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Looking old is the goal: Timeline wood creates illusion of age

October 08, 2012|By Dianne de Guzman
  • Timeline owners Shelby Keyser and Matt Stroud, pictured in front of an installation of their lumber, are forging ahead with their take on the reclaimed-wood look.
Timeline owners Shelby Keyser and Matt Stroud, pictured in front of an installation… (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

When looking at wood from the Los Angeles company Timeline, one can’t help but fall for the illusion. You’re not really looking at vintage wood salvaged from an aged barn. Those are newly painted boards covering the floors and walls of the Timeline showroom downtown — new boards made to look old.

The company handcrafts each one, creating nicks and scratches in the wood to mimic the rough surface of reclaimed lumber. Paint is layered in a manner that plays off other coats as well as the texture of the wood.

Owner Matt Stroud’s classical painting background and co-owner Shelby Keyser’s résumé in fashion have helped Timeline to stand out in the increasingly competitive world of reclaimed wood. The company’s catalog reads like a fashion magazine meets lumberyard invoice, with colors such as New Orange, Tomato Peel and Black Black shown as home installations.

“I have no background in wood. I’m looking at it from a designer-y perspective -- what looks cool, what looks fresh,” Keyser said. “I have this whole lipstick and I want to have something like that. My car is a 1964 blue color, so I want to match that.”

Stroud, she said, has all the technical abilities. "I bring in the color palette that I like," Keyser said, "and then he can totally get it and create something.”

This sort of admiration of each other’s talents reveals Keyser and Stroud as a couple, and not just business partners. They first dated in Los Angeles when they were 19, later separating when Keyser left for New York to work for fashion designer Anna Sui and, later, L.A.M.B., Gwen Stefani’s line. When Stroud came up with the idea for Timeline, however, Keyser was a natural choice to join the company.

"We need each other, essentially," Stroud said. "I need her sense of color and everything else, and I have the techniques to understand what she is looking for. It works out.”

Stroud came up with the idea for Timeline while working in furniture restoration. Clients wanted reclaimed wood, but it's not an easy material. Reclaimed wood can cost up to 40% more than new hardwood for floors. Most reclaimed wood must be processed to remove nails, insects, lead paint and other flaws before use. Oftentimes, contractors must send the wood to a third party for cleanup. For some designers, contractors and fabricators, the problems with reclaimed wood outweighs the theoretical green benefits.

Stroud cites the need for wood that looks old but is more durable -- and now that reclaimed wood is in so many places, wood that is a little different, thanks to its colorful accents.

“People respond to the colors," Keyser said. "The wood is finished in a professional way: It looks done, and you have the ability to have this custom thing in your home. It’s like a new luxury, an affordable luxury."

Adds Stroud: "Timeline is not exactly like an old board, but we realized we can actually produce this in a shop and keep it consistent. Everyone can come back later for other projects and get the exact same thing. I understand how it looks like when things age naturally, so that’s what we try and achieve.”

The Timeline boards have already made their way into a number of Los Angeles restaurants and stores, including the Spice Table and SiLo Vodka Bar downtown and the Vera Wang store in West Hollywood.

The Los Angeles showroom is open to the public. Wood is available in five widths, two plank lengths and three edge options. Boards are $7 to $11 per square foot, depending on the color and finish. Larger orders may take three to five weeks to produce, but Timeline does have some boards available for immediate purchase.

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