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Making new from the old

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Earlier this year David Mitchell fixed up an abandoned property on Chattanooga's south side so he could make one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture, and The Industrial Farmhouse was born. The idea came about after he couldn't find unique-looking furniture of certain sizes for the downtown restaurant he co-owns. So he and a friend made some pieces and posted the designs on-line.

"We actually used Etsy as a store front, started getting a lot of response and feedback immediately," recalls Mitchell.

So the workshop moved from Mitchell's home to a 20,000 square-foot facility where he and co-owner Mark Oldham employ around 10 people.

"If you need a desk, we can do it. If you need couches, we can do it," says Mitchell.

One couch being made comes from 200-year-old wood, and they made a table that sits in a southside eatery.
Other works have gone to Atlanta, Dallas, and Orlando.

A shuffle board, still in progress, will go to Cape Canaveral.

Most projects take two to four weeks to complete. The lumber comes from hardwood trees like black walnut, maple, and heart pine. Some of it, as well as the metal used, is reclaimed or has been recycled. So it ends up in the workshop instead of taking up space in landfills.

"We have a couple people we can call on in a pinch that are in the business of pulling down buildings and recycling those materials," explains Mitchell.

They work with tree removal companies, too. Mitchell likes how the old materials bring flair to the furniture.

"It's just amazing when you can find something with such character and such beauty and be able to bring it back to life," says Mitchell.

It's special for those who use their hands and teamwork to create memorable pieces. They won't copy other works or duplicate examples from photos. It's all based on customer specifications.

"It's fun. It's fun. I don't even call it work," says Industrial Farmhouse craftsman Steven Luttman. He's done work for Mitchell in the past.

"Everybody has their own input. So we take that into consideration, and that's how we come out with our products," adds fellow craftsman Daniel Balog.

Mitchell thinks his approach helps the company stand out from the competition.

"We have a location for people to come and purchase hardwood, purchase reclaimed products and put them directly into application," says Mitchell. "It's a little different than ordering a single piece of furniture."

Even though production just started back in March, Mitchell says business has been steady. He and Oldham already have plans for expansion. Once expansion is complete, Mitchell says they may consider taking donated wood and metal from the general public to use in their works. Until then they'll continue to use their current sources on an "as needed" basis.
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