American Sojourns: California
At VivaTerra, “eco-friendly” is more than just a buzzword. It’s a philosophy that’s ingrained in every product we offer. We know it is possible to decorate the home with furniture that is not only beautiful, but crafted from eco materials with environmentally conscious manufacturing processes. Which is how we recently found ourselves on an airplane, heading to southern California to meet the talented woodworkers who handcraft our Vintage Douglas Fir Furniture.
These carpenters are a true inspiration to us. Every handsome piece they make is crafted from reclaimed wood salvaged from demolished buildings in the Los Angeles area, including several sound stages on the old MGM Studios lot. Now the old-growth timber that was used to build this historic Hollywood landmark (and many other southern California buildings) finds new life in contemporary furniture instead of ending up in a landfill.
Much of the reclaimed wood used for creating our Vintage Fir collection was harvested and milled from ancient primal forests nearly a century ago, when resources were plentiful. Repurposing this old-growth wood reduces forest clear cutting, air pollution and landfill waste, and results in furniture that is sturdier, harder and has a natural aged patina and distinct beauty that can’t be replicated in new wood.
It was such a pleasure to get to know the woodworkers and to learn more about the eco-conscious way they create our Vintage Fir furniture. Each piece is meticulously hewn, handmade and then hand-finished with rich water based, non-toxic stains that allow the wood’s natural character to shine through.
We couldn’t say goodbye to L.A., a shopping mecca if ever there was one, without visiting a few of the city’s major furniture marketplaces. We enjoyed browsing the vast offerings, but soon realized that none of it could hold a candle to our exquisite collection of vintage fir armoires, beds, side tables, storage chests, consoles and other unique pieces crafted by the carpenters we’d just met.
Headed for the San Francisco Bay Area, we drove up the coast on Highway 1, which has to be one of the most scenic roads in all of America. As we traveled along the Pacific Coast Highway, we were simply in awe at the stunning ocean vistas that greeted us at every turn. The Big Sur area on California’s central coast is a designated American National Scenic Byway, and it’s not unusual to see condors in the sky and migrating gray, humpback and blue whales in the water. We didn’t on this trip, but we did see elephant seals basking in the sun (they’re huge!).
On our way up the coast, we stopped for lunch at the Dametra Café in Carmel. Their Greek cuisine was delicious, and the atmosphere was vibrant and friendly – just what we were looking for. The tasty dolmas whetted our appetite before the main course of Greek salads and Gyros, and Baklava for dessert. Yum! After our meal, the owner and a cook serenaded diners with a song. This got people up and dancing all around us, which made our visit even more memorable.
Before returning home, we just had to make a special trip to see the majestic trees in the Redwood National Park. Coastal redwoods are among the oldest living things on earth, and they’re also the tallest, stretching skyward up to 367 feet (roughly the height of a 35-story building). California once had two million acres of these old-growth coastal redwoods. Sadly, these giant trees are still being cut for lumber today, and less than 5% now remain. This sobering fact underscores the importance of doing everything we can to preserve our nation’s forests. Our Vintage Fir furniture made from reclaimed wood is a step in the right direction.