Spruce Up for Spring with Custom Furniture

By Claire Larrabee

What better way to address that spring fever urge to renew, redo, and renovate than custom furniture! And with spring just around the corner, it’s worth taking time to think how you can spruce up your home. With handmade, custom furniture, you can have pieces that not only meet your functional needs, but that introduce a higher level of artistry and style to your home.

I need a new armchair for my recently renovated contemporary living room, so I have been surveying some of the custom furniture artists who exhibit at Paradise City to find one that can provide a unique finishing touch. The really cool part about custom furniture is that no matter what your taste–traditional, contemporary, mid-century modern, or something in between–there are artists out there producing just the right piece.

Living It Up in the Living Room

Tired of those boring beige armchairs? Get creative with Peter Handler who offers a completely different take on seating. Peter started his artistic life as a jeweler, using aluminum and metal machining as out-of-the-ordinary ways to express his creativity. In the 80s, he began to use aluminum to make tables, progressing to upholstered furniture in the early 90s. Peter loves color, so he looked for a way to turn aluminum into more than just a silvery-looking metal. Fabulous fabrics and brilliantly colored epoxy paint turned out to be the perfect solution.

Peter enjoys collaborating with his clients to design custom furniture. He appreciates the opportunity to think deeply about the client’s wishes, the room, and the client’s style. The results are amazing—furniture pieces that are full of color and fun and which bring an individual style statement to any home. For example, even when beige may be the right answer, Peter’s Bucket Chair combines richly textured neutral tones with curvy, deep blue aluminum legs for a totally wow take on the beige chair.

Peter Handler’s furniture using powder coated aluminum and unique upholstery fabrics.
(Left to Right: Bucket chair, Harlequin chair.)

Save the Earth While Sprucing Up

Ken Salem is an artist who appreciates old wood. Restoring a 1700’s Massachusetts farmhouse in the 1990s inspired Ken to turn beautiful old boards and beams into handcrafted furniture. Eighty percent of the lumber he uses to create both residential and commercial pieces comes from reclaimed and salvaged wood. The wood of old barns beyond repair and hardwood trees downed by storms are transformed into one-of-a-kind tables, benches, armoires, dressers, bedframes, and desks. Many of Ken’s pieces are custom commissions, built to fit a particular room and client.

Because Ken believes each piece of wood tells a story, he and his team conduct detailed historical research. They ask owners about the structure or tree, comb through town records, and talk with local people to document the wood’s history and help clients understand the significance of the wood that makes up a particular piece.

Create a modern look in your bedroom with Ken Salem’s old wood that tells a story.

Ken also works in what he calls “live edge” furniture. For these creations, he finds a unique piece of wood and lets the wood inform the design, maintaining its natural contour and tone. Ken combines the wood with resin and stone to create a seamless surface. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to run my hand over the surface of this desk to feel those smoothly combined materials.

Ken Salem’s “live edge” furniture lets the wood decide the design.

A “Feat” of Clay – Furniture from the Earth

We usually assume that furniture is made of wood and fabric. But Larry Elardo thinks otherwise. Larry has been crafting beautiful stoneware sculptures, bowls, cups, and other functional pieces for years, but recently he has expanded his range to include furniture. Indoors, Larry specializes in lamps, small tables, and footstools.

Larry’s passion is for texture, and he is always on the lookout for natural and man-made objects that he can turn into striking surfaces on his pieces. He keeps the basic form simple so that the texture will predominate. “I strive to create a visual touch factor where the viewer is compelled to reach out and touch the piece,” Larry says. He uses many different clays and stains to create his furniture pieces and likes to combine clay with other materials, such as wood, resin, and glass.

Larry Elardo is the “texture guy” who creates furniture that begs to be touched.
(Left to Right: End table of red stoneware, Red stoneware lamp with iron oxide stain)

You can also furnish your garden spaces with Larry’s unique outdoor pieces. His temple bells and arches, bird baths, planters, and sculptures lend structure to create fabulous outdoor rooms.

“Close-to-the-earth” color palette with pops of color to mimic the bright surprise of garden flowers
(Left to Right: Hand-built bell, Water plant container.)

Find Custom Furniture at Paradise City Marlborough in March

Peter Handler, Ken Salem and Larry Elardo will be showing their custom furniture at the upcoming Paradise City Arts Festival, March 23-25 at the Royal Plaza Trade Center, Marlborough, MA. In addition, there will be many skilled artists working in all sorts of media who bring fresh perspectives to brighten your home. Click here for more information on the show, including hours, location, admission and exhibitors. Or, buy tickets here. Hope to see you there!