Expressions in Wood

How a Boulder Woodworker is Redefining Furniture Design

Article by Lisa Van Horne

Photography by Poppy & Co. by Kelsey Huffer

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Woodworking is a deeply personal venture for Nick Ridings, owner of Boulder’s Rooted Furniture. In both his process for creating his custom furniture pieces and in the story of how his company came to be, Nick’s passion for helping people, and for creating and for bringing his clients’ design dreams to tangible life, are constants.

“Furniture is an expression of you,” says Nick. “You choose the clothes you wear, the way you do your hair, how you paint your room. So why shouldn’t you be able to customize every aspect of your furniture in the same way?”

Nick grew up as the youngest of five brothers. His mom was an artist and his dad was a banker, and so Nick was constantly trying to find the balance between his analytical thinking and creative gifts. He began college as an acting major but graduated with a degree in psychology. At 22, Nick moved to New York City. Woodworking was the last thing that he expected to pursue in the big city, but life had other plans.

“I started dating a girl named Kaitlyn,” says Nick, “and one day, she mentioned that she needed a bench for her apartment. Naturally, having never built anything in my life, I told her I’d make one for her no problem. I found some wood in my parents’ yard and built the dream bench she was looking for. I was so proud, and she was so happy. Fast forward to today and we’re married with two kids. I think that bench is what really sealed the deal.”

That bench taught Nick many things—that he loved working with his hands, that he loved creating something from nothing and that, if he wanted to have that experience again, he had a lot to learn. From woodworking classes in Brooklyn to transforming half of his Manhattan apartment into a workshop, Nick’s woodworking journey took full flight. A subsequent move to Boulder facilitated his attendance at the Red Rocks School of Woodworking and countless hours in his garage shop.

“Woodworking had become more than a hobby, it was all that I wanted to do,” says Nick. “It led to a vision of distinctive, one-of-a-kind, heirloom-quality furniture. And so, in 2018, Rooted was born.”

Rooted Furniture provides clients with the opportunity to be more invested and involved in the design of their furniture. Drawing on his background in psychology and various means of communication, Nick created a system to simplify the furniture design process, making it a fun, fulfilling journey in which clients are able to understand their choices and create an accurate vision for their piece. The result is high-quality furniture that truly speaks to their style and needs.

Nick notes that this vision for his company fills a major gap in the furniture industry. As the idea for Rooted Furniture was taking form, he saw two general options when it came to furniture buying. First, people could purchase something inexpensive of lesser quality that had a higher likelihood of wearing out and being discarded. Second, people could spend more on a higher quality yet mass-produced piece, meaning they would not have a say to ensure that the piece would be customized to fit their style and wants.

“The average person cycles through furniture every three to seven years,” says Nick. “So wood, chemicals and plastic are just filling up landfills. Rooted was created to give customers truly custom, heirloom-quality pieces that represent their style and that will last for generations.”

Rooted Furniture specializes in creating dining and coffee tables but also offers benches, accessories and many other types of wood furnishings. With White Oak as his material of choice given its strength, durability and rich history, Nick also prides his company on the fact that there are no screws or nails in his woodshop. He only builds with traditional joinery so that each piece of wood fits perfectly together—like a puzzle that never comes apart.

Rooted Furniture also offers clients the opportunity to request commissioned pieces, a process that involves collaborating even more closely to discover the client’s hopes for the specific piece. This results in a creative process that, as Nick says, is very meditative. He keeps the future life of the piece top-of-mind throughout the build—whether it’s a rocking chair for a new parent or a dining table for families to eat at every day—and builds each piece knowing that it will be deeply rooted in many future memories.

Moving ahead, Nick looks forward to continuing to create distinct furniture pieces of increasing complexity and beauty for his clients, from cutting boards and simple benches to elaborate dining tables and more.

“My favorite pieces to make are ones that elicit a response,” says Nick. “Our clients will live with and cherish our creations for the rest of their lives. My intention is to imprint their thoughts and energy into each piece and make their connection to their design dream all that much more potent.”

Related Businesses

Related Articles