In just 14 years, the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC) has grown from a seed of an idea into one of the industry’s most influential voices for environmental responsibility. Credit the rapid growth and impact to two things: consumers’ awareness of and desire for safer, more sustainable products, and a leadership group wholly dedicated and committed to sustainability.
Hundreds of domestic and international manufacturers, designers and retailers comprise SFC’s membership. Gat Creek is proud to be a founding member with Silver Exemplary status. For a complete list of Sustainable Furnishings Council member companies visit sustainablefurnishings.org.
We are often asked for details about our painted finishes. How does classic paint differ from hand glazed? Is there a protective top coat on top of the paint? Can I choose my own color?
Painted furniture can make a bold statement, a subtle punctuation, or anything in between. To supply you with the confidence to express yourself in color, we offer answers to the seven most frequently asked questions about Gat Creek painted furniture.
We have all become more aware of the surfaces we interact with every day and most of us are regularly disinfecting those surfaces with all manner of concoctions from homemade to industrial strength. So are there particular formulations that work better than others on solid wood?
Your current cleaning regimen is very likely more than sufficient to maintain safety for your family. “Treat your tables like your hands. Use soap and water," said Gat Caperton. "You don’t need an alcohol-based disinfectant but if you feel more reassured using using one, that’s fine. It won’t harm your solid wood.”
The quality of a drawer box reveals worlds about the craftsmanship of the piece and the values of its maker. The first indication of authenticity? Joinery; look for dovetail joints. “The drawer front is almost always the first point of failure due to the forces of opening and closing,” Gat said. “Dovetail joints interlock the drawer front to its sides and will essentially outlast any other joint.” When crafting drawer sides, Gat Creek uses solid ash, an extremely stable and durable hardwood. For the drawer bottom, another area of potential failure, we select 3/8-inch wood.
Would it surprise you to learn that 86% of the wood furniture sold in the U.S. is not made here? That means the majority of America’s most familiar and famous furniture brands have chosen to export furniture manufacturing jobs. If given a full accounting, the price tags on off-shored products don’t fully reflect their costs in illegal harvesting, unsafe factories, abused workers, and environmental damage.
Our customers value the reassurances that the hardwood we use is sustainably harvested from regional forests; that our workers earn a good wage, receive benefits, have a safe and supportive workplace; that quality control is 24/7/365 to ensure their furniture is extraordinarily crafted, properly finished and is safe for their home and family; that their custom order can ship quickly with the smallest possible carbon footprint.
While it may seem like a magic wand invented by the auto industry, Lean Manufacturing is a process that encompasses a variety of practices depending on the trade. “Our business is particularly well-suited to Lean principles,” Gat explained. “With a piece of solid lumber I can make a bed, or a table or a dresser. Unlike a car manufacturer that is dealing with thousands of parts to source and manage.” Lean works for both industries, but for Gat Creek the complexity is vastly reduced.
“Really it’s as simple as listening to our customer and focusing on the things she cares about,” Gat said. “And our customers care about the finest material and craftsmanship.”
Almost 25 years ago, Gat Caperton bought the Tom Seely furniture factory in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. It had operated since the 1950s and was struggling to compete with brands that had moved their production to low-wage factories in China.
The Gat Creek story appeared in this 2018 Washington Post story. It’s an excellent portrait of Gat and the company. If you saw the story when it was first published, it is worth revisiting for the reader comments!
It seems there are two kinds of people in the world when it comes to owning beautifully made furniture. Those who want it to forever look like it just arrived from the workshop, and the rest of us.
We’re only slightly kidding. The truth is that all things in life will show wear and tear when used — leather goods, household appliances, even a diamond can be scratched by another diamond. But when we’re talking about your new Gat Creek dining table we know that seeing the first little scratch can be stressful.
It is the passion of woodworkers, darling of interior designers, bane to horses and a legend among hardwoods. Walnut — specifically American Black Walnut — enjoys a well-earned reputation as the premier lumber for crafting fine furniture. Gat Creek is proud to now offer it as a material option. No other wood possesses its unique stability and hardness, its remarkable graining and coloration. You simply can’t fake walnut’s aesthetic appeal. (More on the horses later.)
Gat Caperton doesn’t mince words when it comes to safety: “It’s who we are. Indoor air quality, the safety of our environment and sustainably managed forests, the health and safety of our workers and our community. Of course furniture stability is going to be important to us.”
So important that the company has taken the voluntary steps and made the investment in on-site lab and testing processes to assure consumers that Gat Creek furniture is Product Stability Verified. The designation, developed by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) and global safety science company UL, helps consumers identify products that meet its standard for tip-over safety.