A few years ago, a dear friend created a beautiful painting for me. To honor this exquisite gift and enhance its beauty, my husband built a custom made frame to display it in our home. Whenever I see the painting, I’m filled with joy and reminded of the artist’s intentions, along with my husband’s collaboration—and love.

When you bring something of deep significance into your home, whether it’s a piece of art, an heirloom, or custom made furniture, it enriches your environment and gives you a tangible connection to your living space. This beautiful painting is unique and meaningful to me, it infuses my home with rich energy, and I love telling its story.

In our fast-paced lives, the big retailers certainly make it easy to decorate our homes with tasteful, stylish furnishings. Yet what we gain in convenience through these formulaic solutions is a lost opportunity for expressing our individualism, and deeply personal connection to our homes.

Recently, one of our clients needed a “kid proof” kitchen table, but didn’t want an “off the shelf” solution. In keeping with the rest of her decor, she was looking for something that would express her artistic originality and modern-industrial aesthetic. It was important–imperative actually–that everything in her home had a “heart.”

To help us create the perfect table, we turned to one of our favorite local artisans, Eli Berland of Oakland’s Berland Design. He started with reclaimed wood from the beams of an old winery once used to support wine barrels during their content’s alchemy to a delicious cru. Eli transformed the rustic timbers into a nearly indestructible, yet beautifully handcrafted table. Not only was this reclaimed lumber the perfect material to construct a table for an active family, but it also had a story to tell.

Commercial-grade table base kept costs contained on this custom-made table

Commercial-grade table base kept costs contained on this custom-made table

With the understanding that not everyone can afford to furnish an entire home with custom-made items, there are numerous ways to minimize the cost. To keep within our client’s budget, the tabletop was affixed to a commercial-grade table base in lieu of custom legs. The finished table met her budget, exceeded her expectations, and now, she too loves to tell its origin story.

When making the case for custom furnishings there are several less tangible benefits. We live in a region of rich diversity, and prolific artistry. Employing local craftspeople and artists creates living-wage jobs close to home. Moreover, in the making of our client’s table, the re-use of existing materials significantly reduced waste – in both environmental and manufacturing aspects. Locally produced goods help reduce our carbon footprint by lessening the transport costs incurred when shipping products across the country, or more likely, overseas.

The next time you’re looking for a new piece of furniture, consider custom made. The cost might be a little higher, but when you factor in the personal involvement (and enjoyment) in creating something unique to you, and the ripple effect of positive intentions, you’ll come to realize the benefits far outweigh the expense.

This article first appeared in the February 2015 issue of the Piedmont Post