Remodels, new homes and … reclaimed wine barrels?

Inhabitat, the green design blog, just featured a cool new upcycled wood flooring product made from the staves of old wine barrels.

As green builders and craftspeople we think the theme of upcycling is super rich, touching on ideas of both embodied energy and embodied narrative.  After all, each slat of wine barrel flooring has a story to tell about forestry, cooperage, winemaking, and modern-day efforts to “build green”.  It’s easy to get passionate about using materials like this in our work.

The Inhabitat piece brought up a number of direct parallelsUpcycled Floor to our upcycling efforts here at Hammer and Hand, efforts that cut across all aspects of our business, from new home construction and remodeling to furniture design and manufacture.

  1. Floors – We’ve systematically stockpiled reclaimed wood for years to use in new building and remodeling projects, including barnwood and retired “bleacher stock” taken from local university gymnasiums.  This wood serves as beautiful, warm flooring in both residential and commercial contexts.  The photo here shows our treatment of the holes left from the carriage bolts that fastened the wood to the bleacher structure.  We embedded little sentimental items selected by the project owners into the holes: added narrative.Upcycled Cladding
  2. Cladding – We also clad buildings in reclaimed barnwood including, most recently, wood reclaimed from a barn at Oregon State Mental Hospital, site of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.  That’s some serious embedded narrative.  Stories of Oregon timber, forestry, health care, literary history, movie culture … it’s all there.
  3. Furniture – These modern furniture pieces use reclaimed barnwood and bleacher stock as well as vintage locker baskets and salvaged steel piping.  The modernist designs give industrial materials slated as waste new purpose.
  4. Wine Barrel Staves in Construction! – Speaking of upcycled wine barrel staves, we recently finished a garage conversion/accessory dwelling unit for a wine enthusiast couple that employs wine barrel staves as balusters in the upper loft (as well as wine bottles as a structural/decorative element in an exterior wall).  The design physically expresses two of the couple’s interest and values – love of wine and low-impact living.

Jargon alert: What is “upcycling”, exactly?  Wikipedia has a good explanation here.

Upcycled Balustrade Back to Field Notes