If you haven’t heard of Barry Kraft, you might be hanging around the wrong crowd. Sure, one of his earliest memories is burning down a barn. But for the record, it was his barn. And as the owner and designer of Reclaim Renew – a custom-furniture workshop that uses only reclaimed and salvaged wood – it should be mentioned he’s devastated by that memory now. “I didn’t think it was tragic then,” Kraft says adjusting his baseball cap, “but now I’m like, ‘what was I doing?!’”
After a few years of doing what he calls “just about everything,” Kraft began in 2011 designing and building furniture with reclaimed wood. Suddenly, a few pieces coming out of his garage evolved into Reclaim Renew, a full-fledged shop and showroom in Fenton with more than eight talented staff and builders.
“I got more clients than I could handle. It just snowballed from there,” Kraft says over the whirring, pounding and buzzing of a handful of machines, each one completing a part of the challenging process unique to preparing reclaimed wood for its new life. Nail holes are filled and smoothed and flat surfaces are then sanded and leveled. The finished product, something as small and intimate as a bedside table, or as large as – one of Kraft’s current projects – a wall of movable stations for a local salon, have earned him a notable reputation as the man to work with when it comes to barn wood.
“Wood is so personal. Old wood already has so much character,” says Barry. “The reclaimed wood I use has a story, and by using it to make something else for a client’s home: we’re keeping that story going.”
Though Kraft is up for building just about anything for someone with a great idea, his way of doing business takes it a step further; he wants to build a relationship with that client first.
“The furniture we build? That’s cool,” Kraft says. “But for me it’s about the history of the wood and delivering on exactly what the client has in mind.”
Kraft oversees each and every project taken on by Reclaim Renew from start to finish. He meets with people in their homes or in his workspace, sketches their ideas and turns those designs into beautiful, functional heirlooms. His ideal client is anyone with a good idea and an appreciation for old wood.
“A huge part of this job is sitting down with a lady in her eighties who has had this barn in her family for her entire life, and her saying that she knows the barn won’t be around for the next generation so she wants it to go to us,” Kraft explains. “It’s really special to be a part of that.”
Ultimately, Kraft engrains every design – be it a pub table or plans to outfit your dream home in barn wood – with more than craftsman’s expertise and attention to clients’ details and needs. He ensures the continuation of a legacy centuries in the making.
“We’re taking barns down that’ve been standing for 100 plus years, from wood that was growing 100 plus years before that, and we’re building a table that 100 years from now will be passed on to somebody else…That’s the real beauty of reclaimed wood.”