Archive of ‘Mad River Barn Project’ category

Tips on picking wood and furniture for that next home project

Seeing the Forest through the Trees, Some tips on picking eco-friendly wood for that next home project.

Here are stacks of gorgeous reclaimed wood at Mason Brothers Architectural Salvage Shop.

Are you building a home, adding a floor or purchasing a table? Well you don’t have to give up being environmentally friendly just because you need wood, a slow-growing renewable resource, for the project. Instead follow a few of the tips below and you can leave your environmental guilt at the (salvaged) door. Have fun! My best, Joanne

The coffee table is built from reclaimed wood from an old weaving loom.

Think Antique, Second-hand Furniture, Custom Made:

Furniture is obviously big part of wood industry. Even upholstered furniture needs wood for framing. Going the route of antique pieces, furniture made from old wood, or second-hand furniture prevents the need of using new wood. Or consider having a piece made out of reclaimed wood, for example, my coffee table is made from an old weaving loom. Many local woodworkers will make custom pieces. You can ask one of your local salvage shops or reclaimed wood centers for a list of names of carpenters who work with reclaimed materials. For second-hand furniture you can easily find it at your local furniture consignment shop, antique shop, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill or even online on Craigslist or Front Porch Forum. or or do a search for locally made furniture with reclaimed wood. You’ll be surprised what is available to you.


All the cabinets in this kitchen are from reclaimed Douglas Fir from the old Port Authority Building in Portland, Oregon built by Cabinet Maker George Ramos.

All the cabinets in this kitchen are from reclaimed Douglas Fir from the old Port Authority Building in Portland, Oregon built by Cabinet Maker George Ramos.

Consider Recycled and Salvaged Wood:

Reclaimed wood can be anything from 2 x 4’s just taken down from a recent house to vintage 1880s floorboards.. Old wood, doors, and other wood-salvaged materials not only keep you from using new wood but it also keeps these products out of our overflowing landfills. My island top is made from 1880’s Douglas fir that was from a railroad building. Wood is as different as your designs are, so choose wisely…thicker wood for island tops, thinner wood for wall paneling, tongue and groove for flooring…etc.


The floors are local cherry wood from a certified forest and the table is a vintage Stickley dining set. Both great examples of new and reclaimed wood.

Shop Local:

When purchasing wood for a building or other projects consider local first. Purchasing your wood from a sustainable managed local forest, whether or not it is certified, is good for the forest, the watershed, the community. A forest that is managed correctly, following sound forestry practices, will have an environmental impact far greater than simply good management of the trees themselves. A well managed, and/or a certified forest, will positively impact area watersheds, for example. Added bonus of buying local wood?  Transportation needs go down, which is also good for the environment.


Here I am, looking for salvaged wood for a mantel project.

Here I am, looking for salvaged wood for a mantel project at the rebuild center in my town.


When you shopping online, at a larger retail store, or you if are not sure about your local forests’ sustainability practices, always look for certification. There are many types of certification. One of the most credible forest certification programs is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). It is an independent, international nonprofit organization that sets a strict environmental and social standard for sustainable forest management. Their website,, gives you information about their organization and places to find local FSC products and services. Look for their logo or ask for FSC certified wood.


Even the smallest pieces of wood don’t have to go to waste. This gorgeous cutting board made from a variety of reclaimed wood species took the artisan a couple of weeks to make.

Rethinking Design Can Mean Less Waste:

Most woods have a variety of grades. Knowing which grade creates the least waste can help save wood and lower your costs. Number one common (sometimes called third grade, or rustic wood) cherry, for instance, is a more basic grade of wood with more knots and color variation, then for example, clear or first grade, which is free from most visible defects and discolorations.  Each wood has variations in their grading system, grain and cut, so take a few minutes to learn about the wood you want.  But no matter which wood you choose, opting for a more “perfect” wood will result in more waste. Remember, that older salvaged wood is from a natural forest where the growth rings are tighter which makes the wood much harder than wood that is grown faster in a managed forest…so even when it is a softwood – if it is from an older tree – it can be very hard…get to know your options and your woods.


reclaimed wood comes in all shapes and sizes. These old porch posts have a new lease on live as farm house table legs at the Mad River Barn.

Reclaimed wood comes in all shapes and sizes. These old porch posts have a new lease on life as farm house table legs at the Mad River Barn.

Avoid the Endangered List:

Teak and mahogany from old growth forests in Brazil or Indonesia are places that suffer from over-forestation that not only devastate the forests but the communities around them as well. With the number of sustainable wood and non-wood options, there is no need to continue to support over-forested woods.  If you must use Teak, make sure it is reclaimed or certified.  These same types of wood, from certified managed forests, can be just fine to purchase. This is where certification is important — do not use a tropical or exotic wood that are not certified. And stay away from endangered forests.

Never Judge a Piece of Wood by It’s Cover

I always tell folks to never turn their backs on ugly reclaimed wood — because there is a swan underneath all that grim and years of oxidation. If you are looking for wood — bring a piece of sand paper with you and a water bottle. That way you can sand a bit of the top off and then moisten (to get the feel of what it will look like with polyurethane, shellac or a wax sealer on it.)

Here is what the wood looked like before we made sliding barn doors out of it.


Here is the design project “after” the wood was sanded and cleaned and sealed. Mad River Barn design project.

Demand Action:

First and foremost, get involved. If you (or even your community) are building, remodeling or purchasing lots of wood, do it with a conscious decision to choose the right kind by following the above guidelines.  Also, avoid pressure treated, or chemical treated wood, much of the inexpensive wood (including particleboard), contain toxic substances that can off gas and are not good for you or the planet. Encourage your retailers to carry wood from well-managed forests. Remember, it is all about supply and demand. If you demand protected, well managed forests, then you’ll get them.

Salvage Secrets and Salvage Secrets Design & DĂ©cor.

Salvage Secrets and Salvage Secrets Design & DĂ©cor. Internationally acclaimed books by Joanne Palmisano, Photography by Susan Teare.

For more information about wood, designs and other great ways to decorate using reclaimed wood and other earth-friendly ideas, I hope you check out my books, Salvage Secrets and Salvage Secrets Design & DĂ©cor.





Pop Sugar Post…How to Create a Wooden Ladder Light

Thank you Pop Sugar for asking me to share how to create your very own Wooden Ladder Light. When Mad River Barn asked me to be their designer for the renovations of their Inn, Restaurant, Pub and Game Room…I knew this was my chance to create this light! Follow this easy step by step tutorial on the Pop Sugar site. You’ll be thrilled on how budget friendly it is!  Have fun…and send pictures of your light. My best, Joanne 

Mad River Barn Restaurant Design by Joanne Palmisano

Not only is the light made from a vintage ladder but the farmhouse tables are made from reclaimed wood and old porch posts. The chairs were reused but painted a fun red color and the wall paneling is old paneling from the bedrooms. Lots of fun salvaged and vintage fills the restaurant at Mad River Barn. Photo by Susan Teare

Here is the tutorial...

Here is the tutorial…

Don’t forget the Categories Button to see more DIY projects! Hope you sign up for my blog as well. Thanks! J

Turn a Kitchen Cabinet Door into a Vintage Sign

The after vintage inspired sign -- easy to make and friendly on your budget!

I’m going to be lazy today — I’ll admit it! But it is such a glorious Saturday here in Vermont that I can’t waste it inside on my computer. So since I just did a great GUEST BLOG POST for Mad River Barn, about how to create a Vintage Sign using a $5 kitchen cabinet door, I thought I’d link over to them and let you see how to do it on their site. Not to mention, you’ll get to see one of my interior design projects as well.

But I’ll tease you with the before and after :)

Happy Summer Weekend! My best, Joanne

The $5 before kitchen cabinet door...

The $5 before kitchen cabinet door…

The after vintage inspired sign -- easy to make and friendly on your budget!

The after vintage inspired sign — easy to make and friendly on your budget!

April Adventures and Finds…Texas, Caribbean, Nashville and More!

It’s official…It was a busy April and an even busier May so far. But that said, I want to share some amazing finds, DIY’s and places to check out (and eat at) from my travels… So here is a quick recap of  April…

First Week in April…Texas… (no particular order…)

Winflo Osteria…yummy and beautiful in Austin, Texas!

Loved this mural on a wall on South Congress Street in Austin, Texas! Yes…I’ll be your neighbor!

Prost Wine Bar in Round Top, Texas was fabulous… great location, amazing building, tasty wines and good friends! Here I am with my friend, Joseph from Totem!

Can’t believe I didn’t bring this home with me! Another great find at one of the side of the road shops near Round Top, Texas.

Big thank you to the folks at Marburger Farm for inviting me to do a book signing there during the Round Top spring show. What a blast! Thanks!

Even the pies are bigger in Texas! We were regulars at JW’s Steakhouse in Carmine, Texas, around the corner from our Bed and Breakfast!

This was on a dresser! So feel like Yosemite Sam sometimes!

This pile of goodies was in an antique shop in Carmine, Texas…

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Working away…oh, poor me… my job is never done :) Marburger Farm Antique Show!

What a small world…a friend from many years ago had a booth at Marburger. Great to see you Annie. (My sister, Rosanne, me, Annie, my sister, Julie)

I loved Totem Salvaged’s booth at Marburger. I was proud to be walking around with my Totem bag, that Stephanie custom made for me a couple years back.

Bev at Bel Soles Bed and Breakfast in Carmine took great care of my sisters and I. What a blast to stay in this very cool renovated 1940’s home. Bev has a great eye and the beds were cozy and the breakfasts amazing!

Drinks at Hotel San Jose on South Congress Street. I love Liz Lambert’s style…so excited to finally see one of her renovated hotels. What an honor! Hanging with my sisters!

Love the simple design and dĂ©cor of the outdoor space at Hotel San Jose…Very cool!


At airport…working on design projects as I travel. :) Bathroom concepts for Mad River Barn Annex Building…

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Thank you Lisa for making the great event at West Elm Austin so fun! Loved the store and all the folks who came to the event. It was an honor to meet such amazing interior designers from Austin!

Texas was a blast… it was hard to leave that great weather to head back to chilly Vermont…but I did and worked away for a week on some amazing design projects…Mad River Barn and Basin Harbor Club and a coffee house…

The Mad River Barn project is up and running again…this time it is the Annex that is getting renovated. There are 8 rooms in this building and Heather and Andrew are renovating 4 of them. I’m thrilled to be designing for them again. We will keep with the general theme as with the Barn itself, but change it up a little bit. Can’t wait to show you the final results…

Working in Vermont in the spring… (well, not me, but others…)

Salvaged dimensional lumber and antique reclaimed Douglas fir flooring picked up at the Rebuild center. I’m testing colors on my kitchen counter…always makes my family happy when we are trying to make dinner…

Big thanks to my neighbor and friend, Brett, for picking up reclaimed barn wood with me for the Mad River Barn project. Really excited about these pieces of gorgeousness.

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Off to Basin Harbor Club. We are renovating 8 of the cottages this year and bringing in some really fun unique custom pieces, including this great pillow with the Basin Harbor Adirondack chair on it.

That was the second week of April, now we are finally off to a family vacation…haven’t done that in a couple of years. Had a blast traveling with my BFF’s family and my twin sister and her husband! Warm waters, blue skies and lots of sun!

Of course, even on vacation…I’m thinking SALVAGE! This old post office building — maybe my next “winter” office?!? Loved the vintage colors and patina! Virgin Gorda, BVI’s!

Seriously! This was the view from the villa we rented. Dos Sols in Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda! The most amazing place ever!

You all know me… I’m not normally camera shy — but I had some great hives going so I let my husband and our daughter, make the most of this shot! Hanging out on Saba Rock!

This new restaurant (only a couple years) has a great eco and recycled theme about it! Great location, right on the beach in Spanish Town.

Family and friends waiting for the lunch hour… Not a bad place to wait…

Even the bar counter top is made with recycled aggregate from sea glass that washed up on shore… I would not have believed it if I didn’t see tons of sea glass on the beach myself! Awesome job!

Till next time, British Virgin Islands! Love ya!

Nashville… Straight from the amazing vacation I fly to Nashville, Tennessee to participate in Country Living Magazines first FAIR in Nashville.  What a huge success it was for them. Despite the severe weather warnings…the weather was great and there were tons of happy folks there.

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This was just a piece of dĂ©cor at South Porch Antiques, but Karen and Patrick were willing to part with it — so I bought it :) Can’t wait to show you what I’m going to do with it.

My friend Crystal, who is in marketing at Country Living Magazine, was a busy gal…but luckily we got just enough time for a quick photo opt before my first presentation on the main stage.

The displays and vintage products where outstanding…again, South Porch Antiques!

There were lots of amazing presenters…the Beekman Boys, Cari Cucksey and Mike Wolfe, from American Pickers. Really a nice guy! We traded books :)

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I don’t know how Cari and her husband Vincent do it! They were straight out busy at the show with their booth, paint line and presentations…but they still made time for friends! Hanging out in their very cool airstream!

Feel in love with these… wanted to bring them home. Don’t have a project for them know…but hopefully soon! Recycled art!

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Shipped 8 of these home for the Mad River Barn annex project! More old chicken feeders turned into light fixture!

Maybe next year’s Kentucky Derby hat??!!

My friend Mary, from my town, had her booth, Vintage Inspired…she was so sweet to bring my DIY’s to and fro from Vermont! Thanks Mary!

Then I stayed longer and enjoyed Nashville…

Loved Franklin, TN!

The buildings, even the signs were cool!

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and their mascot…

Merridee’s…my husband would have been in love with this place! Maybe next trip, I’ll bring him.

So in his honor…

Stopped at antique shop after antique shop…

Mindful…of my little suitcase…I picked up smalls…

Luckily… this one was closed the day I was there…or I would have had to purchase a few suitcases!

Cool buildings…this was an old cotton mill.

Back in Nashville…stopped at the Barista Parlor. Loved the style of this place.

Check out the cool wood with the rough ends they have for the tables…character!

Nashville friend, Brandon, took me to Rolf and Daughters for dinner. YUMMY!!

Loved the look of the décor as well!

Stopped by Mike’s shop, Antique Archeology as well. Loved the vintage finds in it.

Then we hit a few Honky Tonks on the main street in Nashville and I was wiped out! Note to self…more time in Nashville next year!

And then it was back home to more design work at Basin Harbor and Mad River Barn…

Pennie Beach, one of the owners of Basin Harbor Club, and I scour the attics at the resort, finding old family heirlooms to put into the rooms…

Different attic…more finds…

Cleaning the finds…thanks Jen for all your help! Not really in the marketing job description…but I certainly appreciate it.

Then a little homework…repurposing all the old Basin Harbor Light fixtures…with a little rope!

Start putting all the pieces together… new and old…for a May opening.

and that was just April!


My best, Joanne


Basin Harbor Club, Their New Designer…Yippee!

There are some pretty special days in my life lately and one of them was when I was at the Mad River Barn, finishing up some design details, when a lovely women came in and and said how much she loved what I did with the place; that through the design, I kept the charm and character, while updating and making it fresh and had design ideas that reflects the new owners, Heather and Andrew, taste and style. PHEW!  Well, thank you!! That was the plan!

She came in because she wanted to pass my name along to Basin Harbor Club, because their current decorator was retiring.  Well, I interviewed, just like everyone else, and I’m thrilled to announce I will be their new decorator/designer. (Which means for a few weeks a year-mostly in the winter, when it’s closed to the public, I get to have some serious fun at Basin Harbor.)

If you don’t know about Basin Harbor Club, this slice of heaven in Vermont, you’ve got to check it out. Open in the spring, summer and fall, this 700 acre place of history, beauty and charm, along the edge of Lake Champlain, has dozens and dozens of things to do and see. I’ll SLOWLY be adding my touches to the cottages, homestead, restaurants and public spaces in the next few years, but starting this winter, I get to play with… I mean…work on a few of the cottages, some of the homestead, and touches in some of the public spaces.  Thank you Basin Harbor for having me be a part of your amazing place!  I already feel like family :)  My best, Joanne

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No one gets to see this amazing place in the winter, so I thought it would be fun to share a few of the quiet winter shots while I was walking throughout the property.

Basin Harbor Club Homestead in Winter Basin Harbor Flag Cottage at Basin Harbor Club Basin Harbor The Red Mill Winter at Basin Harbor Basin Harbor Club

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