Craftsman Rick Griebenow’s tables are functional, beautiful, and each is one of a kind. He builds and sells his tables through his Jackson County-based company, Kentucky Ingrained, LLC.
“I really enjoy working with reclaimed wood because of its character, because of the uniqueness,” says Griebenow. “When somebody tears down a barn or brings down a building there’s every species imaginable in that old building. I’ll go through a whole stack of wood and I’ll pick out the pieces that I want. I can almost see the finished product when I see the piece of wood.”
Imperfections in the serve as an inspiration, turning furniture into art.
“Because of this knot or scar or nail hole or insect burrowing and where I place that in the table and how I use that character can drastically change the way that piece of furniture looks and how it will present itself in your living room,” says Griebenow.
Kentucky Ingrained produces between 50 to 100 tables every year. Typically, when Griebenow builds one piece, he’ll make matching pieces at the same time, such as a coffee table and two end tables. That way, there is a matching set available made with the same unique wood selection.
“You want your house to flow so you want pieces that match,” says Griebenow. “So whenever I build one, I try to build at least two and sometimes three so they can be a set.”
Griebenow tries to add something to each piece that makes it unique. He might add a strip of a contrasting wood to a tabletop, for example. One of his trademarks is making one of a table’s legs a bit different from the rest.
“I want one to be different,” he explains. “One that draws your eye. It’s got some worm hole, it’s got a twist, it’s got a bend. Something that’s different, something that really catches your eye.”
One of Griebenow’s customers is Rick Thomas, a Sonny’s BBQ Franchisee. Kentucky Ingrained tables are part of the restaurant’s décor.
“I first came across Rick’s work at the Kentucky Crafted Market,” says Thomas. “I saw his work and said, ‘Man I need to talk to you!’
“They’re real wood tables. They’re beautiful,” he adds. “And they really fit what we’re doing. They’re Kentucky Proud product. Sonny’s BBQ’s been doing business in Kentucky for 27 years. Anytime we can use Kentucky Proud products and support Kentuckians, we’re all about it.”
Griebenow takes pride in the work he produces, and his goal is to make products that are special to his customers.
“I’ve learned a lot building those tables and having problems with those tables and fixing those problems,” he says. “That’s what working with wood does to me. It’s my hope that and my dream that each Kentucky Ingrained piece will be so unique that every time you see that piece you think of a memory, you think of something unique in your life.”
This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2008, which originally aired on January 31, 2015. Watch the full episode.