Tips for Buying Fine Quality Wooden Furniture
If you’re shopping for top quality bedroom furniture sets, I’m sure you’ve noticed they’re priced considerably higher than the run of the mill sets you’ll find at Jordan’s or Bernie and Phyls. But if you want timeless, real hardwood furniture you’ll have for a lifetime, (something you’ll never have to replace) then what you’re really interested in is getting the best value, not the lowest price, right? My suggestion: first find the best quality furniture you can afford (here’s a solid wood furniture buying guide to help with that) in the style and wood species you love.
American Made or Imported?
Second, check to see where it’s made. If it’s imported furniture, you probably want to keep shopping. Honestly, I rarely hear complaints about the quality of virtually any American made, solid hardwood furniture (and the more local you buy, the better chance you have of getting the craftsperson or manufacturer to stand behind the product over it’s lifetime). On the other hand, there are dozens of consumer review sites filled with complaints about the imported furniture products found at big box stores like Ikea, Ashley and Bob’s. Quality can be quite poor and there’s little chance of getting satisfactory customer service.
How to Get the Best Furniture Value
Once you’ve found your favorite top quality, American made bedroom furniture, crafted of real solid hardwood, then start to work with the craftsman or retailer to get their best discount price. Remember however that American furniture involves using real, legal, sustainably harvested wood and American craftsmanship. Furthermore, US furniture makers don’t typically “mark up to mark down” so you’re unlikely to find “discounts up to 80%”. But often there is room for some negotiation.
Buy Top Quality Furniture in Sets to Get a Volume Discount
At Vermont Woods Studios for instance, we have a standing discount of 20% on bedroom sets* plus we offer a discount on full service white glove shipping and delivery when customers are buying 3 or more pieces. Like many online retailers, we offer a coupon code (BEDROOMSET20) for customers who prefer to purchase fine furniture online (be sure to “update cart” to get the discount). Otherwise customers can give us a call or stop by our showroom to receive the discount.
So my advice, if you’re shopping for the best price on high quality, real solid wood beds, chests, dressers, armoires, night stands, mirrors, blanket boxes and such is to focus on quality and style first. Find the American made bedroom furniture you love that will last a lifetime and then negotiate on price afterwards. My sense is that in doing the research you’ll find most USA made fine furniture is honestly priced and retailers are looking to give both you and the craftsman a fair deal.
Looking for the best fine furniture sale this Cyber Monday? We polled our customers to find out what topped their wish list in fine furniture sales today. The Top 5 Choices are below. Naturally we’ve put them all on sale! We’re offering a full 20% off* which is our best discount and lowest price ever. So if you’re still contemplating investing in the fine furniture you’ve always dreamed of, take a serious look. All of our real wood furniture is 100% American made, built to order right here in Vermont and guaranteed for a lifetime of service to your family.
Vermont craftspeople have mastered the art of simple elegance in their many variations of Shaker style furniture, ranging from a strict interpretation of the original Shaker pieces to creative versions with modern functionalities, curves and hardware. Simple aesthetics and sturdy design remain at the heart of today’s Vermont Shaker style furniture.
Natural Cherry Wood Furniture
American Black Cherry Wood is a favorite among our customers as it develops a lustrous, rich reddish brown patina over the years. Premium quality real cherry wood furniture is hard to find and often imitated (poorly) so don’t be fooled by the imports sporting cherry trade names. Vermont is well established as the “go to” place to purchase real cherry wood furniture. Our customers favorite natural cherry wood furniture continues to be Robin Chase’s Asian Shaker Cherry Moon Collection.
Black Walnut Furniture
American Black Walnut Wood is the only really dark North American wood. Like cherry it’s a prized, premium hardwood that carries a commensurate price tag. Vermont woodworkers are specialists in black walnut furniture, handcrafting it from top quality solid walnut wood. Copeland Furniture makes many of our best sellers in real walnut furniture including the Catalina Bedroom Furniture Collection, the Soho Collection and this year’s brand new Moduluxe Sectional Bedroom Furniture Collection.
Craftsman Style Furniture
Today’s Vermont made Craftsman Style Furniture ranges from Copeland’s strict replicas of Frank Lloyd Wright furniture to modern Contemporary Craftsman furniture. Vermont craftsmen focus on refined details such as exposed joinery, quarter sawn oak and high end period hardware that set our furniture apart from the rest.
Solid Wood Dining Tables
Especially around the holidays, customers are always looking for Vermont made top quality, solid wood dining tables. They are our best sellers at this time of year, with extension tables in highest demand. All of our dining tables are made of solid wood and most can be customized with one leaf, two leaves or even three leaves. Natural cherry wood is the best seller for dining tables although black walnut, maple and oak are all popular. Looking for a particular style or design? You’ll find many choices from traditional Shaker dining tables, to modern tables, craftsman tables, mission tables, reclaimed barn wood tables and live edge dining tables. All are American made of solid wood right here in Vermont.
So there you have it, our customer’s Top 5 Fine Furniture Sale categories. Is there something here for you? Let us know what you’re shopping for this Cyber Monday on our Facebook.
* Excludes Copeland and Polywood furniture however they are always covered by a low price guarantee | Minimum $2000.00 purchase necessary
ADA Compliance: Lift vs Ramp
When expanding, small retail businesses in Vermont often consider historically significant spaces such as downtown buildings or old farmhouses. ADA compliance is a major factor in determining the feasibility of such a move. Entrepreneurs should seek the advice of an architect or other professional during the earliest stages of planning.
Because many small businesses in Vermont are starting to consider expansion these days, I thought I’d share some of our experience with ADA Compliance at Stonehurst, our future Fine Furniture Gallery. In working with Jeremy Coleman + Company Architects and Bob Furlone of American Construction we’ve explored several alternatives to accommodating customers with disabilities. At first I began to call Jeremy Coleman “Dr. No”. He nixed every idea I had on layout and flow, because they weren’t ADA compliant. The codes aren’t intuitively obvious for a newcomer, but eventually I caught on.
The main challenge we have is that our 200 year old farmhouse sits 2 feet lower than the adjacent horse barn. Our plan is to connect the two buildings and transform them into a furniture showroom. But how will a person in a wheelchair be able to go from one building to the next?
We thought about a ramp, but there’s not enough room (a ramp cannot have more than 1″ rise in height per foot of length so that’s 24′ of ramp). Then we considered a 2′ high elevator lift, but it took up too much floor space and added $30,000 to our cost. Finally our builder, Bob Furlone suggested lowering the floor in the horse barn. It’s going to involve some excavating but we all feel it’s the best way to go.
We’re excited that soon we’ll be better able to accommodate the customers who contact us looking for customized furniture designed for wheelchair access. We’ve modified our dining tables many times by increasing the table height so a wheelchair can fit under the apron. Now those customers can come see us in person and enjoy the view of Vermont’s Green Mountain Forest while shopping comfortably from their wheelchair.
Stonehurst is still in the planning stages, while we wait for our Act 250 and other permits to be approved by the state of Vermont. After that happens, we’ll have a ground breaking ceremony and start digging. Stay tuned for more progress reports or follow us on Facebook for updates.
I made a visit to our local Vernon History Museum last weekend to learn more about Stonehurst, the 200 year old farmhouse property we recently purchased as the future home for our Vermont Fine Furniture Showroom. I was lucky enough to run into Peggy Frost, Nancy and Dale Gassett and a few other volunteers who were working in the museum’s gardens. Peggy knew just where the old photos of Stonehurst were stored so we went inside the museum and spent a few hours pouring through them.
The Original Stonehurst
The original Stonehurst farmhouse was built circa 1800 but I can only find photos going back to 1870 or so. Near as I can figure, the shot above would have been taken around the time that Stonehurst was sold by Noyes and Theresa Streeter to Lucretia Kendall for a sum of $2000.00. That was recorded on March 9, 1868.
Pine Top Ski Resort
Stonehurst had a very different life from the 1940s to the 1960s when it operated as a ski resort named Pine Top. You can see from the photo below that the house looked essentially the same through the ages. At some point it was painted red over the original white. And the horse barn-woodshed to the left of the house was converted to a dormitory for overnight skiers.
After talking with Barbara Moseley, our Vernon Town Historian, I learned that Pine Top was owned by Romey and Elsie Racine, a couple that moved to Vermont from New Jersey. “The Racines hosted vacationers and skiers in their welcoming lodge and operated a 3 run ski area with warming hut, equipment rentals and ski patrol. It was all staffed by local families.” Pine Top was set up to lodge up to 26 guests, often accommodating families of students from nearby boarding schools, Northfield Mount Hermon and Deerfield Academy.
Stonehurst Tomorrow: A Vermont Fine Furniture Showroom
Happily, Stonehurst looks pretty much the same today as it did 70 years ago when Pine Top was operating. The property was sold to Bill and Elaine Ellis after Pine Top closed and the Ellis’ transferred it to Vermont Woods Studios in August of this year. We’re now working with J Coleman + Company Architects and Bob Furlone of American Construction to transform the property into a Vermont Fine Furniture Showroom. The goal is to create a relaxing destination shopping experience for our customers who journey here from all around the Northeast and beyond.
Stonehurst, with it’s beautiful vistas and 100 acres of forested land provides a venue for us to convey our environmental mission and show people where sustainable, handmade furniture comes from. Stay tuned for progress reports and a grand opening for Stonehurst next Summer.
Interior design is not a new concept. For decades, people have been making a living by creating works of art with furniture and accessories as their palette and empty rooms as their canvas. It is probably not a surprise that fashioning the perfect design for the inside of your home is crucial to how you feel and react in your environment. Interior design is all about aesthetics. It’s about taking items that are visually appealing and combining them with your personality to create something unique and personal to you.
With consumers becoming more conscious about their impacts on our environment, it is no shock that people are starting to ask for green, eco-friendly furniture and building materials for their homes. Interior designers are capitalizing on this trend by offering environmentally friendly alternatives when creating a design for a client’s home. Now this begs the question, what exactly does sustainable interior design mean?
Basically, the difference between interior design and sustainable interior design is the difference between beauty and beliefs and how much they mean to you. Sustainable (or green) interior design can probably be broken down into 4 major components:
- *Air Quality
- *Energy Efficiency
- *Building Materials and the Three R’s (Recycling, Re-purposing, Reusing)
- *Economic Impact
Air quality is very important to interior design. The biggest decision a designer has to make is choosing pieces that are free of chemicals that can make people sick or pollute our environment. This usually means watching out for volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that can be found in paints, primers, glues, ink and cleaning products. Luckily, you can now buy furniture that uses glues and finishes that contain little or no VOC’s.
The area of energy saving interior design techniques is very broad. It can mean anything from choosing light bulbs that use less energy (like LED) to choosing products that are produced in America to reduce the energy it takes to ship them.
We’ve all heard some form of “The Three R’s”. Now-a-days it feels like there are many “r” words related to conservation. When it comes to green interior design, it is important to remember to recycle, re-purpose and reuse. Choose materials that have been recycled, like furniture made from recycled plastic. Remember that there are many products that are made by re-purposing old materials, like Reclaimed Barnwood Furniture. And always keep in mind things that can be used again before you toss them out.
When you purchase items without checking where they are sourced from, you risk supporting imported goods, rather than supporting the local American worker. Always research where your furniture and building materials come from and support American jobs and our local economy by buying American-made.
Creating a sustainable interior design concept doesn’t mean that you have to be 100% green, but you can make smart choices that will benefit the environment in the long run. You also don’t have to overhaul your entire home to start a green interior design. Make small changes around your home, like opting for new cleaning products or donating that department store furniture piece and trade it in for one made in America that has little to no VOC’s. These little changes will someday make a big difference.
If you are an interior designer, check out the discounts we can offer on our Vermont-made fine furniture.
The upcoming Columbus Day Weekend is commonly associated with big sales, leaf peeping, and getting a pumpkin for Halloween. Here in Vermont there are hundreds of events going on, making it the busiest weekend of the fall. If shopping is in your plans, we want to let you know about another sale. Starting today, we are kicking off our annual Columbus Day Storewide Furniture Sale. For 5 days you can save 15% off our American Made fine wood furniture, and receive free shipping!
This sale includes over 1,000 pieces of bedroom, dining room, living room, and home office furniture, all made with natural hardwood. Conveniently shop from your home this weekend on our online gallery. Feel free to use our Live Chat option from our online gallery, or give us a call at 888-390-5571 if you have any questions about our Vermont Made fine wood furniture.
Have a nice weekend!
Since forest conservation is a big part of my mission at Vermont Woods Studios, it’s been a little heart-breaking for me to see some of the 100 year old trees at Stonehurst being taken down. There were a handful that were leaning over the house and garage and Ken insisted that they were a hazard and had to go.
But lucky for me, Vince Johnson of Johnson Custom Milling in Vernon, VT came to the rescue. Vince is milling the trees so we can use them for future phases of construction at Stonehurst, our fine furniture showroom. Here’s a video of his portable sawmill in operation.
Ken and Jeremy Coleman of J Coleman & Company Architects are looking into building a solar kiln to dry the wood so we can use it as soon as possible.
And Dennis has plans to siphon off some of the wood to build bluebird houses, owl boxes and such. It’s turning out to be a fun project after all. Let us know on our Facebook if you have any thoughts or advice for us as we go down this road of renovation at Stonehurst, our future fine furniture showroom. We’ll be posting photos of the transformation and announcing details of our open house as we get closer to completion.
From Forest To Fine Furniture
The weather isn’t looking so great for leaf peeping in Vermont this weekend. So if you’re traveling around the Green Mountain State and looking for indoor activities, try heading to Woodstock, VT for the Ninth Annual Vermont Fine Furniture and Woodworking Festival.
This year’s theme is “From Forest to Furniture: Take Home a Piece of Vermont”. It dovetails with our plans at Vermont Woods Studios for a showroom at Stonehurst in that the focus is to raise awareness about where your furniture comes from.
Much like the organic food movement, the organic furniture movement is catching on. Customers are realizing both the economic and health benefits to buying locally crafted furniture, handmade from real, solid, sustainably harvested wood.
Come visit with some of the regions (and world’s) most respected fine furniture makers in Woodstock this weekend. You’ll be able to see and feel their furniture creations and also learn about the well-managed forests where their wood is harvested. Free tours are available of the nearby Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Here customers can experience the forest and learn about each of the many links in the chain from forest to trees to furniture.
Shown above: Brent Karner of ClearLake Furniture in Ludlow VT won first place for production furniture in the 2011 Vermont Fine Furniture Festival. Who is going to win this year?