Most people think bottles and papers in a curbside blue bin when they think of recycling. Patrick Roche thinks of turning old barn lumber into a table or desk. The co-owner, with his wife, Jaime, of Knock On Wood ... again, an antique furniture store in South Norwalk, Roche has always been handy making do with the materials at hand, from his days as a carpenter in Tipperary, Ireland, where he built "everything from fences to sheds for dogs." But when he gets his hands on old, thick wood from a renovation or demolition, his creative juices begin to flow.
Roche proudly shows off several tables he's made of wood from barns, one embossed with unusual marks. "That's where the horses bit or kicked the wood," he explains.
Although Knock On Wood ... again carries antique furnishings purchased or imported from traditional sources, it's the hand-made, custom pieces that really set it apart. Roche can make almost any piece of furniture, in whatever size and style the customer desires. "We have people come in at their wit's end after trying to find a piece that will fit in an odd-shaped space," he says. "We can make something that will fit exactly, in just the style and color they want."
Roche understandably hoards found materials as if they were gold. "It's so rare and hard to come by, we use it almost only for custom pieces," he says. Dining room tables are especially popular choices, and with Thanksgiving and the holidays looming, the store is holding a sale on in-stock items.
But if you want a 7-foot-9-inch sideboard that will fit perfectly in that odd-shaped dining room, Roche will create one out of some of his old barn lumber hoof and teeth marks included.
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