Their handcrafted furniture showroom is in Rhinebeck, but Tara DeLisio and Jonah Meyer live in Woodstock, and their business, Sawkille Co., has historical and current links to the west side of the Hudson.
“I grew up playing in the Sawkill stream in Woodstock,” said DeLisio. “There was a sawmill on Zena Road at the turn of the century that was the biggest mill on that side of the river.” She had come across an alternate Dutch spelling for the name that indicated a stream with a sawmill on its bank. She decided to include the final “e” to help distinguish the business that she and her husband have been growing, along with their family, for seven years.
The couple’s first shop, on Route 28 in Glenford, also had an idiosyncratic spelling, taking its name from the sign that read “Serv ce Station” on the front of the former gas station. “We did well there,” mused Meyer. “It was small, but we got to develop our ideas, and we had an incredible client base when we moved to Rhinebeck.”
They had to fight for their trade at the Route 28 location, and “it had a ceiling,” said Meyer. “We moved three years ago, when we were ready to up our game. It’s a bigger space in a better location, with more rent, but we were ready to re-brand with a new website and a new name.”
Having a second child also gave them impetus to expand the business. Indiana is now seven, and Flint is two and a half.
A major boost in orders came from articles in two prominent magazines, Martha Stewart Living and Elle Decor. One of the Serv ce Station customers, formerly in the fashion industry, gave them advice on branding and creating a logo.
“‘Farmhouse modern’ is the framework for where our pieces would fit,” said DeLisio, who takes charge of the business end of the company, while Meyer, also a noted sculptor, designs and creates the furniture with a team of craftspeople at a workshop in Kingston.
“We draw on traditional forms,” DeLisio elaborated, “and we pare them back, tracing the style to Jonah’s background in sculpture and painting.” She indicated the slender-legged stools scattered around the showroom. “The three-legged stool is an iconic piece for us, based on a traditional milking stool, but designed to go with a dining room table or counter.” Most items are completed with natural oil finishes.
Sawkille features several different lines of chairs, tables, cabinets, credenzas, stools, and other items, made of wood from practitioners of sustainable forestry, located in the northeast. Meyer also creates customized items, as well as one-offs made from unique pieces of recycled wood. In the front of the showroom sits a massive square coffee table with a depression hollowed out near one corner. The wood was reclaimed from water towers that used to stand atop New York City buildings.