Trending toward smaller scale furniture, with more customized designs

Over the last six years, demand for specialized, smaller, American-built furniture has evolved with our relationship with American furniture factories. Selling smaller-scale furniture inevitably introduces the need to make changes to our standard offerings. While some stores may flounder at such requests, our suppliers know to expect every manner of change request from us, because smaller spaces often require special attention.

One couple originally opting for a purely custom sectional decided instead on a sensible, less costly alternative, preserving funds for other renovations. Originally looking to reduce arm thickness, increase leg height, and reduce the back height, the couple decided after pricing out a mid-range sectional from another supplier that they were able to get much of what they were looking for, at an acceptable quality and price point, for much less than the premium quality sectional, which would have outlasted the 10 years they expected to enjoy their renovated home.

In another scenario, a Rockland couple came in with photos of Ikea pieces that lacked the character and certain features that were important in their cottage. Aside from the fact that the husband had vowed never to assemble another Ikea product, we were able to change the dimensions of two pieces we regularly order locally, adding glass doors, changing all dimensions, and adding custom touches like bead board and two tone finishing, plate grooves in the china cabinet, and adjustable shelving in the TV cabinet to achieve the warm and inviting atmosphere the couple sought – as opposed to the linear and Spartan lines of the Ikea pieces, which were not customizable. The resulting cost? About three times the Ikea products. The difference? No particle board, local manufacturing, custom finishing, after-sales support, and a direct relationship with the owner of a locally owned small business.

Other occasions are driven by hard dimensional restrictions as well as a tight budget. Our best selling sleeper, designed by us and made only for our store by Temple Furniture under our label, Condo Sofa, is usually a rolled-arm 72” sleeper with slightly flared back cushions. Unfortunately, the customer required the sleeper, redesigned from scratch to be both comfortable for sleeping and sitting every day, to be 68” long. Her desire to brighten the décor had led to many visits to review fabrics, many of which were vibrant, and due to the excellent quality of the sleeper’s construction, a bit risky: what if the customer tired of the chosen fabric in a year or two? These sleepers last for decades with minimal care. Additional charges for changing length, arms, back cushions, and overall height added only $300 to the price of the sofa, but suggested a practical, neutral fabric might suffice, and offer more flexible decorating later. The customer found an affordable, durable cover, which brought the overall cost of her sofa within her budget.

Shopping carefully and mindfully, working with knowledgeable salespeople, and understanding exactly what you’re choosing to pay for can make all the difference, and lead to many years of useful service from your furniture purchase.

Ross Endicott is the owner and manager of Endicott Home Furnishings in Scarborough. For more information, visit, e-mail [email protected], or call 207-883-3264.

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