Old Pine Finds New Life

Michael Bruner repurposed wood from the original joists of the house for a wall of built-ins.
Michael Bruner repurposed wood from the original joists of the house for a wall of built-ins. (Len Spoden - for The Washington Post)
Thursday, April 17, 2008

Because I have a lowly unfinished basement with concrete floors, I was transfixed by the transformation of the lower level by Georgetown designer Susan Beimler. "I wanted a room for reading, chatting, game playing, listening to music or watching movies," Beimler says. "My goal was to make it totally unlike a basement or lower-level room, and to keep it warm and welcoming and open to the garden."

In a move both ecologically enlightened and historically appropriate, Michael Bruner of Architectural Built-ins in Gaithersburg came up with a way to reuse wood original to the house. Bruner spotted the house's 1840s yellow pine joists, which were being ripped out because they could no longer support the structure. Beimler was delighted when he suggested he could re-mill them for the walls of her den.

The rustic paneling, with character added from 19th-century nail holes, now plays against the room's cool limestone floors and leafy courtyard seen beyond the glass-mullioned door. A wall of built-ins from the same wood incorporates a wine cooler, a refrigerator, a 42-inch flat-screen TV and bookshelves.

The room's furnishings are refreshingly unfussy: a cognac leather sofa and some comfortable armchairs, plus a few favorite pieces from the designer's own house (an antique wicker dog carrier, burled wood humidor and French tapestry chair). "I didn't want it to look over-decorated," says Beimler, who is doing her first show house. I hope it's not her last.

Jura Koncius


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