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Expert’s Furniture Guide: from DIY to home Design

Expert’s Furniture Guide: from DIY to home Design - Alabama Sawyer

July 14, 2022

RE-posted from 

Daniela Gonzalez on Porch (image from porch)

Home design is essential when owning a house; furniture speaks a lot about your personality and the mood you want to set. Buying furniture can sometimes be tricky, and you might want to do something special for your house. 

Everybody loves a good DIY, right? DIY projects save you money and are a great way to develop your creativity. However, sometimes taking up a project like that can be a bit of a hassle if you do not know where to start or if you don’t have the right tools. 

We have gathered the best tips from furniture design and crafting experts to help you get started with your DIY furniture projects—from DIY dining tables and chairs and wrapping up with how to restore your antique furniture or repurpose a worn-out sofa or carpet. 

What are the most common wood species used to create furniture?

The type of wood depends on the region and the type of furniture. Alabama Sawyer is partial to species that grow locally, since we are primarily getting our lumber from local fallen hardwood trees and we emphasize the natural colors and grain in our furniture and home accessory products.
Being the Birmingham area, we favor white oak, red oak, pecan, hackberry, sweet gum and of course walnut. Walnut grows less in Central Alabama, but it is still a favorite of our customers. We work with small sawmills in North Alabama and other spots to fill our taste for walnut.
Other woods we love to work with are cherry, rainbow poplar, hickory, magnolia and elm. One of our most popular items, the beam bench is made from Alabama Pine.
Other woodworkers in the United States might have other favorite species or like to work with exotic woods. Alabama Sawyer only works with local and domestic woods.
Leigh Kivowitz from Alabama Sawyer

 

 How to increase your home’s curb appeal on a budget and what furniture would that include? 

Always mindful of a budget, the least expensive way to increase curb appeal is to tidy up the flower beds and add a pop of color. But another often missing element is adding a seating area to the front of your home. Of course, a front porch with a couple of chairs is so inviting, but what if you don’t have a large porch? If that’s the case, create a seating area under a tree or add a small courtyard with seating. And to keep it on budget, search for quality outdoor furniture pieces at yard sales, online classifieds and Facebook marketplace. These are great resources! And most often these pieces just need a little cleaning and a coat of paint. Which is always easy on the budget. 

Michelle & Steph from Sunny Side Design 

Can you explain the process of custom furniture design? (Example: how to build the perfect sofa?)  

Purchasing a bespoke piece of furniture for your house may appear time-consuming and costly, but with our assistance and guidance through a step-by-step approach, we will accompany you through the process of producing furniture that you will genuinely enjoy. 

The opportunity to design a unique piece of furniture that fits your location, lifestyle, and requirements. It’s reassuring to know that you have a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture that is special in both material and story, thanks to the dexterity of superb craftsmen. 

One element of which we are proud is our capacity to recognize our clients’ desires and carve out a path for them to translate their notions and ideas into reality. 

We don’t undervalue the importance of furniture in our homes and workplaces. Furniture will forever hold an intrinsic role in our lives. Our in-house design team keeps up with the newest trends so that consumers have a wider range of options to choose from and build upon. Fantasies don’t only appear on the big screens so turn your dream home into reality with us today. 

 Zaelyn from etch&bolts 

What are the different paint finishes to use for different furniture types?

There are endless options when deciding the right paint finish for your furniture. You can choose one of the ‘all-in-one’ paints which are available in semi-gloss, gloss, or satin finishes. Or go with a chalk paint, milk paint, or mineral paint, which usually come in a matte finish. These need either a wax finish, for furniture in low traffic areas, or a polyacrylic/polyurethane clear finish, for furniture in higher traffic areas such as tabletops, chairs, etc. Wax can be buffed to any sheen you desire, and poly is available in semi-gloss, gloss, satin, or matte finishes.

Kaitlyn Ray from Kray Custom Refinish

 How to know you are decorating and purchasing furniture sustainably? 

Everyone wants to feel good about the things they have in their homes. You want your furniture and decor to be a reflection of not only your style but also your values. When purchasing furnishings, you should feel comfortable asking where they came from, what they are made of, how they were made and by whom. Green certifications are one indicator of sustainability but they are not infallible. It is often more important to just buy locally or at least American made. That way you can feel confident your furniture was made in compliance with USA standards for health, safety and the environment. 

Peggy Farabaugh from Vermont Woods Studios 

 What is the best way to protect and maintain the longevity of your furniture pieces? (For example, tables and sofas). 

Although marble tables are resilient, cracks and pits will happen. Ensure the longevity of your table by sealing it every month with an acid-resistant impregnator sealer—one that isn’t citrus- or linseed oil-based. Before you seal the table, clean it first with soap and water. Apply two coats of sealer, waiting five minutes between applications and removing any excess sealer each time. 

Cameron Stuart from Memoky Inc 

 What are the best products to take care of your leather furniture and how to make it last? 

Leather upholstery, much like our own skin, is at its best when supple and well moisturized. Keeping the finish clean is a good start – debris left to collect can scratch and damage some finishes. We recommend regularly wiping over the furniture with a damp cloth. Areas of stubborn greasy grime can be treated with a commercial leather cleaner or a home-made simple version (there are plenty of these recipes available online). Once the surface is clean and dry, apply Gilly’s Leather Care, massaging it into the leather as you work your way over the upholstery. Caring for your leather upholstery prevents cracking and splitting, which can occur over time if neglected, particularly in regions of high heat and low humidity. Regular cleaning also keeps a check on mold in humid regions. 

 Sara Attanasio from Gilly’s 

What are the DIY furniture trends of 2022?

For starters, we’re seeing a lot more “hacks.” People are becoming more and more creative with their DIY projects, and they’re not afraid to experiment with different techniques. This means that we’re likely to see a lot of DIY furniture that features unique details and interesting design elements.

Another big trend that we’re likely to see in DIY furniture is an increased focus on sustainability. As people become more conscious of the impact of their consumption habits on the environment, they’re going to be looking for ways to reduce their footprint. With the rise of eco-friendly design and green living, it’s not surprising that more people are turning to sustainable materials for their home décor.

Finally, we’re likely to see a lot more DIY that’s inspired by traditional designs. We are increasingly seeing people interested in connecting with their heritage and they want to incorporate traditional elements into their homes. In recent years, modern mass-produced furniture and homewares have become the norm, leaving many people yearning for something more authentic and unique. That’s where the DIY trend comes in. By upcycling their furniture and homewares, people are able to create pieces that are truly one-of-a-kind and that reflect their personal style and background.

So, get ready to roll up your sleeves and dive into some DIY! We’ve given you a few ideas to get started, but the possibilities are endless. Just remember to have fun with it and go with your gut instinct. We can’t wait to see what amazing things you create.

Kate from LUX HAX 

 What outdoor DIY projects could you recommend to turn your backyard into a place everyone wants to spend time at? 

Whether you’re throwing an impromptu garden party or simply creating a permanent outdoor oasis to relax with friends and family, garden accessories are a must. Items such as lanterns, pot plants, tea lights and textiles can all go a long way in helping you to create a stunning backyard area and better still, they are relatively inexpensive. Add in some garden furniture and some faux plants or real foliage and everyone will want to spend time in your outdoor space. 

There are a number of essential items of garden furniture to consider. First, an egg chair if space is limited or if you have a large garden, a full lounge garden set with sun loungers or a garden table and chairs. An outdoor set can include chairs, a table and sometimes even an ice cooler for those warm summer days or a fire pit for those cooler winter nights. Gather a few ingredients in advance and host an outdoor DIY s’mores party. Alternatively, you could keep all your refreshments cool on scorching hot days. 

David Shakespeare from EZ Living Furniture   

What is the best DIY furniture when buying a new home, and which one should you buy from professionals? 

Most people buying a new home are on budget when it comes to furnishing it. To save money, we’d always recommend checking out places like Facebook marketplace, Gumtree or Craigslist for second hand furniture first. You can get some fantastic items for very reasonable prices that can be used as is or upcycled. You may also consider building your own furniture; especially if the item is simple (like shelving units or wooden chairs). 

However, for any furniture that will be used frequently or that you need to stand the test of time, we’d recommend buying from a professional. Examples of such furniture include dining tables or TV cabinets because greater weights and pressures are often exerted on them and they are more frequently used. 

Sam Thomas from Grain & Frame  

What are the essential tools everyone who would like to start with DIY furniture would need? 

DIY tools could range from hand tools and maybe a drill that will fit in a tool box, to a more highly equipped shop with table saw, router/molder, jointer.  What you need depends on your ambition- what do you dream of making? 

A Hand-Tool Shop might consist of a hand-saw for crosscutting lumber, hand plane, chisels of varying widths, maybe a jig saw for cutting patterns in wood, a putty knife for glazing, claw hammer for assembling lumber or framing, and a tack hammer for brads and upholstering,  screw drivers of your preferred types, and a drill, a Yankee drill with bits if you are a purist that lives  off the grid, or an electric drill with various sized drill bits, including a set of hole saws and Forstner bits for larger size holes.  A wood rasp, and steel file are excellent tools.   Maybe you have room in the toolbox for a sanding machine, that makes fabrication considerably easier. And a flexible tempered tool steel hand scraper, if you are really serious about making fine cabinetry. 

One of the most useful tools there are- but be prepared to spend considerable time learning to sharpen it by raising a beaded edge on it- you can feel the edge, but it is too fine to see. The proof of a shaper’s quality is in the use of it. If you are into timber projects, you will also need an adze, a broad axe, and lumberman’s board saw (2-man affair), and veneer saw.   Most of the finest cabinetry ever made, starting from the ancient Egyptians, through the first quarter of the 19th century, was made entirely with hand tools, none of it electrified.  So don’t think the above tools are not enough to do anything! 

Peter Triestman from Olek Lejbzon 

 How to repurpose common furniture pieces to give them new life? 

Speaking specifically on case goods (bedroom and dining), If the piece is made of real wood (and not particleboard or MDF covered with a veneer or paper) it will have a longer lifespan and can be re-finished into something totally different in terms of look and style, there are tons of great tutorial videos online on how to re-finish wood furniture, they basically consist on sanding and applying new coating(s), which can be solid colors, stains, multi-layer patinas for aging. Some are simple and some require some equipment and skills. 

If you are new in wood works, always best to test on some wood boards before jumping into a more complex piece of furniture. 

Also, changing the hardware for drawers and doors can give a totally new look to a piece of furniture. 

Salomao Henkin from GrainWood Furniture 

What is the best material and refinishing to use when making your own cabinets? 

There are a few different options when it comes to materials and finishes for cabinets. If you’re looking for a natural finish, wood is always a good option. For something more modern, laminate or metal may be a better fit. And if you’re looking for an easy to care for surface, glass or acrylic might be the way to go. 

When it comes to cabinet refinishing, the sky is really the limit. You can sand and stain or paint your cabinets any color you like. 

If you’re feeling really creative, you can even add detailing or patterning. The most important thing is to make sure that the finish is durable and will stand up to wear and tear over time. 

Ben from Cabinet Refinishing NYC 

How to play with materials to create your own furniture pieces?

We feel that the greatest way to design any piece of furniture is to keep to the inspiration’s essence. This way, no matter how many interpretations the piece gets, the inspiration remains recognized, especially in the context of furniture design. Creating an iconic piece of furniture is challenging and needs meticulous attention to detail. It is important to consider its functionality while working on its design, which might influence the design’s overall concept. A marriage of design and function is required for a piece of furniture to be deemed a success.

Playing with materials can be overwhelmed. Thus, between choosing wood or marble, velvet or leather, and glass or mirror, the key-question is: What is my style? Only then, we will be able to design the best fit.   

What are the best materials to play with when it comes to furniture design projects?

It’s a giant world when it comes to furniture materials. A material that never fails to impress is a well-crafted and polished wood, which beautifies any space where this piece is placed. However, we also admit that we have a special taste in working with stones, especially marbles. Marble and wood when combined have a fantastic result and will undoubtedly be the subject of conversation on their own.

Adriano Tavares from Laskasas 

Where to look for rustic furniture or how to create one yourself?

Some of the best places to find Rustic Furniture online are:

  • WayFair
  • Cotswold
  • Tikamoon
  • Elsie Green
  • Etsy
Otherwise, looking in antique shops, charity stores, and companies that manufacture wood based products locally is always an option.
Steven from The Rugged Rooster