My friends in Arkansas own The Paul Michael Company. It is a set of stores in the South that offers a variety of things in the home design department at very affordable prices. That’s the place I had my Arkansas book signing last fall with Rhoda and her famous tamale’s, remember?
But my favorite thing that they carry is their very own hand made furniture, made by Paul Michael himself along with his helpers.
This is one of my very, very favorite things. They are wooden cutting boards that have a ridge all around the sides to capture the juices.
Also… look at the handles! They are made of deer antlers. This piece is masterful. It nourishes my soul.
This is another cutting board that he makes. It is a beautiful oval shape with wood of many colors.
Look! Isn’t it beautiful? It’s on top of the deer antler cutting board. In case that wasn’t clear.
And it has a lip, also for the purpose of keeping your juices and your food well contained on the cutting board.
But here’s the thing about Paul Michael. He finds things. Not just any things, he has an eye, a sixth sense… he is the original American picker. He collects wood siding from abandoned homes in the Delta, pillars like these, from old estates. He collects things and sees value in them where most people just see junk. And he re-purposes them.
Sometimes, when he comes across a spectacular antique that is one of a kind, he makes reproductions. Like this snazzy chair.
Or this wooden table, lying on top of the original that he found somewhere in the crevices of the world.
But this. This. It is my favorite piece. I have laid claim to it. I harassed him for 3 days until he agreed (I think? Did you agree Paul?) that I could buy it.
This was the original. It actually has an amazing story to it. The reason it is so high, is so that people could ride up to it on their horses in the olden days and remove their cocktail from the table top.
Also, see how tall the drawers are? That is so it can hold tall bottles of whiskey and bourbon.
Did I mention I must have this?
The proportions are mesmerizing. It adheres to the golden mean.
I like this a bit better than the original because Paul added his own personal flair to it. Deer antler handles.
The reason he did this was so that it was clear he wasn’t trying to copy this original and legendary antique, but rather honor it, and give it a bit of whimsey.
Did I mention I must have this?
But one more thing. There is a story with the wood too. See all of the lines? See how some are far apart and some are close together? Each line represents a year of the tree’s life. In years where there were droughts the lines were very fine and close together. This is Cyprus, and hundred year old Cyprus is hard to come by anymore.
He and I spent some time deciding on the base of a table he was reproducing. He was using siding from old houses… and there were many pieces of siding to choose from.
This is the original table. Isn’t it pretty?
Can you tell which one of these shelves is the original and which are the reproductions?
I kind of love that you can’t. It’s all wood from the siding of old Delta homes. Don’t you want to know the story behind those homes? Who lived inside the walls? I would think about that a lot if I had one of these shelves in my home.
In case you are still wondering, the green shelf on the far right is the original.
He makes these for the porch…
He makes a love seat rocking chair too.
And a set of painters use special antiquing techniques to bring the furniture to life and give it character.
An Amish man arrived with these while I was there. Aren’t they cool? Hide chairs.
Chairs in the process of being built and painted…
Here is another example of where Paul see’s value in the world where we might not.
These were buckets of some sort… I forget exactly what they once were. But he found hundreds of them. And guess what he’s doing with them now?
Perfect for storage in a small kitchen or a tool area.
There are doors, so many of them, and I wonder who once walked through them and what they are going to become.
Um… old skis. Like really vintage ones. I think I saw him making a bench out of them… but you never know.
A small chopping block, perfect for a NYC apartment.
More bins that he has collected and look what they become…
Old antique tables he’s found on his journey’s around the country.
And remember that table base that we were working on in the beginning of this post?
They’ve already made progress while we were on our tour.
And look how he re-purposed the pillars to make table legs.
Here they all are, huddling over a beautiful piece of wood, deciding on its future. It’s such a wonderful place, this workshop. These are artisans at work.
If you have a chance to drop into one of their stores and see the fruits of their labor, it is worth a special journey.