Challenges are part of custom design, and a work element our teams embrace. When Submaterial’s East Coast Territory Manager, Catherine Pelletier, received a call from Daher Interior Design, just such a challenge surfaced. Daher’s designer, Virginia Seherr-Thoss, was working with a Bostonian couple seeking a fireplace surround for their weekend beach house. “Virginia saw a walnut panel on our website,” says Catherine, “and had the idea of using it on the entire fireplace as a focal point.”
The freestanding monumental fireplace was a rectangular column; our panels would wrap entirely around the sizable 10’ wide x 14’ tall x 2’ deep column, meeting a multi-angled, peaked ceiling. Not a problem. But there was one catch: the homeowners wanted it in time for their wedding, weeks away. Turnaround had to be quick. The scale of this project exceeded our previous experience, so we’d learn as we proceeded. “We’ve made panels like this before, but they were a lot smaller,” says Sheldon Allen, Wood Shop Team Lead.
First, we sourced the walnut. The job called for hundreds of pieces of wood, so we needed a substantial amount of quality walnut, fast! Hardwood long-grain we sourced locally. But those end-grain pieces needed to be larger than local sources could muster. So, we cast further afield. Thankfully, we found a massive walnut log in Colorado. Felled in Texas, rumor has it that Teddy Roosevelt was once photographed in front of that tree. “So, we got this huge tree,” says Sheldon. “We weren’t set up for dealing with something that size, but we borrowed a chainsaw from one of our employees and we did the mill work here.”
Because our crew wouldn’t be onsite to install the wrap it was critical that the panels not only fit together seamlessly but could be trimmed onsite by the client’s contractor for a perfect fit. We built it in long, thin, tongue-and-groove strips with mitered corner pieces. Everything arrived and was installed in time for the big event, and the results are absolutely stunning, if we do say so ourselves.