Create Your Outdoor Living Room

outdoor 1For Wisconsinites, the summer is more than just a season. It’s a celebration of getting outdoors after what was, more than likely, a rough winter. Are you one of those folks right now staring at their boring porch or humdrum deck, thinking “if only…?” Let’s talk about creating your outdoor living space and moving your living room outside! Continue reading

In Praise of Curves

Roundness seems to be a universal human pleasure.”

–Eric Jaffe, for Fastcodesign.com

Marilyn Monroe, Corvettes, the Guggenheim—gentle curves have serious appeal, but so often homeowners don’t think to feature them in the permanent structures in their homes. Think about the woodwork in most homes. From mantels to crown molding and from cabinetry to closet designs, there tends to be a glut of corners and hard angles, more miter-saw work than jigsaw-work. Continue reading

Return of the Kitchen Larder

In pre-fridge days, back when your grandma’s grandma and her grandma’s grandma were wee, kitchen larders were as common as dirt. Without refrigeration, these storage spaces provided the next best thing—a cool, clean area that could extend the shelf life of food. Generally, the larder would be near the kitchen and on the side of the home that got the least direct sunlight. If it were a cabinet-style larder, it would be equipped with shelves and cupboards. Little windows covered in fine mesh would be incorporated, to fend off flies while allowing for circulation of air. If it were a room-style larder or even a detached larder, it might also have insulated containers of ice, and ceiling hooks for hanging game. Continue reading

Bright, White, and Out of Sight: The Latest Trends in Kitchen and Bath Design

Photo credit: Andrea Rugg, for Building Design & Construction

Photo credit: Andrea Rugg, for Building Design & Construction

It’s been three months since the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) issued its annual Kitchen & Bath Design trends report. Based on trend predictions from member-designers who answer a survey, the thing is practically a crystal ball most of the time.

We think it’s nice to see if a trend grows real legs, has staying power, gains traction, sticks—whatever you want to call it—before shining a spotlight on it. (Otherwise, everyone runs out and impulsively spends a quarter of their annual income on dusty-rose bath fixtures and avocado-green kitchen appliances, only to spend the next 40 years wondering what the heck they were thinking.) Continue reading

The Risks of Reclaimed Wood

Railroad ties, palettes, old planks pried from forgotten farmhouses: These are the stuff Pinterest dreams are made of, the eye candy of people who love a warm, rustic look. What with all its rich-toned, old-timey, perfectly imperfect character, reclaimed wood has maintained high popularity for so long, we’re pretty sure it’s here to stay. It’s proven irresistible to furniture sellers, home builders, home remodelers, and home-improvement do-it-yourselfers. It’s definitely beautiful, but…

Brunsell - Reclaimed Lumber Continue reading

Custom Millwork

When we talk about custom millwork, we don’t just mean the ability to replicate designs found in photographs. Getting Brunsell’s custom cabinetry, stairs, mantels, shelves, furniture, and more does not necessarily require an image grabbed from Pinterest, Houzz, or architectural magazines. In fact, some of our best custom work comes from our designers’ own imaginations. Even better, custom designs can come from client’s imaginations, too.

Custom Millwork

Look at familiar architectural details—fleur de lis finials, for example, or ball-top newel posts on staircases—and consider that there was a time when these designs didn’t exist yet. Because such elements have persisted for generations, it’s easy to forget that they were the product of human creativity. Moreover, it’s easy to forget that new, exciting, and totally unique designs or combinations of designs are still possible.

As much as it’s about exceptional skill and craftsmanship, Brunsell custom millwork is about letting the imagination run wild. It’s about considering what things are possible, maybe even drawing on inspiration from unlikely places like nature or a favorite song, and creating something truly unique for your home. Truly, it’s an art!

Brunsell woodworkers are able to produce custom orders both from hand drawings and CAD, or computer-aided design. We wouldn’t recommend bringing in a drawing on a cocktail napkin, but hey, that could be a start. We do recommend giving from-scratch custom millwork a shot, especially if you’re constructing a home or business from the ground up. (In older structures, it’s often wise to do with designs that honor the architectural style or period original to the home. And we can customize solutions for that, too.)

So, what’s the next big thing? Maybe it’s something from your imagination!

Heavenly Doors: Why Custom Doors Are Worth It

High-quality doors add value and beauty to a home, last longer, and can reduce sound-seepage. They look good, feel good. As long as you’re going to invest in them, you might want to consider customization. A custom door can be made to fit not only any size opening but also so many shapes—while incorporating pleasing touches like arches, angles, and glass inserts.

One Size Does Not Fit All

One hang-up people tend to have when considering the doors for their home is the assumption they have to stick with a standard size, especially for interior doors. But you’re bound to those dimensions only when you buy off-the-shelf doors. With handmade doors you can go big, really big. You can also opt for doors that slide open, barn-door style, rather than swing open. Or you can go for the arched look that adds height and drama. A door that colors outside the lines in these ways adds instant drama.

The Devil Is in the Details

With custom doors, you also get select hinges, decorative nails (aka, clavos), knobs, and pulls. You’d be surprised what a difference this hardware makes. Basically, you treat the door like a canvas, and the result is a work of art.

Durability by Design

We handcraft the rails and stiles for our doors with materials and techniques that prevent warping. The jambs are just as important, framing and complementing the door and taking a lot of wear and tear, so we put just as much energy into crafting them with style and durability.

Changing the Tone of Your Home or Room

You can select from single-species or multiple-species wood design as well as a variety of hand-applied finishes. Working with these variables, you can easily warm up or cool down a room. (Note that not all wood species work well together, but our designers offer great guidance in selecting combos.)

A Touch of Glass

Adding clear glass adds sophistication, imparting a sense of space, openness, and accessibility. If preferred, textured/art glass can be used to allow in light and create warmth without sacrificing privacy. Again, think of the door as a canvas.

Brunsell Lumber - Custom Doors

The doors to your home, and to the rooms in your home, set the tone for what lies beyond them. They are the perfect opportunity to make a style statement. Whether from scratch or from inspirational photos/drawings you bring to us, we can design a just-right door for you that has both a pleasing look and pleasing feel. Forget run-of-the-mill doors and try custom milled doors instead!

Hole in the Wall: Our Little Place that’s Not So Little

You’ve heard the phrase hole in the wall, right? Maybe you’ve used it to describe your favorite tucked-away bar with the best Old Fashioned. Or the little fabric store in your hometown that sells vintage designs by the yard. Or the breakfast café with twelve tables and two waitresses that bring extra bacon, just because. At any rate, you know what is: a small, usually modest place—often one that’s way better on than inside than one might expect from the outside.

Our Madison mill and lumber yard aren’t particularly small, but they do appear that way to drivers passing by us. We’re tucked behind the Verona Road Home Depot and its neighboring stores and it’s sometimes difficult to see going 55 mph on the Beltline. In that regard, we might look like a little hole in the wall. But here are some of the things you’ll find inside:

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We work hard to craft and carry beautiful things—pieces with gorgeous curves, lines, and other details. Not only are our finished pieces eye candy but so also are the architectural “ingredients” we carry. These include a vast array of cabinets, countertop surfaces, cabinet hardware, decking, railings, stair parts and more. If you’re renovating or constructing a room or home, you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store here.

Our place is also a nice sensory experience, rich with colors and the smell of wood. But that fragrance isn’t all from the stuff in the showroom. It’s carried over from our expansive mill located just behind the showroom.

“I had no idea all of this was back here!”

We hear that a lot, even from people who’ve made a million runs to the Home Depot that neighbors us. Yet our mill is actually an impressively big and elaborate operation, where wood varieties of all kinds, fresh from the forest, are artfully crafted into stunning pieces and parts of a home. We are well known for our high-end work, which comes as the result of having the best tools and equipment wielded in the best hands in the biz. From our door shop to our cabinet shop, from custom closet-making to custom moldings, beautiful things are forged here by talented craftsmen who genuinely love their work:

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If you haven’t visited our showroom and mill, consider this your invite. Now that the worst of the construction on Verona Road at the beltline is complete, it’s a lot easier to get to us again. And we’re confident you’ll learn we’re the kind of “hole in the wall” you’re glad you found.

Why a Custom Fireplace Mantel?

In cold climates like Madison, there’s nothing like a night by the fire. On top of the ambiance and warmth, a fireplace gives a mantel a reason for being. Mantels are under-appreciated in the design stages of a lot of homes, but they are easy to update and can make a huge difference in the aesthetics of a room.

Why are we thinking about mantels? Maybe because we know mantels get more attention around the holidays—stockings hung with care, a string of lights from corner to corner, maybe a glass of milk on the ledge for the man in the red suit. It seems like a good time to point out that mantels can actually serve as a focal point for any room all year. The fireplace naturally draws attention in any room already, and the mantel typically does the nice job of pulling room accessories up to (or near) eye level.

We create gorgeous, one-of-a-kind, custom fireplace mantels in our mill, giving attention to each curve and line and groove to create something that’s more than just functional. We want the end result to do for your crackling fire what the perfect picture frame can do for a cherished photograph: pull it all together.

Brunsell Lumber - Custom Mantel

We work with customers to design something that will complement the overall aesthetics of their fireplace and its surround. Our mantels can be designed by our skilled craftsmen to fit any shape or size of fireplace. And they can think outside the box with you to create something unique to your home.

For inspiration, try checking out some great mantel designs on Houzz and Pinterest. Then stop by and see what’s in our showroom and portfolio. It’s a great time to get a mantel that’s more than a supporting actor in your Christmas decorating!

Woods That Pair Well Together

You’ve heard of blended wool, but have you heard of blended wood?

If you’ve ever walked into a room in which the furniture, flooring, and trim use only one wood species, you know that too much matching can backfire. Same, same, and same can make a room look flat and bland. It’s good to mix up woods in a room. It can also be good to do it within a single piece of woodwork—whether a piece of furniture, a banister, or cabinetry.

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In our custom millwork shop, we blend woods into one-of-a-kind pieces all the time. Sometimes customers come to us with specific species they want combined. Mostly they look to us for guidance, and we’re happy to give it. Continue reading