Noah Ventola is a do-it-yourselfer.
So, after he bought a kitchen set for his three-year-old daughter Madelyn and it started to fall apart, he plugged in his saw, took out his hammer and got to work.
"The whole thing started because of my daughter," says Ventola, who last month launched Ultimate Kids, a one-man woodworking business based out of his home in Durham.
"I don't need fancy stuff but I want high quality, standard stuff and with that I started making it," says Ventola, a self-taught carpenter who creates custom furniture and "playthings" for children.
A Mystic native who spends most of his time teaching social studies at RHAM High School in Hebron, Ventola has always been interested in nature and sustainability. Through Ultimate Kids he's found an opportunity to pair craftsmanship with an environmentally friendly approach.
"Maddy and I had a lot of fun putting together some birdhouses and seeing what came to live in them, so I developed some birdhouses for native species," says Ventola.
The nesting boxes, which Ventola sells at local farmers' markets and through the company's website, are built with repurposed wood that he collects from a mill in Oxford. Each birdhouse is made with a uniquely different roof, crafted from a part of a tree that would otherwise be scrapped or burned.
"You can't help but think in 30 years our kids are going to inherit this place and you think of all this stuff we throw away," Ventola said. "Can't we reuse it or repurpose it."
Hinges on the bottom of the birdhouses that allow for easy cleanup are made from used tire tubes collected from Pedal Power, a bicycle shop in Middletown. The end result is what Ventola calls a "low carbon footprint birdhouse."
"If you're creative, you can make products that are not only good for the environment but also make good business sense," he says.
The birdhouses start around $30.
$125 will buy you one of Ventola's finished play tables (unfinished $85) — a must have for any LEGO builder or train enthusiast. He's also designed a bat house.
"I like it because it's like a chemical free approach to pest control," he says, a reference to bats' appetite for mosquitoes.
While selling his birdhouses at the Durham Farmers' Market recently another vendor asked Ventola if he would mind building her a home for lady bugs. He agreed, and soon another piece of discarded wood had a new purpose.
"She loved it," he says.
All of the products Ventola builds are backed by his self-described lifetime warranty.
"If something breaks I'll repair it or rebuild it."
Ventola recently to display their vegetables at the North End Farmers' Market in Middletown.