Green Living 2012
Wood work

"Finishing School" workshops at New Living use reclaimed wood to create furniture treasures

"Finishing School" workshops at New Living use reclaimed wood to create furniture treasures

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Cooper Meaders teaches classes on making furniture from reclaimed wood. Courtesy photo
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Meaders' queen headboard made from oak flooring reclaimed from a local home Courtesy Photo
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One of the famous Meaders "chalk" boards, this one in spalted white oak (reclaimed, of course) Courtesy Photo
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A red oak coffee table framing a once-broken Texstone countertop piece  Courtesy Photo
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Meaders working away to salvage a neighbor's donated wood flooring Courtesy Photo
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News_New Living_furniture_queen headboard made from oak flooring reclaimed from local houston home
News_New Living_finishing school_spalted white oak_chalk board
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Leave the upturned pinkie behind for a different take on “finishing school” now being held at a local green institution. Gather that now-wobbly and scratched wooden rocker you’ve had since your childhood, the hiking stick you found years ago and meant to sand and stain or even an interesting piece of lumber you saved to do something with as a rainy-day project – even if you forgot what that something is.

Bring your treasures to the recently launched “Finishing School” wood workshops hosted by New Living and adjoining shop The Green Painter located in Rice Village, where in-house artisans teach how to bring those keepsakes back to life in the greenest way possible. 

 Finishing School” is the next step for New Living and The Green Painter, which are showcasing headboards, tables and benches hand made by in-house artists using salvaged materials found in the Bayou City.

 “We already have people who come here with a piece of wood they reclaimed themselves and have a project in mind,” says Cooper Meaders, New Living artisan, certified green painter, biology college grad, Marine and all-around great guy. “Now with the 'Finishing School,' they can bring in samples and we’ll work with stains, paints. I can even cut pieces and help put them together.”

The DIY concept is the brainchild of the stores’ founder and owner Jeff Kaplan, who sees “Finishing School” as a natural extension of the green products and services New Living and The Green Painter afford their customers.

“We’ll provide the products, and all of our furniture products are completely sustainable and free of toxic off-gassing and formaldehyde,” Kaplan says. “Customers can come work with Cooper and learn how to refinish their existing furniture or create new pieces using sustainable materials and natural finishes.”

“Finishing School” is the next step for New Living and The Green Painter, which are now showcasing headboards, tables and benches hand made by in-house artists using salvaged materials found right in the Bayou City.

“We can’t keep these on the floor,” says Meaders, referring to a pin-up board surfaced with marmoleum, a readily available, natural organic product he prefers to use instead of cork. “The same with the chalkboards, too.”

Meaders’ perfectly squared chalkboards are actually built with reclaimed wood coated with a no- or low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) “chalk” paint that creates that familiar wipe-clean surface. He then constructs the frame from wood and more sustainable products donated to or collected by New Living employees.

 “We can’t keep these on the floor,” says Meaders, referring to a pin-up board surfaced with marmoleum, a readily available, natural organic product he prefers to use instead of cork. “The same with the chalkboards, too.” 

The New Living furniture biz began as almost as “accident,” Meaders continues. “I started with small projects, like building signs for the store. Then a woman came into the store who was tearing down her home and rebuilding it from the ground up. She asked if we wanted any of the old lumber.”

Meaders and Kaplan excitedly said “Yes!” and spent three days removing the red oak floor from the residence in exchange for the non-toxic paints, stains and other furniture finishing products The Green Painter specializes in.

With this huge inventory of the reclaimed wood, Meaders and the other shop artists had a supply to begin repurposing.

Meaders has put that red oak to good use with such completed projects as a coffee table framing a once-broken Texstone countertop piece for the surface and a beautiful bowed headboard now on the showroom floor that he left unfinished for a buyer’s treatment preference. “I didn’t want to limit the potential,” he explains of the headboard.

He’s also working on vertical planter walls from found and donated pallets or skids, those solid transport structures for loading or shipping. He breaks them down, brings the wood’s grain to its original glory and rebuilds to include inset planter boxes. At his own private studio, he has a massive dining table for 12 underway using reclaimed pecan timbers.

“I prefer to take raw materials and make them ‘new’ again,” Meadors says, adding with a smile, “That’s my fire.”

Finishing School sessions are by appointment only by calling either store at least two days in advance of a time convenient to you. Phone numbers are 713-521-1921 for New Living and 713-797-2935 for The Green Painter. Sessions are $25 per person.