Giving new life to reclaimed wood that has already served a community well in its first incarnation shows respect for our planet's limited natural resources. If that new life is thoughtfully designed and built to last for several generations, even better. That's as green as it gets, and that's our goal. Reclaimed, Restored, Reborn.
A 'CounterEvolutionary' log cabin and the furniture line inspired by it
Little Big North, Jim Malone's rustic/modern log cabin near the Catskill Mountains, is filled with CounterEvolution benches, chairs and tables handcrafted from reclaimed bowling alley flooring.
For July’s installment of “Evergreen Homes,” I featured a beautiful rustic/modern rental cabin located in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mountain town of Glacier, Wash., a popular stopover for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. The catch? Not only does the cabin serve as a well-appointed crash pad for ski bums, hikers, mountain bikers and the like, but it’s also a model home for Seattle-based green prefab manufacturer, Method Homes.
Clear across the country in another woodsy, outdoor recreation hotspot, New York’s beautiful Catskill Mountains, there’s Little Big North, a fellow rustic/modern rental cabin and show house of sorts. But whereas the Method Cabin is a show house for a modular home builder, Little Big North is, more or less, the show house for green furniture designer, Jim Malone of Brooklyn-based CounterEvolution.
Located on Kaaterskill Creek in the charming outpost of Catskill (this is Rip Van Winkle territory, folks), Little Big North is a four-bedroom, two-bath log cabin with all the amenities that you’d expect from a VRBO property: a wood fireplace, gas grill, washer/dryer, and for those who can’t disconnect while in the woods, wireless internet and satellite TV. The cabin is also, most notably, filled with a “generous amount” of Malone’s handiwork: gorgeous wood tables, benches and chairs handcrafted from reclaimed bowling alley lanes.
The construction of Little Big North is what prompted Malone, a long-time musician and former cartoon producer (fun fact: he was the original director of the English-language version of "Pokemon"), to initiate a "love affair with woodworking, craftsmanship and design." In 2007, Malone founded CounterEvolution and began working exclusively with reclaimed heart pine, the type of wood buried underneath layers of grit, grime and polyurethane in defunct bowling alleys.
The mission? To “design and build quality furniture, commercial installations, and a variety of items for the home that exude an elevated sense of artistry, craftsmanship, and functionality; the fact that they're good for the environment shouldn't be everything, just a naturally occurring bonus.”
Malone explains his company's green ethos further:
Modern Rustic and Industrial Green, the dual lines that make up the CounterEvolution collection of tables, benches, chairs and desks can be purchased directly through the CounterEv website along with Buffalo Green line of home accessories (clocks, lazy susans, wine racks, cutting boards, etc.) made from scrap wood leftover from the furniture making process.
However, it’s Malone’s commercial work that many of you may unknowingly already be familiar with. And by familiar with, I mean sat in or eaten off of. CounterEv creations can be found in numerous New York-area Starbucks stores, Shake Shack locations and at Sweetgreen, an eco-minded fro-yo and salad chain in the D.C. area. So even if you’re not in the market for a beautiful reclaimed bowling lane bench, that doesn’t mean you can’t test drive/admire one.
CounterEv products are also on display at the company’s non-Catskills-rental-cabin showroom in Brooklyn which I had the chance to stop by last week for a chat with Malone. He produces truly unfussy, handsome stuff (I couldn’t stop touching it) and it’s obvious that he’s truly dedicated to and enthusiastic the craft of turning potential landfill material into functional, non-mass-produced treasures. In addition to being handcrafted from salvaged materials, each customizable piece is available in one of seven different zero-VOC stains. My favorites? The Z End Table and the Lilly Bench, both pictured above along with the Pinboy Wine Rack and Table Tots, a super cute seat/table combo for kids.
Head on over to the CounterEvolution to see and learn more and if you like what you see and live in the New York area, you can always book a showroom appointment with Jim himself. And if you really like what you see and need a few days away from it all in the country, check out Little Big North’s VRBO rental page.
Photos courtesy CounterEvolution
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