“It’s the soul. I don’t know how to say it any differently,” Deanne says. “I look at it and I see endurance. I see art. I see something in its natural state. I don’t see an artificial thing that will make me feel differently. A huge part of why I used reclaimed everything is the feel that it leaves with me.” With this she points to the trim on the windows and doors, oak left with “live-edges”, then to the cabinet doors with elegant knot holes punctuating the amber wood as if artistically arranged. The wood floor of her bedroom upstairs is also oak, irregular sized boards interspersed with six live-edged boards fitted between them in suggestive curves, like a two dimensional forest. Looking at the floor we agree with each other that despite all its character, wood sometimes looks like something that never came from a tree. But not so with this floor. There’s no mistaking what it is.
Half an hour away up Sleeman Creek Road in Lolo is another home made with almost entirely reclaimed lumber, including nearly whole trees, many of them salvaged. In the winter of 98’ a huge storm hit the Bitterroot Valley and took down a number of pines. Half a dozen of those trees now stand in Bill McDavid’s house, supporting the stairway, or seeming growing out of a corner. Brothers, Adam and Tyler Pfiffner, timber framers, built the home, and when we tour the house Adam points to each piece and gives me the history. There are as many as ten different species from as many sources; one of the ceilings in particular is old barn wood, siding, two-inch stock that is hard to find. Years of exposure to the elements have pitted and grooved it, turning it a deep rich brown with dark highlights and a mahogany tinge that stand out nicely against the stucco walls. When Brian joins us, he says it is exactly this, the aesthetics of using old wood that attracts him.
“I love to look at it,” he says. “That patina -- you just can’t beat that. You’d have to live in a place 100 years to get that. It adds more character. You build something out of green wood and it’s boring… It makes all the difference in the world. I mean you have one beam of exposed wood like that and – for me at least – it changes the whole feel of the room.”
Bill is in real estate and talk turns to the huge increase in the use of reclaimed lumber over the last few years. The four of us wonder about the reason behind this. “Green building,” the idea of building environmentally friendly houses is suggested, and is certainly a factor. There is the aesthetics, of course. Then, without prompting, Bill says something interesting.