Should You Buy Handmade Furniture?

Should You Buy Handmade Furniture?

custom bespoke furniture by Stewart-Schafer

The furniture you choose for your home can really make that home and bring it to life, creating a comfortable environment for all who enter and live there. And since furniture is so important, deciding what kind of furniture to purchase for your home is a top priority for any home. However, when it comes to purchasing new furniture for your home, the options can feel never-ending, and since you’re spending a good chunk of your hard-earned money on these furniture purchases, you want to make sure you’re making decisions that you’ll be happy with for years to come.

There are so many options available from ready-to-go furniture from furniture stores, to some assembly required, to going the totally customized route and choosing to have your furniture handmade. But how do you know which option is the right one for you and your home? We’re covering several aspects of this decision-making process to help you make the best choice possible for you, your budget, and your home.

Vik chair - custom design work by Stewart-Schafer

Higher Quality vs. Off the Shelf

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand that there’s a difference between handmade, high quality, and off the shelf. Handmade items are usually items with small runs and are made in lower volumes. You can see many examples of handmade items on Etsy. Handmade items can also be custom items made specifically for you. There is a different level of quality within handmade, off-the-shelf, and custom pieces.

As designers, we tend to do a mix of handmade and off-the-shelf and custom fabricated items depending on needs, taste level, and budget.

As we've talked about previously with kitchen cabinets, handmade and custom-made furniture is sure to be of higher quality. While the major investment occurs upfront, the life span of the furniture makes it less expensive than the off-the-shelf products that have a shorter lifespan and will need to be replaced sooner rather than later. When working with a custom-designed piece, you know you can get something that's been prototyped, developed, and curated not only to be beautiful, but also to last. And most importantly, you’ll get exactly what you want, no comprises necessary, as can be the case with off the shelf and furniture storeroom pieces.

Related: Click here to read more about custom kitchen vs stock options

When it comes to materials, with handmade furniture, you’ll know with 100% certainty what materials are being used, which is important for the longevity of your furniture. You can choose the type of wood that’s used, the upholstery that’s included so it matches your décor exactly, and you can also choose any embellishments you’ll need. With stock furniture, this isn’t always the case. You can’t always be 100% sure what materials are used, and the upholstery and embellishments might not be exactly what you’re looking for either. With stock furniture, you’re also sacrificing not only quality long-term but also the chance to have furniture that fits your home exactly as you’d like it to. And no matter which way you go, you’re still spending a good amount of money, so why not invest a bit more to get exactly what you want?

Bespoke chairs designed by Stewart-Schafer in Connecticut

Focus on Sustainability

With an ever-growing trend towards focusing on sustainability in all the products we purchase and consume, furniture is no exception. Here are a couple of startling facts concerning sustainability and furniture:

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans discard more than 12 million tons of furniture and furnishings every year. Of that 12 million tons, 9 million tons of foam, wood, glass, metal, fabric, and leather end up in landfills.

Also tied in with sustainability is “Fast Furniture,” which refers to furniture found in some stores at very low cost (with low quality to match), and this type of furniture has become attractive to many who move frequently or who are constrained by tighter budgets, contributing greatly to the statistics above as it’s often easier to just throw away unneeded furniture than pay moving costs. Especially since this type of furniture has a much shorter life span due to the materials used during the manufacturing process.

So, when considering the materials that go into your furniture, sustainability is definitely something to consider. With handmade furniture, you can use reclaimed wood or make old pieces new, often saving money as well. Choosing custom furniture also supports local businesses instead of mass manufacturers overseas, contributing to the sustainability of those local businesses as well as their suppliers. That’s a win all around.

black and white unique custom chair design


As mentioned before, custom furniture allows you to create furniture that reflects you, your taste, and your home—furniture that is uniquely you. With custom furniture, not only will you not see your exact furniture in the homes of others, but you’ll have a multitude of options available to ensure your furniture is created according to your tastes and needs, which is not the case with stock furniture, where your options can be very limited, if you have any options at all. At Stewart-Schäfer, we work with an invaluable team of artisans and vendors to create sophisticated furnishings and fixtures to complement any type of environment. Our unique ability to honor each space and thoughtfully bring art and objects to life is at the forefront of our design ethos. When you choose to go the stock furniture route, you’re trading these benefits for lower cost, a shorter lifespan, and lower quality.

Stewart-Schafer-custom furniture

Create Pieces that Fit Your Space

One important benefit of custom furniture is that you can have it created to meet your exact needs. If you need something designed to fit an odd space, or if you want furniture designed for a unique need, or if you need furniture to also function in a certain way as far as home organization is concerned, and so on, custom is definitely the way to go. While many stock pieces can look beautiful, they might not always fit your space adequately or perform the other roles you need your furniture to fulfill. Here are some examples that we’ve seen through our years of experience where custom furniture does what stock furniture cannot do:

  • Curated bookshelves for someone who does more than just look at their books
  • Customized desk spaces for those that work at home but who don't want a cluttered, bulky office desk and chair
  • Bedroom furniture for a room that sleeps several children
  • Extra storage space that doubles as furniture when living in a small, downtown, big city apartment
  • Furniture to make an oddly shaped corner or nook usable instead of wasting that space
  • Accessories to fit your unique tastes and needs, like our beautiful PËK full length mirror, for example, which is completely customizable and can be made to accommodate exact specifications

Consider Hiring a Designer

When it comes to considering designing your own custom furniture pieces, especially if design is not one of your talents, it might feel simpler to just go the stock furniture route and be done with it. Going the stock furniture route might feel simpler at first, but over time, particularly if that stock furniture doesn’t create the aesthetic you’d like or if it doesn’t last as long as you’d hoped, you might wish you would have worked with a designer in the beginning of the furniture seeking process.

Here’s why: A designer can take all the guesswork and overwhelm out of the design process, making it possible for you to bring all the benefits of custom furniture to reality for your home.

Designers have a much deeper knowledge of the pros and cons of custom/handmade and mass-produced items. They also have the experience to know where quality is important and when there is value in premium or handmade Items. For example, you should seek our higher quality items that get a lot of use: a sofa will be used a lot and you need to invest in a high-quality item to last longer. While it might same expensive at first, consider that many people opt for the cheap well-known design retail store sofas, only for them to be tossed in 2-3 years. It’s all about the balance of look/cost/quality to fit the program of your intentions and a designer is just more informed to guide you through this process.

At Stewart-Schäfer, we pride ourselves on our time-proven ability to help you navigate your custom pieces from beginning to end, putting our purpose-driven, impactful experience to work for you by creating beautiful, simplistic pieces with clean lines and artisan-sourced, superb quality materials. After all, our mission is to produce high-quality, impactful designs while adding immense value for every client, including you.

Click here to contact us about our residential and commercial design as well as our beespoke product offerings.

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