Salvaging historic trees and crafting unique furniture redefines business as usual at this unique Houston store
"Let's Build Together" is the motto at Made at New Living, where local artisans work hand-in-hand with customers to create one-of-a-kind tables, chairs, planters, whatever the desire, using locally sourced materials — all with the goal of improving the quality of life at home with green products.
You'll see the fast-growing concept from the outside with a storefront signage change at the four-year-old business at 6111 Kirby Drive, boasting the B-Corps' commitment to "clean" production. Inside, watch two in-house artisans from a community of 10 selected furniture workers citywide at work, all sharing a common commitment for clean production.
"We are a collaborative workshop and store," Jeff Kaplan, founder of New Living, says. "We are buying materials that would be wastefully going into the landfill, putting local designers to work and offering customers' input. It's our city making things together.
"We're the new alternative to a furniture store."
The store does stock wood from torn-down houses and destroyed trees — including the "protest" tree, part of which is now being converted into a conference table.
Coffee tables are the main offerings on the floor right now, but the artisans are always building. Just recently, a satisfied customer walked away with a custom-designed bed platform with foot and headboard as planter beds to nourish plants specifically selected for their ability to improve air quality.
Other standout creations include a salvaged chair frame reupholstered using all natural materials including organic cotton from Texas, organic wool, banana leaf fibers and plant-based finishes. An organic, nontoxic couch from Cisco Brothers (available at the store) pairs with Made at New Living’s newest artisan coffee table made from reclaimed wood with planter box filled with succulents. The woodwork for a desk was handmade with FSC-certified lumber and finished using all-natural beeswax. The piece features four very deep drawers and adjustable feet.
The store does stock wood from torn-down houses and destroyed trees — including the "protest" tree, part of which is now being converted into a conference table for the refurbished JW Marriott Houston downtown.
That 106-foot-tall American sycamore was chopped down last June amid protests and petitions, making it just one of many large trees controversially toppled by builders hoping to keep up with Houston's booming residential market. New Living worked closely with local tree experts to secure pieces of the sycamore for the company's in-house furniture studio.
Kaplan encourages Houstonians to join his company in the upcycling movement, asking them to sell or donate to Made at New Living any materials that could be repurposed into quality furniture. For the store's devotion to the environment and, of course, artisans' craftsmanship, CultureMap recently named Made at New Living one of the 10 Best Furniture Stores in Houston.
You can also bring your treasures to Made at New Living's ongoing “Finishing School” wood workshops, where artisans teach residents how to bring those keepsakes back to life in the greenest way possible. To schedule a class with friends, visit New Living's website or call 713-521-1921.
"This is interactive production," Kaplan says of Made at New Living. "By building and buying here, you're directly putting that investment into your city."