Brian and I were having one specific marital issue for almost a year that seemed unsolvable. I know in my post on Friday, I made it seem/sound like we have NO problems but obviously we do. This wasn’t about housework or finances or kids. It was the wood ceiling in the mountain house. Our adorable “debates” about it had turned into a legitimate consistent argument. But good news. That lovely couple up there on the left, Ross and Georgie, is helping to solve our marital woes. The joy that Brian and I share having that issue behind us is only matched by the gratefulness we have for this couple and their beautiful, wonderful, marriage-saving product.
The backstory: The wood on the ceiling was a dark orange/brown (see below), so we walnut blasted it and it was definitely better but it became so rustic that it was throwing off the entire vibe of our design.
The finished product is so busy and has so much texture and varying tones of pink and yellow. It just wasn’t my dream wood, or even close. Of course, we could stain it but in order to even it out, we would have to stain it dark which would make it look like the original ceiling. And of course I could work with it in another house, but at this point, the vibe of this house is more modern mountain, less rustic mountain.
You’ve seen all the bathroom fixtures—mixing in that amazing polished brass with this ceiling (even though they aren’t in the same room) was HARD. I started hinting that painting it white would be the easiest and cheapest solution. And Brian “Mountain Man” Henderson was NOT having that. If I could go back in time, I might consider making this house the rustic cabin that Brian dreamt of, but that pontoon has sailed.
Listen. We communicate well. We don’t really fight. But this, the tone of wood on unreachably high places, is apparently our Achilles heel. My handsome and typically reasonable husband of 12 years wanted wood on the ceiling, no matter what, even if it was the ugliest wood EVER, even if that wood was making my job so much harder and therefore my stress level so much higher.
Not to rehash the fight but for the record, I love wood, too as long as it looks beautiful. But yes, if we had to keep the same wood finish after the walnut blasting (check out that process here) then I wanted to paint it white so I could be proud of this project because I know how to design a white-ceilinged house. Refinishing it to be a tone that we would love is a fool’s errand, especially on scaffolding that high (see this post as to why). White washing was an option, but a scary, risky, expensive one. Besides, the extreme texture from the walnut blasting was going to be there no matter what (which I thought would actually look really pretty in all white). In the photos, it looked okay, but in person, everyone EXCEPT BRIAN said, “oh yeah, I see now. It looks bad.” Every time we brought it up, it would start out playful and jokey then slowly I found myself getting mad at his stubbornness and even when we thought we were over it, it would turn into an actual fight.
What we both really wanted was to clad over it in a beautiful wood, but our contractor feared that it would cost $25k and we are so far over our budget that we had decided just to give it a year and not talk about it until we had lived there long enough to really experience the space. I would obviously do this with latent resentment—you know, the kind that is truly so great for a healthy marriage.
Until these two came along.
And their shop full of beautiful reclaimed wood.
Here’s how it went down. I found their info online, but the idea of typical “reclaimed wood” wasn’t what we were going for in the cabin because you guys (and myself) voted “refined” over “rustic”. What I didn’t realize is that you don’t always need to choose the rustic side of the wood where all the wear and tear is because once it’s re-sawn, it’s beautiful and fresh and still old and yet stunning. See?
When I went in the first time, I was sold, partly on the wood, partly on them and partly on their story.
Here’s their deal:
Ross Alan is a LA-based reclaimed lumber company run by husband-and-wife team Ross and Georgie (that’s Georgie up there with me and that beautiful re-sawn wood) that specializes in wood from old Midwestern barns (barns that are already being torn down because they are unsafe). They turn the 200-year-old wood into flooring, cabinetry, beams, mantles, furniture and yes, it can even be used for ceilings of the mountain homes of crazy people. Basically, anything that wood can be made from, they customize.
They are a true mom and pop company and I can’t say enough lovely things about them. Their wood has soul, it has a strong tight grain (it’s not tree farmed, it’s the real deal) and it’s perfectly imperfect.
Ross is a former actor (with a career path similar to Brian’s so they like to dish about that) and Georgie is a voice actor and still works a lot on animation series. A cute story about her is that she is the voice of Bear in Goldie & Bear, and the other day when Brian was showing me the video cut of them Charlie came over and said “Wait. That voice. I know that voice” and he was SO EXCITED when we told him that Georgie is Bear. His eyes grew HUGE and he was so excited. They had come over for a playdate with their three kids and some rosé a few weeks ago so our kids are even friends now. It’s just lovely.
Georgie and Ross met working at a cafe (thus such good customer service) as struggling actors and were roommates for years before they fell in love, hard. He realized that he would rather dumpster dive for wood and furniture than deal with auditions and thus his passion for reclaimed wood was born. They moved back to the Midwest, made contacts with barn demo vendors, then, four years ago, started their business in Burbank that is now booming.
I went originally to talk about the cladding in the black guest bathroom, but as we chatted they were open to partnering up to clad our entire house in the wood. I was shaking with excitement when I told Brian. Giddy. My dreams—OUR DREAMS—were going to come true.
It’s a new form of commerce for the digital world and when it works, it WORKS. Over the course of the next year, we’ll be using Ross Alan wood in our projects and working with their team to create content for them and us (tons of videos from Brian, professional photo assets, social media, press, etc). We’ll get the ceiling, flooring and cabinets that we’ve always wanted, at a discount that we can actually afford.
They have a ton of different species—walnut, oak, beech, pine, and more—that can be applied both in the rustic form and re-sawn to be fresh and new like we are doing (but with such a pretty grain as it’s older non-tree farmed trees). The application can be as simple as a mantle or column, more custom like a bathroom vanity or rafters and collar ties, or as extensive as flooring (that they have milled for tongue-and-groove) and veneered for anything (like our cabinets).
They sell their wood by the square foot (you can literally buy off the shelf) and price depends on the species, its availability and how it’s milled (again for flooring where it has to be tongue and grooved, it’s more expensive). Their custom furniture and slab tables are stunning, too, and they can truly make anything from cabinets to side tables.
They also make and sell a TON of floating shelving in standard sizes, and recently started selling their wall paneling online. This is sold in 20-square-foot bundles, is easy to install and can absolutely change the look of a place instantaneously.
My favorite is the silver wood (“Lynx” they call it) on the top left, and I told them that they should even run it vertically. You can also stain this wood which has FAR more texture than new wood if you want more consistency in color (which is what we are doing in the guest bath).
This rustic stuff up there, when it’s re-sawn has SO MUCH character. It’s also more affordable than the wood flooring that we were looking at before joining forces with Ross Alan. Their milled beech flooring is $14 a square foot ($18 a square foot for walnut) and the wood that we were dreaming of but weren’t able to afford is $18 to $30 a square foot. So you are getting more character at less cost and conserving trees instead of producing. Being a reclaimed product (i.e. not engineered), you do have some limitations with length and width, but we are all good with that.
We plan on putting it on the ceiling, all the flooring and the kitchen cabinets (YAY!). If you think that is too much, then feast your eyes on these beauties:
It’s definitely a different look for a cabin, but it’s mountain-y in that Scandinavian way that I was always dreaming of. It’s going to be STUNNING.
Once Brian saw that he could have wood EVERYWHERE in the house and still remain married to me, he was as excited as I was and for the first time ever, he is doing a lot of the heavy lifting on this trade by doing a ton of video content for them. He gets to shoot lumber porn all day with them and he’s not upset about that at all.
We are buzzing with excitement over here. Yes, it adds time and of course, it adds to the budget (we are getting a lovely press discount), but it’s going to be worth it.
It’s funny what can really get to you. I guess for me I felt that he must not respect what I do and the time it takes to design a house to not compromise, even though, of course, that’s not the truth. The man was shockingly passionate about wood, and SO AM I, so I can’t tell you how happy we are to have a solution to this.
Here is a sneak peek on how it’s going to play out in the house (thank you Grace for these awesome renderings):
We’ll be documenting the whole thing, don’t worry.
Please spread the word about Ross Alan. As I said, it’s such a lovely small mom and pop company run by the nicest people ever who treat their employees like family and put so much love into each project they do. They’ve also been so kind and generous enough to offer EHD readers 10% off with code EMILYHENDERSON10.
We’re currently in the process of installing all of this beautiful wood in the next couple weeks (they’ve been busy in the master bedroom and bath this week), so stay tuned for some more process posts coming up.
For now, we put together this video to introduce you further to Ross, Georgie and their beautiful marriage-saving wood: