Furniture from This Old Wood appears sleek and modern, but there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
From the Davis Mountains to the plains of the Panhandle, Texas has an expansive and varied landscape. As historic buildings decay across that landscape, a need to preserve this state’s rich history has been met by the artisans behind This Old Wood, an Austin-based business specializing in refurbishing building materials into unique decor.
“The story goes back to about 2002 when I had a friend who built his home from the refurbished wood of a 1930s dance hall,” This Old Wood owner Jeff Spector said. “We did a few projects using old wood in shop and it became our working business model.”
Spector said reinvigorated interest in “shabby chic” design spurred the business along, as well as a shift in focus from new and modern to vintage for home decor and furniture.
“Aside from style, it’s an environmentally friendly means of production,” Spector said. “Not only are we repurposing old materials and creating something new, but we’re also keeping all that old lumber and building material from going to rot in a landfill.”
For international business senior and This Old Wood marketing intern Laramie Wilkins, involvement with the company has been a meeting of past and future.
“My dad worked with wood when I was little, so being in this environment is very familiar,” Wilkins said. “But beyond that, it’s a sustainable business model that sets a great example as far as being green and producing pieces people enjoy.”
This Old Wood has been featured on television programs showcasing their woodworking, most notably Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet, Wilkins said. While the preservation of historic sites remains a priority for many groups, Wilkins said the dismantling of historic buildings has not brought criticism to This Old Wood.
“We work with wood from sites that are generally beyond salvaging as a building,” Wilkins said. “Even though sometimes it’s sad to see these old buildings come down, people generally appreciate the fact that we’re making something from places that couldn’t continue to exist otherwise. The history gets to live on in new items rather than becoming trash.”
Woodworking is a relatively new passion for This Old Wood fabricator Mike Lydon, who has spent the past three years learning the craft as he aspires to be a carpenter.
“As a fabricator I work on our salvaged wood to make people’s visions reality,” Lydon said. “It’s really special when people come pick their pieces up and we get to see their reaction.”
For Lydon, This Old Wood’s business model is special not only for its unique process of wood selection. It’s also made unique also by the team of fabricators like himself working on the wood to transform it into a distinctive piece.
“I used to work in a call center, and the work we do here is so different,” Lyndon. “Here it’s a process where we connect with customers and give them a piece they’re excited about. And in that process, we in the shop spend time doing something we love, changing a piece of wood from nothing to something. It’s definitely an art, like painting a picture on a canvas.”
This Old Wood is located at 9430 Circle Drive and is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5pm.