Some women expect jewelry or other fine things to celebrate anniversaries. My wife? She’s thrilled with old wood.
In 2014, the week of our anniversary, we drove over to Southern Accents in Cullman, Alabama. We stopped by their main store first, then headed to their salvage wood warehouse, located a few streets away in an old school gym. The first thing we saw was a big stack of gray barn wood that had a little old white paint still hanging on. Two pallets of it. They have a great variety, all kinds of old flooring and barn wood and bead board and such, and Justin was very helpful in showing us what matched the project we were considering. But we kept going back to that first stack.
Turns out, this wood had just been unloaded by the man who worked with his crew last week to tear down the barn. In fact, he was still unloading the beams. He stopped to talk a few minutes, and told us a little about the barn.
Up until the week before, that barn had stood on a farm in Ada, Ohio. The owner believed it was built in 1902. I did the math: that means it was 86 years old when we married 26 years earlier, and now it was 112 years old (is that how Common Core would have done it?).
Anyway, it was interesting to learn that this man (I think his name is Paul) travels the country tearing down old barns and selling the wood to dealers like Southern Accents. I asked how he drummed up business (you know, what’s his marketing plan?), and he said people just find him and come to him. He reclaims 50 to 60 barns each year.
And I thought we were in a niche business.
So we did our measuring and Justin helped us pick out 14 boards. The tongue and groove pieces were too short for our project, but the lap board siding was the perfect length. Those pieces had better color to them for the most part, too.
At home, I unloaded the pieces and brought one inside to see how it would look. We have a 9-ft wide surface in our kitchen that would make a great accent wall; after years of trying to figure out what to do there, we finally found it. I set a piece on top of our hutch to see how it will look on that space — and Michele loved it.
So the next afternoon I started measuring and cutting (measuring twice, cutting once), and began installing the boards. My nail gun kept shooting blanks, and I realized the nails I’d bought yesterday were the problem. I put in some different nails, and things went smoothly after that.
When we got toward the bottom, I took off the baseboard and was reminded of the purple color the kitchen was painted when we bought this house. With all but the last board up, it was time for the biggest challenge, for me anyway. The final board had to be ripped, and after several measurements I just had to guess to account for any bow in the bottom two boards or possible unevenness of the floor. “This is why they make shoe mold,” I consoled myself.
Michele helped me guide it through the table saw, and we nailed it. It fit perfectly. Then, we nailed it.
After installing the trim, we started putting things back together. Instead of hanging up her bulletin boards and magazine holders again, Michele decided to leave more of the wall showing. When we moved the hutch to the center, I think she teared up a little when she said “I love it!” Score.
Of course, then she started pulling out swatches and talking about painting the other walls… and the cabinets. More on that to come…