We always love to see the creative ways that customers use our table bases. Recently, we sat down (virtually) with Audrey Jones about her small business “Fresh Restorations” located in Somerville, New Jersey. Fresh Restorations is a reclaimed wood furniture business that takes salvaged barn wood (usually sourced from large sawmills) and turns it into beautiful custom tables. Audrey uses a sustainable process to transform tired pieces into beautiful reclaimed wood tables, desks, bars, and bar stools. Audrey started the business in 2015 when she moved with her husband into her family farmhouse in rural New Jersey. Being a decorative painter and artist for over 20 years, Audrey has a touch for creating beautiful pieces of art. The inspiration for Fresh Restorations started when Audrey created a wood kitchen island for her family’s farm house using reclaimed barn wood. Salvaging things in the countryside was something she noticed that did not take place as much in the city. People loved recycling, and creating things out of recycled materials.

Audrey’s business took off after she crafted a countertop out of reclaimed wood and posted it on Etsy. Now to this day most of Audrey’s orders are through Etsy, however she is trying to make the transition to more in person orders and orders through her website. 

The steps of restoring and creating the furniture is about a month-long process that begins with the tearing down of old barns that are no longer of use. Audrey then buys this wood to use for creating pieces for her business. Then, the wood gets kiln dried to remove any bugs or unwanted debris. Audrey stated that she looks for circular saw marks in the wood, as these patterns are very popular among customers because it emphasizes the old fashioned look of the recycled wood. People love the natural inscriptions, and the character that the marks leave. The history of the wood that is used to create the tables is one of the most beautiful parts of purchasing from Audrey, because each piece has its own unique piece of history that you can see and feel in the finished product. The wood is recycled from old barns, some of which are hundreds of years old. 

The next part of the process is sanding the wood. Audrey stated it’s important not to sand it too smoothly, because she still wants to keep the authenticity of the aged wood. After this comes the drying and denailing process, taking out any nails that might still be in the wood, and letting it acclimate to inside temperatures for about a week. After waiting a week for the wood to dry out, Audrey then has to seal the sides of the tables, to prevent cracking or contraction. This is the final step of the process, after a little over a month of prepping. This is the baseline process for pretty much all of the different types of table surfaces, with a few variations in the process here and there for specialized pieces.

If you look on Audrey’s website, Freshrestorations.com, you’ll see turquoise and multi-colored table tops. Audrey’s background as an artist of 20+ years comes into play when making these colorful table tops. She likes to make sure when painting the tables with color, that she uses the “naturally weathered '' painting technique to make sure the table keeps the reclaimed wood look. No matter the finished product, the multiple layers of work that go into restoration are clearly visible in the finished table.

Audrey describes the feeling of taking an old piece of wood and being able to transform it into a beautiful table top or desk as the reward in itself. She says that customer satisfaction is one of her favorite aspects of her business, and seeing customers happy with their order gives her a sense of pride that drives the work forward. At Fresh Restorations they use water based everything when it comes to finishes and varnishes used in the restoring process. Audrey emphasized how important it is to her and her staff to use toxin-free supplies so her and her employees are not breathing in chemicals that may be harmful to them.

If you scroll through the Fresh Restorations website or Etsy site, you’ll see many of Audrey’s different creations, from bar consoles, to restaurant tables, to conference room desks. A popular favorite has been the kitchen island countertops. The modern white kitchen with a rustic wood accent has been a very popular look the past few years, and is becoming very popular in businesses too, such as coffee shops and restaurants. We asked Audrey how the pandemic has impacted consumer’s choice of product, and she noticed that the pandemic has spiked sales in at-home projects. As many people transitioned to working from home, customers were purchasing office desks for their homes, as well as bar tops and standing desks. In addition to causing changes to what types of furniture people are purchasing, the pandemic has also drastically impacted shipping and freight prices. 

Owning a small business can come with its challenges, and COVID has only exacerbated those challenges. The shipping industry is struggling with lack of employees, port traffic jams, and disruptions worldwide. Audrey describes a current hardship in the small business world is the heightened cost of freight, as she recognizes that it can sometimes be a factor for those trying to shop local. People like supporting small businesses, so the rising cost of shipping and freight is adding a little extra cost to the purchase. Audrey discussed her interest in opening up an in-person shop, so customers would be able to view her work in person, and be able to purchase items after seeing them in person.

Another hardship that Audrey’s business faced in 2021 was Hurricane Ida. At the time of the hurricane, her office was located in a flood zone, where the whole shop received 4 feet of water. The flooding destroyed many customer’s orders she had finished, projects she was working on, and many of her power tools. Luckily, Audrey and Fresh Restorations were able to make a comeback and move into a beautiful new work space in New Jersey. 

We asked Audrey what the advantages are when customers buy from a small business instead of a large company. Audrey responded saying that she is able to make any size table or desk customers want, and is able to customize it into their vision. Her products are uniquely designed and contain wood with 100-150 years of history. Audrey mentioned that she gets customers born and raised in New Jersey who order from her, and now have a piece of their roots in their home, as the wood comes from their home state of New Jersey. It is truly a special company! Check out Fresh Restoration for beautifully hand crafted tables made from historic reclaimed wood. You can shop via freshrestorations.com, or check out their Etsy page at FreshRestorations.