Woodland Creek Furniture Blog

  • How to Compliment Your Rustic Bar for the Ultimate Man Cave

    After a long day or week at work, you need a space where you can relax, enjoy a few beers and catch up on the latest game. Luckily, creating a comfortable zone for you and your friends doesn’t require too much creativity or effort. One simple way to add a little extra luxury to your man cave is to install a customized rustic bar. A customized bar can easily be the focal point of any man cave without looking like you tried too hard.

    It doesn’t get any manlier than a custom bar made from natural wood with log accents or one handcrafted from reclaimed barn wood.

    Another advantage of installing a rustic bar is that the more they get used the better they look.  It is really hard for your clumsy buddies to damage a top made from distressed barnwood or a solid slab of wood top.  The barnwood already has 100 years of character so a little more will only enhance the look.  A thick slab top can take years and years of abuse and then be re-sanded only to look as good as the day it was originally installed.  Just choose a style that fits your personality and provides all of the storage you need to keep a few cold drinks handy.  After you’ve decided on the type of bar that will fit perfectly into your new haven, there are a few extra things you can do to ramp up the manliness.

    Get the right furniture: Depending on the type and size of bar you choose, look for rustic furniture that is similar in size and style to keep your room looking pulled together.

    The ultimate man cave needs a good couch and recliner. You can coordinate the bar with matching log or barn wood sofas, chairs or recliners.

    Leather or suede is comfortable, manly and looks great with darker colors and rustic pieces. Because this space will be (hopefully) kid free, you should be able to splurge on a pricier piece, which may be necessary if you are looking for high quality leather or suede furniture. To ensure that you’re getting a good quality piece look for an aniline piece, which means the stain permeates the entire piece of leather and not just the surface.

    You should also look closely at the stitching on your furniture and avoid pieces with frayed stitching; and last but not least, sit on the couch or chair you’re interested in. Move around in it. Plop down into it like you would at the end of a long day. Listen for any squeaking and move around to feel any unpadded areas of the furniture. Comfort is at least as important as style, so make sure you select a piece that’s comfortable and attractive.

    Choose the right colors: Luckily rustic wood bars go with pretty much anything, but if you want a more subtle place to relax, you should look for a mix of dark and light colors to compliment the tones in the wood of your bar. Colors that typically work well with rustic pieces include burgundy, browns, creams and dark reds. If you’re feeling a little brave you could even try a burnt orange on the walls.

    Accent your man cave with personal touches: Throw pillows aren’t really a man-thing, but that could change if you choose a cool pillow like the Man Cave Beer Coozie Pillow. This awesome pillow can be customized for your personal space and doubles as a beer holder. Forget about coasters, this cozy pillow can sit next to you on the couch. There’s space for two drinks, so you can share with someone or just hold an extra drink for yourself.  Don’t forget to add photos, sports memorabilia and other personal touches to make the space feel more like your own. And to round out the perfect man cave, don’t forget the pool table and/or big screen TV! So sit back, relax, and enjoy a cold beer in your personalized rustic man cave.

    Author Bio:  Hank McKinsey is a lifestyle how-to blogger for his blog Home By Hank and also a stay at home dad.  When he’s not at the computer blogging, he can be found at the park with his two dogs or on the tennis court with his wife.  Follow him on Twitter to see what he’s up to.

  • Live Edge Tables by Woodland Creek Furniture

    There is no double that live edge tables are popular. Woodland Creek Furniture is receiving more and more requests for custom made live edge dining tables made in all sizes. We recently had a request for an eighteen foot conference table (we are working on finding the right slab right now) Why the sudden popularity in live edge tables? After you see one in person you will immediately understand why. A large, natural live edge slab has a warmth and presence that just draws you in. You cannot help but want to rub your hand over it just to confirm it is real. This was never in doubt as it is impossible to replicate the look, but because they are rarely seen you just have to touch it to make the experience “real.” You will find yourself running a finger over the unique grain pattern that it nature’s artwork. At Woodland Creek Furniture we encourage “touching” and “rubbing” of our live edge tables. If you didn’t, we may well be offended (smile). Rubbing and touching is the highest compliment. Much like the Italians encourage a good belch after a meal to compliment the chef – we at Woodland Creek consider a light rub down the highest form of flattery.

    Live edge tables by Woodland Creek Furniture are some of the highest quality in the marketplace. Woodland Creek Furniture is located in northern Michigan surrounded by some of the finest hardwoods found on this wonderful planet. We have black walnut, maple, ash, elm, cherry to name just a few indigenous species. Trees are a wonderful natural resource and if managed properly will be around until the end of time. Woodland Creek Furniture practices sustainable furniture crafting. The vast majority of wood used in our live edge tables come from Mother Nature herself – meaning a good storm here and there by Mother Nature downs enough trees to supply us with wood for the year. We also get logs from various tree services that are hired to remove them because a piece of land is being cleared for construction or one has grown too large and threatens a nearby residence. We are careful to use every part of the tree down to the scraps. Woodland Creek Furniture’s original retail store and workshop are heated by two outdoor wood boilers so we burn the scraps to heat our buildings – nothing goes to waste.

    Live edge tables come in many different styles. You can pair a live edge table top with a modern stainless steel base and the resulting table will add character to any Manhattan apartment or mountain modern home in the Rockies. Take a live edge table top and use a traditional farm base, and it will fit nicely into a country or farm home décor. Woodland Creek offers a large variety of hand forged metal bases giving certain designs an industrial style. We have organic, natural log bases which when matched with a live edge table top will add warmth and character to any log home. Live edge tables may be the most transitional furniture design available. The type of chair also steers the style. We have seen our customers use modern leather chairs to rustic log chairs around our live edge tables. The design opportunities are endless.

    Woodland Creek Furniture strives to offer the highest quality live edge tables at the fairest prices. Our wood is kiln dried slowly. This is important because larger operations rush the wood drying process and this causes degradation of the wood. It also increases the chances of the wood cracking or splitting after being in your home for a period of time. Like all things – when you take your time and do it right – the end product is much higher quality. Woodland Creek believes in the “take it slow and do it right philosophy.”

    Woodland Creek Furniture offers three types of live edge table tops.

    Plank Style Live Edge Slabs – solid slabs of wood are laminated (glued together) with the outer edge planks providing the live edge. Each piece of wood is carefully picked for its grain pattern and color. Our guys hand pick the planks so that the grain patterns blend into a slab of natural art. I personally feel the plank style tables have the most character and are the best value (personal choice).

    Book Matched Live Edge Slabs – the term book-matched means that two sequential cuts of a log are paired together. Each slab receives a straight edge and when flipped the boards are almost identical creating the appearance of mirror grain pattern.

    Solid One Piece Live Edge Slabs – this is a table top made from one piece of solid wood. The size of the tree dictates the size of the slab. There are still some big ones out there, and Woodland Creek gets them all the time. Be sure to check back in a few months and see the giant slabs of burl wood we have coming in. The largest we have coming is seventeen feet long by five feet wide – one solid piece of wood with the most incredible grain pattern found in any species. We will have hundreds of one pieces slabs in just about any size you may need.

    All three styles of live edge slabs are beautiful, and there are no bad choices. It comes down to a personal choice – the style that makes you go “wow” and fits your budget. We invite you to visit our workshop and hunt with us through the hundreds of live edge slabs we have in stock. If you live out of state, rest assured we craft and ship hundreds of live edge tables every year – we can craft and deliver a beautiful live edge table to you anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. Call or email us today to discuss your project.

    Thank you for reading this blog entry.


    Rob Evina
    Woodland Creek Furniture

  • Handcrafted Furniture by Woodland Creek

    Handcrafted furniture is becoming increasingly more and more popular. Why in the age of low priced mass produced furniture would someone pay more for handcrafted furniture? I have a simple theory as to why. First, the world is truly becoming more and more mass produced. Mega factories now employ tens of thousands of people at a time. Just about everything you see on your local retail stores’ shelves is made in huge quantities and usually with resins or plastics (manmade chemicals) and as cheaply as possible. Our kids toys, our kitchen utensils, our lawn equipment – I could go on and on. Very little is high quality or handmade anymore. Furniture is some of the lowest quality products in the marketplace. The large furniture retailers must maintain super high profit margins so they can have their fake 50% off sales every other week. 99% of their furniture is made in mega factories overseas with low wage workers and the least expensive materials. They do not make one or two pieces of furniture at a time – rather they order hundreds and sometimes thousands of pieces of the same design. It is mass production on steroids.

    I will share a true story with you. My wife and I purchased a home less than two years ago. The vast majority of the furniture used to fill this home came from either Woodland Creek Furniture or Woodland Creek Modern. My wife needed a desk made, and we have been pretty busy with orders and under pressure to make promised delivery dates so I told her it would be about eight weeks before we could make one for her. That was not good enough for her. She had to have one immediately so off she goes to IKEA in another town. She returns with a knock down (you must put together) office desk. She proceeds to put it together and set up her office. I will admit that it looked good. She tells me the price, and I am dumbfounded that something can be made and sold this inexpensive. I pick my battles so I let the conversation I wanted to have go about the quality, durability and longevity and opted to let time expose the facts and demonstrate my point (and win the argument that was sure to follow). Sure enough it has not even been two years. It has been 23 months, and it surly started sooner, but I rarely go into her office to take notice of the problem. I needed something from her office at which time I notice the laminate is wearing through and you can see the particle board (pressed saw dust bound by glue to make wood) underneath. At first I thought I was seeing things so I went and put on my cheaters. Sure enough there it was – the laminate was paper thin and wearing through. Now, my wife only uses her office maybe once or twice a week. The kids will occasionally watch a video before being told to leave her office and go find an iPad. What I am trying to say is “the office does not get used on a regular basis.” The bottom line is – the furniture is low quality junk and not meant to last. It maybe would have lasted one year with normal use before showing serious signs of wear. You figure your time of purchasing the furniture, assembly – only to repeat every few years, and it is not as inexpensive as it seems. You truly get what you pay for.

    I am quite proud that Woodland Creeks handcrafts quality furniture made from solid woods in unique designs ranging from rustic to soft modern. Woodland Creek has been crafting quality furniture for fourteen years now, and I know that the vast majority of our furniture will be around for many, many years – decades and in some cases even centuries. The only way it will not be is if it is abused or burned. Real, solid wood furniture can be refinished and look brand new for another decade or two. I saw one of our copper vanities at a customer’s home not too long ago. The vanity was purchased from one of our stores some eight years ago, and I honestly can say it looked as good as the day it was delivered. Our barnwood furniture is being used in high traffic commercial businesses, and the reports back are “it is indestructible”. It is so easy to touch up. If you ever get a scratch in it, you can touch up it up with a tinted wax in minutes. You would be hard pressed to tell if the fresh blemish was done a hundred years ago by the farmer erecting the barn or minutes ago by your young son being too aggressive with one of his toys. Barnwood furniture is the type of furniture that only gets better looking over time. Woodland Creek’s live edge dining tables are made from 2” to 3” solid slabs of natural wood. Unless you let your kids play with hammers or matches at the table, these tables will outlive us. Sure, maybe in 6-10 years (depending on use and how many little kids or grandchildren you have) you will want to have the top refinished, but rest assured in less time than it take to run to IKEA to buy and assemble one of their tables, you can have this top refinished and back in your home for many more years of use.

    Woodland Creek presently has 1445 furniture designs on its web site. Every one of these designs can be made in custom sizes – this means any length, width or height needed. Most designs have endless finish options. You can specify no sheen (shine), soft sheen or high sheen. We enjoy designing and crafting custom layouts to fit your home. I think you will find that handcrafted furniture by Woodland Creek priced very reasonable when you factor in the uniqueness, solid wood and American quality that comes with each piece of furniture. We give tours of our workshop seven days a week so please consider this an invitation to come see our unique woods and the men and women that make Woodland Creek Furniture the company it is. We take pride in the furniture and service we provide. We would be honored to handcraft a quality piece of furniture for your home.

    Thank you for reading this blog entry.

    Rob Evina
    Woodland Creek Furniture

  • Handcrafted Rustic Furniture by Woodland Creek

    I often get asked how I got started in the rustic furniture business. With arguably only 1% of the active furniture buyers willing to purchase rustic furniture for their home, cottage or cabin finding the right person seeking furniture for this lifestyle is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Notice I said “willing to purchase”? The percentages are much higher if you measure those that “like or appreciate” the uniqueness and aesthetics of rustic furniture. But these folks’ homes may not be rustic or a spouse doesn’t share their passion for rustic furniture so they admire it, but they are not willing to mix it into their traditional or country home. These opinions are based on what I knew about rustic furniture 14 years ago (1998) when I first started Woodland Creek Furniture. The rustic furniture business is changing, and I will talk more about this is forthcoming paragraphs. I am referring to very traditional rustic furniture - furniture that is primitive; furniture that incorporates natural bark, hair on hide, wildlife carvings or canoe silhouettes into the furniture’s design. This type of traditional rustic furniture is often referred to as Adirondack furniture, Molesworth style furniture, lodge furniture, cabin furniture, or log furniture. Woodland Creek began as a local source for these styles of traditional rustic furniture. Now, the how and the why?

    I am not sure if anyone will ever read this blog entry. I am writing it because I have read countless articles by marketing “experts” which state people like to know the story behind the business. I know that I enjoy learning how and why people started their business so there may be one or two others out there that think the same way. If no one outside of family ever reads this, at least it will document some of the history for my kids to one day understand their father a bit better. Anyway, there is a gene in our family that encourages (even demands) risk taking and nonconformity. I inherited this gene from my father who got it from his father. At the time of writing this I am not sure if I hope this gene has been passed on to my son or daughters. Entrepreneurship is not an easy path. It is an exciting path, but not for the faint of heart.

    Approximately 20 years ago, I was at a crossroads in my life. I was 29 and not sure what I wanted to do for a long term, stable career. That gene I referenced earlier had caused me to enter into a variety of different and often risky businesses – some were profitable and others we not so profitable; thus, I have been forced to start over several times in my life – usually from rock bottom. I knew in my heart there was something out there that would be personally gratifying and allow me to provide for a family. I really wanted this next business to afford a creative outlet, allow me to travel and experience other cultures and allow me to meet interesting people. Great wish list, but what was the business that would allow this?

    For years I had been reading business magazines and cutting out articles that either told of new technology to help a small businesses gain a completive edge, articles on interesting new trends and/or niches, or articles spotlighting interesting startups and their founders. After years of reading and clipping, I had accumulated several, neatly categorized boxes containing a wide range of articles. My quest for the right business continued.

    In the fall of 1996 a high school friend was having some personal problems (a difficult divorce), and it was affecting his business. He was (and remains) a very talented carpenter, but his organizational and managerial skills were not his strong suit. He had helped me through some personal lows so I felt comfortable working with him. Thus, we entered into a partnership in his home remodeling business. I very honestly explained that this would be a short term proposition for me (2-3 years) as I planned to one day pursue a different path. For now it fit for both of us as I could refine my marketing and management skills and still have the freedom to study and research future opportunities. I focused on creative marketing for our home remodeling business. Some of these ideas paid off and the company expanded to a point where we had multiple crews working on simultaneous projects, and we were booked sometimes 4 to 5 months out. This cushion allowed me to take short trips to research business ideas.

    Life’s happenstance led me to meet an interesting person named Fred. Fred once lived and studied in eastern Europe. He was there right around the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union. His stories of import and export opportunities titillated that that pesky entrepreneurial gene to the point I could hardly sleep. Fred planned to return to start a business in Budapest, Hungry. Fred extended an invitation to visit and show me around eastern Europe. I did not procrastinate. A trip was planned. I forgot to mention that Fred was a collector and seller of military memorabilia. He had done quite well for himself buying and selling World War II vintage collectables to collectors and museums around the world. Fred would use my trip and other future trips to also search out things of value for his business. We were both on the hunt for opportunities. We took the train out of Budapest and traveled throughout eastern Europe ultimately ending up in Moscow. Fred took some law classes at a University in Moscow years earlier so he knew is way around pretty good for a foreigner. Fred even shared a story with me that Boris Yeltsen (at the time the Mayor of Moscow) once was a guest speaker at one of his classes. Fred also said he was there the day the tanks advanced on Parliament and Boris Yeltsen stood in front of the advancing tanks and persuaded them not to follow the orders of the communist government. That historic day ultimately led to Boris Yeltsen becoming the first elected president of Russia. I share this as Fred was quite the personality. He also had the “gene” and was a risk taker. Sorry for the digression, but I thought the story shed light on the time and opportunities. The entire country was trying to adjust to capitalism - shedding the shackles of 80+ years of communism. The country was struggling to adjust which meant there were opportunities for risk takers.

    Fred and I traveled from small town to small town via a train. Under Soviet times, the leaders planned the economy. They essentially decided what town would manufacture what product. Meaning there was no competition so there was one car factory, one underwear factory, one dish factory, etc. Each town had assigned industries. Citizens were basically given aptitude tests and were assigned life-long jobs based on their tested skill sets. I could write volumes on what this did to the human spirit and psyche, but those thoughts are for another time.

    Fred and I walked through all kinds of factories – glass factories, foundries, art studios, etc. Every business was hungry for business. Two Americans represented opportunity to expand beyond their present customer base (which was virtually non-existent as the country was teetering on collapse). The Russians were always gracious and answered all our questions. Anyone of these businesses presented a valid export opportunity, but none to this point felt like the right fit. I do not remember exactly how the topic came up, but I believe Fred and I were casually talking and I asked Fred what other products or talents were the Russians known for? Fred explained to me that under Soviet times it was considered the most noble profession to be an “artist” – even more so than a doctor or politician. If you were in the arts – music, painting, acting, sculpting, carving, etc. and were good at it – you were revered and at the top of the status ladder. Thus, kids were encourage, if not pushed, into the arts. The one example he stated “carving” caught my attention. I asked him what he knew about it. He said that he had read that one of the finest carving institutes in the world was in a town name Bryansk. I told Frank I would like to visit this institution, and even thought it was several hundred kilometers from where we were off we went.

    Why did carving interest me? Well, a couple of years earlier I had read and cut out an article in Forbes Magazine that spotlighted the CEO of a company that had started a small carving business out of the back of their bait & tackle shop. They were hand carving fish, birds and other wildlife. They had grown the business from a two man operation to over a hundred employees with 6 or 7 million in annual revenue and projected to grow. The interviewer asked the CEO, “what his biggest obstacle to future growth was?” The CEO stated that “carving” was a lost art here in the U.S. They could not find enough talented wood carvers to fill the jobs. They were forced to bring in duplicating machines that did a mediocre job, and they were also looking at setting up overseas in other countries. Well, hearing from Fred that there was a whole town of talented wood carvers out of work made my mind kick in to high gear.

    Bryansk, Russia. I remember getting into town on a chilly fall evening. We had just enough time to take a walk through a local park before checking into a hotel. The entire park had large, beautiful wood carvings. Some of the carvings were abstract art; others were creatures of Russian folklore. There was no doubt there was talent in this town. Were the carvers still here? Did they all leave to seek work in western European factories like we had heard at some many other places we had visited? It was a long night, but morning did come. We went to the famed carving university, and from the very moment we walked through the doors you knew you were in a special place. There were relief carvings of incredible detail on the walls, 3-D carvings of all size including a massive, scowling 8’ bear. The detail on the bear was unlike anything I had seen. Our guide took us to an area where carvers were actively carving. There were still carvers studying and after talking with the guide he informed us that there were plenty more around town that had not yet left who would surely be interested in working.

    I really think I have to start to condense the chain of events or this blog article will turn into a thick book so here goes. We meet and found many carvers anxious to use their talents and earn money for their families. I returned home and purchased the rights to many different carving designs. I brought the samples back and showed the carvers. They basically laughed at me and said “who is going to buy these goofy looking carvings?” I mean to tell you several of them had a good laugh, and I could not understand why? I asked the translator to help me understand. He then explained that everything carved under Soviet Union times was serious or based on history or culture. I brought back smiling bears, fish, nautical figurines (usually smiling) and they could not believe that Americans would want, let alone “pay for” these figurines. As a side note, I am using much tamer wording than they used because after they stopped laughing, then then began to mock the carvings. Anyway, I told them that is what I wanted and what my dollars were buying, and this terse statement brought them back to reality as I was holding the money. We lined up a local manager who happened to be a local police officer. He was in charge of overseeing the carvers and taking what they produced to a warehouse until we had enough to export. I returned the following month, and the samples were better than perfect. I returned home to set up channels of distribution. I returned the following months to find a nice collection of carvings. The formation of a business was taking place. Again, there are dozens of interesting events between these trips, but in my attempt to keep it succinct, I will keep it to the important parts. On one return trip I, Fred and my mother (I took my mother to experience the culture) were waking in a hotel room after a long train ride. I turned on the TV to listen to the International News. The announcer was explaining that overnight the Russian Ruble had collapsed, and the currency had lost 50% of its value overnight (best recollection of value loss). I turned off the TV and Fred and I discussed what this meant. Fred knew instantly what it meant. It meant Russian people barely living off of a modest government pension were not going to be able to sustain themselves. I went down to the lobby and out into the streets and the best example I can give as to what I saw was seeing hundreds of thousands of people walking “numb”. It was that look you see at a funeral on the faces of the immediate family who just lost someone close to them - just numb and blank. You could cut the fear, anxiety and stress in the air with a knife. It was that palpable.

    We took the train up to Bryansk. We introduced some new designs and planned to export our first container in 3 or 4 months. I returned home and several weeks later the reports of violence and kidnappings in Russian increased. These things always went on before, but now they were becoming more and more frequent – the country was disintegrating, and the criminal elements were doing whatever it took to survive. I remember my heart falling when Sergei (our Manager) emailed me saying he got word that the local mob planned to kidnap me the next time I returned and hold me ransom to my family. I had to reread it several times as I could not believe what I was reading. I had my whole savings in this business venture, and it would be devastating to lose it. Why would they want me? I knew the answer. I was one of the few Americans coming to this town. They did not know if I was a small business guy rolling the dice of life with what little he had saved or some rich American business person. They got wind of me coming to town, hiring people, paying people – I was a quick and easy way to get $50,000 - $100,000 in hard cash to them. I skipped much in an attempt to shorten this article, but I learned early that the value of life in this part of the world was low. You could have anything done to anyone for little money. The laws of the jungle trumped all. I saw things happen right in front of police and military and knew that the mob was really in control during this period of Russian history.

    I took the night to contemplate Sergei’s email. The following day I emailed him and told him to set up a meeting with these guys. I asked him to explain a long term scenario – one that instead of a quick payday they would get them monthly money for providing a “service”. They would hire them as our “security” – watching and safeguarding our products out of Russia and safely into Hungary. Call it a security expense; call it a tax; call it whatever you will I was looking for anyway to protect my investment. Sergei wrote back saying he had explained everything like I asked. He said they listened “stone faced” (like most Russians do) and then they said they “agreed.” Sergei ended his email by saying “he did not trust them and he could not guarantee my safety if I returned.” I knew that I could not return as it was a 50/50 chance of them understanding the long term plan, and I like my ears and fingers so I did not return. I ended up losing tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of time in this venture.

    After licking my wounds and having a short pity party, I found that entrepreneurial tenacity and decided to take one last trip to eastern Europe to see if anything else tickled the gene. Fred, our translator and I traveled into Romania this time going from village to village visiting cottage businesses. There were some interesting prospects, but they needed a lot of time and capital to develop. I just didn’t feel it. We were on our way out of the country - it was late afternoon or early evening and Fred, Sergei (not Russian Sergei, but translator Sergei) and I were hungry. We couldn’t wait to hit McDonalds in Budapest (you would understand this statement if your only choice for food was borscht soup or hard cheese & bread while traveling). We were driving very fast (Sergei always greatly exceeded the speed limit as $5 American money got you out of any ticket) when I noticed a small road side stand and something caught my eye. We flew by it at such great speed I could not make it out. It appeared to be interesting furniture. I told Fred and Sergei that I would like to go back and check it out. Sergei dismissed my request with a derogatory remark saying “it was just Romanian @#&% (insert expletive here)”. I had to remind Sergei that I would soon be paying him and his tip. He started cursing at me in either Hungarian or Russian, but none the less he turned around (quietly swearing at me all the way).

    We pulled up to this road side stand, and my heart started to pound. In front of me was crudely made furniture, but the table tops were 3” to 4” thick burl wood slabs. The table tops were 36” to 48” wide by 120” to 144” long - one solid piece and burl throughout the entire slab. I did not mention this earlier, but my uncle in Alaska built log homes and rustic furniture when he was not commercials fishing. Years earlier I had written a business plan for a family fishing lodge. It was then that I realized I had an affinity toward wood and the rustic lifestyle. Anyway, right in front of me one some of the most beautiful solid wood I had ever seen. I was not a woodworker, but I instinctively knew we had nothing like this in the U.S. Again, I could write paragraphs about events that happened between this point and importing the wood, but the bottom line is this wood species gave me the motivation to come home and beg and borrow the funds I needed to start a rustic furniture business.

    I knew in my heart that this wood would give us the competitive edge needed to enter the rustic furniture business. There were hundreds of good woodworkers in my own state – how would we stand out and differentiate ourselves? This unique wood started conversations with other rustic furniture builders at shows all across the country. I would often trade our wood for their wood. Friendships were made; business relationships were established. Woodland Creek Furniture, a rustic furniture store, started. Woodland Creek Furniture now imports natural wood slabs and logs from a variety of states and countries. Combining a wood from Romania with a wood from Utah or California gives you a look that no one else has. The rustic furniture business has been a blessing for my family and I. We enjoy creating functional works of art for people who like the rustic lifestyle. I thank you for taking the time to read this and hope Woodland Creek will have the opportunity to work with you and your family to design and build you rustic furniture that will become a family heirloom.

    Rob Evina
    Woodland Creek Furniture

  • Unfinished Furniture - Pros & Cons

    There is definitely a trend toward using reclaimed wood in all types of furniture designs. You are seeing salvaged wood used in modern designs, rustic designs, transitional designs, Tuscan designs, eclectic designs – the list goes on and on. But a new trend seems to be emerging – a trend whereby the wood used in these furniture designs has “no” finish or stated another way “unfinished”. It is raw wood without a traditional lacquer, oil, varnish or polyurethane finish to protect and seal the wood. The wood utilized is usually old and naturally distressed or made to look aged through distressing and antiquing techniques. The wood has an antique weathered feel to it. Here’s the million dollar question, “does it make sense to use raw, unfinished wood either old or new in furniture designs where it will get used in a home with normal everyday use?”


    The verdict is still out as this is a fairly new phenomenon, but there are many things to consider. First, the cons. As a person that has been in the furniture business for fourteen years now the first thing that came to mind when I realized the popularity of this new trend is “what happens when you spill a cup of coffee or a glass of wine?” I walked into a national retailer’s store (one that sells this type of unfinished, raw furniture) in Troy, Michigan last year and posed this question to the salesperson. To use a northern Michigan metaphor “she looked like a deer caught in the headlights.” For our customers around the country not familiar with white tail deer - when it’s nighttime and a deer is in the road and sees oncoming headlights, it becomes transfixed and unable to move; thus, causing the thousands of annual car crashes between automobiles and deer. This poor salesperson paused for several very uncomfortable seconds (seemed longer) and then politely (but nervously) explained that you could sand out the stain with sandpaper. I could tell she was told to say this, and I did not want to challenge her nor did I want to continue her pain as we both knew this was not the truth. I let her off the hook, smiled, thanked her and left.

    As my friend I were leaving the store I asked what he thought of her answer, and he said “boy, she was reluctant to say that” I agreed. For the sake of argument let’s say you could sand out the stain (which is not possible as it would penetrate too deep into the wood), the surrounding wood would still have a different tone to the area just sanded. Why? Even though the wood does not have a finish over it - it still oxidizes and even small amounts of UV light will slightly change the wood’s natural tones. Any first year woodworker can tell you that even when you sand freshly cut wood in one spot it will show “lighter” than the remaining non-sanded board. This spot would stand out like (feel free to insert any obvious comparison here).

    My mind then went to the natural oils in our skin. Every person on this earth has natural oils no matter how many times a day you wash your hands. The oils are always there giving our skin much needed elasticity and softness. I theorized that after several months of everyday use those areas where people rest their hands or elbows would create dark, blotchy areas. This theory was confirmed when I dropped off a custom made wreath to a client’s home in a suburb of Detroit this past fall. They had purchased one of the tables from the same nation retailer I referenced above and sure enough it had the stains & blotchy areas where people sat. I did not want to embarrass the customer so I did not point them out. We were both standing by the table and the customer stated (warning - here comes the shameless self-promotion) “she wished that she had found our store first as you guys offer many nice furniture designs and many wonderful finish color options.” She then asked “maybe we can discuss you refinishing the table at some time in the future as it has some stains.” I stated “we would love to help” and on my way I went.

    Over the past several years we have received many online requests as to “how to repair” this type of furniture from people who had accidently spilled something on their unprotected wood table. I gave my opinion, and it was usually met with frustration and anger at themselves for not researching the product better.

    What are the pros of using furniture made from unfinished raw wood in your home? This answer is simple “it looks cool, chic, unique & paradoxical”. The weathered texture combined with distressing (sometimes natural and sometimes man enhanced), blemishes, nicks, scratches, natural knots give the wood great character, and this character translates into warmth and rustic chic charm. Also, the wood appears to have either a bleached appearance or a silver driftwood patina. The wood with these muted tones combined with the aforementioned characteristics used in Tuscan, Mediterranean, modern, rustic, country, eclectic, or traditional furniture designs seems counterintuitive, but this is exactly what makes it so unique, eclectic & chic. It is refined, yet it appears old or antique. It is sophisticated yet rustic. It is modern yet worn. I could go on and on with different oxymorons, but I think you get the point.

    So how do you get this unique, raw, driftwood look, but also get the functionality of using it in your home as everyday furniture - without having to worry that one spill of juice, tea or wine will ruin this unique look? Until now there was no good answer. I am happy to write that the expert finishers at Woodland Creek Furniture have perfected several new finishes that mimic the color tones of raw, unfinished, unprotected wood – but instead the furniture has a finish that will repel liquids. Let’s be clear “it looks unprotected, it looks raw, it looks weathered, it looks natural; it looks old; it looks distressed; it looks like it does not have a protective clear coating – yet is does have a special finish that protects the wood from oils and stains. For all our competitors out there who plan to call and ask probing questions to try and figure what we are doing - “Sorry Charlie” – we are not giving it up. We have spent months and months experimenting with techniques to give this look to our furniture and customers, and this proprietary information is staying in-house.

    Be aware that we are custom furniture builders and most of the 1,350 unique furniture designs shown on our web site can be made with one of these new finishes (even though they may not be shown in one of these finishes).

    In closing I would like to thank you for reading this article and invite you to see over 1,350 unique, customizable furniture designs available through Woodland Creek Furniture. We are a small family business with the simple goal of offering the highest quality, handmade furniture available in the market today. If you do not see a design that you had in mind, be sure to discuss your idea with us as we welcome custom made furniture projects. We will work hard to make you a lifelong customer.


    Rob Evina
    Woodland Creek Furniture

  • Woodland Creek Brings Its Unique Handcrafted Furniture to the HD Expo For the First Time

    Las Vegas, NV - Woodland Creek Furniture will exhibit for the first time at this year’s Hospitality Design Expo on May 14th-16th. 

    Woodland Creek specializes in unique rustic, industrial, & concrete furniture. Woodland Creek Furniture has been crafting unique furniture for 15 years – operations began in 1999 at their northern Michigan workshop located in Kalkaska, MI.

    About Rustic Furniture

    Woodland Creek’s unique rustic furniture designs are made from exotic natural woods such as hickory, juniper, redwood, aspen, teak or mahogany.  Woodland Creek Furniture specializes in using reclaimed, sustainable, renewable, live edge & exotic woods.  Woodland Creek’s furniture designs are perfect for tropical, cabana, cabin, lodge, ranch, southwestern, and rustic decors. A complete line of rustic furniture designs are available in custom sizes and finishes.  Custom design requests are welcome.  Most rustic furniture designs are proudly made in the USA.

    About Concrete Furniture

    Woodland Creek’s concrete furniture is made with a proprietary multi-layer concrete coating.  Woodland Creek’s concrete tables have all beauty, strength & durability of solid concrete, but at 1/3 the weight of real stone or concrete. Woodland Creek’s expert finishers create textured finishes with layered colors giving the concrete the aesthetics of granite, stucco, stone, copper or cement.  All furniture designs are available in a wide range of colors and textures and can be used indoors or outdoors.  Woodland Creek’s concrete furniture designs are perfect for the food service & hospitality industries as all coatings are FDA compliant. A complete line of concrete furniture designs are available. Custom design requests are welcome.  Woodland Creek’s concrete furniture designs are proudly made in America.

    For more information, please visit: www.woodlandcreekfurniture.com

    Contact To learn more about Woodland Creek’s furniture, please contact:
    Hospitality Sales
    4290 US 31 North Traverse City, MI  49686
    Office: (231) 668.9125
    Fax: (231) 938-8045
    Email: info@woodlandcreekfurniture.com

  • What is the Definition of Rustic Furniture?

    I have recently been surprised at what some people categorize as rustic furniture. Fourteen years ago when I began in the rustic furniture business, my definition of rustic furniture was furniture made from hand peeled natural logs and then combined with wildlife carvings or natural antlers. I have lived in Michigan most of my life and the cabins and cottages I visited as a kid had traditional rustic furniture made from pine or cedar logs usually adorned with a primitive bear or pine tree carving. This style furniture was called Northwood’s style rustic furniture, and it could be found in cabins that dotted the Au Sable or Manistee Rivers or cottages on the west side of the state from Leelanau to Mackinaw City and back around the eastern side of the state from Rogers City to Alpena. Really, it was found throughout the state as it was ubiquitous and basically the only Midwestern style of rustic furniture at the time.

    I have recently realized that what I feel qualifies as rustic furniture is not what the next generation may call rustic furniture. Recently, I was working in Woodland Creek Furniture’s showroom, and a customer came in looking for a unique rustic dining table. She specifically said “unique rustic dining table.” I showed her to an area of the store that had some very nice handcrafted barnwood and log dining tables. She said “no, not cabin furniture; I would like rustic furniture.” We walked around the store for a bit, and she stopped at a table that I would not have considered to be classified as rustic, but to her it was the perfect rustic table. The table had a traditional X trestle base design with a distressed solid wood top in a white wash finish. Yes, there was some distressing, but this was basically a table design that just twenty years ago would have been called “traditional”. We just enhanced the look by distressing it and giving it a twenty first century “urban chic” finish. This got me to thinking “maybe other people have a different definition of rustic furniture. The term rustic furniture is a broad term and maybe my definition was wrong. So what is the correct definition of rustic furniture?

    Rustic furniture has been around since the first people came off the boats and landed on Plymouth rock and started pushing west. Yes, these early settlers may have had more refined furniture in their western European homes prior to departing, but they did not initially have the fancy equipment to produce this style so they fashioned furniture from logs, branches and whatever else they could find. The cities on the east coast grew as did the western settlements. Furniture styles changed, but an enduring love affair and respect for the rustic lifestyle remains. This is evidenced by the great lodges and camps built in the Adirondacks. Some lodges date back 150 years. These lodges and camps are full of handcrafted rustic furniture made in a distinct style now called “Adirondack furniture”. Adirondack style furniture was and continues to be made with real birch bark, twigs, and branches usually in designs have had incorporated arched doors or curved trim. Many people collect this style of rustic furniture. Prices for a handcrafted Adirondack style sideboard can range from $800 to $35,000 depending on the artisan who made it and the amount of detail.

    Thomas Molesworth made a distinct style of western furniture using hides, natural wood and animal horns. He is credited with creating a style of furniture that is today called “cowboy furniture.” Molesworth operated the Shoshone Furniture Company from 1931 to 1961 in Cody, Wyoming. Mr. Molesworth’s furniture is also sought after, and original pieces bring some very high prices when they can be found.

    A recent trend has been to recycle and utilize the weathered wood found on the thousands of barns that dot the back-roads of Midwestern America. These barns provided shelter to the animals and equipment that fed America while it was struggling to find its identity and economic engine. Tens of thousands of aging barns have wood that dates back 100 to 200 years. The wood exhibits the worn character of a maturing nation. Barnwood makes excellent furniture. The elements and oxidation give the wood a wonderful textured, aged patina. All the woodworking tricks in the world cannot replicate the look that Mother Nature slowly and methodically created over time. When salvaged barnwood is sanded and finished properly its character jumps out at you. Now take that “aged, weathered texture and combine it with refined moldings, copper panels, frosted glass, and milled mullions, and you have a distinct style of rustic furniture – or, its own recently coined category called “barn wood furniture”. Woodland Creek Furniture offers hundreds of barnwood designs including barnwood dining tables, barnwood coffee tables, barnwood sideboards, barnwood console tables, barnwood end tables, barnwood chairs, barnwood bar stools, barnwood beds, barnwood nightstands, barnwood chests, barnwood dressers, barnwood vanities, barnwood kitchen cabinets, and much, more. Every barn wood furniture design can be customized to fit your home or office. In addition to a quality piece of rustic furniture you are also getting a piece of American history. If only wood could talk we would hear wonderful stories of how life was on the farm over the past 150 years.

    Log homes became very popular and almost mainstream over the past 25 years. It’s hard to know the exact number of log homes built, but I remember hearing a report on Public radio a few years after 9/11. The report basically spotlighted how New Yorkers were reevaluating their high paced city lifestyles post 9/11. The report stated that over 5,000 log homes had been built in the 2002 in New York state alone. The report suggested that many living in the big city wanted a more natural, earthy and tranquil home life after the tumultuous events of 9/11. Thousands of city dwellers sold their city flats and townhouses and opted for a hand hewn log home nestled in the pristine mountains of upstate New York. Whether this was their primary home or just their getaway camp, the thought of having a tranquil sanctuary outside of the concrete jungle became much more appealing. Tens of thousands of additional log homes went up all across the U.S. Sizes ranged from cozy 600 square foot cabins to enormous 15,000 square foot homes. This interest in the rustic lifestyle fueled the burgeoning log furniture industry. Log furniture is the most primitive and primal of all rustic furniture designs. Log furniture is usually made using mortise and tenon construction. Natural logs are hand peeled and the ends are then given a tenon and fitted into an adjoining mortised log. Log furniture is made from many different species of wood. The most common species are white cedar, red cedar, aspen, hickory, and juniper. Woodland Creek tries to differentiate its log furniture through its distinct designs and by personalizing customer’s log furniture with handcarved bears, moose, deer, raccoons, and birds. The customer can tell us their favorite animal or scene, and our carver will hand carve a one of a kind piece of log furniture or log mantel for the fireplace.

    I am sure many other style of rustic furniture will surface in the years to come. I know the artisans at Woodland Creek Furniture are constantly pushing the limits of design by mixing in new elements. Right now we are experimenting with adding concrete tops to many of our rustic style bases. Of course not just ordinary concrete tops as our expert finishers have found ways to make concrete look like stucco, granite, natural stone using hand crafted artisan finish techniques – all available in a wide range of colors. Photos will be coming soon so for now this is just a tease.

    On behalf of the entire Woodland Creek family we thank you for your interest in our handcrafted rustic furniture. Please consider this an open invitation to visit our workshop for a complete tour whereby you will see the talented woodworkers crafting and designing one of a kind rustic furniture. You will also see thousands of pieces of reclaimed and exotic woods from all over the country and world. We promise you an experience unlike any other and rustic furniture unlike any other.


    Rob Evina
    Woodland Creek Furniture

  • Why Our Barn Wood Furniture is The Highest Quality Available?

    Last year I took a trip overseas and visited China and Indonesia. During my trip I noticed that the vast majority of furniture designs I saw in hotels and even some of the residential homes were modern. Most of these furniture designs combined glass, stainless steel and shiny - almost plastic looking laminates for a very linear and sterile furniture style. I couldn’t help but think to myself “how could the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia be trending toward furniture designs made with reclaimed barn wood planks, timbers, and beams and the entire other half of the world could care less?”

    I have a personal theory on this. Our country went through the industrial revolution and all the fads that came with prosperity decades ago.  Asia is just now getting a taste of disposable income. We saw the metal cabinets and porcelain fixtures of the fifties, all the crazy George Jetson furniture in the sixties, the shag rugs and wild patterns of the seventies, and the eighties brought our fascination with modern. Now, there are still many people that enjoy the retro looks, modern and everything in between, but the newest trend is to decorate with furniture made with real wood and real character. What has more character than a piece of naturally weathered wood that has been providing shelter to farmers’ tools or their animals for the past 100 to 150 years? I am talking about barn wood siding, barn wood beams, and barn wood timbers. Mother Nature has been throwing her best at the barn’s wood with harsh cold winters, humid hot summers, and moisture laden rainy spring & fall days, and the barnwood seems to only get better looking with time. The sun bakes the moisture out of it, and the blowing rain wets it back down. Now, picture this happening several thousand times over the last century. Some of the barnwood used in our furniture is 150+ years old – that is 54,750 days. What happens to the barnwood after fending off the elements for that many days? Well, it gets the most beautiful textured patina that only comes with this slow, aging process. We have tried (and so have countless other woodworkers) to take fresh wood and use certain aging techniques on it to make it look old, and to be very honest, it does not even come close. How can we expect fresh wood to look like naturally aged barnwood when it took 54,750 days for Mother Nature to methodically work her magic? It is not possible. Yes, there are some companies out there that still try to artificially age it, but up close and personal, you can tell. Some companies will swear they are using old wood, but the discerning eye knows the truth.

    Woodland Creek Furniture decided a long time ago to give up on trying to do what Mother Nature does best. Woodland Creek and our select vendors only use premium, select barnwood planks, timbers, and beams in our barnwood furniture designs. We have been approached by dozens of new startup companies offering less expensive barnwood furniture to carry their furniture, but we always pass on it. Yes, I will admit that some of it looks good in the photos, but up close and personal the wood used does not have the same character and the finished product does not have the same soft luster and feel (I could write another page on construction quality differences, but we will not address that today). With our barnwood furniture you can run your hands over it, and it is soft to the touch. Our competitors’ furniture is rough. It feels almost as if it came out of a saloon. Some people may like this, but we feel barn wood furniture should walk a fine line between rustic and refined. Yes, our barnwood furniture is definitely rustic as the natural dents, divots, & weathered texture leave no doubt it is rustic and will fit comfortably into any cabin or camp décor. But it is also refined and will work in many Tuscan, Old World, Cottage, Ranch and even traditional homes. Barnwood furniture may be the perfect transitional furniture. I have even seen some of our customers mix it into modern home settings. Modern chic?

    We often get asked why our barnwood furniture looks and feels so much better? Well, we cannot reveal all of our secrets, but one simple difference is the amount of time that goes into final sanding. Hand sanding is labor intensive, and labor always adds cost to any product or service. Our competitors do not want to incur this cost so they do the bare minimum (some don’t even sand it all all). Other details that add to the aesthetics of our barnwood furniture are the thick, solid wood handles. Even these are sanded so they are soft to the touch. The mitered, wrapped corners exhibit old world craftsman ship. And then there is the clear coat finish. We only use the highest quality clear coat to seal in the wood’s character and beauty. We could probably save $35 a gallon by using a cheaper line of finish, but we refuse to skimp on the quality. We hope our barnwood furniture designs also inspire you. The mixtures of reclaimed barnwood with tree bark panels, reclaimed metal, reclaimed copper or just contrasting color woods create designs that are distinct in design and style. Add some clavos or hair on hide accents, and you give the barn wood furniture a western flair. Mix in a little live edge and you have a rustic chic design. It is endless. Woodland Creek welcomes custom barnwood furniture requests. About 95% of what we sell is custom made to fit our client’s homes of commercial offices so I guess it is safe to say that we do not have any standard sizes as everything can be made to fit your space. Don’t see a layout you need? Let’s discuss it as all barn wood furniture designs can be made in custom layouts.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this blog entry. Woodland Creek will continue to strive to offer the finest handcrafted barn wood furniture on the market. We will work hard to make you a lifelong customer.


    Rob Evina
    Woodland Creek Furniture

  • Rustic Bedroom Furniture for Your Home

    Why is our rustic bedroom furniture the best fit for you?

    If you have ever meandered through the seemingly endless walkways of big box bedroom furniture retailers, you might have started to notice a very particular pattern. Aside from color schemes and design tweaks, there is not really all that much variety. Also, you might notice that the floor models are wearing down from the limited use of other passersby, who wanted to test run the furniture before they bought it. One feature that might stand out because of this is that there is a consistent lack of durability and quality. It just doesn’t seem like these types of retailers are offering quality and comfort over simplified and generic standards of production.

    That is where we draw the line, and where you will find the answer to that question! Rustic bedroom furniture from Woodland Creek Furniture is the best fit for you because it is the answer to all those other issues, and it tops it off with its unique and elegant look and feel to boot!

    Our rustic bedroom furniture is made from reclaimed barnwood, farmhouse wood, logs, and other sorts of reclaimed wood, which we source from local areas. The wood we use is typically over 100 years old, giving it a sense of antiquity and history unmatched by other department store catalogs. With our professional craftsmen quality work, we can create rustic bedroom furniture that will not only outlast the alternatives but outshine them as well. With a wide variety of rustic bedroom furniture options throughout our two giant showrooms, the toughest decision to make after having this question answered will be choosing which one is the right fit for your bedroom!

    Woodland Creek Furniture is Traverse City, Michigan’s premier producer of fine rustic bedroom furniture. People from around the state, country, and the world have visited us and made the decision to furnish their homes with these natural and elegant pieces. We proudly invite you to stop on by and see for yourself!

  • Spice Up Mealtime with Reclaimed Wood Tables

    Reclaimed wood tables are great additions to your home for many reasons:

    • LOOK: There is no denying it. These tables look fabulous. They look fresh, stylistic, and rustic. They look like they are high quality. They look like they took many hours to reclaim, design, and craft (That’s because they did). They look like they should be added to your home and made part of your furniture family!
    • FEEL: They feel smooth. They feel like a quality table. They feel like they will be part of your life forever (with proper care, they will!). It just seems right to add a reclaimed wood table to your home!
    • ECO-FRIENDLY: These reclaimed wood tables use wood that has already been used. They do not require our company to cut down fresh trees. We use pieces of wood from locations in neighboring states that would otherwise be left to rot. We breathe new life into our pieces, which helps us herald the strong history, our next point!
    • HISTORY: Our tables have a place of their own in American history. These reclaimed wood tables are made of wood that was used during a time when our country was coming of age, developing new farming techniques and utilizing quality wood to build their barns. While their time may have seemingly passed, they are now being given a second chance at life by undergoing our reclaiming process and finding their ways into homes like yours. You now have an opportunity to own a piece of history, that you will use as a part of your history!
    • UNIQUE: You will not find authentic rustic reclaimed wood tables like this in your big box retailer. While fresh wood can be finished to look like reclaimed wood, there is no replication of the authentic wood pieces that we source from around us in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, to craft these unique and beautiful pieces of furniture.

    Why wait any longer to own a unique, eco-friendly piece of history with the right look and feel for your home decor? Come on down to one of our huge showrooms and see what all the buzz is about regarding reclaimed wood tables!

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