A simple way to communicate your personality and style is with furniture. Rather than buying foreign-made, mass-produced chairs and tables, you can shop for American-made pieces that are produced in smaller batches or custom-designed.
North Carolina remains the furniture-making hub of America. Companies such as the Comfortable Couch Company in Cornelius include videos of workers sewing leather upholstery in their advertisements to assure customers that their chesterfields are, indeed, made onsite.
But there are many independent companies manufacturing furniture in the United States that use traditional woodworking techniques to handcraft each item for both custom and ready-made pieces. Whether your taste runs to rustic, contemporary or eclectic, you can find a variety of high-end, top-quality furnishings without requiring a passport to visit a showroom or studio.
Here are some recent finds:
Tall Chairs and Short Boxes
Want a chair that demands attention? You may like this red chair, a finalist at the 2014 Niche Awards. Clint Parker, a furniture maker from southeastern Michigan, made the stack laminated ply chair with faux sharkskin upholstery, red aniline dye and a water base lacquer.
Clint also makes tables and other furnishings for the luxury market, including “Pandora’s Other Box,” which measures 11″x 8″x 7″. The limited edition box is made of cocobolo veneer over white alder with black lacquer accents.
Clint’s designs can be seen at shows such as The Architectural Digest show in New York and The One of a Kind show in Chicago or on his website, TheWoodlandStudio.com.
Lounge in Luxury
Looking for a comfortable chair that doesn’t look too lounge-y? Reagan Hayes, a Los Angeles interior designer whose work has been featured in magazines such as Elle Décor, Veranda, Luxe, and Lonny, makes her upholstered products with solid hardwood, down-wrapped cushions and eight-way, hand-tied springs. Her Emerson Lounge manages to be both elegant and inviting. Hayes’s collection also includes tables, sofas and dining chairs.
Orange is the Nouveaux Bleu
Want a cabinet, bed, chair, sofa or table influenced by the beaches of Orange County, the architecture of Paris and the bold shapes of art deco? Consider the SHINE by S.H.O. collection set to be featured in Elle Décor, Luxe and Riviera magazines.
The S.H.O. founders grew up near their studio in San Juan Capistrano, and you’ll see elements of their sun-soaked lifestyle as well as their interest in foreign shores and far off decades in furnishings such as the Ines cabinet in bleached oak with waterfall white carerra marble top and sides and the Guivivere chaise, which seems made for modern royalty.
Remodel with Reclaimed Materials
Combine 9, a “furniture art” company in southern California, makes home and office furniture from reclaimed and salvaged materials. If you like vintage industrial-style furniture, you may like the tables, desks, liquor cabinets and other furniture built by the Los Angeles-area company.
The collective of artists, designers and builders at Combine 9 recently created a TV stand using reclaimed materials from a barge. Most items are made to order and can be shipped worldwide.
Daniel Strack, a Chicago-based woodworker, also makes interesting pieces from reclaimed wood. This English walnut coffee table, for example, offers a simple, clean design, which draws the eye to the intriguing patterns in the wood. Daniel finds or reclaims most of the materials, including mahogany, cedar and hickory, in his furniture creations.
Rebuild with History
Want your design project to connect with American history? You can fill your living spaces with hand-finished, solid pieces made by Simply Amish or simply tuck one of its pieces, such as a raised panel storage bench in oak, in a den or other comfort-seeking part of your home.
If you want your remodeling effort to synergize with American history, Adams Creek offers 160 years of carpentry and furniture design experience. The company uses cherry wood from a 10,000 acre forest it owns and manages near its Ohio plant.
Renovate with Compromise
Style and comfort frequently fight for space in living rooms. American Leather offers a peacemaking compromise with its Comfort Recliner. The sleek design includes independent back and footrest options and infinite stopping positions. Hidden tension knobs allow you to adjust the amount of resistance in the back, which can be reclined without pressing down on the arms of the chair.
Dallas-based American Leather can build and ship its leather and upholstery products, which include sofa sleepers, beds, sectionals and theatre seating, in about 30 days. The company’s products are also sold at retailers such as Design Within Reach, Cantoni and Pottery Barn.
Outdoor Design Statements
Good taste doesn’t have to end at the front door. Tony Rotter, a San Diego woodworker, creates custom tool-boxes that combine function and aesthetics and would stand proudly in any garage. He also builds high-end furniture, including Murphy beds, cabinets and indoor bridges. Tony says he enjoys the technical challenge and artistry required to “transform a mundane piece of furniture into an eye-catching wood sculpture.”
Woodard, a 148-year-old Michigan company, makes all of its outdoor furniture at its plant in Owosso. The company’s Atlas collection features wrought-iron craftsmanship and generously proportioned arm chairs designed to “swaddle you in comfort with pillow-soft cushions and luxuriant fabrics.”
Tables Topped with Stories
It’s one thing to tell your neighbors that your coffee table was crafted by an American artisan. But, if you’d like to show your guests pictures of the tree that became your table, desk or bench, consider Urban Hardwoods for your next remodel project. They work with a Washington tree-cutting service to create furniture from trees that would otherwise be thrown away. The declining health of a tree can mean its rebirth as a work of functional art, such as this tabletop made from an American elm tree salvaged from the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.
Where do you find your favorite pieces of furniture? From around the corner or around the world? Do you care where they’re manufactured or crafted?
Please share your thoughts about your favorite (or not so favorite) furniture makers in the comments section below. And, if you haven’t already, please join the Revuu community. You can upload photos of your furniture, appliances and more and tell other interior designers, contractors and homeowners whether the luxury goods lived up to their promises. All honest opinions welcome!
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