Some aficionados chuckle at the notion of calling recycled wood an emerging trend. After all, it’s been around since the first time someone picked up a fallen branch and made something out of it.
But reusing old wood in new ways — whether fashioning railway ties into flooring or old pickle barrels into a bed — is enjoying a renewed vogue among homeowners weary of generic looks and worried about the environment.
Many “start out to be funky, and then it goes green on them, and that speaks to them,” says Mark Nash, a real estate agent, author and promulgator of a popular annual What’s In, What’s Out with Homebuyers survey. “It’s one of the small things people can do and be proud of.”
Reclaimed wood, as industry insiders call it, can offer other advantages besides quirky charm and planet-friendliness points. A weathered plank from an old bridge isn’t likely to shrink and settle in today’s floor. A century-old warehouse beam was probably cut from an old-growth tree, harder and tighter-grained than modern forestry can match.
And when the coffee table proudly displays the gnarls and wrinkles of the barn board it once was, what’s a little household wear and tear?
“It’s become the antique of the future,” says Annette K. Stelmack, co-author of Sustainable Residential Interiors (John Wiley & Sons, 2006).