2020 has been a year of collective realization about the importance of our living spaces and interior design. Not only are we all spending more time at home, but most of us are renovating, redesigning, and refreshing our spaces to fit the new normal. Because the pandemic has limited our choices in many ways, the appeal of custom, made-to-order furniture and decor has increased significantly.
While major players like Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Restoration Hardware have offered made to order furniture for years, buying truly customized and bespoke pieces used to require using an interior designer or knowing the right place to have something commissioned. This also meant visiting a brick and mortar location.
But now, smaller, direct to consumer and online-only retailers are leading the way in this category for both industry and regular consumers alike. “As a designer who works with clients who are exceptionally internet-savvy, they are doing a lot of their research online and are willing to purchase these products despite never having seen them in a showroom, because of the customer service and customization options they get for such affordable price points,” Ryshima Brar of R/terior Studio tells me.
In addition to simplifying the purchase process and shorter lead times that are days as opposed to weeks or even months long, other expectations are also exceeded as well. “[Additionally,] because these products are not mass-produced the quality control on them is impeccable, the process is transparent and customer service is great,” explains Brar.
Here are some of the brands leading the way in the direct-to-consumer custom furniture and decor market.
Coley Home’s signature product, The Crown Bed is a fully-upholstered bed and headboard set that arrives just ten days after purchase. Available in sizes Twin XL, Queen, and King, it’s customizable in a variety of ways. Coley offers six different headboard shapes in traditional, modern, and contemporary styles.
In terms of upholstery, the brand has a generous yet curated selection with 45 different fabrics to choose from, ranging from rich, jewel-toned velvets to flower prints, antique-inspired toiles, and neutral-colored linens. Piping can be added in 43 fabrics to five of the six headboards.
There are three different wood options for the legs: Weathered Oak, Simply White, and Ebony with hundreds possible design combinations for this piece.
Another selling point that sets The Crown Bed apart is the ease of assembly. This not only saves time and money but also eliminates unnecessary exposure during a pandemic.
Society Social makes a variety of custom furniture, including lounge chairs. Several styles are available including wingback, rocker, and swivel.
This modern traditional brand offers lots of fabrics from classic velvet to trendy prints like banana leaf, bold plaids, and even performance fabrics link Sunbrella that will maintain their vibrant colors for years to come. Customers can also use their own fabrics for upholstery.
There’s also the option to add a variety of accouterments from tape trim, to tassels, fringe, and contrast piping. To elevate the design further, contrasting fabric can also be added to the chairs for a unique two-tone look.
Everything is made in the company’s factory in Hickory, North Carolina. Those who need some extra help or want to experience the items in person are welcome visit the Society Social store in Charlotte.
One of the most impressive custom, made to order brands is Casa Kids. Known for multifunctional, modular pieces, designer and founder Roberto Gil combines bunk and loft beds with desks, storage, bookshelves, and even closets in a way that’s fun and refreshing. All items are handmade in Brooklyn, New York of sustainably-sourced Baltic Birch wood that has a non-toxic, water-based finish. Better yet, everything can be painted with any Benjamin Moore color.
With a stylish, minimalist aesthetic, these pieces are perfect for smaller rooms, apartments, and shared rooms in particular. Many of the desks and beds even have adjustable heights, which isn’t only cost-effective, it also reduces furniture waste.
The Dumbo Closet Bed is a great example of this. It features a generously sized closet, adjustable shelving, built-in cabinetry, and extension drawers. The integrated staircase which also doubles as drawers will be met with equal enthusiasm by kids and adults.
Both and function are innovatively maximized in a way that’s simply incomparable to the mass-produced options available today.
Every one of The Inside’s offerings is customizable with more than a hundred fabric options. Ranging from textured solids to prints and collaborations with renowned brands like Old World Weavers and Scalamandré, Christiane Lemieux’s brand offers something for everyone at very reasonable prices.
The brand recently launched its first-ever dining chair collection. Soft, chic, and stylish, these chairs help dining spaces easily double as home offices. While the major draw of this collection is the fabric options, keep in mind that there are only two styles currently available: with arms and armless. Still, the transitional shape is versatile enough to work with any fabric in any room.
Choose from Black or Espresso wood for the legs.
A favorite of both design enthusiasts and interior designers alike, “This is one of my current favorite furniture companies for clean, modern contemporary designs,” Brar tells me.
With more than 80 fabrics, 20 leg styles, and a range of sizes and configurations, Interior Define has lots of options, yet simplifies the process of purchasing a custom sofa. They even offer complimentary one-on-one help either in person or through phone or chat, which can be useful to anyone who isn’t working with a designer.
Brar emphasizes that Interior Define balances style and practicality as well as reliability. “The biggest selling point for me and my clients has been the child friendly and pet friendly upholstery and they have them all and in every color.”
Sometimes custom furniture isn’t a matter of aesthetics entirely, but also size. Whether a space is large, small, or has an untraditional layout, getting it right, nearly down to the inch, can be a challenge. That’s where BenchMade Modern comes in. They offer 100 sizes of sofas and sectionals, in five-inch increments, which is unlike what any other brand is doing right now
BenchMade also has a variety of different arrangements for sectionals, right down the placement of the bumper, so getting the exact shape you want is easy. Both leather and fabric upholstery is available as well as a choice of woods for the legs.
Every item is handmade domestically and arrives in 30 days.
Paynes Gray is a female-owned online furniture boutique that sells pieces for every room in the home. While most of their inventory isn’t made to order, they offer a curated selection of custom pieces from brands including Redford House.
The Morris Writing Desk is particularly noteworthy. There are twenty different finishes to choose from in colors from Antique White to Tarnished Silver and a gorgeous Robins Egg Blue. Made of solid wood, these lightly distressed desks are one of a kind and handmade domestically. It’s like getting an antique but brand new. Hardware is available in Chrome, Nickel, and Brass.
Made to order and custom products aren’t limited to just furniture, custom decor has also been a major design trend in 2020. Pepper’s custom throw pillows are available in a choice of three sizes (lumbar, 22-inch square, and euro sham) with or without an insert.
Piping can also be added in five colors: Apple Red Velvet, Navy Velvet, Sky, Mist, and Moss. With 21 different print fabrics to choose from, it’s easy to mix, match, and refresh a sofa, bed, or chair instantly with these fabulous pillows.
Vintage-inspired brand Edie Parker recently launched a bespoke collection of decor including trays, boxes, mirrors, jars, and coasters.
But the trays are perhaps the best of all these items, adding a beautiful accent to any bathroom, vanity table, or nightstand. Made of hand-poured acrylic, there is a choice of the tray, font, and text color. Sparkly, pearlized, and solid hues are available. These also an ideal holiday gift.
The Brooklyn Teacup
The Brooklyn Teacup is an innovative brand that makes tiered stands from upcycled China. These make unique serving trays for cookies, amuse-bouches, macarons, etc. They’re also great for holding jewelry on nightstands.
They offer vintage China sourced from several brands including Lennox and Wedgewood, as well as one of a kind pieces. Customers also have the option of sending in their own pieces.