Posts Tagged ‘Furniture’

Urban Tree Salvage Uses City Trees to Create Beautiful Furniture

February 17th, 2011

I love Urban Tree Salvage. They have some really unique pieces of furniture and accessories. Last year for my birthday I was given a cheese board from this store, and it receives nothing but compliments — how many cheese boards can say that?

Urban Tree Salvage takes City of Toronto municipal forest trees that need to come down due to storm, disease or insects and turns them into pieces of furniture instead of mulching them. There are over 9000 trees taken down each year in Toronto and UTS selects the logs that will produce really unique pieces of furniture. Often the trunks have grown pretty thick so they produce extra wide planks. For instance, this poplar table in the photo is an ebony-stained solid wood plank that measures 42 inches wide, 10 feet long, three inches thick, and sells for $7600. Melissa Neist, Sales and Marketing Manager for Urban Tree Salvage, is standing with beside the table.

Ebony-stained Poplar Table with an "Iffy" base (staggered table legs)

Urban Tree Salvage Emblem embossed on all tables

"Iffy" table base made of hot rolled steel, staggered table legs

Urban Tree Salvage is a fully integrated production facility and includes a sawmill, kiln and furniture production shop. Customers can come in and select the slab they want and the company will turn it into a gorgeous table.

For more information, visit their website.

Located at: 19A Malley Road, Scarborough, ON, M1L 2E4.

Phone: 647-438-7516

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Montauk Sofa strives towards Carbon Neutrality

February 10th, 2011

Danny Chartier of Montauk Sofa, at IDS, January, 2011

If you read home decor magazines you’ll be familiar with Montauk Sofa — the company with the memorable magazine advert of the woman lounging in the over-sized chair saying “He left. Good riddance, I kept the couch.” ….or something like that. I don’t think I’ve got the words exactly.  I’ve always loved that ad. I don’t know why, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the big oversized chair (do you think that might be the point of the ad??). You are probably aware that Montauk makes high quality furniture, but I’ll bet you didn’t know that they are striving to reach a carbon-neutral footprint too. How many companies can say that?

When I was at IDS in January, I had the opportunity to speak with Danny Chartier of Montauk Sofa about his company’s efforts. It turns out in 2006 they made a trip to Europe and while there met with a company that measures companies’ carbon footprints and then helps them reduce their emissions. Montauk saw this as an opportunity to help lighten their own footprint and worked with them.

Since 2006 they have made some great strides in several areas.

Greenhouse gases: Montauk strives to reduce its overall carbon footprint at the source through energy conservation, as well, the company measures greenhouse gases produced from all activities including employee transportation to and from work, then purchases carbon offsets to compensate. Carbon offsets can be used for tree planting and methane capture. Montauk offsets 1600 tons of greenhouse gases each year and is now operating at a carbon deficit — in other words, they absorb more GHGs than they produce.

Product stewardship: Based on the McDonough “Cradle to Cradle” philosophy, all products are made to be a combination of fully recyclable and biodegradable. Montauk will take your old sofa back and give you either a credit towards a new one and reuse pieces, and recycle what’s not. In fact, the company has not only an “assembly” line, it also has a “disassembly” line.

Danny told me that although they are not at complete “environmental neutrality” yet, they are working to reach it one day. It’s quite a goal and good to see environmental stewardship combined with high quality sofas.

To order online or to find a store near you, visit their website.

In Toronto:

Montauk Sofa

220 King Street East, Toronto, ON.

Phone: 416-361-0331

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Favourite Toronto Shops for Green Handcrafted Gifts

December 13th, 2010

It’s the most stressful time of the year — shopping for your loved ones, friends, teachers, and others you may want to thank for all their efforts throughout the year. We’re lucky to live in a city with such diverse shopping. In addition to the chain stores, there are so many artisans, galleries, and craft shops that promote talented individuals’ work, whether made locally or abroad. Here are a few of my favourites. This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of amazing local shops, but it’s a start…

MADE: This is a unique store and art gallery that sells hand-crafted furniture, light fixtures and decor exclusively made by Canadian artisans. Best of all, if there’s a piece of furniture that you like but maybe it needs to be sized differently, Julie Nicholson and Shawn Moore (the owners), will have it made to your dimensions. The work in here is eclectic, gorgeous and well worth a visit. Furniture designers include the Brothers Dressler, vases and lighting from ceramic artist Katherine Graham, and of course, a lamp made entirely from hockey sticks by Barr Gilmore (there had to be something quintessentially Canadian in the mix, eh?).

  • 867 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON. Phone: 416-607-6384

Grass Roots: An institution on The Danforth, Grass Roots offers a wide variety of home decor and natural items. There are stainless steel storage containers, organic cotton towels, bulk household cleaners (all natural), and lots of ethical gifts. Have a look online, and then pop by the store to have a poke around.

2 Locations:

  • 372 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON. Phone: 416-466-2841
  • 408 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON. Phone: 416-944-1993

Ardith One: This wonderful store is great for finding one of a kind pieces of pottery including decorative serving trays and dishes.  (A great place to shop for wedding gifts too.)

  • 3311 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON.  Phone: 416-487-7766

Craft Ontario (formerly The Guild Shop): An excellent display gallery and shop for Canadian artists who work in a variety of media from glass to wood to metals. You can shop by artist as well.

  • 1106 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON. Phone: 416-921-1721

Use your Live Green Toronto card for extra savings at shops around Toronto. Apply for the card online, and show it at participating stores to receive a small gift or discount. Stores participating in Live Green Toronto program are those that are committed to a greener way of doing business whether it be greening their operations or the items they sell. Both Homestead House Paint Company and Greening Homes General Contracting Services have 15% discounts if you use your Live Green Toronto card.

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Happy with out Natura Mattress Decision!

August 19th, 2010

I hate shopping. I hate managing the traffic, schlepping from store to store, comparing prices and products, and finally having to make a decision. The best example of this was this spring when we were searching for an outdoor dining set. I must have visited 15 stores and Craigslist trying to find something in my price range that was somewhat environmentally friendly and not teak. In the end we refurbished a friend’s set that was sitting in her garage collecting dust (plus it met all of my criteria: stylish in a retro sort of way, eco-friendly (ie. used), and well within my price range!

Natura Mattress

My current mission was to find new mattresses for my sons. It only occurred to my husband and me a few weeks ago that their mattresses were 12 and 14 years old, very lumpy and, frankly, stunk to high heaven. So, off I go again, this time to do some mattress research. The good news is I only had to visit four stores before I found exactly what I was looking for. The first two stores gave me the price range I was looking for, the last one gave me the more natural mattress choice I wanted.

My final stop was at the Soma store at Lawrence and Dufferin. I was interested in their “natural sleep systems” and it was there that I discovered Natura mattresses.

Natura makes five different lines of mattresses from completely organic to ones that are a blend of synthetic and natural material. The company is based in Kitchener-Waterloo, ON, and, if you have a look at their website, the company really focuses on the quality of their materials and practices green policies in their manufacturing facility too. The mattresses we bought were a combination of foam, latex, wool. The foam itself is a blend of regular (petroleum-based foam) and foam made from biOH Polys , the soy-bean derived oil that aims to replace petroleum in many different products. In fact, 30% of the foam in these mattresses is replaced by biOH Poly, which, at the moment is the most they can use for technical reasons. On top of the foam is two inches of natural latex, followed by 18 ounces of wool/sq. foot. Here are some of the advantages of this mattress:

  • It’s hypoallergenic so it’s good for kids (or adults) with allergies as well as a deterrent of dust mites
  • It’s bedbug resistant (with the recent rise in bedbugs in Toronto, that’s a very good thing)
  • It contains no toxic chemical fire retardants
  • It never needs to be flipped
  • It will last for at least 22 years

My son says it’s the best sleep he’s ever had. Good enough for me.

Old mattress disposal. Unfortunately, our old mattresses are bound for landfill. They are not in good enough shape to send off to Goodwill, although that would have been my preference. However, if you happen to live in Durham Region in Ontario, they have started a really interesting mattress recycling pilot project (valid until November 27, 2010). Pairing with a Montreal Company, Recyc-mattresses, they are collecting old mattresses from Durham residents, the mattresses are being broken down into their individual parts and the scrap materials are being resold and recycled.

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Furniture from Whitewash & Co: Gorgeous and Eco Friendly

January 28th, 2010
Melrose Sofa

Melrose Sofa by Whitewash & Co.

I stumbled across Whitewash & Co.’s website of beautiful furniture last week and couldn’t help but ooh and ah over the stunning designs. In fact the furniture is so gorgeous and up-to-date and yet timeless that it makes me want to give all my furniture away and start again! So you can imagine how my heart sped up when I read that this company designs and makes its furniture in an environmentally conscious way.  Best of all, this is a local company with its manufacturing facilities in Orangville and Vaughan, Ontario (no showroom yet, but expect one in the future).

Good affordable furniture companies are hard to find, and often the easiest option seems to be popping over to IKEA/Pottery Barn/Crate and Barrel to pick up the latest fashion. But if you consider furniture as an investment instead of “what’s hot this season,” you’ll look at it in a completely different way. Well-crafted, timeless pieces are made with the intention of handing them down to the next generation — and their styles do stand the test of time, unlike furniture from the big box stores which will often be outdated within five years. The fact that this furniture is made keeping in mind your and the planet’s health just confirms the company’s commitment to maintaining high standards.

Kristen Cabinet

Kristen Cabinet

Whitewash & Co.’s upholstered and wooden furniture has the following environmentally conscious attributes:

  • Furniture is made from FSC-certified solid wood,
  • upholstered furniture is reinforced using hemp and jute,
  • all the glues and stains used in manufacturing are low-VOC water-based,
  • Furniture is formaldehyde-free,
  • Foam inserts for cushions are made using “BiOH foam” a foam with a 20% mixture of polyol derived from soybeans,
  • Fabric is “Oeko-tex Standard 100” certified and is free  of harmful chemicals, (no fire-retardant for residential use)
  • Delivery is 4-6 weeks.

The company carries cabinets, tables, dining chairs, upholstered chairs, sofas and accessories. Check out the website for a complete look at their products.

I contacted Jo Alcorn, the company’s owner to find out a little more about the furniture and her passion for “green.”

1. When and why did you decide to get into the eco-friendly furniture making business, and how long has this part of your company been in existence?

Ever since I was young I was sketching and designing houses, furniture, cars, you name it I wanted to create it. So it was only natural that I fell into this line of business, which first started off as interior design, I originally wanted to be an architect but later in life I realized their was too many math equations and detailed coding that I wasn’t able to be loose and free with my visions and designs as you would be in interior design.  I went down to the states on a hockey scholarship and fell in love with art, design, colours and everything in-between. It was when I studied abroad in London England that I feel in love with the old and I became fastinated on how pieces and buildings lasted 100s of years and how many decades that they had survived. I enjoyed learning how and why such pieces lived so long and it was because of the structure and materials combined with techniques that allowed these structures to stand the test of time. Our civilization lost that way of thinking when it became “I want it now” society.  So my principle of quality grew from there and the passion for furniture to be passed down from generation to generation. My eco-friendly love came also at a young age but it was empowered even more when my furniture designs of the old were blossoming, so was the beginning of the eco-friendly movement with other countries.  You never heard of asthma or certain allergies back in the day, and I truly believe that many of our health problems are brought on from the materials that we have allowed to enter our homes. The diseases that have corrupted so many families have been linked to chemicals that we have allowed in our houses to breathe. The movement of cheap and fast materials have brought a lifestyle that injured many people because we have closed our minds to thinking how something can harm us, like the chemical formeldyde which you can find in almost everything now a days, except for w&c products of course. The disturbing information I found through the years has fueled my passion and I am determined to help correct the damage we have done to ourselves and our planet, so what a better way to start then within the furniture we have in our homes. My design company came first which fueled the need for stylish eco-friendly furniture, and for a company within in Canada . w&c was born late 2008, I wanted it to be earlier but I was a stickler in having everything perfectly put together before I moved ahead, with the ever so changing environmental movement and materials I wanted to make sure I had all my research done right before we launched.

2. Do you design your own furniture?

Yes – however I am not inventing the wheel so I take inspiration from existing designs and alter or play around with the look. I also like to play with the comfortable aspect, I added extra lumber support to the Rod chair, which is named after my father who suffers with lower back pain, I added taller legs to the Velvet chair, named after my mother who has long legs and combined two chair styles that she always liked to the final Velvet chair look. Designing the exterior is important but the interior is the true design  . . . .  the guts of a chair is just, if not as important to the over look. Using natural materials like jute, hemp and FSC woods, and eco-stains, eliminating any plastics or chemicals within the pieces are just as fun as designing the exterior of every piece. I have not designed my glassware collection, so I can’t take credit for that, however I would love to design my own collection one day soon.
3. Congratulations on receiving the lower back support award from My Stretcher. Has your furniture received any other awards?

Thank you! At this time no other big awards yet, however we have been recognized by many high profile bloggers, magazines and environmental companies, which is very flattering and I fine to be just as rewarding. I am very proud of my furniture and the movement that I stand behind so to see the brand growing is very gratifying.

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