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.

A Rhode Island farmhouse that’s beachy without being ‘overly nautical’

An open, airy white-painted living room with light wooden floors and built in shelving around the windows. A beige couch draped with a blank and and two throw pillows is positioned across from a white marble coffee table, and a white mantled fireplace with a marble frame. There is a wicker arm chair with a throw pillow in front of the windows.

The project started with a lucky meeting between homeowners and an architect

Everyone who had a part in the construction of this Rhode Island home laughs about how it came to be. Anne and Brian Trinique had already put in offers on three homes when their realtor urged them to take a look at a plot of land that had just come on the market. “I was hesitant because originally I didn’t want to build,” Anne remembers. “But we went out there to see it anyway.”

The land was in Jamestown, a historic town of about 5,000 residents that’s just over a bridge from the more famous seaside getaway of Newport. The Triniques grew up in Rhode Island, and after years of shuffling their kids from their home in Brookline, Massachusetts, to grandma’s house in the summer and then to rentals when they needed more space, they saved enough to buy their own vacation home. Jamestown was the perfect location for its proximity to their family, but the land didn’t make it easy to see potential.

“It was completely wooded,” Anne says. “There was no way to walk through it.”

An exterior view of a home, cropped in so we can see the master bedroom through two open french doors. In the garden outside there are lush trees and a well-landscaped garden of purple flowers.
The scale of the home can be seen from the backyard. Sherwin-Williams’s “Alabaster” white was painted on the exterior’s board-and-batten...

An open, airy white-painted living room with light wooden floors and built in shelving around the windows. A beige couch draped with a blank and and two throw pillows is positioned across from a white marble coffee table, and a white mantled fireplace with a marble frame. There is a wicker arm chair with a throw pillow in front of the windows.

The project started with a lucky meeting between homeowners and an architect

Everyone who had a part in the construction of this Rhode Island home laughs about how it came to be. Anne and Brian Trinique had already put in offers on three homes when their realtor urged them to take a look at a plot of land that had just come on the market. “I was hesitant because originally I didn’t want to build,” Anne remembers. “But we went out there to see it anyway.”

The land was in Jamestown, a historic town of about 5,000 residents that’s just over a bridge from the more famous seaside getaway of Newport. The Triniques grew up in Rhode Island, and after years of shuffling their kids from their home in Brookline, Massachusetts, to grandma’s house in the summer and then to rentals when they needed more space, they saved enough to buy their own vacation home. Jamestown was the perfect location for its proximity to their family, but the land didn’t make it easy to see potential.

“It was completely wooded,” Anne says. “There was no way to walk through it.”

An exterior view of a home, cropped in so we can see the master bedroom through two open french doors. In the garden outside there are lush trees and a well-landscaped garden of purple flowers.
The scale of the home can be seen from the backyard. Sherwin-Williams’s “Alabaster” white was painted on the exterior’s board-and-batten siding.
A home entryway decorated with shiplap walls, and a modern staircase banister made with tautly strung wire in between black painted pillars. There is a a tall palm-like houseplant potted in a natural colored basket sitting next to an antique looking black bench.
The nickel-gap painted poplar on the interior walls complements the board-and-batten motif on the exterior. Anne and Brian came up with the contrasting steel staircase, and Anne bought the O&G Studio bench as a birthday present to herself.

That’s when Brian remembered a conversation he had with a local architect, Ron DiMauro. Brian had cold-called DiMauro after coming across his work during their house hunt, with the thought that DiMauro could renovate a home for the family. While looking at the expanse of vines and trees in Jamestown, Brian asked the realtor if it could be an opportunity to hire DiMauro to build a house. The realtor said yes just as DiMauro drove by in his distinctive blue vintage pickup truck.

They waved him down, he stopped his car, and by the time the conversation was over, plans were coming together for Anne and Brian’s new home. “When I think back on it, it was such a big day in our family’s lives to run into Ron like that,” Brian says.

Two days after the fateful meeting, DiMauro and senior project architect Tyler Zagryn presented the couple with a rough outline for a 2,000-square-foot modern farmhouse. “With our budget, we couldn’t do something huge, but we didn’t want a big home to begin with,” Anne says. “Brian and I both work full time, and so much of what we wanted was to have somewhere to reconnect with our kids and the rest of our family.” The project began in January 2017.

The couple worked with DiMauro and Zagryn to create a thoughtful floor plan, where a small entryway would open to common areas and lead to a private master suite alongside the backyard. Upstairs, their son and daughter could have sleepovers in a four-person bunk room, while another guest space would welcome any adults who needed an easier way to climb into bed. They designated spots for pure practicalities—like a pantry and laundry room off the kitchen and a TV room off the master—so that the eating and living areas could remain dedicated to fun and conversation. And if their kids needed time away from mom and dad, they could hang out in a “tree house” loft inside the detached garage.

A bright, white-painted bedroom with a pitched roof. A wooden chair sits in the corner of the room with a leather and cotton two-toned throw pillow nestled between the arm rests. The curtain rods that hang above the floor-to-ceiling windows are painted black and contrast with the walls and white curtains. The bed has a wicker headboard and has an indigo-dyed bolster pillow and black and cream woven blanket as accents to the white linens.
Zagryn thought that a cathedral ceiling in the master bedroom “would make it feel extra special,” he says. Anne paired an Urban Outfitters bed and a West Elm dresser with a vintage side chair and Rejuvenation sconces.
A half view into the kitchen - with the focal point being the stainless steel oven and hood vent and white subway tile wall. Open shelves in a mid-tone wood color accent the space around the stove hood, displaying plants, cups and bowls. In front of the oven is a half view of the kitchen island. It has a white stone top and the legs are painted a dark navy blue. Wooden barstools are tucked under the island overhang. The floor is a light, natural wood.
Anne had fond memories of the kitchen islands in the family’s past summer rentals and wanted one of her own. Now they play cards and chat on West Elm stools.

“Sometimes when clients share inspiration photos for what they’d like in a home, the first one doesn’t really relate to the last one,” Zagryn says. “But with Anne and Brian, they had a consistent theme and knew exactly what they wanted.”

Anne had chosen a palette that acknowledged the home’s half-mile proximity to the beach without being overly nautical. She imagined “something that would appeal to the idea of what summer and relaxation is supposed to be” and planned it all down to the sconces. As impressed as Zagryn was with Anne and Brian’s preparation, which kept construction on schedule, he saw their vision as more of a friendly collaboration than following orders.

“When you design a family’s home, you get to know them on a deep level,” Zagryn says. “I related to Anne and Brian because of our ages and our kids, but also because they wanted a house I could see myself in: a smaller-scale home where every square inch is used properly. We pulled that off together.”

Anne and Brian asked for a crisp white exterior, and Zagryn’s team accentuated it with board and batten as a subtle nod to the area’s shipyards. They picked out “Driftwood” gray European oak floors to offset the white poplar walls within. The navy-blue kitchen and master bath were contrasts that Zagryn had to see for himself, just as Anne and Brian had to trust his judgment on a roof made of Alaska-yellow-cedar shingles. Anne collected pins from Schoolhouse Electric, Amber Interiors, and Studio McGee to finish things up—the interior design, Zagryn notes, was all her.

A white sink with open bottom shelving sits in front of a dark blue shiplap wall. On top of the marble counter top sits a bouquet of fresh flowers in a milky white painted mason jar. In the open cabinets below the sink a bowl, white towels, and a brown woven basket are visible. A plain rectangular mirror is hung behind the sink.
The moody shade of blue in the master bathroom still feels airy thanks to an open Restoration Hardware vanity and lighting by Schoolhouse Electric.
2 sets of bunk beds frame the photograph. They are constructed with white painted wood, and the beds are neatly made with bold blue and white striped bedspreads. The window in the back of the room is visible through the shot and a white modern plastic shell chair sits in front of the window, tucked slightly under a dark colored desk.
Restoration Hardware bunks line the walls of this kids’ room, and they’re all complete with individual sconces by Schoolhouse Electric. A Crate and Kids desk and an Amazon chair make up a work space, just in case.

“One of the biggest successes of this home is that the interior feels modern but cozy at the same time,” he says.

It took all of eight months to finish the build, so serendipity and speed weaved from the beginning of this project to the end. Anne and Brian have made a routine out of bringing their kids here for summer vacations, and they’ve gathered family together for Thanksgiving and Christmas too. When they come over the bridge to Jamestown, Anne says, they can exhale.

“When we’re here, it’s like we can just relax and be a family,” she adds.

Kelly Dawson is a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

An open, airy white-painted living room with light wooden floors and built in shelving around the windows. A beige couch draped with a blank and and two throw pillows is positioned across from a white marble coffee table, and a white mantled fireplace with a marble frame. There is a wicker arm chair with a throw pillow in front of the windows.

The project started with a lucky meeting between homeowners and an architect

Everyone who had a part in the construction of this Rhode Island home laughs about how it came to be. Anne and Brian Trinique had already put in offers on three homes when their realtor urged them to take a look at a plot of land that had just come on the market. “I was hesitant because originally I didn’t want to build,” Anne remembers. “But we went out there to see it anyway.”

The land was in Jamestown, a historic town of about 5,000 residents that’s just over a bridge from the more famous seaside getaway of Newport. The Triniques grew up in Rhode Island, and after years of shuffling their kids from their home in Brookline, Massachusetts, to grandma’s house in the summer and then to rentals when they needed more space, they saved enough to buy their own vacation home. Jamestown was the perfect location for its proximity to their family, but the land didn’t make it easy to see potential.

“It was completely wooded,” Anne says. “There was no way to walk through it.”

An exterior view of a home, cropped in so we can see the master bedroom through two open french doors. In the garden outside there are lush trees and a well-landscaped garden of purple flowers.
The scale of the home can be seen from the backyard. Sherwin-Williams’s “Alabaster” white was painted on the exterior’s board-and-batten siding.
A home entryway decorated with shiplap walls, and a modern staircase banister made with tautly strung wire in between black painted pillars. There is a a tall palm-like houseplant potted in a natural colored basket sitting next to an antique looking black bench.
The nickel-gap painted poplar on the interior walls complements the board-and-batten motif on the exterior. Anne and Brian came up with the contrasting steel staircase, and Anne bought the O&G Studio bench as a birthday present to herself.

That’s when Brian remembered a conversation he had with a local architect, Ron DiMauro. Brian had cold-called DiMauro after coming across his work during their house hunt, with the thought that DiMauro could renovate a home for the family. While looking at the expanse of vines and trees in Jamestown, Brian asked the realtor if it could be an opportunity to hire DiMauro to build a house. The realtor said yes just as DiMauro drove by in his distinctive blue vintage pickup truck.

They waved him down, he stopped his car, and by the time the conversation was over, plans were coming together for Anne and Brian’s new home. “When I think back on it, it was such a big day in our family’s lives to run into Ron like that,” Brian says.

Two days after the fateful meeting, DiMauro and senior project architect Tyler Zagryn presented the couple with a rough outline for a 2,000-square-foot modern farmhouse. “With our budget, we couldn’t do something huge, but we didn’t want a big home to begin with,” Anne says. “Brian and I both work full time, and so much of what we wanted was to have somewhere to reconnect with our kids and the rest of our family.” The project began in January 2017.

The couple worked with DiMauro and Zagryn to create a thoughtful floor plan, where a small entryway would open to common areas and lead to a private master suite alongside the backyard. Upstairs, their son and daughter could have sleepovers in a four-person bunk room, while another guest space would welcome any adults who needed an easier way to climb into bed. They designated spots for pure practicalities—like a pantry and laundry room off the kitchen and a TV room off the master—so that the eating and living areas could remain dedicated to fun and conversation. And if their kids needed time away from mom and dad, they could hang out in a “tree house” loft inside the detached garage.

A bright, white-painted bedroom with a pitched roof. A wooden chair sits in the corner of the room with a leather and cotton two-toned throw pillow nestled between the arm rests. The curtain rods that hang above the floor-to-ceiling windows are painted black and contrast with the walls and white curtains. The bed has a wicker headboard and has an indigo-dyed bolster pillow and black and cream woven blanket as accents to the white linens.
Zagryn thought that a cathedral ceiling in the master bedroom “would make it feel extra special,” he says. Anne paired an Urban Outfitters bed and a West Elm dresser with a vintage side chair and Rejuvenation sconces.
A half view into the kitchen - with the focal point being the stainless steel oven and hood vent and white subway tile wall. Open shelves in a mid-tone wood color accent the space around the stove hood, displaying plants, cups and bowls. In front of the oven is a half view of the kitchen island. It has a white stone top and the legs are painted a dark navy blue. Wooden barstools are tucked under the island overhang. The floor is a light, natural wood.
Anne had fond memories of the kitchen islands in the family’s past summer rentals and wanted one of her own. Now they play cards and chat on West Elm stools.

“Sometimes when clients share inspiration photos for what they’d like in a home, the first one doesn’t really relate to the last one,” Zagryn says. “But with Anne and Brian, they had a consistent theme and knew exactly what they wanted.”

Anne had chosen a palette that acknowledged the home’s half-mile proximity to the beach without being overly nautical. She imagined “something that would appeal to the idea of what summer and relaxation is supposed to be” and planned it all down to the sconces. As impressed as Zagryn was with Anne and Brian’s preparation, which kept construction on schedule, he saw their vision as more of a friendly collaboration than following orders.

“When you design a family’s home, you get to know them on a deep level,” Zagryn says. “I related to Anne and Brian because of our ages and our kids, but also because they wanted a house I could see myself in: a smaller-scale home where every square inch is used properly. We pulled that off together.”

Anne and Brian asked for a crisp white exterior, and Zagryn’s team accentuated it with board and batten as a subtle nod to the area’s shipyards. They picked out “Driftwood” gray European oak floors to offset the white poplar walls within. The navy-blue kitchen and master bath were contrasts that Zagryn had to see for himself, just as Anne and Brian had to trust his judgment on a roof made of Alaska-yellow-cedar shingles. Anne collected pins from Schoolhouse Electric, Amber Interiors, and Studio McGee to finish things up—the interior design, Zagryn notes, was all her.

A white sink with open bottom shelving sits in front of a dark blue shiplap wall. On top of the marble counter top sits a bouquet of fresh flowers in a milky white painted mason jar. In the open cabinets below the sink a bowl, white towels, and a brown woven basket are visible. A plain rectangular mirror is hung behind the sink.
The moody shade of blue in the master bathroom still feels airy thanks to an open Restoration Hardware vanity and lighting by Schoolhouse Electric.
2 sets of bunk beds frame the photograph. They are constructed with white painted wood, and the beds are neatly made with bold blue and white striped bedspreads. The window in the back of the room is visible through the shot and a white modern plastic shell chair sits in front of the window, tucked slightly under a dark colored desk.
Restoration Hardware bunks line the walls of this kids’ room, and they’re all complete with individual sconces by Schoolhouse Electric. A Crate and Kids desk and an Amazon chair make up a work space, just in case.

“One of the biggest successes of this home is that the interior feels modern but cozy at the same time,” he says.

It took all of eight months to finish the build, so serendipity and speed weaved from the beginning of this project to the end. Anne and Brian have made a routine out of bringing their kids here for summer vacations, and they’ve gathered family together for Thanksgiving and Christmas too. When they come over the bridge to Jamestown, Anne says, they can exhale.

“When we’re here, it’s like we can just relax and be a family,” she adds.

Kelly Dawson is a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.


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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.