What is Custom Furniture?

Sherry Holetzky

Custom furniture is furniture that is made to your specifications by request. You can design the piece entirely on your own, or you can choose a style and decide on the details, such as materials like wood, stain, and fabric. Creating your own custom furniture is exciting, and a one-of-a-kind piece will add a unique sense of charm to your decor.

People can get a custom sofa made for their home.
People can get a custom sofa made for their home.

The first step is to choose the furniture maker. Do any of your friends or relatives know a quality woodworker? Is there a custom furniture builder in the area that has a good reputation? When you find a prospective builder, you can ask to see some of his work. Certain custom furniture makers specialize in different kinds of pieces. Make sure the one you choose makes the type of custom furniture you will be ordering.

A custom ottoman may be made specifically for a particular buyer.
A custom ottoman may be made specifically for a particular buyer.

Next, decide the basics. What kind of custom furniture do you have in mind? Perhaps a beautiful, cherry wood china cabinet? Maybe a fine oak dresser with large, deep cedar-lined drawers, or a comfy oversized chair? Would you like to create a coordinating ottoman to go with it? If you're not already envisioning the piece, you will need to choose a style. Maybe you like clean, straight lines, or perhaps you prefer lots of curves and soft edges, or intricate woodwork.

When designing custom furniture, you might need to decide if you want your piece to have a skirted base, such as in the case of a chair. Skirts can be straight, ruffled, or pleated. Or you might prefer a clean edge with straight legs, carved legs, or upholstered feet. If your custom furniture will be a sofa, how many cushions will it have? Will the back be cushioned, or covered with pillows? Loose or attached? Filled with foam, fiberfill, or down?

For upholstered custom furniture you will have a wide range of fabrics to consider. From tapestry to leather and suede, there is something for every taste and budget. Choose the texture, color, and the type of material that is best suited to your needs such as an easy-to-care-for micro suede. You will want your custom furniture to last, so make sure you choose something durable, especially if you have children.

With so many options, you may have a hard time deciding how you want each custom furniture piece to look. It may be a good idea to seek recommendations from a designer or ask detailed questions of a custom furniture maker before making any final decisions.

Entertainment centers and cabinetry may be custom designed.
Entertainment centers and cabinetry may be custom designed.

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Discussion Comments


The second level of our home is a loft area that has a slanted wall on one side. This cozy loft looks out over the living room and is a perfect place for a small library and some reading chairs.

We are looking at having some custom built book shelves made that will be attached to the slanted wall. This is not a large space, and this will give us the most room and a perfect place to store the books.

One of our neighbors belongs to a local woodworking group, and gave us a list of names of people who might be interested in a project like this. It would be hard to find something already made that would work for a spot like this, so I am looking forward to having these custom shelves made for our library area.


I have an uncle who enjoys making customized furniture and specializes in wood tables and chairs. We asked him to make our dining room furniture for us when we were ready for a new look.

We have been so pleased at his work and receive several compliments on how attractive and well built it is. I know that a lot of time goes in to specialized furniture like this, but this is something that he is very good at and enjoys doing for other people.


The house that we live in now has custom built cupboards in the kitchen. We did not have the house built ourselves, so I was not involved in the process of picking out the material and color of stain.

I am very pleased with these cupboards and they are the best quality I have ever had in my kitchen. They were built at a custom furniture store about an hour away from where our house is located.

I realize you pay for more something like this, but depending on the situation, think the quality of workmanship may be worth the price.

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