Let me tell you a story.
His name is Captain William Postal; her name is Celia Dyer. They are newlyweds, and since his job takes him away from home often, he wants his wedding present to her to be something that is truly personal, truly theirs. His choice? A bed. And quite a bed it turned out to be! Four large, square pillars support a weighty canopy, topping out at more than 7 feet high and frame a headboard of ornate carved scrolls, egg and dart trimmed panels, and a whimsical ovoidal cutout; all this is expertly rendered in of-the-moment, highly figured Mahogany veneer. She is a grand-dame of a bed.
These were my great great grandparents, and the year was 1850.
Now, my partner Michael and I sleep in a bed that has belonged to three different Celias: myself, my grandmother and my great great grandmother. There is irony in two furniture makers sleeping in a wooden bed they didn’t build. As a piece of furniture, the bed couldn’t really be further from the type of piece we design and build, but we couldn’t imagine not having her in our home. Why?
After much debate in this household, Michael and I settled on the reason. It’s that magic combination of sentiment and craftsmanship. It feels right, and it’s stood up to the passage of time.
At the confluence of Earth Day (22nd) and Arbor Day (24th), it seems only appropriate that each of us considers this idea of longevity as we contemplate cohabiting with wood. This material, that as a tree quite literally nourishes us, and as wood lives on to provide for so many sustaining needs, from the spoon you stir your soup with to the fire that keeps you warm, from the house that offers you shelter to the chair you are sitting upon.
Whatever the style, whatever the vintage, the tree that your furniture is made of is older than you are. This idea remains our focus on as we arrange or juxtapose old and new pieces in our own home as well as when we design pieces for a client. We are always working with a tree first, and this is a great responsibility.
So, when it comes to wood, invest in objects you love, objects built to last. Find pieces that do justice to a tree. Wood has a living warmth that draws you in. Search in your home for the traits wood heralds: tactility, authenticity, structure, durability, individuality.
In our quite quixotic 1938 Art Deco, Eastern European built home in the Hudson Valley, Celia Dyer Postal’s Mahogany bed—though abbreviated of her crown by another Celia so as to fit through a doorway—is kept company with two floating Maple nightstands of our own design, a refurbished 1960s painted dresser, and an adopted 8-year-old Greyhound, who thinks of the bed as her own. It’s a composition in tried and true wood that fits us to perfection.