Westfield Wood – And Why New Things “Suck”

I’m sitting in our (finished) Library right now, wrapping my head around the chronology of events that brought me Here – so I can recount them to you. Here, the mark X on the Amber Lane map, is: under the Union of Sovereign States, on the free South Bay green couch (pending my sister’s addition of Cecil’s suede), typing by the subtle orange glow of a Renninger’s Flea Market antique hand painted sconce. All these words make no sense to you, I know. Union of Sovereign States? What decade are we in? South Bay green couch? Who is Cecil and why does he have suede? Where’s Renninger’s (or who)? Hand painted sconces, you have to be kidding me!

But to me, these words are delicious. Singular. Highly relevant and remarkably sensible. They’re the by-products of a story but they’re also the impetus. The inspiration, motivation and reward all in one. To be sitting within the world we’ve created is surreal. We’ve held a steady vision for SO LONG now. Some of these items – most of them – we’ve owned since 2014, many since 2013 or even before. And, as we collected, we wove a tapestry of concept – of direction. A color palate: Green, brown, and brass. A look: New York public library meets the Bologna Archiginnasio. A feel: serene and of another world. A place to get lost. In time; in thought.

Larger picture inspiration may have existed for the last 3 years but tangible materials – the things that get the job DONE – those were harder to come by. You can’t build a room with a couch, no matter how green it is. So we had to source. Enter: another round of Craig’s List + sheer luck + a lot of hard work.

We look at Craig’s List’s “free section” often, finding ourselves scanning it even more frequently in the relative calm before a “next project’s” storm. It’s not that we necessarily NEED to get things for free – though it doesn’t hurt! And it’s not that we necessarily WANT to get everything second-hand. But, honestly, new things suck. They cost a lot of money, are cheaply made, and look like everybody else’s new things.

Construction is a wasteful enterprise. Time is money for contractors and stuff sucks up time. So, instead of thinking of ways to reuse or recycle on site, so many jobs toss their “stuff” into dumpsters that eat up landfill space like the angry, melting ice caps that chase after cute, hungry little seals squirming quickly away from a beckoning but receding edge. Or some other metaphor of your choosing. Anyway, needless to say, we’ve made quite an effort to NOT waste during this renovation – not only not waste our own things (every single stud we used in this project came from studs we demolished from the law offices and we reclaimed screws and nails as we could) but somehow not waste other people’s things too!

Last November, we came across an ad for “free wood” in Westfield, MA with a couple of indeterminable pictures of maybe (?) nice looking oak that was described as “could be used for fire wood” in the text. But Fitz had a feeling, as Fitz often does. He knew. Well, he didn’t know what would unfold – just that we had to go to Westfield and we had to go NOW.

So we did. It was raining. Hard. We pulled up and chatted with the home owner as she unlocked the door to her garage – uncovering This Pile of Wood.


It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? Depending on your knowledge of the industry maybe you feel super excited? Completely confused? But, most certainly, overwhelmed. Let me tell you where I land(ed) in that spectrum… utterly and completely confused.


Lots of questions surfaced, namely: “Why do we need this big pile of dumb wood?” And “So, um, it’s raining… and when’s snack time?”

Well, Past Em and people like her, you need this big pile of wood because it’s AMAZING and would cost you several thousands of dollars to purchase… new, with no patina and history. This nice lady is giving it to you for FREE, all “patina-ed” and “historied” up. So, skip snack time and get those cute yellow galoshes working on overtime to get this wood wrangled!

Wrangled. That’s a nice word for this experience. To be more specific, we spent 3 days wrangling this wood. Probably about 20 hours in total of sorting through this woman’s garage: organizing into piles, removing nails, sorting what we needed, and making 3 separate trips back to Amber Lane with poor Gordie crammed to the gills with wrangled wood every time.

What did we turn up?
– 6+” baseboards
– 4.5″ wainscoting with rounded edges
– window toppers and molding
– quarter round trim, several sizes of additional molding pieces
– door molding and jams
– 3 doors
– stair treads

All oak. All solid. All gorgeous. The old stuff; the real deal. Ripe for the taking from a woman who wanted a contemporary home and had the good sense to pass on her “dated” wood molding on Craig’s List. Everyone wins in this story. She probably found the best couple of crazy wood fanatics on Craig’s List to clean out her garage for her. And clean out we did!

Here’s some of the action.

So, while we’re one Hoard lighter, we’re certainly a whole lot of wood heavier. I guess that’s just how we roll!

Next up: where to put this wood and (I’ll spare you the months of tripping over it) how to implement it!


One comment

  1. Pingback: Onto the Walls We Go! | eliza spelled backwards

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