The beauty and aura of reclaimed wood is a hot design trend, and one of the most sought-after sources is a company whose founders are truly hands-on. Front Range Timber was started in 2013 by Andrew Kautza and Ryan Trombley, both Boulder County residents. “The company was born from the passion of giving new life to aging barns, factories, and homes,” says Ryan. “It started with us going and taking down barns, bringing back the material and selling it to designers, contractors and homeowners. This is material we take down ourselves, personally, which helps to keep our prices the most competitive in the state. We’ve been fortunate as a new business to get such good word of mouth and repeat business.”
Friends and fellow 4Mile Canyon firefighters first, the pair teamed up to combine Andy’s roots as a 5th generation woodworker and custom furniture business owner and Ryan’s insight from successful entrepreneurial ventures. The two of them have quickly have made a name for themselves as being the best source for reclaimed wood in the Denver metro area.
“This wood is so popular – think of the last time you were in a brewery or restaurant where there wasn’t some kind or accent wall or beams made from reclaimed wood,” says Ryan. “We have hand-hewn beams people use as mantles in their homes, weathered siding for kitchen accents and a big part of our shop built for customized barn doors – those are extremely popular. Interior designers are some of our most frequent customers,” explains Ryan. “They come with their vision for clients’ homes and can get excited with the choices they find in our shop.”
They have the wood from at least a half dozen barns in the shop at any given time: 20,000 sq. ft. of material – making them the largest source off on-hand retail inventory of reclaimed wood in the state of Colorado. “While it does move fast, right now we have reclaimed antique tobacco barns from Kentucky, antique dairy barns from central Wisconsin and beautiful wood from barns in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and South Dakota,” says Ryan. The coloring and weathered characteristics depend on whether the barn was located in a valley, covered in ivy, left exposed to the sun or numerous other factors that often combine in a unique way.
The nuanced coloring of this wood is part of its appeal; no two pieces ever look alike. Important to many buyers is the fact they are reusing the wood instead of getting wood from more recently milled trees. And while the backstory to any given barn may vary in its intrigue, reclaimed wood exudes a sense of history and perseverance that is as compelling as its beauty.
What may not be immediately obvious is that Colorado is not really the best source for these types of barn doors. Ryan explains they must take road trips through beautiful rural countrysides as a necessary part of their job. “The weathered look is really popular and you have to have a higher moisture content than Colorado offers to get it,” he says.
“We are known for our true hands-on approach to adding a reclaimed touch to any project,” says Ryan. “We give the client the opportunity to hand pick from numerous different reclaimed barns or structures to find that perfect color for an accent wall, mantel, piece of furniture, etc.”
In addition to reclaimed wood, Front Range Timber also offers all the hardware from the barns they take down: “We have old antique handles, pulleys, hinges, and more in the shop,” says Ryan. “There are countless ways clever interior designers have used them as accent pieces, in addition to their intended use.”
Like many businesses, they have found social media has helped them grow their following: reviews and photos uploaded by customers prompt more people to check them out. Ryan mentions Yelp as a site where you can find a discount coupon to use at their store. While his wife keeps prodding him to start a Pinterest page, for now “Pinterest is one of our biggest helpers,” he says. “A lot of people come in with photos of really great remodeling projects and we reproduce that photo for them. Whatever they’ve seen, we can do it.”
A typical experience for their customers: they walk into Front Range Timber expecting a quick shopping experience selecting from a few options. “What really happens is folks find themselves captured by the history of the material, asking many questions of how and where we reclaimed it,” says Ryan. “Every client has a dream or a vision of what they want their space to blossom into, and we love being able to offer so many choices that they can take material home that same day to get the project done..”
By Dan Powers for Flatirons Tour of Homes