Over the last month or two Dennis and Manjula have added a couple hundred new Copeland American Made Furniture– beds, chests, dressers and other furniture pieces to our website. Now we have to re-organize a bit so it's easy to find what you're looking for.
We've created quite a few new categories to browse by, including one for Furniture Best Sellers. These are the most popular pieces in our Vermont made furniture store. Most of them will look familiar to you, especially if you have that natural, solid Shaker Sensibilty that draws many wood furniture shoppers and interior design professionals to our store.
But others are a surprise! Copeland's modern, contemporary Catalina bedroom set and their Monterey Arts & Crafts style bedroom sets are coming on strong and fast becoming our new best sellers. Have a look and let me know which furniture peices or collection you like best.
Dennis and Manjula have been working on getting a beautiful selection of Copeland Bedroom Furniture Sets up on our website.
Copeland is our newest line of Vermont made furniture and their styles include traditional, Shaker and modern furniture, such as the:
Berkeley Cherry Bedroom Set (Modern Asian style)
Copeland's signature style is kind of a clean, simple elegance that's very popular in the more chic neighborhhods of Manhattan and other cities. But we love it up here in rural Vernon VT too!
A few logistical details: the sets are designed to save you on shipping. We couldn't lower the prices of the furniture in the sets because we already have Copeland furniture priced as low as possible. In fact we have a low price guarantee on Copeland furniture. But with the sets, you save on shipping– which is significant. Rather than paying $300/piece for white glove delivery, you can order as many pieces as you like and pay just $450 for shipping and white glove delivery of the whole set.
Check out the sets and let us know what you think. We've tried to make them versatile so you can customize your set online with any combination of pieces you might like, but I'm sure we haven't thought of everything. Give us a call if you can't find the exact pieces you need for your set. Rebecca and Shannon will be happy to hear from you!
One more thing. So far we just have Copeland bedroom sets up but in another month or so we'll have their collection of Frank Lloyd Wright dining sets as well. If you're looking to purchase before then, just call.
We have conversations with customers every day about the color of real cherry wood furniture. It's no wonder! When I just googled "real cherry wood" these images are what came up. Quite a variation, isn't it?
First of all, half of these images are NOT of cherry wood. When the big American furniture companies started off-shoring their furniture to China over 30 years ago they found it cheaper to use rainforest woods (rather than import cherry from North America and then export it back to North America as furniture). So they stained these cheaper woods and gave them various trade names containing "cherry".
Many times customers come to us looking to buy real cherry furniture that matches existing cherry pieces in their homes. After discussions and emailing pictures back and forth they are shocked to find that their "cherry" furniture from Bassett, Broyhill, Ethan Allen, Thomasville or other big "American" companies is not cherry at all but rubberwood, poplar or some kind of engineered hardwood.
At Vermont Woods Studios, our cherry furniture is indeed made out of real, solid North American Black Cherry wood. The color starts out as a light pink and slowly ripens to a rich reddish brown over time, depending on how much light the furniture is exposed to. See various colors of cherry wood as it changes colors.
Remember when you used to clean up your bedroom by hiding everything under the bed? Well now you can do that in style! Luxury solid wood platform beds with underbed storage drawers are best sellers at Vermont Woods Studios this year.
Metropolitan apartment dwellers trying to make the most of furniture for small spaces are finding that underbed storage drawers can elegantly replace the need for chests, dressers and armoires.
Storage beds can also provide space for shoes, seasonal clothing, blankets and linens. This one is the Harbor Island Platform Storage Bed and it's shown here in solid natural maple wood, although you can customize it online with dark wood colors too.
The matching nightstand is designed to let you pull out the storage drawers easily. There's another Harbor Island nightstand with a drawer if you prefer, but you'll have to move it aside to open the storage drawers.
All of our storage beds are 100% made in America (right here in Vermont actually) of sustainably harvested wood with family-friendly non-toxic finishes. Check them out!
Wood dining tables are our most popular, best selling pieces at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture. Most customers come to us for solid cherry wood tables, but we also build a good number of tables in maple, walnut and oak wood too. Occasionally we get a custom order for wood tables made out of other woods, like the reclaimed barnwood farm table that Yankee Magazine is featuring in their March/April issue this year.
So why wood? I mean you could eat off a glass top table or a metal table or even a plastic table. I think for many people, wood makes an important emotional connection that maybe we're not even consciously aware of. A customer recently told me she came to us because of the natural, organic apsect of our wooden furniture. She said that trees are actually a source of spiritual sustenance and renewal for her. I was thinking about that and came across this passage about trees written by woodworker and naturalist Brian Clifford:
A tree is a thing of beauty and wonderment, huge, but full of life and movement. A deciduous tree is the embodiment of the changing seasons: a stark framework in winter, bursting life in spring, a vast green canopy in summer and the bearer of seeds and fruit in the autumn. It is the embodiment of man's condition: birth, life, death, regeneration and rebirth.
I'm not sure people choose wood for their dining and kitchen tables for reasons quite that deep, but I love reading Brian's thoughts and philosophy about the relationship between trees and man. He notes that our ancestors evolved in trees:
The period our ancestors spent in the trees was of great formative importance; this was the environment in which man's basic structures, brain, sense organs, limbs and reproductive system, evolved. In response to the exigencies of living in trees the animal's paws were modified into members able to grip: the claws atrophied, the digits lengthened, and an opposed thumb developed. The eyes became larger and moved towards the front of the head providing three-dimensional vision. In concert with these bodily changes, and their application in confronting the dangers in the tree tops, the creature's brain developed new features and increased in power.
Ha! It seems we owe our brain power to trees. I bet you never thought of that as the reason you were shopping for a wood dining table today.
I was working with one of our Vermont Woods Studios customers yesterday who was looking for a natural cherry bed to match existing cherry furniture in his bedroom. He’s had the existing furniture for about 10 years and now it’s a lovely, rich reddish brown color– something like this solid cherry bed made by Robin Chase.
The problem is that natural cherry starts out a much lighter wood, usually with a color similar to this Cherry Moon Bed and it takes time to darken as it is exposed to light. The length of time to go from this light color to the darker color above varies with the amount of light in the room and can take anywhere from a few months to a number of years. Most customers, however report that their furniture darkens within 6-12 months.
Customers often ask if there is a way to speed up the process and the consensus among our craftspeople is that the best solution is just to expose the furniture to as much light as possible. Adding a dark stain is also a possibility but woodworkers always plead with us to have patience and wait it out instead. For most customers, the result truly is worth waiting for, especially since our furniture is purchased for a lifetime of use. Check out more photos of our natural cherry furniture in the Cherry Moon Collection, Vermont-Made Shaker Collection and throughout our website.
Similar to the term American Made Furniture, there's no standard definition for "fine furniture". But a customer brought this up yesterday so I thought I'd take a shot at it. At Vermont Woods Studios we specialize in fine wood furniture, rather than upholstered furniture so I'll keep the discussion confined to that.
This may seem odd, but I'm going to put style aside for another subject because I think each creative woodworker has his or her own ideas about style. Naturally there has to be a strategic blending of form and function, but making a judgement about that is personal and subjective– you could write a library of books about it and still not reach a conclusion. I'm not sure style belongs in a definition for fine furniture.
So for now I'll stick to tangible perameters like craftsmanship, uniqueness, joinery, type of wood, type of finish, sustainability and durability– plus one intangible which I'll call karma. Today let's look at the type of wood a piece of furniture is made with first– then we can consider the other characteristics in the next few posts.
Fine wood furniture starts with hardwood (like cherry, maple, walnut and oak) as opposed to soft wood (like pine and other coniferous woods). Furthermore, in today's world (by my definition anyway) those hardwoods are grown sustainably in America as opposed to imported woods that are clear cut from the world's rapidly disappearing rainforests (like ipe, rubberwood, mahogany, jatoba and teak–this ties into a karma discussion). You can learn more about American hardwood species here: cherry wood, maple wood, walnut wood, oak wood.
It's not just the wood species that sets fine wood furniture apart. Once a species is selected, fine woodworkers go to greath lengths to carefully select each board that goes into a piece of furniture, depending on where the board is being placed (like in a drawer front, part of a table top, an accent piece or part of the frame).
Woodworkers select boards based on things like grain, color, texture, shape, character and whether it's part of the tree's heartwood (inner circles of the tree and dark in color) or sapwood (outer circles of the tree and light in color). There are different levels of attention to detail in wood selection and they are reflected in the price of a piece of furniture. Many of our woodworkers in Vermont are aligned with the philosophy of George Nakishima who felt that wood selection is an almost sacred art that honors The Soul of a Tree. Others are more practical but both philosophies on wood selection can be the foundation of a great piece of "fine furniture" depending on what the customer is looking for.
All of our Vermont made Dining Room Furniture is on sale starting today and going through next Tuesday, June 21.
Just in time for summer! Take a few minutes out of your busy BBQ, pool-side and tanning schedule to check the sale out.
Now is the perfect time to order handmade, heirloom quality dining room furniture as it takes about 6-10 weeks to build. While you're outside enjoying the sun, we'll be crafting your furniture and then delivering it just about when you're moving dinner from the picnic table to the dining room.
Furniture made of solid cherry wood is considered some of the finest furniture available in the world today. That's because cherry is a beautiful, stable hardwood that develops a rich reddish brown patina over the years and just keeps getting more gorgeous as time goes by.
I'm always saddened when customers tell us they've been searching in their local areas and online for solid cherry furniture and they haven't been able to find the real thing.
What's happened is that the larger furniture companies (like Bassett, Lane, Broyhill, Thomasville, Ethan Allen and others) have opted for low-price over quality in their furniture designs. They typically use cheaper, lower quality woods, stain them and then call them "cherry". The worst part is that the stains don't even remotely look like real cherry wood, but this cheap furniture is so plentiful that people often think that stain is the actual color of cherry. At Vermont Woods Studios Furniture it breaks our craftsmans' hearts when people ask them to stain solid cherry furniture to make it match existing fake "cherry" furniture that's in their homes.
Here are some examples of solid cherry wood furniture. You'll notice there are varying degrees of color. Natural cherry wood starts out a light pinkish color and darkens over time with exposure to light. Eventually it ripens to a stunning reddish brown. You can hasten the darkening process by oiling the wood often.
If you're shopping for cherry furniture and you have any doubts about the wood, be sure to ask the salesperson if it's authentic cherry wood. Ask where it's from too. The best cherry in the world is grown in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and because we don't have much cherry in Vermont, that's where we get ours from. More on cherry wood furniture here.
Wondering how to select the right hardwood for your furniture? For most of our customers, wood color is the first priority when selecting a hardwood, followed by strength and durability. At Vermont Woods Studios we offer exclusively American hardwoods that are harvested responsibly from well managed forests.
One of the characteristics that customers are often surprised about is that some woods change colors over time, as they are exposed to light. Black cherry is the most notable of these woods. It can start out almost as light as maple wood, but over time it will mature and ripen to a deep, rich reddish brown color.
Have any questions about furniture hardwoods? Give us a call! We'll look forward to hearing from you.