Meet Dr. Gary Hoag, a Study in the Custom Wood Furniture Process…

Dr. Hoag is an author, professor, and scholar who spends a great deal of time in his home office. He does practically everything there, from creating an inspiring seminar, to reading journals, writing his next book, videoconferencing with clients, or for fun, planning trips to track down trout in remote places with his son, Sam.

He jokes that he only leaves it to refill his coffee, use the bathroom, and sleep.

When he decided to remodel it, he came to Alpine Blue Home and asked us to work with him to create a functional, comfortable, and creative space for him to work. Below are some of his thoughts on the custom design process.

Q.  Why did you decide to build custom instead of buying in-stock furniture?

Three reasons drove my decision: (1) Beauty. Alpine Blue Home does beautiful work. (2) Fit. I have a bad back, and I spend a lot of time, sometimes too much time, in my home office. So, I knew I needed both a sitting desk and a standing desk that were just the right dimensions for me. (3) Functionality. I’ve never had enough space to fit all my books. I wanted shelf space that would fit my needs and grow with me.

Q.  How did Alpine Blue Home help you create your space?

Four distinct actions come to mind. (1) Visit. They scheduled a time and the master craftsman came to see my office and brainstorm with me. (2) Listen. He asked me what I did and what I felt like I needed. (3) Sketches. Almost instantly, he sketched a variety of ideas that included a mix of wood and steel, then waited patiently for me to decide what I wanted. (4) Estimate. Once I picked the design I liked, he estimated the cost and timeline for production and had it ready ahead of schedule.

Q.  Did you feel that you were listened to and respected during the design process?

Yes. So much so that he gave me more than I dreamed of getting. For example, he heard me say that “I wanted enough space to fit all my books, space that would fit my needs and grow with me,” so he drilled holes every so many inches and gave me built-in book ends that make the space absolutely perfect!

Q. How do you feel about the finished space?

On a scale of 1-10, I’d rate it an 11!

Q.  Would you use Alpine Blue Home for custom furniture again, and/or would you recommend Alpine Blue Home for custom furniture?

We’ve turned to them again and again, and will continue to. They are great people who make quality products. They made a custom bench to fit below a window on the landing of a staircase for us. On another occasion, we told them we needed a step for our dog to be able to get up to the foot of our bed, and they made that fit our needs just right. We visited their shop and got a wine rack for our dining area that’s so beautiful it’s become a conversation piece! We can’t say enough good things about Alpine Blue Home.


Colorado Wood.  Colorado Made. Colorado Style.


What is Live Edge Wood Furniture?

Live edge furniture is very popular right now.  You may have even heard about it from decorating shows or magazines.  But what exactly is live edge furniture?

Live edge furniture is simply furniture that some of the natural edge of the tree is left intact during building.  This gives the piece of furniture a natural, organic look. Live edge can be fairly modest and mild, or very dramatic.  

At Alpine Blue Home, we enjoy designing and building furniture pieces using the woods’ natural live edge.  This embraces our philosophy of making the wood the star of all of our designs. Many of our dining tables will have live edge on both of the outside edges.  We are currently building a table that will have four live edges, with two of the edges running down the middle of the table, leaving a very slight gap in the center.  Live edge can be used for dining tables, coffee and side tables, console tables, mirrors and beds.

Live edge wood furniture can be used in almost any decorating style.  We’ve created pieces that are being used in log cabins, as well as industrial style lofts.  Live edge combines well with metal, creating a fun juxtaposition of natural and industrial.

Please come in and talk to us about creating the perfect live edge furniture for you.


Colorado Wood.  Colorado Made. Colorado Style



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Maximalism with Beetle Kill Furniture

For years and years, minimalism has been in.  Well watch out, honey, maximalism is in, in a big way (pun intended).

Instead of less is more, the design world is now saying, “more is more”.  We are seeing strong, bold colors. Large scale prints. Metallics. Mixing patterns.  Displayed collections. More, more more…

However, if not tempered somewhat, more, more, more can become a big hot mess.  It’s important to use symmetry and balance when embracing maximalist design. Too much of anything, that’s not displayed correctly, becomes “visual noise”.  Or think of it as cheesecake, a little is great, but too much will make you feel sick.

A big, beautiful wood table, in front of a brightly painted wall, can be stunning.  Instead, of adding several smaller items or collections, try one large piece of art for the wall, and maybe one carefully selected piece for on top of the table.

And don’t think that you need to get rid of all the minimalist pieces that you love.  If you have a simple, minimalist table, try adding some dramatic, colorful glass on top of it.  Add a colorful frame to monochromatic art. Rub some funk on that minimalist stuff.


Colorado Wood. Colorado Made.  Colorado style.

Comfort with Custom Finished Furniture in Your Home

Our home should be our haven.  Our safe spot. Creative inspiration.  Healing place. It should be the place that we want to always return to.  It should be comfortable.

We are embracing many different ideologies of a comfortable home: Wabi-Sabi, Hygee, Cwitch, Kon Mari, and Lagom to name a few.  If you look at these different ideas they all seem to embrace the beauty of nature, and coziness.

Creating a home that feels comfortable for you may be different than what feels right to us.  However, some things are the same across the board. Use natural materials; wood, metal, glass, cotton, silk, and wools.  Look for products that are made without harmful chemicals. When we surround ourselves with natural items we feel grounded and experience less stress.   Picture a metal vase of cut flowers sitting on top of a natural wood table, in front of a window. You’ve created your own sense of nature. Remember the essential elements: earth, air, fire, and water.  

Part of comfort, for us, is having rooms and furniture that have functionality.  We’ve never been into museum rooms. Comfort is a dining table that friends and family gravitate to while visiting.  Maybe that same table can be moved to become an island or desk.

Whatever your definition is…give your self-permission to create your comfortable space.


Colorado Wood.  Colorado Made. Colorado Style.

Small Space Living with Custom Wood Furniture

Sometimes, less is more.  Many of us are choosing to live in smaller spaces, or have rooms in our current homes that are small. However, decorating a small space can be challenging.  With a few simple tips, you can enjoy your small space lifestyle.

Don’t be timid.  Often, people with think that small spaces need to have light paint colors and small furniture and art.  This is a myth. Adding a gallery-sized piece of art can anchor a small room. Painting a deep, dark color can add drama and depth to the space.  One larger sofa can make a room live larger and look less cluttered than several small pieces.

Maximize your space and it’s function, by using double-duty furniture.  Pieces that have extra hidden storage are invaluable in a small space. A couch or day bed that can be used for a guest creates an instant guest bedroom.  

Invest in furniture that can be easily moved around to change up a space.  A dining table that can be pushed length-wise against a wall to become a desk and free up floor space, is great.  Think of furniture with casters or wheels. Not only do the wheels provide that fun industrial look to your home, it makes even a heavy piece of furniture, easy to move.

Look up.  Take furniture all the way to the ceiling.  A floor to ceiling bookcase, adds height, drama and extra storage space.  It will also visually make the room taller.

Don’t shy away from small spaces.  When decorated and furnished well, a small space feels comfortable and cozy.  

Colorado Wood. Colorado Made. Colorado Style.


How to Care for Your Finished Wood Furniture

We often have customers ask us how to care for their finished wood furniture.  They are timid and concerned about their new furniture, since most of our pieces are finished with water-based products.

Water-based stains and polys are actually very durable once they are cured.  In addition they have very low VOC’s. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound.  VOC’s are emitted as gases from certain liquids. VOC’s include a variety of chemicals and can have adverse health effects.  As part of our commitment to our environment, we greatly limit the use of products containing VOC’s. We have tried numerous products and use a line of products that provide a smooth, strong and attractive finish.


With any finished wood furniture, there are a few basic care tips:

  1. Never leave standing liquids on the furniture.  Even with the best finish, a liquid that is left on wood will eventually penetrate the wood and can cause warping, discoloration, or rough up the wood.  Simply wipe up any spills, and it always helps to use coasters. It is not necessary to use table clothes or pads.

  2. Most clean up requires a soft cloth dampened with water.  If you have a persistent spot, you can use a small amount of dish soap in warm water to clean.

  3. If you don’t discover a liquid or food, until after damage has occurred, you will need to do a little repair.  We recommend a light sanding or buffing with 220 grit or higher sand paper. ALWAYS sand in the direction of the grain.  Remember, you can always sand more, but you can’t un-sand wood. Once the wood is smooth again, use a foam brush and lightly apply a poly.  Again, less is more. If it’s necessary to apply more than one coat, lightly buff between coats, once the poly is dry.

With normal use and care, it should not be necessary to re-finish your finished wood furniture.  If you decide to completely re-finish a piece of furniture, please consult with a furniture-finishing expert before you start the project.  

We hope these tips help you enjoy your finished wood furniture for years.

Colorado Wood.  Colorado Made. Colorado Style.

How do we define Colorado Style?

Colorado is many things.  Colorful. Majestic. Dramatic.  Casual. Dynamic. Crowded. Educated.  High tech. Fun. Authentic.

Colorado houses can be mansions, penthouses, condos, suburban homes, apartments, bungalows, and cottages.  Regardless of the size or price range of your house, it is home.

We believe that your home should make you happy.  It should be your haven from the everyday world. Your space should be comfortable, functional, fun, inspiring and relaxing.  It should be multi-purpose.

Your Colorado home should reflect your individual style and personality.  At Alpine Blue we strive to make each piece of furniture that we design and build reflect a respect for our environment, the wood used, and a Colorado Style.  We want our pieces to be used on a daily basis. We intend for our pieces to be able to be used in a number of different rooms and have different uses. Just like a great pair of jeans, we want our pieces to get better with age.  

We also feel that Colorado Style is an attitude.  We strive to be thoughtful, kind, creative and inspiring.  We try to add humor and fun in our daily life. Our goal is to leave our environment and the people that we come in contact with better than we found them.  

To us, that is Colorado Style.  Colorado wood. Colorado Made. Colorado Style.

Artisan Built - Luxury Colorado Home Furniture

An artisan is a person skilled in an applied art, or a craftsperson.  An artisan makes high quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand.  

As our world becomes faster and more technology driven… we crave artisanal products.  Something that is made in small batches, by hand, helps us to feel grounded. We also want to know the person that is making these products, and where and what they are made of.

Alpine Blue Home crafts each piece of artisanal furniture by hand, using only Colorado reclaimed wood.  We use thought when making our furniture so that it fits in your home. Many of our finishes are water based, low or no VOC.  

We like to meet with customers and talk to them about their home and lifestyle before we begin the design process.  We want you to feel comfortable using our furniture for yourself, your family and friends.

We consider ourselves artisans and craftspeople.  We strive to create beautiful functional furniture that you will enjoy for years.  Colorado Wood. Colorado Made. Colorado Style.

Urban Forestry and Benefits of Custom Furniture Woodworkers

Urban forestry is the care and management of single trees and tree populations in urban settings for the purpose of improving that environment.  Sometimes, that involves removing a tree that has died due to disease and/or storms.  By taking down the dead or diseased tree, the overall health and beauty of the environment is protected.

In the past, most trees that were brought down in urban environments were chopped into small pieces and mulched.  Fortunately, now there are many people that bring the trees down, and try to get as much usable lumber as possible out of each tree.

Alpine Blue Home enjoys working with a person that specializes in milling trees that come from urban and suburban communities.  This mill carefully and thoughtfully brings down the trees and makes the most out of their beautiful wood. 

Colorado does not have indigenous hardwood trees.  The hardwood trees that are in Colorado were intentionally planted.  Most of these hardwood trees are located in the suburbs and urban areas along the Front Range. 

By working with an urban forester, we are able to get gorgeous pieces of hardwood, while still buying local and using only Colorado wood.  We really enjoy working the unusual and spectacular wood that comes from these trees and turning them into lovely pieces of furniture and sculptural art.  In addition, we combine hardwood with beetle kill pine to create striking contrasts.

As a member of the Colorado Forest Products, Alpine Blue Home supports all forestry activities that help to increase the health of our Colorado forests.  Colorado Wood.  Colorado Made.  Colorado Style.

The Beauty of Reclaimed Wood

One definition of reclaim is to bring value or life back to something.  By using wood that is dead and destined for mulch or firewood, Alpine Blue Home, is reclaiming wood.  We will never buy wood from a mill that cuts down live trees, and we will never import wood from another state or country.  We use only Colorado reclaimed wood.

Wood is inherently beautiful.  Grain, knots, live edges, and holes are nature’s art.  Often wood that comes from trees that are dead, has an abundance of these characteristics. We try to let the wood speak and be the star of the all of the pieces that we make.  Our furniture will always retain its natural beauty. 

We celebrate live edges, knots, or other natural features. We do try and keep as much of the natural art by using a clear poly, oil or lacquer that will enhance the beauty of the piece.

In addition, when you choose to buy from an artisan that uses local, reclaimed materials, you are increasing the beauty of your local environment.  Whether the wood came from dead trees in the forest, or an urban environment; removing these trees in a thoughtful manner, increases the beauty and health of that environment.

When you bring natural, beautiful items into your home, you feel more in tune with nature.  Studies have shown that living with natural products decreases stress, and increases peacefulness and happiness. 

We invite you to come visit our showroom and see reclaimed natural beauty in our furniture and accessories.  Colorado Wood.  Colorado Made.  Colorado Style.

How to Pick the Right Size Dining Table

We get a lot of people that ask about what size dining table they need.  Sometimes this is based on the size or shape of their room.  Other times it has to do with family size, or entertaining needs. 

We’ve listed some guidelines below for choosing table size. 

-       Allow approximately 18 – 24”, per person, for seating.  If using bench seating, this can be tighter.   This is going to vary based on table shape and whether the legs or base restrict seating.  So… to seat 10 people at a rectangular table, an eight-foot table will seat four people on each side, and one at each end. 

-       A width of 24 – 30” can accommodate two people sitting across from each other, but generally won’t allow for serving dishes.  To allow for place settings and serving pieces, plan on 35-38” width.

-       You should allow for 36 – 48” around the table.  This way people can move and pull out chairs with ease.

-       If you want to maximize seating at a table, look for slender legs, or a pedestal or trestle base.  With these types of legs/bases, nobody gets stuck straddling a table leg.

Those are some technical guidelines to assist you in purchasing a table.  Now we are going to get into the emotional and practical aspects.  Depending on your lifestyle, a table that can seat 10 or 12 people, that only gets used once or twice a year, may not be practical.  Especially, if it doesn’t fit your home or budget.  As long as a table is sturdy, clean and, most importantly, welcoming your guests will be happy to join you.  We feel that it’s more important that you have a table that you love and use on a day-to-day basis.  Our everyday life should be comfortable and enjoyable. 

The Power of Purchasing Custom Furniture

We often hear people talk about reasons that they think they will never own a piece of custom furniture.  We’ve decided to discuss some of these reasons and why a piece of custom furniture may be in your future.

We should first discuss why you should even consider having furniture custom made for your home.  Every house, no matter how well designed, has quirks. Those strange shaped rooms or nooks that can be difficult to furnish.  When you add in the fact that we all have different lifestyles, it can be very difficult to find the right furniture to fit. 

The wrong furniture for your space can feel like a pair of ill-fitting shoes, leaving you tired and cranky.  Soon you start avoiding the shoes, or the furniture and they don’t get used.

Often times, people think they can’t afford custom furniture.  Or, the process may intimidate them.  If you connect up with the right custom furniture store, or maker, the process should be fun and simple.  It can also end up costing much less than an off the floor piece.  When you factor in that you have the correct piece for your home, and won’t spend money replacing it or buying other pieces to try to make it work, it ends up costing much less.

So, how do you find the right store or artisan?  There are several important things to consider.  First, and most important, you must be able to communicate and get along with the person that will be handling the design and build of your custom piece.   Communication is key.  They need to be listening and coming up with what you want, not what they want. This is very much like dating; if you don’t like them on the first date, it’s not going to get better.  And for heaven’s sake, don’t marry them.

Secondly, you must like the style of their products.  Visit the showroom and look at style and quality.  If it’s not want you want, then try somewhere else.  Lastly, make sure they are working within your budget.  If you force your budget or theirs, you may not be happy with the outcome.

So, instead of thinking that you will never have just the right piece of custom furniture, tell yourself you can.  You can design it.  You can afford it.  Better yet, aren’t you worth it?

Why buy local custom wood furniture?

What are the benefits to buying local Colorado furniture?

As a consumer, you have many choices of where to shop.  On a daily basis, you see and hear advertising for large, national chain stores.  On the surface, these stores seem to have the biggest, best selection and great prices.  Challenge yourself to dig deeper, and discover the wonder of small, independent, locally owned stores.  Below are some of the reasons you’ll be glad that you did.


1.   You can often get the highest quality and best price for your purchase.  Small, independent businesses don’t worry about generating profit for the corporation or shareholders.  Most small businesses have considerably lower overhead than large chains, and that savings goes directly into product pricing.

2.   Customer service is usually superb at a small shop.  Small business owners are involved in the day to day running of their business and keep a pulse on what their customers want.  They interact with customers and are able to hire employees from the community and spend quality time training them.  They value your business and want to provide you with the best possible experience.  Many small businesses provide their customers with services that big box stores cannot, such as in-home design service, customization, and the ability to take a product home and try it before committing to a purchase.

3.    Many small, independent stores are owned by artisans and makers.  By buying their products you are supporting creative, one of a kind, handmade, and meaningful products in your community. In addition to the products that they make, these stores bring in other wonderful items from other local artisans.

4.   Small businesses, on a whole, support the communities that they are in by also shopping locally, employing local residents, and supporting non-profit organizations.  By keeping money and support local, it strengthens the community.

5.   Locally owned small businesses know their customers and their community.  They are able to bring products in that match the lifestyle of the community, instead of having a corporate buyer decide what every store in the chain will carry.  The result; you end up with better choices and can find what you really want.


Before you head out for your next shopping trip, think about the types of stores that you really enjoy shopping in.  For excellent, knowledgeable service, creative, unique products and a strong community, think about shopping local and supporting your neighbors and neighborhood.


What type of furniture can be custom made?

The short answer to this question, is almost any type of furniture.  To delve a little deeper, we should probably clarify the different uses of the word “Custom”.

There are many stores that can “customize” a piece of furniture for you.  This will involve you selecting a piece of furniture from the showroom floor, or a catalog, and the store will “customize” the furniture by allowing you to pick fabric, finish or size.  This can be a great help when you can’t find the right furniture for your home.  However, this is probably better referred to as customized, or semi-custom furniture.

A truly custom furniture workshop will take an idea, or need that you have and turn it into reality.  You may start with an idea based on something that you’ve seen before.  Or you may have certain space constraints that require a truly custom piece.  The custom furniture builder will ask you questions about your home, your lifestyle, whether you have children or pets, and your budget. 

Following the fact-finding, they will draw up your project and present it to you along with a material list, time frame, and cost.  You will work together until the project is just right for you.   Most custom furniture makers will require a significant deposit, prior to starting work.  This deposit covers the cost of materials and design time.  When the project is complete, you will have a truly custom piece of furniture, you will love for many years.

Whether you chose custom, or customized furniture, it’s important that you are choosing what you really want.  Make sure to look at other items that the store or artisan has done before.  Do you like their style, quality, and pricing?  Do you feel that they really listened to what you wanted?  Don’t let someone else make a decision that will be in your home.  Having a piece of furniture custom made for you, should be a fun, exciting and enjoyable process. 




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What is the difference between reclaimed barn wood and beetle kill pine wood?

There are differences and similarities between these two types of wood.  To help explain this we should first define each type of wood.

Reclaimed barn wood is usually referring to wood that was previously part of a barn, school or other old building.  When the building is torn down, the boards are kept mainly whole so that it can be re-used.  During this process, the old nails or screws are removed and the wood is cleaned up.  Barn wood is usually made up of elm, chestnut, hickory, and pine.  Normally the wood used to build barns would be whatever was plentiful in the area.  Most barn wood in Colorado is either pine or Douglas fir.

Beetle Kill Pine or Blue Stain Pine is from Lodge pole or Ponderosa Pine trees.  Throughout the Rocky Mountains, the small pine beetle has infected and killed hundreds of thousands of trees.  This small beetle carries the Blue Stain Fungus on its body.  It burrows into the tree, just underneath the bark.  The fungus uses the vascular system of the tree for growth.  The fungus prevents the tree’s system from properly bringing in and utilizing water and nutrients.  When the damage becomes too severe, the tree dies.  When the tree dies, the fungus becomes inert, since it no longer has a live host.  The Blue Stain Fungus is what causes the beautiful blue-grey “staining” or coloring in the wood.

The most significant similarity with these two woods would be the species.  In Colorado, most barn wood will be a type of pine.  Beetle Kill Pine is, clearly, pine.  Another similarity is the use of a wood that would normally be burned or thrown away.  Both woods can be used in a number of creative, beautiful ways throughout your home.

However, there are some significant differences.  Barn wood is very popular right now.  Due to the popularity, it has become more difficult to get and the price has gotten higher.  Beetle Kill Pine is still very plentiful and reasonably priced.  Barn wood can contain harmful chemicals.  Many of the products used to treat wood back when they were built contained lead, arsenic, creosote and other dangerous chemicals.  Beetle Kill Pine comes from the forest to the mill to the builder.  It contains no dangerous chemicals.

Alpine Blue Home has developed a “Barn Wood” finish for use on beetle kill pine.  This finish leaves saw marks and other distress marks in the wood, while maintaining a smooth feel.  We then use a multiple stage process of several different water-based paints, stains and finishes to create a safe “barn wood” piece of furniture to perfectly fit in your home.

Beetle Kill Pine…Great Transitional Design

Beetle kill pine with its beautiful mix of cream, caramel, rust, blue, grey and sometimes black, is a great design element.

Most homes have a myriad of wood elements from cabinets, flooring, doors, and trim work.  When you add in furniture, artwork and other decorative accents you can end up with a huge variety of colors. 

Beetle Kill Pine is a great transitional design element.  With all of its gorgeous colors and both warm and cool tones, it can bring all of the different design elements in your house together. 

Let us show you how to incorporate beetle kill pine into your home.


What is Reclaimed Wood

What is reclaimed wood?  There are actually several definitions of reclaimed wood.  The most common is wood that was previously used in another application.  This could be barn wood, old timbers, boats, warehouses, furniture, or even shipping pallets.


The term “reclaimed” is often used to refer to wood that came from a tree that died naturally due to disease, fire, flood, or wind.  The more appropriate term for this type of wood would be salvaged.


At Alpine Blue Home, we use primarily Salvaged wood.  Our salvaged wood all comes from Colorado.  Most of this is beetle kill pine.  However, we do use elm, maple, cottonwood, or aspen wood that comes from trees that have died naturally or due to disease.  Occasionally we will also use wood that came from trees involved in a forest fire.  You may even see wood from an old piece of furniture, doors, or another source.



Moving Day

Alpine Blue Home is closing its Evergreen location inside Sundance by Design,  effective September 24, 2016.  We are looking for new store space.  All of our great products are for sale on our website.  Some products are available for Colorado delivery only, due to their size and weight.  Please contact us with any questions.

Watch our website for the announcement about our next store space.  We thank you for your business and hope that you continue to look to Alpine Blue Home for creative, thoughtful beetle kill pine and reclaimed wood furniture and accessories.

Alpine Blue Home is pleased to announce our new line, ABH Studio! ABH studio pieces are one of a kind, art furniture.  Each piece is a spectacular,unique piece of functional art that you will be able to enjoy for years.