Greeley man repurposes old barn wood to make furniture (VIDEO)
More about Story Barns
Picture of finished products and more information can be found at www.storybarns.com. The Story Barns shop is at 1120 6th Ave. and Ryan Channin can be reached at (970) 978-8934.
Whether from old barns or rustic railroad carts, Colorado’s Ryan Channin believes every piece of wood has its own story. Without Channin and his father, many of those stories would never be told.
Channin owns Story Barns, a company that dismantles old wooden structures and repurposes the lumber into furniture and decorations.
If you can dream it, Channin will do his best to make it happen, and his father, David, will tell the stories along the way that make the pieces special and nostalgic.
The business started in August 2012, and originally was run by Channin’s brother, Jason.
Channin and Jason’s dad had crafted some bedroom furniture out of old lumber. Jason liked the furniture he grew up with and decided that he could make more like it.
Eventually, Jason dropped out of the business to focus on other opportunities, and Channin and his dad took the business full time.
So far, Story Barns has torn down five barns and seven railroad carts, recycling all into furniture, Channin said.
David takes the lead on most of the customer relations while Channin does the building in the shop, but they both take ownership of whatever is needed.
David keeps all of the many vibrant stories of the wood in his head until the customer chooses those pieces, then he gets to chatting.
Many people have an idea of what they are looking for, but David will walk them through their options for lumber and what Ryan can do with it. Plus, he likes to tell the stories.
“I like to meet the customers and talk about the wood with them,” David said.
And between the Santa Claus beard, rosy red cheeks and colorful stories David offers, he appeals to both full-grown adults and kids who might tag along during consultations.
He said he also likes to talk to the owners before the structures are torn down.
“It’s fun to meet with the owners and just listen to how they played on the cars as kids,” he said.
They try to stick to structures in northern Colorado — mostly because it’s expensive when travel gets involved, but also because they like the wood to have local ties.
After the structure comes down, the wood is stored in a turkey barn in Kersey until a customer picks it out.
That’s where Channin comes in.
Channin said he makes some furniture just to have in their small showroom, but for the most part it’s all custom-made pieces, suited to each customer’s desire.
He will make anything from regular home furniture to accent walls and doors to restaurant furniture.
Channin said his projects can be found in restaurants all over northern Colorado, and that’s often how people find out about his business.
Of course he doesn’t single-handedly make all of the furniture. He has help from a part-time employee, Jonathan Ceribelli, and he hires contractors to take the structures down.
He said he’s never liked a job as much as this one, and he really feels he is making a difference by reusing the old wood.
“I just think of how many people would be looking for wood furniture to be built and they go buy lumber and all those trees that are cut down,” Channin said. “A lot of lumber is sustainable now but not to the point we’re cutting the trees down.”
While seeing the finished product is his favorite part, Channin said working with something so old and storied is a close second.
“I think I was born in the wrong era,” he said. “I just like old stuff.”
Channin takes the weathered wood and strips it down before refinishing it with Vermont Natural Coating, a wood finish made from cheese waste.
In case the company’s mission wasn’t a dead giveaway, Channin is all about reusing.
They even go so far as to save the sawdust, which is given to Common Good Compost in Greeley to help break down their composting faster.
“We try to really make use of every bit of material we can,” Channin said. “There’s no point in throwing something away that can be used for something different. And typically there’s another use for everything.” ❖