The beauty of my job is that every project is different. Each project that comes across my work table is as unique as the client it belongs to. Additionally, every client comes with their own sense of style, taste, desires and inspiration and my job is to help them interpret and define all of that. My role is not to dictate my personal style to my clients, but rather to guide them in their own.
This role requires finding the right home furnishings to represent and serve the client well and this can be a challenge. I always seem to be looking for that perfect piece of furniture to meet a client’s unique needs. When the perfect piece of furniture cannot be found in the standard offerings from a manufacturer, I often suggest my clients consider a custom piece of furniture.
Today, many manufacturers offer options to customize furniture that go beyond selecting your own fabric. With many lines, you can design and order furniture to suit your requirements for size, comfort, finish, embellishments, and best of all, function.
Here are a few advantages of ordering custom furniture:
One size does not fit all.
When I am called upon to design a custom piece of furniture, it is usually because the standard piece does not fit. Like Goldilocks, it has to be just right!
Most major upholstery manufacturers have a “Build Your Own” or “Personal Choice” offering in their line. This allows the designer to create a chair, sofa or sectional by selecting the seat and back style, type of skirt or feet, type of cushion, embellishments like nail trim, and best of all, length and depth. Some high end manufacturers even let you build to the inch. This is ideal when dealing with tight spaces.
It is the same for case good lines. Many manufacturers allow us to change the size of their pieces and make small design changes, such as adding a shelf to a console table or choosing a different material for a table top. And we love lines that offer “Color Matching”. Color matching lets the designer select ANY paint color and the manufacturer will match it. This is a great way to add a custom pop of color and personality to your room.
There are also many talented small furniture craftsmen who can design and build almost anything you want. This is a good option if you want something truly unique and built for very specific requirements. There is a greater lead time with this option, as you must allow time for field measurements, design discussions, drawings and the finish sample must be approved. All said, it is well worth the wait to get the perfect piece.
These custom pieces were done for a client where space was an issue. The client was able to specify details such as the crown molding, color/stain, legs and so much more
Clients often see dollar signs when I mention custom furnishings, but actually customizing a piece of furniture is not as expensive as you might think. Most high quality furniture is bench made, or one piece at a time. Therefore, to modify or customize for specific requirements is not a big deal. The upcharge for customizing a piece ranges from 10%-25%, making it worth consideration to get a piece that is exactly the way you want it.
Kitchen island for a client with a custom live edge top
Well-designed custom furniture is created by a team. The designer, client and fabricator all collaborate on the design, selection of materials, finish and details. This is not the case with a standard line item. Custom pieces always get more attention at the factory and are often made from hand selected materials. The result is a better quality item that has been designed just for you.
Form follows function.
All furniture is functional. It is designed and built to meet our needs for eating, lounging, sleeping, storage, work or play. However, there are times when a “standard” piece of furniture does not stand up to the task. The perfect solution for this situation is a custom piece of furniture. A good craftsman will consider your specific requirements for space and functionality. They will build a piece that works for you and fits your purpose. I particularly like when a piece serves double duty. For example, a wine rack that fits perfectly in a small dining room and also acts as a serving piece. Or a cocktail table that is built to a specified height and top dimension to nest 4 small ottomans under the glass. These ottomans can be pulled out for additional seating when needed. Beauty with the added benefit of function…it doesn’t get better than that!
This customized cocktail table was an ideal solution for our client!
This is my favorite reason to specify a custom piece of furniture. Sometimes you just want a special piece to draw the eye and create some attention in a room. I love working with clients on these types of pieces—ones that enhance a space and give it character. These custom pieces start with a creative vision from the designer or client. The right components and materials must be selected and a good craftsman or furniture manufacturer employed. The result is a piece that is a statement of your own unique style and personality.
A good example of this is a fabulous ottoman we designed a few years ago. We were working with a client to create a “cowgirl chic” feel in her family room and we needed a statement piece, something to add character to the room.
Our inspiration was a gorgeous antique Kilim rug and we used it to cover an ottoman. It looks fabulous and gives the room an instant heirloom quality.
The idea of customizing a piece of furniture should not intimidate you. There are many trusted manufacturers in the market today who are eager to help you create a piece of furniture that meets your specific requirements, but more importantly, one that reflects your own style.