When I was young my parents owned some property in central Oregon that we used to spend time at camping, skiing, and riding dirt bikes. Growing up in the Willamette Valley it was always a treat to come to see and play in the beautiful high desert.
One of the places we would visit was a furniture store in LaPine called Russel’s Furniture where their craftsmen would carve on what they called Blue and Buggy Pine. The name came from the blue/gray colors that ran through the logs caused by bark beetles. What used to be considered ruined wood turned into some of the coolest furniture ever made.
It took me 40 years to finally call central Oregon home and have lived here for the last 20. Dang, I’m old! Anyway, in the late 90s the company in LaPine closed its doors (then called Forest Furniture) and I was actually at the auction where I purchased a few tools from them. In 2001 I officially started Blue Pine Designs in hopes to carry on their tradition using God’s gift of seeing the potential of woods He created.
My love for working with wood started in the late 60s, my dad had a wood shop and building things with him are fond memories. I took woodshop from the 7th grade all the way through the 12th, except for 1 semester that I was forced to take home economics. I wasn’t happy at the time but was glad I did afterwards because I learned to sew and cook there!
I remember my senior year looking through a hot rod magazine and seeing an ad for a home study course from the Auto Upholstery Institute in Orange, CA that I took which launched me into what I call my main specialty. I actually finished the course while I was in the Army and started my first business after I finished my 4 year tour there.
With no capital I found it difficult to make a living so had the opportunity to work in the woods felling timber. I loved being outdoors and the money was good but I still had a love for the upholstery and after a few years was able to purchase a shop in Springfield where I learned to express my creativity in cars. There were 2 car shows back then in Eugene that showed several interiors that I did. One was the World of Wheels car show which I was allowed to do some unusual design work in by the customer. It was a VW bug with a sliding sunroof, bright white. I went to the show and they had his car hid in the back room and didn’t expect much because there were so many cars there that were very nice. I was so excited when the owner called me after the show was over telling me his car won best interior of the show!
In the late 90s I moved to central Oregon, starting over, and took a job spraying Marquis cabinets for Beaver Coach where I learned spray their very high end finish. (I had painted cars and took some college classes on auto painting years before). While there I got to help build their cabinets when I was caught up in the spray booth. That experience is what planted the seed for doing interiors for living quarters in horse trailers which we built 3 of. Then the crash in 07 quenched that for a while but being diverse focused more on upholstery and started building what ever I could.
Before the crash we purchased a Woodmizer sawmill which allows us to custom cut mantles, bar tops and unique pieces and also dry them in our kiln. Because of my background cutting timber we are able to cut your tree, mill it on the sawmill, dry it, then design your custom pieces then build heirloom quality furniture. One of our local customers that we have built custom furniture for is Sunriver Resort where we have built mobile bars and bar backs as well as mobile tables and rustic podiums.
Hard times but the Lord brought us through and lead us to doing work for local decorators that we still have accounts with. Patti at Compliments Home Interiors (complimentshome.com) started using our upholstery service several years ago then discovered we could build cabinets and custom furniture so keeps us pretty busy.
In 2014 I was introduced to a decorator in Las Angeles that taught me a new style of design which you can view some of in the Singapore Project, London Project and the Elegant Couch that went to the east coast. All this to say the diversity of styles we work with here that lives up to the tag line “Where Rustic and Elegance Meet”.
After surviving through these times we have grown to include 6 highly qualified artisans between the full in house upholstery shop and the custom cabinet shop.
Several years ago we were approached by EarthCruiser here in Bend (earthcruiser.com) to build components for them for their high end expedition vehicles that are shipped all over the world. We are just starting #45 for them!
I’ve been asked many times if we have a showroom to display our work and custom designs which lead to our current Showroom in Sisters, Oregon in April of 2017. There we have samples of bedroom furniture, tables, mantles, and cabinets along with picture frames and what nots. When you first step inside there is a custom bar with our high-end finish on it that we use for our desk.
I have discovered that I have a gift for discovering the vision for what a person is having a hard time getting out! Then I can usually draw it on the computer like the curved booths for a local restaurant or a breakfast nook (including upholstery) and a Juniper stump for the base of the table we built.
I’ve been challenged by many people which seems to be what I thrive on! Whether it be painted cabinets, building an addition to a couch to match or distressing wood to look old. (new antiques 😊).