A VISIT TO KR+H's FINISHING DEPARTMENT
A few days ago, I took my camera into our shop and headed for our finishing department.
Our master finishers, Brenda Ridley and Kris Kent were welcoming as always. Brenda, KR+H's finish manager, has been with KR+H for 22 1/2 years (wow!). Her talented collaborator, Kris, recently celebrated her 16th anniversary at KR+H.
RECLAIMED WOOD AND THE SANDY POND BARN KITCHEN
When I arrived, Brenda and Kris were working on our Sandy Pond Barn project. They were finishing reclaimed barn board for one of the two kitchens KR+H is making that will reside in this New England barn that is being respectfully restored.
The barn board Brenda and Kris are working with is from the same family of wood being used in the barn's complete restoration by Colonial Barn Restoration. CBR harvests lumber from abandoned barns in Canada, provides milled wood to shops like ours, and offers the craftsmanship needed in restoring antique barns like Sandy Pond Barn.
OLD BARN BOARD, MILK PAINT, AND THE FINISHING PROCESS
There's a lot of character and history in this reclaimed barn board. Kris and Brenda want the finish they apply not to cover up but to enhance the wood's qualities. Here's a look at some of the steps they take.
In the photo above, Kris sprays on milk paint, hand paints, and then hand rubs to give the old wood new life. KR+H's customers have chosen a slate-colored milk paint that is supplied to us by the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Co. in Groton, MA.
Kris loves both the science and art of her work with wood.
The reclaimed barn wood has rough and smooth areas. While the milk paint adheres to the surface of rough areas, it is absorbed by the wood in smoother parts, so Brenda and Kris regulate their finish.
Brenda and Kris compare the finished wood panels to check the finish's consistency. Keeping harmony in the color and tone throughout requires adjustments in the application of finish as some of the barn boards are naturally a darker brown while others a lighter gray.
After the milk paint finish is applied, Brenda sands the wood (photo above) to bring out the detail in the wood's grain.
Brenda has loved working with wood ever since her school shop class days. The art of finishing has always been her focus.
Kris shows me the cathedral detailing in the wood's grain (photo above); and explains to me that hand sanding allows the warm wood color to mingle with the cool tones of the slate milk paint, creating dimension, allowing details in the wood's grain to be lively.
A topcoat of Euro Clear Finish will be applied to protect the wood. This finish was chosen as it has the lowest sheen possible and will maintain the clarity of the wood's character while adding a much needed protective coat.
It is wonderful to see this wood appreciated and made ready to enter its new life at Sandy Pond Barn, a place where there will be gatherings of friends and family and community.
IN LOVE WITH THE PROCESS
Brenda's and Kris' enthusiasm for their work is contagious! And I see how they constantly make creative and technical decisions to enhance the quality of the cabinetry we make for our customers.
I'm reminded of this quote from Brenda recorded a decade or so ago: "You see people at KR+H who are energized by creativity and in love with the process of working with wood. No one's just thinking, 'How can we wrap up this job?' Everyone's thinking, 'Is this the best it can be?'" - Brenda Ridley, Finishing Manager
IN GOOD COMPANY
Since my visit with Brenda and Kris, Brenda emailed me to say the kitchen has been delivered, our customers love the work, and our installer Andy says it looks awesome.
When Andy first arrived at the Sandy Pond Barn to install the kitchen, he was immediately struck by the barn's beauty; and he admired the high level of quality in all the restoration work.
Sandy Pond Barn is a fine illustration of a cherished piece of New England's vernacular architecture being revitalized. The homeowners' vision and stewardship has been well married with the talents of Dewing Schmid Kearns Architects, interior designer Manuel de Santaren, and the restoration team from Colonial Barn Restoration. All of us at KR+H are delighted to be in such good company.