We need new furniture. Can I afford custom furniture?

custom furniture

We need new furniture. Can I afford custom furniture?

When most people hear the word ‘custom’ they cringe as most times, it seems to equate to pricey. So let’s take a look at what custom furniture really means, and what you’re getting by purchasing a custom piece.

Custom Furniture

I believe there are 4 pros for choosing custom furniture:

  • the opportunity to get exactly the size you need,
  • the choice of style you love and goes with your home,
  • the fabric (colour, pattern, etc.) that goes with your home and most importantly,
  • the quality of product going into your furniture is the best.

Size of Furniture

Typically, when you shop for furniture, you may go to a big box store and you have a choice of one or two sizes: a sofa or a love seat. For sectionals, there may be a few choices of length and that’s it.

When you have the opportunity to shop for custom furniture, you truly can get the right size you need for your space.

Case Study

We are currently working on a project and have been tasked to source furniture for the main floor and the bonus room.

In each space, we needed a certain size. My clients, who are a young family, also know that their family life will change as the kids get older. As such, we decided to make the chaise lounge have a removable lower section.

custom furniture

Custom Sectional with removable chaise bottom on the right side.

custom furniture

Custom Sectional with removable chaise bottom on the left side.

Style of Furniture

When you choose custom furniture, there are many styles of furniture you will most likely never find in a box store.

I source my custom furniture from a Trade Only Design Center. To be able to view the furniture pieces, you need to be working with a designer to gain access. Whittaker Designs is a showroom for Interior Designers. Whittaker Designs is where we source Birchwood Furniture.

For my clients, I was sourcing furniture for the main floor as well as the bonus room (see above). Both spaces were needing something different.

Main Floor

custom furniture

The style (not the fabric) for the main floor family room.

custom furniture

The side view of the main floor sofa.

custom furniture

The straight lines of this sofa are just divine.

Bonus Room

For the bonus room, we choose something more casual.

custom furniture

The style for the bonus room. We chose no buttons for the back cushion and a different fabric. This is the sectional that has the removable end chaise that can go on the right or the left side.

Fabric Selections

When it comes to sourcing custom furniture for clients, I love bringing them into Whittaker Designs to show just how many choices we have.

Do you see the fabrics in the back of the showroom? The sky is the limit when it comes to choosing fabric for custom furniture.

The Quality

This, by far, trumps everything for me! Everything that I source from Whittaker Designs/Birchwood Furniture is made in Calgary.

The Frame

The frames for the furniture are made from wood that is manufactured in Golden, B.C. It is also certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

One of the best parts of custom furniture is that Birchwood Furniture/Whittaker Designs cuts their wood using an overhead router. There is minimal waste, and you can make curves without having to join three or four pieces together (like others may do).

custom furniture

The Computer Numerical Control (CNC) overhead router.

custom furniture

This curved piece is one piece of wood, made possible from the overhead router.

custom furniture

This round piece is made with 2 curved pieces attached together.


When it comes to sofas, love seats, and sectionals, the springs are very important to give you a comfortable sit.

custom furniture

There is always a set of double springs by each arm. This prevents sinking or caving in the corners (where most people will want to sit).

custom furniture

Are you able to see 2 guidewires? The long wire that runs the length of this sofa (from the top to the bottom)? Typically, only 1 is installed. With custom furniture, Birchwood installs 2 to provide you with uniformed seating on the entire piece.


When it comes to foam or feather down, most people will choose foam as it is more budget friendly. The best thing about the foam that Birchwood Furniture uses is that it is:

  • a high resiliency foam
  • it is smolder resistant
  • the foam is manufactured right here in Calgary
  • all of the cut-offs are sent back to the foam company to be up-cycled.

custom furniture

The cut-offs that are sent back to be up-cycled.


When the wood, foam and fabric are all cut out, it needs to be put together. When ordering custom furniture from Birchwood, you will have one skilled upholsterer work on your pieces from start to finish. Have you ordered two chairs? The same upholsterer will create both chairs.

custom furniture

A sofa that is being put together by one of Birchwood’s skilled upholsterer.


When it comes to sewing, there is never any amount of technology that can take place of a personal touch. Birchwood Furniture has an amazing sewing department.

custom furniture

The sewing room.

Custom Furniture – Bringing it all Together

When you take all of the elements of a custom furniture piece, this is what you get.

custom furniture
Birchwood Furniture

How Much Does it Cost?

This is always the big question of the day. There are a few options that can increase, or decrease, a custom furniture piece:

  • Foam or down cushions or backs. Feather down will be more money.
  • Fabric or leather. There are many grades of fabric and leather.
  • 8 way hand tied seating.
  • Contrast fabric or leather piping.
  • Customizations such as adding nail heads, piping, buttons, etc (if they are not standard on the piece you have selected).

custom furniture

This sectional is from a big box store. There are 6 colour choices, 2 configurations (left or right), the frame is made of solid wood and plywood, the seating backs have fibre-fill. The retail cost listed is $1649.98 CDN

custom furniture

The sectional that we selected for our clients, with everything I discussed above including choosing a custom fabric to go with their renovation is less than $400 CDN difference.

Custom Furniture: My Advice

My advice is the same with every client. I would like to see my clients invest in the larger pieces. When you purchase a low grade sofa, it is not going to last. What happens to that piece of furniture? Does it go to the landfill?

By investing in custom furniture, you are investing in pieces that will last a very long time. All of the other furniture can also be custom if your budget allows. If your budget does not allow for that, the smaller pieces can be sourced from budget-friendly sources.

For custom furniture, the beauty is that it can be shipped anywhere!

furniture ready to be shipped

Chairs that are ready to be shipped.

I hope this has helped you learn more about custom furniture and how wonderful the pieces are.

Looking to refresh your space with some new furniture pieces? Contact me today to discuss having your custom pieces made for you and your home.

Sheri Bruneau


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