the things that worked for me years ago seem to have proven themselves over the test of time, and I find that I come across as “old timey” when talking to the newer generations.

The fact is Hardwood Artisans makes solid wood furniture using old fashioned joinery. It works, even if it is an antiquated system using old time tools. I mean, really, when was the last time you saw someone break out a hand plane? Talk about old fashioned…

Think about it. A tree takes in carbon and holds it until it burns or rots in the woods. This carbon is then released back into the environment. By using the tree in the form of furniture, we trap the carbon inside. Well, at least for the life of the piece.

Architect Michael Greene elaborated on this idea when discussing the idea of wooden skyscrapers in a TED video linked below. Greene makes a tremendous case for why we should be using wood instead of concrete or steel to erect these structures. His argument coincides and supports my personal philosophy on lumber being used in a sustainable manner. He also provides compelling statistics regarding demand in the future for housing, overpopulation, homelessness, and the overall shift in living environments.

In tandem to the Greene video, I am reading Dan Brown’s book “Inferno”, a story that revolves around the overpopulation of the planet and some apocalyptic plague purposefully placed to offset this problem. I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to give anything away, but sufficed to say that it gets you thinking.

A chain of unrelated events over the past month have gotten me to look at what we do at Hardwood Artisans with a fine tooth comb. Ken, Greg, and Lois’ retirement, Syria, Michael Greene’s video, recent disputes over climate change have all got me wondering about our position, and with that consideration, I find myself digging in deeper to the roots of this organization that I know will last. Take care of the customer, build a quality product, conduct ourselves in a manner that contributes to the greater good.

Wood Carver Extraordinaire – Lawrence Oliver

Although Lawrence Oliver is not local to the DC area, we could not pass up on showing his amazing sculptures in our showrooms.  These are works of art that you need see in person to fully appreciate.  Using one block of wood to make each piece, he sculpts away until he ends up with the shapes we see now.  He left us completely baffled, shocked that this form of art is even possible.  We cannot get over how he makes these sculptures out of one piece of wood.  Take a look at the picture below and see for yourself.

Starfire II in walnut sculpted by Lawrence Oliver

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Saturday, June 4th Event in Alexandria – Color + Cabinetry

Saturday, June 4th

Join us on Saturday, June 4th for talks on the principles behind the psychology of color, how to choose the right color for your home, where to begin when designing a built-in and the current color trends for the home.  There will be wine, drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  We hope to see you there!



Hardwood Artisans – Bradlee Shopping Center

3622 King Street. Alexandria, VA – 703.379.7299

A problem solving built-in design by Hardwood Artisans Alexandria showroom manager Larry Northrop


Event Timeline:

11am: Built-Ins…  Where to Begin?

By designer & craftsman Larry Northrop

12pm: The Psychology of Color Selection

By designer Denise Willard


1pm: Envision Color 2011

By color expert Alitia Cross


Event Details:

11am  – Built-Ins…  Where to Begin?

By designer & craftsman Larry Northrop

Larry Northrop has been in the woodworking business for 40 years.  He has designed hundreds of built-ins, from custom kitchens and space saving solutions, all the way to cabinetry and desks in the executive office at the White House.  Learn what you should know before you begin, and a few tricks from the trade.  Please bring any questions you have.  Larry will make time to answer them.

There are all kinds of space saving solutions you can utilize with built ins.

This built-in is a white board, a table, and a Murphy bed!

12pm  -  The Psychology of Color Selection

By designer Denise Willard

Are you looking to update the colors inside your home this spring, but are overwhelmed by all the choices?  Do you want to learn some of the secrets professionals use in selecting just the right colors?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then this talk is for you.

Learn about the principles behind the psychology of color.  Learn why red is most often used in dining rooms and blue in bedrooms.  Learn how your body reacts to certain hues and how a local design professional uses this knowledge in selecting the right colors for her clients.

How does this room make you feel? Design by Denise Willard.

1pm  – Envision Color 2011

By color expert Alitia Cross

Alitia Cross will talk on the current color trends for the home.  She has been in the design industry for years and currently represents Benjamin Moore & Co.  She is a sales representative for the architectural & design community.  There will be time after the talk to answer any paint or color questions.

If you have any questions prior to the event, call Julianne at 703-643-1044 or e-mail her at

Could this work in your home?

Designer Denise Willard will Talk at Our June 4th Event

Hardwood Artisans is thrilled to have designer Denise Willard of Décor by Denise scheduled to talk at our Color + Cabinetry event on June 4th.  Denise will talk at 12pm in our Alexandria Showroom on the Psychology of Color.

Here are a few details on her talk:

Are you looking to update the colors inside your home this spring, but are overwhelmed by all the choices?  Do you get stuck making decisions on which color is most appropriate for each room in your home?  Do you want to learn one of the secrets professionals use in selecting just the right colors?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then this seminar is for you.

Come learn about the principles behind the psychology of color.  Learn why red is most often used in dining rooms and blue in bedrooms.  Learn how your body reacts to certain hues and how a local design professional uses this knowledge in selecting the right colors for her clients.

Design by Décor by Denise. Built-in crafted by Hardwood Artisans

About Décor by Denise

Décor by Denise is a full service interior decorating firm located in Vienna, VA.   Denise Willard, owner and principal, has over a decade of experience transforming the homes of clients in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia.  Denise’s work was recently showcased in the 2011 DC Design House and she was selected as to be included in Home & Design’s 2011 “Top 100 Designers.”  Her work has also been showcased on ABC Affiliate, News Channel 8, and has been published in Home & Design Magazine, Washington Home & Garden, The Washingtonian, Elan and The Washington Post.  Denise is a regular columnist for Viva Tysons Magazine and is part of the Design Diva team for, a national lifestyle eMagazine.  Denise is the President-Elect for the DC Chapter of the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) and is an active member of the Vienna-Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce.

For more information about the event please click here.

Contact information

Décor by Denise

340 Mill Street, NE, Suite F

Vienna, VA  22180




Phone: 703-714-7343

A Special Thank You to Benjamin Moore for Sponsoring the Event

March “Tour” Madness!

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 or come into our Woodbridge Shop and we will have one of our talented craftsmen show you around!

“Where Does Your Wood Come From?”

Some customers come to our showrooms looking to ‘stump’ us (pardon my pun) with this question. You expect us to give a general answer that tells you nothing and that’s when you can really start to nail us to the wall. It’s a completely reasonable suspicion. I probably would have the same thought process if Hardwood Artisans wasn’t such a big part of my life. I’ve used our furniture since I was a baby, quite literally. My father is John Hillgren and he met my mom, Jennifer, through the company itself. My mom worked in the office as an accountant. One day, my dad walked up to her (with his bobbing afro, mind you) and said ‘I’m sorry, but I need you to come to my office, you’re distracting all of the craftsmen’. Just as my parents met through the company, so did my aunt and uncle. Not to mention both my Aunt Denny and my Uncle Steven work with the company as well. I’m definitely not far from the truth when I say that my entire family has been a part of Hardwood Artisans.

About every employee here has known me since I was in diapers. I’ve been proud of Hardwood Artisans since the get-go, often bragging to my elementary school friends that my father owned a furniture business. My siblings and I used to run around the floor of the shop gathering up scrap wood and gluing the scrap together into miniature furniture so our Barbie dolls could enjoy hardwood furniture as well. I knew that the company made wood furniture, but I never knew where it came from or how we acquire it. I’m well versed on the company, but I never knew the whole story of our wood until I sat down with Mark Gatterdam, Greg Gloor, Kevin Carlson, and John Buss.

So once again, where does our wood come from? To begin, let’s first answer the question that you’re really thinking. “Do you clear-cut forests for your own pleasure and benefit?” The answer is incredibly simple; No. All four of these men had a different way of informing me of this, but it just comes down to the fact that we do not clear cut or burn down forests for our furniture, nor do we work with companies who do. Our goal in this business is not to get involved in a dishonest market; it’s to provide people with long-lasting furniture in a sustainable way. The companies we work with don’t just cut down trees for lumber – they also have regeneration programs put in place.  They replant trees, so their resources aren’t consistently being depleted. I didn’t know about regeneration programs before this, and that really caught my attention. It’s good to know that our furniture is not only sustainable in its longevity but the wood we procure is constantly being replanted.

We expect all of our pieces to last as long as it takes for the tree it was made out of to grow back. That means this cherry Waterfall Shogun Chest should remain simply beautiful for at least 100 years!

It’s funny to me that this question consistently comes up. Not because it’s surprising – heck, clear cutting forests is part of the United States’ history and heritage. Trees were in the way of railroads, farms, roads, houses. Everything, it seemed, was more important than trees, so they were burned and clear-cut until a civilization was created. I understand that forestry is a big part of our world, and that the worries over our trees are significant. However, both Mark and Greg assured me that there is several times the volume of trees in the United States than there was hundreds of years ago. What makes me laugh is the fact that we’ve advertised that we’re a local business and that our furniture lasts a lifetime, but most people don’t know anything about where our wood comes from or just how sustainable the company is. When I’m asked to describe Hardwood Artisans, the first things that come to mind is long lasting furniture and the craftsmen’s passion, not where we get our wood from.

For starters, most of our wood comes from the East Coast. As many of you may know (and probably have experienced), the climate throughout the United States differs from coast to coast. For example, if you were to come to the Washington, DC area in the middle of July, you can expect 100% humidity… yet it won’t be raining (this we experienced at last year’s Lemonade Social). The woods we get are primarily northeastern run, which means they are already acclimated to the East coast climate. If you were to bring wood over from Hawaii to here, let’s say Choya wood, there’s a possibility it could respond oddly to the climate adjustment. If you’re worried about your Mahogany or exotic wood piece, don’t be. We get our Mahogany from Belize currently, but it’s a stable wood, and therefore not wholly affected by switching climates. The advantage of getting our wood from this area is the fact that we know the climate, we know how the wood reacts, and the wood is used to the moisture content and temperature.

Isn’t Choya wood cool looking?

We’re always up for working with exotic wood, but we’re always careful to make sure the piece can expand and contract safely.

More details on the location of our lumber – our Cherry wood comes from Pennsylvania and New York. Our Birch, Maple, and Oak timber comes from New York. Walnut is from Kentucky and Indiana, and Ash comes from just about everywhere. Mahogany is the only wood that we import from South America. It’s certified under the FSC and is also listed under the CITES, which means it can’t be imported unless the proper forms and pedigree are filled out first.

Did you know that Mahogany is the national tree of Belize?

Another question you may be wondering is why don’t we certify all of our wood? We used to – Larry Spinks (one of the founders of Hardwood Artisans) was actually on the FSC board. The FSC is the forest Stewardship Council. It’s a nonprofit organization that supports the proper management of the world’s forests. They’re generally involved in certification of forests and lumber. Certified wood, however, costs about 15% more. This may seem like an unjustified excuse, but that 15% counter into the price of our furniture. While all of the owners would like to be FSC certified, at the moment we can’t rationalize it, especially when our lumber companies are already doing their best. The price hike is mostly due to the fact that the lumber companies are required to go through the certification process – which is basically lots of paperwork and additional work. Especially when most of the places we get our wood from are already working as though they were FSC certified and a lot of our wood already comes from FSC certified state forests.

Look, I even got the stump all ready for you!

So, now that you know that our wood practically comes from your backyard. You know the clean truths about our hardwood furniture; do you still want to nail us to the stump? If you have any more questions, feel free to comment on this blog or contact me directly at

Written by – Lorelei Hillgren, Hardwood Artisans Marketing Coordinator.

Trivets: The process behind making a gift for you!

We are excited about our upcoming Lemonade Social and looking forward to seeing all of you there.  We are working hard making a gift to give you at the Lemonade Social.  This year, the owners have designed a special trivet we think you will enjoy.  The best part about the trivet is that it uses up scrap wood which saves wood from being wasted.  The project begins with a can full of scrap wood.  Our scrap wood comes from projects which used larger pieces of wood.  If you look closely enough at this photo you can see pieces of wood that were used to make drawers:

Scrap Wood

There are a lot of tree huggers here at Hardwood Artisans, and we try as hard as we can to reduce waste and energy.  Have you ever seen our striped Suzy Cubes?  They are made of scrap wood as well.

Here is a walk through on how the trivets are made, at the Lemonade Social you can see it happen right in front of you.  You can even take home the one you watched being made!

It all starts with one of our talented craftsmen.  He or she places a piece of scrap wood onto our CNC router.  CNC stands for Computer Numerically Controlled.  You can learn more about them here.  The machine makes cuts into the wood just the right size of the trivet, as well as the holes in the trivet.  Here is an image of one of our craftsmen with the piece of wood.  He will place it onto the orange machine right behind him:

Craftsman picking out the right piece of scrap wood to place on the CNC router behind him

Craftsman picking out the right piece of scrap wood to place on the CNC router behind him

The piece of wood comes out with the proper holes in it, as well as the shape cut out.

When it comes out of the CNC router it looks like this

The craftsman will then bring it over to an area set up with a drill bit.  He will run the drill bit along the edge where the trivet has been cut.  This cuts it free from the rest of the wood and rounds the edges over, making them smooth.  We built a box overtop the drill bit to ensure the proper height for rounding the edges of the trivet, it looks just like this:

Cutting the trivet from the block of wood and rounding the edges

Cutting the trivet from the block of wood and rounding the edges

The trivet will get sanded down and will be ready for you to take home and use!  Join us for the Lemonade Social, Saturday and Sunday June 26th and 27th and see the process for yourself!  We are planning to make about 400 trivets and staying busy doing it!  Here are a few we have already done:

The trivets we have compeleted thus far, only 350 more to go!

The trivets we have completed thus far, only 350 more to go!

For more information about the Lemonade Social click here.  We hope to see you there!

New Artist: Woodturner Patrick O’Brien

At Hardwood Artisans we love local artists.  We have found a very talented woodturner, Patrick O’Brien.  His carefully crafted work of bowls, platters and wine stoppers are currently being shown in our Fairfax showroom.  Including this piece:  

Russian Olive Tall Bowl

Russian Olive Tall Bowl

Patrick is kind enough to be doing a demonstration at our event on June 26th, our 4th Annual Lemonade Social.  He will be doing his demonstration at 11am and 1pm and will have a small lathe with him to show and teach you what he does.  Come on it and see what he can do!  You will also get a chance to see this beautiful piece of his:  

Fluted Sycamore Bowl

This 14″ by 5″ bowl had 36 flutes hand carved with a die grinder with carbide drums and hand finished

Cherry Fluted Bottom

Cherry Fluted Bottom


Patrick fell in love with woodturning one summer when he saw the work of Alan Hollar in the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville,North Carolina. He has since studied with Willard Baxter and Bobbie Clemons at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, many others and even the very Alan Hollar whose work inspired himto take up the art of woodturning in the first place.   

In 2003, he began a business called OhBeWood and started selling his work.  In September 2008, he moved to the Lorton Workhouse Art Center in Lorton, Virginia, a new artists’ community with more than 60 studios and several galleries where their works are sold.  A small selection is also available at the new Del Ray gallery, A Show of Hands, at 2301 Mt. Vernon Avenue.  You can view his work in our Fairfax showroom as well as on his website:  He welcomes your comments and observations about the pieces featured.

Exotic wood stainless steel wine bottle stoppers with nitrile rings

Exotic wood stainless steel wine bottle stoppers with nitrile rings

Three of his turnings were selected for inclusion in the 2005 and 2008Washington Wood shows.  He has had pieces juried into the March, April, May, July, August, and October 2004 and the March, April, May, and July 2005 Art League of Alexandria shows at the Torpedo Factory.  He is a member of the Washington Woodworkers Guild, Del Ray Artisans, and the Art League of Alexandria.  We hope you can join us to see his demonstration on May 15th in our Fairfax showroom at 2pm. 

Beaded Box Elder 12.5" x 5"

Beaded Box Elder 12.5″ x 5″


Patrick’s Artists Statement:

What I love about woodturning is the way the wood reveals itself as I work. Michelangelo is reputed to have said in answer to the question about how he created his famous statue of David from a block of marble, “I just cut away everything that wasn’t David, and there he was.” I imagine it’s debatable whether or not Michelangelo actually said that, and I am certainly not comparing myself to him, but I feel similarly about working with wood. As I ‘turn” a log or block of wood over and over again in my hands I begin to feel what it might become. Then, as I actually begin to turn the wood on my lathe and the grain, the spalting, and the “flaws” of the wood are revealed, I feel as if the soul of the wood is coming out. In all of my work, I try not to get in the way of the spirit of the wood. 

A Sheltering Space

A few weeks ago, I (Jennifer Sergent) asked the good people here at Hardwood Artisans if they might consider donating a piece of furniture to a local domestic violence shelter – the original post about the less-than-beautiful conditions is on my own blog, here.

Well, not only did they say “yes,” but they decided to build an entire room of furniture for the project, and designer Katie Grech is working on the overall design and color scheme. They also asked two local artists to donate paintings for the wall, and the wife of one of the artists, who is a potter, is donating a bowl.

Owner Ricardo Berrum, Katie, and our marketer, Julianne Yurek, went on a tour of the shelter last week with organizers from Knock Out Abuse, a charity that supports victims of domestic violence. They signed up to design the biggest of the shelter’s bedrooms, which needs to accommodate a family of five.

They will build a custom bunk bed with a trundle bed underneath for the project and a few other pieces.  Here are a few examples of what the bed will look like:

Bunk Bed in red oak

Bunk Bed in red oak

Loft Bed with Pedestal Bed, bookcase headboard and armoire all in maple

Loft Bed with Pedestal Bed, bookcase headboard and armoire all in maple

Loft Bed with Pedestal Bed, bookcase headboard and 4-dr dresser all in birch

Loft Bed with Pedestal Bed, bookcase headboard and 4-dr dresser all in birch

“We want to make sure everyone has their own bed. I really want to create a space that feels like home, that feels calm and makes them feel safe,” Julianne says.

This particular shelter houses families for up to four months, which is more than double the typical stay at most shelters, so it’s important to have a space that feels welcoming and home-like.

The beds, along with dressers they are also building, will be a light birch – a really strong species of wood that can stand up to the abuse of children and several people coming in and out. The color will also complement the blue-green colors Katie wants in there.

The color combination “is very serene,” Julianne says. “It’s perfect for a calming atmosphere, and warm enough so it doesn’t feel like a doctor’s office.”

Artist Bill Firestone is donating this 11” x 14” painting, which is in keeping with the colors of the room:

Bill Firestones painting he is donating to the shelter

Bill Firestone’s painting he is donating to the shelter

“I think this painting could work well. There are nice greens and blues. It’s calming,” Bill says.

Bill’s wife, Stephanie, is donating this bowl, which can be used in the kitchen or dining area:

Stephanie Firestones bowl she is donating to the shelter

Stephanie Firestone’s bowl she is donating to the shelter

In addition, local artist Romina Pereira is producing a custom painting specifically for the room.

The room already has a newly donated rug and window treatments, so Katie will be working with those. Also in the plans are a mirror and a comfy chair. At least one dresser planned for the room will be the proper height to put a baby-changing pad on top. The team is still contemplating how to accommodate all the storage needs in there, so the room doesn’t end up looking like it does now:

We all need proper storage space

We all need proper storage space

“Storage needs are really important,” Katie says, “because they accumulate a lot while they are there.”

Too Wet or Too Dry? Neither, Please

Dry, cracked mud

I remember when I lived in Florida several years ago – with a roommate who hated air conditioning.

Picture it – No air conditioning, in July, in South Florida. Feel sorry for me?

Beyond my personal discomfort, my beautiful vintage walnut dresser was the one that really paid the price. Before I finally moved out in search of better climate control (and a better roommate!), the drawers of my poor dresser had swollen to the point where I couldn’t open them without a significant amount of elbow grease.

The opposite, of course, is true in drier climates, like Washington, D.C., in the winter. Wood furniture can shrink the point where it can crack or become visibly smaller.

Dining room tables can lose almost an inch of their length this way.

Mark Gatterdam recounts the tragic tale of his own house – we’re talking the framing here, which is a bit more consequential than mere furniture. There was a ton of rain on the construction site while he was building his house in Orlean, VA, which caused the framing to swell. The first dry season he and Erika were living there, the framing dried and shrank, causing a spider-web of cracks in his walls that were as much as 5/8-inches wide.

“I had to jack my house back up because the wood framing dried,” he says.

Humidification can be an awfully dry topic (so to speak). But for those of us in the business of hardwood, it’s pretty much what we think about all the time.

Our shop and showrooms have even harsher climates than homes, due to the constant forced air and the multitude of bright, hot lights everywhere.

That’s why, if you visit our shop in Woodbridge and look high into the rafters, you’ll see what look like large rectangular boxes spritzing mist into the air every couple minutes – just like you see in the produce department of the grocery store.

When the system doesn’t work at times, we know immediately, as our lumber piles start to crack.

Our Rockville and Fairfax showrooms are also humidified. Before the system was installed in the new Fairfax showroom three weeks ago, some furniture panels shrank, so they showed an unfinished ring around the edges that once was hidden inside the frame. The birch cabinet doors in our design center also warped a bit, but everything should be back to normal in a few weeks, thanks to the new, higher levels of humidity.

While the concrete floors in the new showroom are really cool, furthermore, the concrete is a thirsty substance that sucks all the moisture out of the air, so the new system will offset that effect, too.

Mark says that once you take a piece of furniture home, it should be fine, unless it’s in an area of extreme moisture (such as a basement) or dryness (if you move to Arizona).

For the most part, he says, wood that is sourced and built in this region is used to the climate, but if you bring it out to the dry West or down to the wet South, there could be issues – just as there were with my nice dresser in Florida.

“It’s one of those things about solid wood that you have to anticipate,” he says. “There’s an awful lot to be said for buying furniture regionally.”

If you’re really feeling geeky, and want to know even more about the effects of humidity on wood, check out this informative article, right here.