Smokestack Studios' eclectic elements form a cohesive style vision
By By Marie Marciano Gullard
For The Baltimore Sun|
Nov 19, 2014 at 11:32 AM
Most people see a dilapidated barn as an eyesore. Chris Ritchie of Smokestack Studios in Frederick envisions the same weathered planks placed side by side to make interior wall paneling or shelving — even benches and tables.
Ritchie is not just another furniture builder, and his store is not a large name-brand showroom. But one thing is certain: He and his staff of two designers, a custom woodworker and a store manager, use their collective talents to transform an entire house, office or commercial space into something unique to his clients’ tastes.
Ask Ritchie about personal design selections, and he will come back with “bold colors, a layering of textures, new and old, vintage industrial, retro and contemporary.” Those elements are all in his head, ready for rendering and construction, while many of his design styles are on the floors of his showroom, where everything is for sale.
“We hand-select all of our furniture and accessories from a variety of companies and craftsmen,” Ritchie explains. “We work with top vendors and furniture manufacturers in addition to smaller artisans. For example, our inventory includes gorgeous American walnut cutting and serving boards made completely by hand in Frederick County, along with some very interesting salvaged and repurposed jewelry. We also do custom work, such as dining tables, islands, seating and retail build-outs.”
Now if all this sounds a bit too eclectic, even a mishmash of styles and choices, he will assert that his showroom speaks for itself.
“New visitors to the store often comment on the ‘unique’ or ‘cool’ feel of it because we have such a strong, cohesive vision that you don’t see every day,” he says. “People ask what our style is called, and while we really do draw from a lot of periods and movements, I usually classify it as ‘industrial modern’ or ‘industrial chic.’”
And don’t forget the “barn chic,” present in his rustic furniture and paneling.
Yet even with the distinct contemporary flavor to his showroom, he is sure that individual pieces in his inventory will be just as pleasing to the eye when placed in a more traditional setting. If the perfect look for a client can’t be found on his floor, he is happy to source it — or personally design it.