In the world of Vermont's Made to Order Furniture there are many advantages: your furniture is handcrafted especially for you, you can customize it to fit exactly into your space, you can feel good about the fact that your furniture is made from trees that are harvested sustainably with respect for the forest environment… and so on. But there is one downside to having furniture built just for you: it takes time.
Depending on who is making your furniture (we work with a dozen or so independent furniture makers), and what they've already got in their cue, it can take anywhere from 2-16+ weeks from the day you place your order to the day it is complete. Typically the crafting time is about 6-8 weeks, but specialty items or furniture that's being made by our most popular craftsmen can take longer.
Then after the furniture is built, it takes another 1-5 weeks to ship it, depending on where the customer lives. Fine furniture cannot be FedEx'd (unless maybe it's an end table or something that's been designed for quick-ship).
So Rebecca uses a series of emails and phone calls to keep clients in the loop during the crafting and shipping process. She and a customer were talking aout it in terms of old Vermont sayings yesterday– like "slower than molasses running uphill in January" and "It takes less time to do something right than to explain why it was done wrong".
In this world of instant gratification, where most furniture buyers walk into Bob's Discount Furniture, Ikea or Ashley Furniture and walk out an hour later with something that's substandard and unsustainably produced overseas by huge multi-national conglomerates, we find ourselves immensley grateful to our customers for their patience in waiting for the real thing. When buying furniture that's built to last a lifetime, we hope you'll feel it's worth the wait.
ps– Vermonters have a bunch of other funny old sayings. If you're interested, learn what "dryer than a popcorn fart", "flatlander" and "a chewing match" mean here at Virtual Vermont.
Yesterday we were discussing the different types of furniture that people call "custom wood furniture". My last post was about Made To Order Wood Furniture and Customized Wood Furniture. Today I wanted to distinguish these from true custom wood furniture and ultra luxury custom artisan furniture. Here are my thoughts:
- True Custom Wood Furniture is unique furniture that's made more deliberately and artfully than customized furniture. Usually, you'll want to work directly with the furniture maker if you're purchasing custom wood furniture because it's born from a collaboration between you, the customer and the furniture maker. Custom furniture is more expensive than customized furniture and for many good reasons. Design of custom furniture can take enormous amounts of time and several iterations before the furniture maker even progresses from the drawing board into the studio. Wood selection is also a time-intensive process with the woodworker hand-selecting each board for the proper grain, color, match, size and shape. Building a custom piece– well, it just takes, time, time, time. It's all about detail and custom pieces haven't been done exactly like this before (they're unique) so every step along the way is a little challenging. But the result with a custom piece is perfection, or near perfection anyway. And each piece is signed by its creator. If you're someone who truly understands and appreciates the fine detail of a custom piece, this is the way to go. It's not unusual for the price of a custom piece to be twice as much or more than a similar "made to order" or customized piece but the cost is a worthy investment for those who understand its enduring value.
- Custom Artisan Wood Furniture– well this is yet another notch up from true custom wood furniture. It's an ultra luxury. It's a piece of functional art. It's museum quality furniture that is a privilege to own. Lucky for us, Vermont is home to some of the world's most talented custom furniture artisans like Steve Holman, Dan Mosheim, Kit Clark and others, many of whom belong to the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers. Check out their websites and their blogs to understand how truly special and unique their furniture is. We work with these master craftspeople on a referral basis. When customers come to us looking to invest substantially and commission custom artisan furniture we help them find the artisan who is best suited to their needs. Usually it's based mainly on their style preference and the specific types of expertise and equipment needed to achieve their vision. But often other factors enter the decision including time constraints, budget, wood species, FSC or LEED criteria and such. We also take into account the personalities involved to make sure the experience is enjoyable, stress-free and enriching for both the customer and the artisan. Lastly, we negotiate a fair price so both parties achieve a win. Vermont Woods Studios was actually started as a company that would focus almost exclusively on marketing this important part of Vermont's heritage and culture.
So I hope this helps to better define "custom wood furniture" and draw a distinction between: made to order wood furniture, customized wood furniture, true custom wood furniture and ultra luxury custom artisan furniture. Customers often ask why the price of one of our pieces may be drastically different from another, when the two pieces look similar at first glance. The answer lies in the amount of time and expertise involved as well as the quality of the wood and hardware. At Vermont Woods Studios we're always happy to discuss these details and refer customers directly to our furniture makers when we've reached the limit of our own expertise. Learn more about commissioning custom wood furniture here.
What does "Custom Wood Furniture" mean to you? In talking to our customers, I can say that it means many different things to different people. At Vermont Woods Studios we have fine furniture that falls into varying degrees of what might be called "custom wood furniture", including:
- Made To Order Wood Furniture– this is our most popular type of furniture and our most affordably priced. Each piece is built here in Vermont especially for the customer however, it's not "custom furniture". The designs are existing tried and true designs that are pictured on our website. Some people will call "made to order" furniture "custom furniture" but as you read on, you'll see the difference.
- Customized Wood Furniture is the next step toward "custom furniture". Let's say you see a table on our website that you love but you need it a little longer or wider to fit in your space. Or you like a buffet but you'd like us to install your own drawer pulls. Or you want to select a different wood species than what's offered. Customized furniture takes existing designs and modifies them slightly. Since our furniture is made to order, it is easily customized and small changes don't usually add much to the price. Customized furniture is kind of a cool way to get unique furniture, tailored to your specific style and size at an affordable price.
Next Post: True Custom Wood Furniture and Custom Artisan Wood Furniture
Over the last 30 years, almost all the big American furniture manufacturers (including La-Z-Boy, Vaughan-Bassett, Broyhill, Drexel Heritage, Henredon, Hickory Chair, Lane, Thomasville, Ethan Allen and so on) have moved their operations overseas to China, Vietnam and other third world countries. The result has been cheaper prices, lower quality and the emergence of what we call "curbside furniture".
But there are still many companies that make high quality fine furniture right here in the USA and Vermont has more than it's share of them. That's why we call Vermont the Fine Furniture Capital of America. Throughout the off-shoring movement, only one Vermont furniture company I know of moved it's operations overseas. The rest stayed here in Vermont remaining true to their values of quality, integrity, sustainability and community.
We've profiled a number of these great American furniture makers including Vermont companies like Copeland Furniture and Lyndon Furniture as well as many small, custom, fine furniture makers including Steve Holman, Dan Mosheim, Chad Woodruff and Greg Goodman.
Today I wanted to highlight the work of Kit Clark, a consumate craftsman who specializes in luxury custom rocking chairs. "Furniture that fits you" is Kit's mantra and he makes custom rockers much like a tailor would make a custom suit. Each rocker is designed specifically to fit its owner. Kit studies a customer's posture, records their measurements and interviews them to understand any subtleties that could be used to enhance the comfort of their rocker. Then he goes back to the shop and eventually emerges with masterpiece in hand. Stop by Kit's shop in Ferrisburgh, VT if you get a chance. I can't think of a more luxurious Made in America Christmas present than a Kit Clark Rocker.
Recently the most popular designs for walnut furniture have been with natural, organic solid walnut slabs that are huge, heavy and thick. They make incredible dining and conference tables that are showstoppers when you walk into a room.
Our friend, artisan Greg Goodman made this custom live edge walnut slab table out of a one of the slabs to the left. I've not seen anything like it. I love the curved base– it gives it a modern contemporary look, don't you think?
We filmed Greg working on a similar slab table. If you're interested in these live edge works of art, you have to watch Greg's part in this video about Vermont Woods Studios craftsmen.
If you're pricing walnut furniture, you can count on spending about 25% more than for other woods. Sadly, walnut is becoming rare due to lack of forest management and disease. In fact a recent blight of something called "thousand cankers disease" is causing great concern about walnut trees all across the country. It seems walnut wood may not be available much longer. Same for the beloved walnut– a nut that reportedly boosts your brain power and provides powerful anti-oxidants.
The walnut trees we're using for live edge slab tables are harvested sustainably, with preservation of the species in mind. The trees are usually victims of urban development– once they were grand old sentinels along tree lined boulevards but age, concrete and road salt have taken their toll.
It's nice to see their beauty being preserved forever under the skilled and artful hands of craftsmen like Greg Goodman.
How do you like this custom made mission style table crafted by Lyndon Furniture?
On the way home after Thanksgiving dinner at Gramma's, we stopped by a housewarming party in St Johnsbury, Vermont. Bill and Peggy C. have just finished a spectacular timber-frame home that's nestled into the top of a mountainside, featuring gorgeous views of the meadows below.
The view of the natural setting is breath-taking, but the scenery inside the home is also awe-inspiring. The two world travelers have assembled such an interesting collection of art from all around the world!
We were excited to see many pieces of custom furniture that we had crafted for them. This photo is an octagonal mission style table that Bill designed along with matching mission chairs.
For the custom table, we started with our American Mission Dining Table. Bill liked the base pieces so we took 3 of them and arranged them in a triangle to make his base. Then we changed the top shape from rectangular to octagonal.
I love the way it turned out! If you're looking for custom furniture at an affordable price, Lyndon Furniture should be at the top of your list. Give us a call at Vermont Woods Studios and we'll help you find (or design) exactly what you're looking for!