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It’s only when I’m at the cottage two hours north of Toronto, that I truly feel like I experience nature. Most of the year, I’m juggling traffic in the city. 

When a massive tree collapsed along the shoreline and another threatened to fall on the cottage, we were faced with a driveway full of scrap logs that nobody seemed to want.

One of the easiest solutions was to turn the logs into stools. I decided to create seating around the fire pit. They stay put all year round. I like the look and love seeing the kids and their friends hanging out around the fire.

I also lacquered a few of the logs  –attaching wheels to some — an idea I discovered in Cottage Life magazine. In the end, I think staining them works best. I’ve also done a few with modern chrome legs from IKEA – another fast and easy transformation. They’re great on a floating dock, particularly during the cocktail hour.

I’m happy with what I’ve come up with, but I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what the pros are doing with tree stumps. You know a trend has peaked when companies like West Elm (below) are featuring log stools. Still, I think they work in the right setting. Does nature ever really go out of style?

Patrick Turner, founder of Architectural and Design studio Thout has come up with a clever take on the log stool. He calls it the holey stump. The artist, who is based in North Hatley Quebec, named his company after a primitive summer cabin in Eastern Ontario. Thout’s stumps are made from solid white cedar with three large holes pierced into the base that look like they could have been made by a giant worm. It  gives them a whimsical playful feeling. The holes also make them lighter and easier to carry around. Holey stumps are available in a water-bourne gloss finish in aqua, lime, black or white. 

Urban Tree Salvage in Scarborough, makes functional art from salvaged wood.  The company creates one-of-a-kind pieces and is known for its rustic cubes and rounds. I took this photo at the recent IDS 11 show in Toronto. It’s easy to imagine one of these tables in a loft space.

Vancouver-based artist and sculptor Brent Comber has garnered a great deal of praise for his stunning stools, tables and sculpture.  He says his company “specializes in designing modern urban forms from ancient sources.” Brent Comber Originals Inc., is best known for its striking alderwood collection.  Comber collects and dries branches (alderwood is a renewable resource which grows all over B.C.) tying them together in rows with nail and glue. When the wood is fused, he carves it into stunning cubic shapes. I love the originality of his work. The details are mesmerizing. He recently introduced a line he calls “shattered” which resembles abstract puzzle pieces.

There’s an elegance and originality to Brent Comber’s work that few have been able to duplicate. 

Stumps or tables by AHDI — Agostinis Harrison-Off Design Institute are available natural or custom coloured from Toronto’s MADE. I’m drawn to the natural finish, but the coloured logs would also bring a sense of energy and fun into the right room.

John Ross of Campbell River B.C. is a logger and furniture maker. He creates end tables, coffee tables and lamps from ancient logs he hauls from the forest. Though he has no formal training, his work has been featured in Canadian House and Home magazine and Oprah at Home.

Stylegarage in Toronto, offers up the Douglas chunk (below), a good choice if you’re looking for a sleek clean profile. It’s made of air-dried fir, that has been sanded and clear coated.

There really is something for everyone on the market. Is it possible to create a table that’s rustic and chic? Definitely — you just have to find the look that works for you.

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