Furniture Brings Trees Back to Life
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Graphic artist Melanie Steadman had commuted to work in the advertising
industry in Toronto for years when, leafing through a magazine, she saw a photo of a table whose edge was
shaped like a tree.


Live edge tables, made from a single slab or two slabs cut horizontally from a tree, have outer edges left in the natural shape of the tree. The unusual table captured the artist's imagination.
“I thought, how hard could this be? I'll give it a try,” recalls Steadman, owner of Tree Green Team at 216 Hurontario St. in Collingwood. “I thought I could find a fallen tree and have a table built. But I really had no idea of all the work involved. As the years have gone by, I've learned all about it.”
The thriving salvaged wood furniture company now has a showroom, shop and milling and kiln facilities in the Collingwood area. Steadman takes pride in making furniture that brings life back to trees. Her company is booked steadily with furniture orders throughout the year, and staff works seven a days week to make sure clients' calls and emails are answered promptly. The use of ‘team' in the company name was not a casual decision.
“We really emphasize that because we all work together,” says Steadman. “We keep the company small because we want to keep things that way.”
Steadman and her co-owner and partner Edwin Patino, the company's lead craftsman, work as a team with Steadman handling the front end business including sales, advertising, communications and final inspection, and Patino managing the shop work of coordinating, milling, finishing and delivery.
“It's a family business,” says Steadman. “Most days you'll find a little three-year-old watching intently and working beside me. Our 12-year-old helps on weekends and our eldest, Sierra, works when she isn't ski training to live her dream of making Team Canada one day and representing our country in the Olympics.”
They work with local logging companies to secure salvaged trees. The re-use and recycle aspect of the business is as important to Steadman and most of her customers as the unique beauty of the company's live edge custom-made  »    
tables, counters, vanities, island tops and mirrors. Loggers transport trees to the company's shop where they are hand milled by Patino or milled on a bandsaw.
“Because we never cut trees to build our furniture, each salvage is unique,” explains Steadman. “We may be lucky enough to acquire a huge walnut or maple, cherry or ash. It's always exciting when we mill into our logs. It's a surprise to see the graining and character in each log.”
A table created by two slabs cut from the same tree, called book matched, can be ornamented between the slabs. One showroom table is gilded with a table-length flow of quartz crystal and copper in resin. The company's Glow Harvest Tables have glow-in-the-dark resin accents that charge in normal light and glow for hours. Live edge furniture could be described as functional art.
Tree Green Team furniture is resident in private homes and cottages internationally, as well as in many corporate boardrooms. Customers include architects, interior designers and corporate office outfitters.
“We do a lot of boardroom tables, especially for Toronto offices,” says Steadman. “We make a table with two live edge slabs and a glass runner in the centre. It's very popular with corporate clients.”
About 90 per cent of Tree Green Team's sales are made online through the company's website treegreenteam.com. Steadman and salesperson Debby Weaver put all available stock online for clients to view. Special wood slabs, such as curly maple, single slabs and burled wood, as well as finished furniture, can also be viewed in the showroom. But most clients do not need to come to Collingwood to see the wood.
“If you call or email me, I will send you inventory images,” says Steadman. “We also encourage you to send us an image of something they like. When you fill out your wish list online, which is the confirmation order, we take apart a log for your piece and give you a completion date. Some people need to come in and physically see the slab, but the process is normally done blind. The client chooses their stain and that's it. From start to finish, we handle everything.”
Tree Green Team's furniture creates heirloom pieces that can be passed through generations. A recent table with personal touches made for a client's home will likely stay in her family.
“The table I love best is one we made for a client who brought in a bag of stones from her father's cottage in Scotland and a bag of stones from her home,” says Weaver. “Part of the tree used for her table looked like a river bed, and we put the stones into it with resin. I could feel the love in that table. It was stunning. Our clients are like family to us. We always give them congratulations for bringing a tree back to life.” 



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