Rustic and Rugged

A restaurant nestled near the base of a snow-covered mountain has an interior that features an extraordinary mix of rustic, antique wood finishes along with a distinctly modern twist. It serves as a showcase of how wood can powerfully transform an interior. Moreover, it shines as a perfect example of thoughtful design, and how a hardwood flooring company can spread its wings and successfully go outside of its comfort zone.

“Tatonka sits at the corner of one of the busiest streets in Aspen, Colorado. The owners are extremely particular about the interior décor and the overall architectural design of their restaurants. They wanted to include as many wooden elements as they could,” explains Mika Old, Director of Sales for Old Wood.

“In addition to the floor, Old Wood did the walls, ceiling treatments, tabletops, and we made most of the furniture for the project as well. As for the look, we were going for lots of rich, deep colors.”

For Old Wood, getting the aesthetic right was only one part of the challenge. The unique nature of the restaurant’s location and the attire of their clientele meant selecting a wood flooring that could withstand a tremendous amount of abuse from wet, heavy ski boots all winter long.

“The reason we chose mesquite is that we believe it to be one of the hardest, most durable floors in the world, especially when used as an end-grain,” explains Shiloh Old, VP of International Operations for Old Wood.

“We used an unfinished block as opposed to one of our end-grain panels. The floor is what we call a ‘Club Mix End-Grain Mesquite.’ It is a half-inch mesquite end-grain that comes in five different sizes, which is why it is called ‘Club Mix.’ We have a diagram of a few different patterns we can use to install the five different sizes, so it comes out looking random in appearance, but the actual installation is anything but random,” says Shiloh. “The end-grain mesquite floor was then installed using Bostik Green Force adhesive and stained on-site.”

“We felt the onsite seal would better prevent moisture incursion. It was a natural stain with a little bit of a golden pecan color. We used an oil-based stain with a water-based polyurethane topcoat. We did this because the contractor wanted to use stains that were readily available in Aspen,” explains Shiloh. “As a result, all of our color mixes were with just Sherwin Williams Minwax brand, which you can find at just about any hardware store in the country.”

After the floor was installed, Old Wood began on a three-dimensional sound dispersing accent wall made from reclaimed juniper out of New Mexican deserts.

“We shipped those juniper panels for the walls pre-finished. We sold the walls as a panelized product that they then glue or screw to the substructure. We also did a straight-line-ripped, skip sanded, hit-or-miss finish douglas fir ceiling, which we pre-finished,” says Shiloh.

“We also did antique beams throughout the restaurant. Some of them were up to 8” by 10” but were simply facades. The addition of these non-load bearing beams further created the look of a warm and inviting old mountain cabin. The beams were finished by hand using a custom mix of Minwax colors. Finally, the ceiling was done in a provincial color, a mix of Sherwin Williams water-based stains, which we applied with a Stanza roll coater,” explains Shiloh.

“We’re very proud of the finished interior. It was a chance for us to step out of our comfort zone and do something new. The result is something that the restaurant owners were very pleased with, as well. It was wonderful to be able to collaborate and come up with a solution to their somewhat unique situation. The end result is quite stunning. It’s not over-the-top, rather, it’s refined rustic energy,” says Mika.

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