Locating craftsmen to build custom, handcrafted, heirloom quality fine furniture for a decent price is a stretch on a good day. At Cherry Pond Fine Furniture, nestled in the heart of the White Mountains in Northern New Hampshire, we do it every day.
Peter, our President, is kept busy figuring quotes for a multitude of customers who need either minor changes, such as a coffee table widened or end cabinets shrunk, to major innovations that result in our company creating an entirely new conceptual piece. I especially appreciate finish sanding these custom pieces. Perhaps it’s the artist in me that enjoys the creative imaginations of our customers who take something that is naturally beautiful and make it their own.
A particular favorite of mine came from customers in Chicago who called their creation a “Bar Cupboard”. They began with a Cambridge double buffet and hutch set built out of hard maple. To customize it, they added two rows of wine racks at the base of the hutch, glass shelves, lights in the hutch and another light under the hutch which shone on the counter top which was to be made of stone (though an inch thick black walnut or tiger maple top finished with catalyzed lacquer would also be effective). They wanted the width of the set slimmer than normal while adding height to the hutch and depth to accommodate the wine bottles. The result was a beautifully lit wine station with the white wood of the maple adding to the luminescence. It was an amazing creation. I just did not realize our Cambridge hutch and buffet could do all that.
Building custom furniture can range from something relatively simple (such as when shrinking or enlarging a piece) to incredibly complicated (like when Matt, our chief engineer, built the spinning nautilus wall art project for the daughter of an MIT professor). The process begins with Peter bringing his custom request to Matt, either in the form of specific dimensions, or just a general idea, like when Mike from California asked us to build a surfboard coffee table in the Jackson style. Matt does a drawing, which is sent to the customer for acceptance or changes, and we take it from there. Sometimes, if it is something entirely new, (like Mike’s table), Matt will build a mock-up out of plywood just to get the visual and make any changes as necessary. For this project, Matt built a tiny one, then a plywood version, a maple version, then finally the actual top. Of course, the boys took a break to enjoy a ride on the board and Peter joined them with a more safety conscious simulated approach.
There is so much to tell you about our custom work, I will have to save the story about the Quincy bed for next time, but what I really love is this: Throughout our shop, when we are doing custom work, the customer becomes very personal to us. Their first name gets attached to the piece from wood selection in the rough end to the finishing process. Eli’s three drawer cabinets have the custom sliding tray in the top (shown below in center) and his twelve drawer Verdana dresser has extra-large custom drawers throughout (shown below on left). Ellen’s night stands just went into finishing and Jim and Debbie’s bedroom set should reach California in two weeks. Today I finally got to see the top which goes to Steve’s seven drawer dresser (shown below on right). It is extra wide with a special bend which gives it an oriental flavor. It feels like we are creating these very special pieces for family. Our days are filled with endless variety.
I will remind Peter to post a photo of the surfboard table when it is finished. In the meantime, people, keep those ideas coming!