The Custom Furniture Business: Creating Beautiful and Timeless Designs
Small businesses are the soul of America

More people are interested in buying locally made products than ever before. You can capitalize on many consumers’ return to local shopping by emphasizing that all components of your furniture are made in the United States, or in your town or area. The same applies to handmade goods. Individuals who are tired of mass-produced goods are often the same people who are interested in buying locally. Given this climate, it is a good time to start a handmade furniture business.

Mies-inspired glass house could be yours for $575K

A glass house designed by longtime architecture professor William Starke Shell is for sale in Tennessee.

Live out your Farnsworth House dreams

Have a nomination for a jaw-dropping listing that would make a mighty fine House of the Day? Get thee to the tipline and send us your suggestions. We’d love to see what you’ve got.

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

Price: $575,000

If you’ve been dreaming of a your own Glass House—à la Philip Johnson or Mies Van Der Rohe—it’s time to act quickly. This one-bedroom, one-bath boxy home in Tennessee was just listed and according to agent Barbara Apking, the offers are already rolling in. Built by longtime University of Tennessee architecture professor William Starke Shell, the 1,600-square-foot home features a flat roof, 40-by-40 steel beams, and huge glass panels.

Located on an 80-foot cliff on 1.2 acres in a South Knoxville neighborhood, the home took over a decade for Shell to build by himself; Shell worked as the designer, general contractor, project manager, and laborer. The all-glass walls still feel private thanks to a green forest of pines, dogwoods, and maples and a lack of neighbors. Shell called the house “a residential pavilion for a retired person,” and in 2015 it won an American Institute of Architects East Tennessee Merit Award for...


A glass house designed by longtime architecture professor William Starke Shell is for sale in Tennessee.

Live out your Farnsworth House dreams

Have a nomination for a jaw-dropping listing that would make a mighty fine House of the Day? Get thee to the tipline and send us your suggestions. We’d love to see what you’ve got.

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

Price: $575,000

If you’ve been dreaming of a your own Glass House—à la Philip Johnson or Mies Van Der Rohe—it’s time to act quickly. This one-bedroom, one-bath boxy home in Tennessee was just listed and according to agent Barbara Apking, the offers are already rolling in. Built by longtime University of Tennessee architecture professor William Starke Shell, the 1,600-square-foot home features a flat roof, 40-by-40 steel beams, and huge glass panels.

Located on an 80-foot cliff on 1.2 acres in a South Knoxville neighborhood, the home took over a decade for Shell to build by himself; Shell worked as the designer, general contractor, project manager, and laborer. The all-glass walls still feel private thanks to a green forest of pines, dogwoods, and maples and a lack of neighbors. Shell called the house “a residential pavilion for a retired person,” and in 2015 it won an American Institute of Architects East Tennessee Merit Award for its design.

The home’s clean lines and transparent walls are reminiscent of the style of German-American architect Mies van der Rohe and especially his most iconic building, the Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Shell earned a master’s of architecture from Columbia University before working with Mies in Chicago.

Inside, rolling mahogany cabinets allow the owner to change the living, working, and dining configurations, while a polished black-and-white granite floor is used throughout. Two fixed interior walls form a 12-by-12 foot utility room and small bathroom. Shell’s custom furniture—including several leather chairs that look similar to the Barcelona chairs designed by Mies—are included in the sale.

When Shell died in 2017, he left his entire estate to the Knoxville Museum of Art. Easements are included in the sale to preserve the house as an architectural treasure, and the proceeds of the sale will benefit the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Act fast to live out your Glass House dreams, because 2404 Trilliam Lane is for sale, now.

A glass house designed by longtime architecture professor William Starke Shell is for sale in Tennessee.

Live out your Farnsworth House dreams

Have a nomination for a jaw-dropping listing that would make a mighty fine House of the Day? Get thee to the tipline and send us your suggestions. We’d love to see what you’ve got.

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

Price: $575,000

If you’ve been dreaming of a your own Glass House—à la Philip Johnson or Mies Van Der Rohe—it’s time to act quickly. This one-bedroom, one-bath boxy home in Tennessee was just listed and according to agent Barbara Apking, the offers are already rolling in. Built by longtime University of Tennessee architecture professor William Starke Shell, the 1,600-square-foot home features a flat roof, 40-by-40 steel beams, and huge glass panels.

Located on an 80-foot cliff on 1.2 acres in a South Knoxville neighborhood, the home took over a decade for Shell to build by himself; Shell worked as the designer, general contractor, project manager, and laborer. The all-glass walls still feel private thanks to a green forest of pines, dogwoods, and maples and a lack of neighbors. Shell called the house “a residential pavilion for a retired person,” and in 2015 it won an American Institute of Architects East Tennessee Merit Award for its design.

The home’s clean lines and transparent walls are reminiscent of the style of German-American architect Mies van der Rohe and especially his most iconic building, the Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Shell earned a master’s of architecture from Columbia University before working with Mies in Chicago.

Inside, rolling mahogany cabinets allow the owner to change the living, working, and dining configurations, while a polished black-and-white granite floor is used throughout. Two fixed interior walls form a 12-by-12 foot utility room and small bathroom. Shell’s custom furniture—including several leather chairs that look similar to the Barcelona chairs designed by Mies—are included in the sale.

When Shell died in 2017, he left his entire estate to the Knoxville Museum of Art. Easements are included in the sale to preserve the house as an architectural treasure, and the proceeds of the sale will benefit the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Act fast to live out your Glass House dreams, because 2404 Trilliam Lane is for sale, now.


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Give your business a name. Name your business something that indicates what you sell. This will come in handy later on, when you are marketing your business and want people to associate your business name with handmade furniture.
File a DBA, which stands for “doing business as,” at your local county clerk’s office. You may want to do a search to ensure that no other business in your town is operating under the same name. If you live in a large metropolitan area, a search is a necessity.
Create a line of furniture. You’ll need to have models of each piece of furniture that you intend to sell, so that customers can easily visualize what you have to offer. Add to your furniture line each year so that your stock stays fresh and on-trend.