COMERFORD COLLECTION: Custom Furniture Design

Why did you start making custom furniture?

In 1999 we started making furniture as an antidote to the English country pine look that was prevalent in the Hampton’s. I had recently attended a trade show trip in Paris where I saw the development of a minimalism trend in furniture. Graphic simplicity and dark woods were clearly emerging after a decade of eclectic design. In the Hampton’s there weren’t any contemporary home furnishings stores and so we saw an opportunity to showcase handcrafted solid wood furniture in cherry, but mostly walnut and ebonized mahogany.

How has the custom furniture aspect of your business evolved over the years?

It’s an interesting question and when I thought about this I realized that 22 years ago when we started our business, customers were working directly with us on custom furniture. Now we have developed a more robust business with the interior design trade. So many different trends have come and gone, but essentially we are still doing the same thing- filling a niche in the market for unique pieces specifically designed for our customers homes. By offering flexibility in size and finishing, we can create solutions for specific situations. I think design has really blossomed with so many different threads of vintage design propelling the styles of furniture. We are all (design professionals and not) so much more educated about design movements and their influences due to Instagram, Pinterest and just the wealth of research available at our fingertips.

What is the process like working with clients on their custom furniture?

Commissioning custom furniture requires a level of trust from our clients. We have to be sure that we are clearly explaining what they should expect. Solid wood furniture is made to last but there are characteristics about the wood, grain, color, movement that are important to consider when designing pieces. Wood is a natural product and no two trees are the same! Our design process always starts off with a quote and a sketch that we review with the workshop to troubleshoot any potential issues and to review hardware and other materials. We will then produce wood samples for approval if needed and start building. If we are developing a unique edge design or something that can’t be communicated effectively with a drawing, we will make a small sample.

What is the most fun part about working with other creative people?

It is a privilege to work with expert artisans who are passionate about what they create. It is an absolute pleasure to be able to represent them in our shop and to promote their work.

What custom furniture do you make? Are there any current trends that are influencing your designs?

Our most popular pieces of furniture are dining tables, sideboards, consoles, coffee tables and accent tables. We have seen over the years a definite preference for walnut and now lately greyed, bleached or cerused oak. One of my favorite finishes is a cream ceruse on a slightly aged white oak and flat black on rift sawn oak. Our customers are also drawn to lacquer colors which can be really dynamic in a space.

What are the most popular pieces that people commission to have custom made?

Currently we are having a run on desks! Everyone needs to create a comfortable place to work at home as companies are reassessing the need for their employees to be on site.

What is the most rewarding part of creating custom work?

The most rewarding part of the process is when our customers tell us we exceeded their expectations.