From Timber to Treasure

04 Oct 2023

Rooted Furniture’s bespoke wooden creations blend sustainability, artistry and style

By Kalene Mccort  »  Photos by Nick Ridings

Nick Ridings’ journey into the world of woodworking begins like most good stories—fueled by the unrelenting desire to impress a girl. 

Kaitlyn was looking for a bench. But she wasn’t pleased with the options she found in local shops and online. Riding, a former acting major who worked for the NYC Suicide Prevention Hotline, didn’t know the first thing about constructing one. But, as you may have guessed, that didn’t stop him. 

He gathered wood from a fallen tree in his parents’ New Jersey yard and broke out his tools. “I think it was more arrogance than confidence,” Ridings says. “I just wanted to do it for her. I’ve seen random people chop things up and screw things together. My grandfather was an electrician, so I got some handy experience with him. But I clearly didn’t know anything—the bench ultimately had beetles.”

Despite the furniture fail, that first encounter with woodwork sparked something within Ridings. He took woodworking classes in Brooklyn, set up a woodshop in his small Manhattan apartment and eventually proposed to Kaitlyn with an engagement ring encased in a box he made from mahogany and ebony. “I bought soundproof foam and decked out part of the ceiling and walls so I wouldn’t bug the neighbors,” Ridings says. 

Before long, the craftsman was turning out everything from industrial rocking chairs to nightstands. “I found something that I loved so much that I couldn’t not do it all the time,” he says.

He and Kaitlyn eventually moved to Boulder and Ridings attended the Red Rocks School of Woodworking. In 2018, he founded Rooted Furniture, an award-winning maker of custom fine furniture. Ridings stays busy constructing everything from statement-making dining room tables to artisan wine stoppers, charcuterie boards and wedding arches.

In his 4,000-square-foot workshop, located along 75th Street, notes of cedar waft through the crisp air. Two open garage doors offer mountain views, while he works on anywhere from one to three projects monthly, five days a week. “I stagger my clients throughout the year so I can hone in on one thing,” he says.

From built-in banquettes to live-edge console tables, Rooted Furniture provides bespoke creations beyond anything a catalog or big-box retailer can offer.

“I’ll measure the person,” Ridings says. “If I make a desk, I’ll measure your height, where your elbow will be and that’s the kind of thing I like the most—making it completely tailored to [the customer]. We take the extra steps that other people can’t or don’t think to do.”

Among Kaitlyn’s favorite pieces built by Nick is a fruit canoe, constructed from the cross of a demolished Broomfield church, that now sits on a kitchen island in the couple’s Boulder home. Small sections separate out seasonal produce—marrying functionality with a rotating rainbow-hued bounty of lemons, tomatoes, avocados, plums and more. 

From Boulder to Bermuda, clients enlist the father-of-two to make thoughtfully crafted pieces they simply can’t find anywhere else. 

“One of my favorite things is making the bottoms of the table really pretty, choosing the hardware that matches and making sure all the fasteners are aesthetically blended into the piece, as opposed to just grabbing a screw from Home Depot and bolting it up,” Ridings says.

He sources material from Collector’s Specialty Woods in Denver and an eco-friendly Canadian distributor, Sierra Forest. 

Ridings’ first major commission was a pub table that his client wanted to complement a painting of a woman in a dress that hung on her wall. Ridings got to work dreaming up a one-of-a-kind piece inspired by the work of art. “It’s like a peacock of color,” Ridings says. “We used canarywood, bloodwood and rosewood and all these purples, yellows and reds. What was so cool is that all the wood oxidizes over time. I have a picture of when we made it, and it’s just this vibrant table. I got to go back a few years later, and the sun had evened all the tones completely to this rich burgundy.”

After a big project, the leftover sawdust goes to the Wonder Mushroom Company, a mushroom farm up the road, and the cutoffs are given to farmers. Last year, Ridings also donated scraps to a local middle school for a student shop class.

For every piece Rooted Furniture makes, the company partners with the National Forest Foundation to plant a tree. 

While Ridings relishes the meditative process of creating, he finds endless joy in knowing his work will endure as family heirlooms for multiple generations.

“I love seeing it all fit together perfectly at the end because, at that point, I already know the client is going to get something they’re going to cherish,” Ridings says. “They’ve approved the design and I’ve crafted it based on their needs.”

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