Tips & Insights

Jeanne Chung’s Custom Resource Guide

A selection of showrooms that specialize in personalization

The way interior designers and small furniture retailers do business has changed dramatically. Big box and online merchants enjoy real advantages in pricing and overhead. To compete, you have to offer an experience that no one else can. For me, the key has been providing my clients with personalized products that are tailored to their lifestyles, design preferences, and spaces.

I make it a point to attend High Point Market twice a year to stay current with new introductions. Plus, it’s the perfect place to discover vendors whose products are unique to my design aesthetic, especially ones that have built their entire business around custom designs. Here are a few of my personal favorites for personalized products.

Wesley Hall

What I love best about Wesley Hall is that they make it a point to make every detail a priority. For example, I added a bridle bit detail to a chair for a client who happens to be an accomplished equestrian. Wesley Hall president Zack Taylor personally oversaw the placement, and sent photos for my approval. Now that’s customer service!

In customization, they offer great options in nailhead patterns, and unique combinations of contrasting fabrics and trim.

To create a tailored look, I like to mix and match dining room chairs in contrasting fabrics and trims. Here, I can choose from a full library of styles, and then add a little pizazz without breaking the bank.

The Nathaniel sconce, developed in collaboration with Robert Abbey, can be created using the customer's own fabric. Plus, a variety of nail head trims and patterns can be used to personalize even further.

Dunes and Duchess

The dynamic duo of photographer Michael Partenio and acclaimed stylist/writer Stacy Kunstel are collectively known as Dunes and Duchess. Known for their colorful selection of craftsman-turned wood furniture and accessories, their candelabra is what first caught my eye. You’ll see it in show houses around the country, and on the pages of shelter magazines. Each of their pieces is available in a variety of vibrant colors, and can be matched to any Benjamin Moore paint, giving you almost endless possibilities.

Mitchell Black

This lifestyle brand offers a collection of antique etchings that can be printed in any one of 17 designer colors. Then, the art is mounted onto a modern clear acrylic frame in which it appears to float. Very rarely can I find a line that I can place in the most sophisticated spaces as well as a space for a juvenile. With images ranging from classical Greek statues and architecture to bugs and bicycles, there is something for every personality and design aesthetic.

Jonathan Charles

The custom dining table program at Jonathan Charles lets you specify everything from style, dimensions, leaf type (drop in, radius, butterfly, etc), base, and materials to details (cross banding, inlay, marquetry, parquetry are a few), corner shape, and sheen. To see just how many options you have, stop by their High Point showroom where they have a section dedicated to showing you every choice available.

Beverly Furniture

If you haven’t been to High Point recently, you may not have seen Beverly Furniture, as they’ve only recently started showing here. In business for more than 60 years, they are as well known for their casegoods as their upholstery, and have a long-standing reputation for quality and customization. Size, shape, details, finish and fabric can all be tailored to your specifications. Plus, they can reproduce from a picture or interpret your ideas and create drawings for approval prior to production.

To give you an idea of just how much they can do, I am currently working with Beverly on a custom piece that will serve as both a traditional cocktail table and a game table. How? Take a turned-wood pedestal cocktail table with inlaid antiqued mirror, outfit it with a hydraulic lift, and it converts into a game table with a simple flip of a lever.

I have also had the pleasure of touring the Beverly Furniture facility and have seen sinuous sag free springs being attached to hardwood frames to be made into seating, right before my eyes. I can't stress enough how important it is for the designer and small retailer to understand how furniture is made so that we can educate the consumer. Take any chance you get to visit the factory that produces your goods!

Taylor Burke Home

Modern, colorful, and eclectic, Taylor Burke Home offers a number of items that appeal to the custom-driven market. Their stylish "Don't Fret" pendant with brass rivet detailing comes in two sizes and can be made to order in any Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams paint color.

"Don't Fret," has also been translated into a 36" ottoman. The color, upholstery, and tufting are all customizable.

Created in collaboration with Mirth Studio, the Petite Kelly Table was one of my Style Spotter picks in 2014. The top is custom made by printing any one of Mirth Studio's wood tile patterns onto a luon board. The tiles look hand painted, but each is actually a digital photograph of a painting. If you’re looking for a truly unique flooring solution, be sure to check out Mirth Studio’s line of wood floor tile. It’s nothing short of spectacular.

Lorts

Another family owned and operated company that has been manufacturing furniture for almost 50 years, Lorts is best known for the custom stains, color, and finish techniques on their tables and casegoods. They can custom match their painted casegoods and seating frames to any Sherwin Williams paint color, and their range of finishes includes 3 wax levels, 4 different distress levels, gold and silver leafing, plus a number of premium techniques that utilize more than one finish.

Lorts has also mastered the art of designing furniture to maximize space and fit the customer’s lifestyle. Some noteworthy pieces include an adjustable height executive desk, hidden TV storage, a chest of drawers with hidden storage beneath the top, and a cocktail table that can convert into a small dining table. Flexibility is a word I have heard quite often recently, and Lorts offers many pieces that allow you to customize function, as well as form and finish.

Alden Parkes

A few Markets ago I stopped into the Alden Parkes showroom to discover this beauty.

Made of resin, it is virtually indestructible, and the perfect solution to a home where furniture takes a beating. The best thing about this table is that the color is completely customizable. You just tell them what three colors you want, and Alden Parkes will create this marvelous marble effect during the production process. The result – a durable and completely custom look that is tailored to your client's color palette.

The custom resources at High Point are not limited to the resources I have listed here – these are just a few of my picks to get you pointed in the right direction. The best way to find out what is new – and to find what works best for you – is to make sure you make it to Market. Here, you can get inspiration from how the showrooms are merchandised, carefully select the products that will differentiate you from everyone else, and find your own favorite resources. I know I’ll discover more great ideas on my next trip. If you’d like to follow my explorations, be sure to visit my blog, www.cozystylishchic.com, where I share my special finds, track trends, and discuss new ways to get an edge on the market.