Seek Realness Here

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We at OCH are always gratified to be contacted by a prospective customer who is thinking about building a timber frame, since in our experience many people are not aware of timber framing as a building option. Or if they are aware they might have an impression that it’s only done for large or high-end residences and may be deterred from researching further for that reason. I’ve written previously on why they should not be deterred, and also on why choosing a timber frame home is worth the greater investment in time and money.

A book I recently read, Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century, a summary of an anthropological study of the homes of 32 average families living in Los Angeles, concludes that Americans in particular have a strong desire to “communicate information about family identity” through the appearance of our homes. We want our homes to state who we are to the rest of the world. We want others to see our taste, our values, our status, our affiliations with cultural themes. How much and how often this desire takes precedence over other considerations when making home building and home buying decisions, I don’t know. I do know that if a statement piece home is the goal, a timber frame is the answer.

But what is being stated, exactly? Cindy Riedel, co-owner of the first timber frame home Dan worked on, has a term she uses to describe what a timber frame communicates to viewers... “rustic elegance.” We see a desire for this particular aesthetic among many of our customers, not just in timber frames but also in the demand for mixed-species wood paneling and live-edge furniture and features. And why is rustic elegance something people want to communicate?

My hunch is that it just feels so … real. We now experience life in large part through gossamer images shared over social media. Our connections to people and events and beauty are mostly virtual. But put out your hand to brush in passing a 10”x10” timber post on your way from the kitchen to the mudroom and be jolted into the real, the here, the now. Snuggle with a pet on a couch beside a minimally finished wood-paneled wall that still breathes out its forest scent. Trace with fingers the wavy side of a live-edge dining table as you linger over dinner with the family.

These elements can anchor us, give us that weighty sense of the “presence” we are told to seek to cure the modern ills that ail us. But not only this. They also offer that same sense to others. They communicate outwardly, “seek realness here, with us.”

If you find yourself in these days afloat in an ocean of insubstantial images and memes, confronted at all times with smiling faces scrolling by but not walking by, looking for a way to engage others into your world in an authentic, hand-clasping way, then we at OCH invite you to seek realness here, with us.