This week Susan Fadem wrote a special in the Post-Dispatch about Rustic Grain Founder Jimmy Farah.  The article also highlights his renovated historical home in the Central West End.

The full article and gallery can be found here and the transcript below:

By Susan Fadem, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

‘ The near-perfect stained glass window, as well as the hand-carved doodads and vines, both on the indoor staircase and the home’s exterior, first mesmerized them. But in truth, after life in a minuscule and majorly pricey New York City apartment, the chance to own a two-story, 1,700-square-foot house — small back yard and detached one-car garage included — felt like moving into “a mansion.”

With their progress photographically chronicled from moment of sale to chimney rebuild, kitchen-wall partial knockdown and fireplace exposure, the thrill continues.

Beneath camouflaging drywall that once spanned from floor to ceiling, the Farahs (pronounced fa-RAHS) uncovered a brick wall with an indentation, albeit narrow, for what had been a coal-burning fireplace. To the red brick, Jimmy and his wife, Leigh, inconspicuously attached a cedar plank, also reddish, to serve as a mantel.


From the mantel they’ve hung two small white signs, souvenirs from their honeymoon in Massachusetts. One says “Wauwinet,” the beachfront hotel where they stayed in Nantucket, the label on the other sign.

Such sentimentality, on a foundation of authenticity, resonates with the couple. In a world of finite resources, they prefer to recycle what’s here, rather than start anew.

The furnishings for the Farahs’ 1908 home are a perfect example. Their dining-room table, two nearly ceiling-high bookcases, coffee table and bench were all made from generations-old barn wood.

From a childhood pastime of joining his stepdad on weekends to transform lumberyard wood into furniture, some of it still in the family, Jimmy has started a business. He and his crews dismantle entire old barns, some pre-Civil War era. Once the wood is air-dried, “lightly power-washed” and treated, they rebuild it into functional objects. The barns’ hinges and other hardware are preserved, too, and often incorporated.

Whenever possible, nicks and other naturally acquired signs of distress — the kind perfectionists might view as blemishes — are retained. One board of the Farahs’ bench bears the Roman numerals “VI.” Jimmy suspects that a farmer, long ago following a barn-building manual, adopted the book’s Roman numeral sorting system before beginning construction.

Living with history, but with an eye toward contemporary usage, the Farahs likewise hope to leave their mark.’

Jimmy and Leigh Farah

Home • Skinker-DeBaliviere

Age • He’s 29. She’s 28.

Occupations • He is the founder and president of Rustic Grain,, which turns old, reclaimed regional barn wood into such objects as tables, picture frames, candleholders, etc. Each finished piece comes with a brass tag, engraved with data including latitude and longitude where the original structure from which the wood came was located and the years the barn stood. Leigh graduates in May from the two-year master’s in business program at Washington University.

Family • Newlyweds, they celebrate their first wedding anniversary in August. One of their first acquisitions here was Milly, a rescued black Labrador retriever.