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Wood is Good

 

Decorating with wood isn’t cheap. But for classic, natural beauty, fake doesn’t cut it.

From interior enhancements such as trim, corbeling, carvings, beams or ceiling medallions to complete renovations that require handmade furniture, accent pieces or kitchen cabinetry, wood is generally a good investment.

Franco Fregapane, owner of FortiCon in Newark, a general contracting company that specializes in custom woodworking and remodeling, is known for his artistic approach and expertise in working with exotic wood. His 8,000-square-foot shop is stocked with 10,000 to 15,000 board feet of various hardwoods from around the world. (A board foot equals a foot wide by a foot long by an inch think.)

“Your taste can be rustic or contemporary,” says Fregapane, “and creating those styles depends on the wood you select.” A rotted tree can be an eyesore to one person. Another will love its natural defects and unusual characteristics. (Many call that rustic.) Some wood is loaded with buckshot and wormholes. (Many call that character.) Other woods from Africa, Australia and South America are naturally colorful. Purpleheart zebrawood is deep purple and violet. Yellow Heart is a bright yellow that darkens slightly after prolonged sun exposure. Lacewood is pink to reddish brown and not as dense as, say, American oak.

Have Neiman Marcus taste and a Target budget? There are economical solutions. Maple polishes well and boasts striking grain patterns, but it’s expensive and hard to cut. To build a table, Fregapane laminated poplar to create thickness, then topped the poplar with an ?-inch maple veneer. His customer wasn’t buying solid maple boards, but the look was the same. (Maple is $6 a board foot. Poplar is $2 a board foot.) Sycamore is another option. “Cut sycamore two different ways and you get two unique boards,” says Fregapane.

Big box home improvement stores usually don’t sell exotic species found at places like FortiCon. So if you can swing the cost, look for a unique wood that complements your decor. “It’s the (artisan’s) experience you’re paying for, in addition to the wood,” says Fregapane.

Do-it-yourselfers, beware: Wood shifts, cracks and moves. “If you don’t put it together right, you’re not going to have a good project in the long term,” Fregapane says.  —Maria Hess

 

 

 

 

 


Top: “Washington & His Generals,” original steel engraving. Bottom: “Map of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia,” by Homann, original copper engraving, circa 1730.

 

 

Fit to Print

 

Feeling the pull of the past? Old prints and other historical works can satisfy your nostalgia.

 

In your office, mounted on the wall next to a picture of the kids, hangs an original print of one of the earliest maps of America, dating to the 1500s. Behind you dangles a frame holding the signature of George Washington, and on the back of the door hangs a picture of your home town, painted 200 years before you were born.

Sound like somebody else’s life?

Since it opened in 1970, Antique Prints in Ocean View has specialized in old maps, paintings and engravings from the 16th through 19th centuries. With more than 300,000 prints to choose from, from contemporary sailboats to 19th-century jaguars, there are works to suit all tastes.

The prints, all originals, usually arrive in the store fresh from antiques shows and auctions. Each print holds a different meaning for buyers. “People buy prints that depict places they have an affiliation with, vacation spots, for example,” says owner Brandon Case. “Or if we have tourists in the store, they’ll ask for pictures of places where they’re from.”

The store also boasts a selection of signatures of former U.S. presidents such as James Monroe, Theodore Roosevelt, Benjamin Harrison and James Madison, which range from $1,500 to $5,000. At $2,800, a Madison will set you back a few hundred more than a Roosevelt.

Besides framing your newly purchased print, Antique Prints will hang it for free. Antique Prints also offers cleaning and restoration services and it advises customers on how best to care for their prints. With prices ranging from $40 to $12,000, it makes sense to protect your investment.

“You have to treat them like wine,” says Case. “Put them in a cool, dry spot, out of sunlight.”

Antique Prints is at 42 Central Ave., Ocean View. Call 539-6702 for more.

                                         —Helen Jardine

 

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