Functional Reclaimed - Phil
You create customized furniture and interior decor pieces with the use of some unique materials. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration for your business?
I’ve been in construction almost my entire life, from forming foundations to building custom homes along the river in Brockville ON, Installing custom kitchens in London ON and managing a building dept. For a large charity that builds homes. Before starting Functional Reclaimed I worked for a company in Burlington ON that does similar work, the largest motivating factor for me was that no matter where I worked I always found the business was focused on margins. While that plays a huge role in your ability to succeed I wanted to bring forward a more personal approach to a business. I knew that if I ventured out on my own I would be able to manage that aspect of the business more effectively and provide people with a more personal vs. professional experience when looking for custom pieces for their home or office. I felt there was a lack of transparency in the construction world when it came to dealing with clients and I want to do my part in helping people understand their project and how we can achieve the vision they had in their mind when it comes to that special piece of furniture they’ve been searching for.
Are there certain woods that you prefer to work with?
I do a lot of work with reclaimed barn board, each piece is unique and filled with character but I still enjoy working with live edge slabs the most, large slabs have that balance of the warmth that comes with a wood product and the finished look and feel that comes with new material. While I’m not sure I have a favourite species of wood to work with I’ve really been liking the look of ambrosia maple lately!
Are there certain processes in the woods and materials you source?
Sourcing quality barn board can be another entire job on its own, but the main process I look for is to ensure the wood is kiln dried. This means the material is slowly brought to a certain temperature in a large oven like structure to reduce the moisture content in the wood so it eliminates the risk of wood warping or cracking years down the road. It’s a costly and lengthy process but provides both the client and myself with the comfort that their piece will last a lifetime.
You use both live-edge and reclaimed wood such as barn board. Are these sourced close to Ottawa?
I do my best to source as much of my material as close to Ottawa as possible, that being said sometimes I do have to venture outside the region to get what a client is looking for, lately the best quality barn board has been coming from the Toronto area, Live edge slabs and dimensional lumber can be sourced in the Ottawa and surrounding areas much easier!
Is there a project that you are most proud of that you can share a little about?
I’m not sure there is a single project that sticks out in my mind so much as small details on each project, overall I would say I’m just most proud of the fact I have the resources and tools to help people bring that vision in their mind to life!
You work with many clients who dream up a project or have a unique need for their space. Does this ever create big challenges?
All the time! The biggest challenges come in finding how to get inside a client's head and see the image they have in their mind for their project. Communication with clients is a huge part of what I do and I encourage everyone to come by my shop and meet with me in person so we can ensure we’re on the same page before we even start planning their project. Every piece of wood is unique and as a result each stage of the project has its own hurdles to overcome.
Does ‘Timber’(your dog) come to work with you every day?
Of course! As the self appointed shop manager, it’s imperative he’s here everyday to chew barn board, eat sticks and bark at squirrels. He keeps the shop safe when I’m out and makes sure everyone is greeted with an overwhelming amount of excitement.
When you aren’t busy helping homes and businesses look amazing with rustic and modern furnishings what do you do for fun?
I just try and spend time with my friends and girlfriend. It’s important to me to create the best possible work vs life balance I can and I find those things keep me motivated and on track mentally to keep providing the best service I can.
How has Ottawa supported Functional Reclaimed as a business?
Ottawa as a city has been incredibly supportive, from messages on social media just letting me know how much people love to see what I’m building to loyal clients and customers, the city has really come forward and made it clear that they want to support small businesses!
Are there any exciting projects on the horizon?
I’ve got some great projects in the future including a large live edge door, a walnut bar top that will have a custom edge and a few tables lined up that will just have to be surprises you’ll see along the way on my instagram account!
Do you have a favourite Ottawa business that has inspired or supported you along the way?
I wouldn’t say I have a favourite business so much as people, there are so many business owners and people in Ottawa that have shown that they will go out of their way to help and support other local business. It’s not always easy to compete with pricing from large retail and box stores but at the end of the day every business owner I meet understands that by shopping local we’re helping each other pay bills, put food on the table and build a future for our families. I’ve had nothing but support from the local business community, we spread the word about each other knowing that every time we tell someone about another local business we build a stronger base.