Often asked what makes their business, Creative Home Furnishings, well, creative, owners Blair and Maria say, “Our furniture is made to order, which allows us to ensure that our client is able to tailor the pieces to their own tastes. Our solid wood furniture is available in many different stains, and often different sizes. Several of our own in-house designs can be built to any size and can incorporate specific needs—for example, need your Tangent dining table two inches higher to accommodate a wheelchair? Want the Boxwood dresser to have fewer but deeper drawers? You like the Barcelona desk but need it to be longer and with a keyboard tray? No problem … !” We chatted with the pair about their Lower Mainland business, and found out more about the furnishings in store. —Noa Nichol
Hello Blair and Maria! When and why did you decide to get into the home-furnishings business and open up shop?
We have owned Creative Home Furnishings for 14 years. We saw an opportunity to create a business focused on our passion for design and our commitment to support Canadian artisans and manufacturing.
How many Lower Mainland locations does Creative Home Furnishings currently have?
We currently have two bricks-and-mortar locations: our 12,000-square-foot showroom is in Coquitlam on Barnet Highway and a smaller boutique is within the Armoury Design District on West 2nd Avenue in Vancouver. And, of course, we have also started selling online through our webstore.
What makes CHF unique to other furniture stores?
We specialize in B.C.-made solid-wood furniture; in fact, all of our furniture is Canadian made. The majority of our furniture is either our own designs or are designs exclusive to us. Also, many of our pieces can be extensively customised to suit our client’s space, not just in colour or wood type, but also in terms of sizing and functionality. We visit all our Lower Mainland builders at least twice a month when we pick up your furniture. As a result, we have a good understanding of the quality craftsmanship and capability of these artisans. So, when clients come to us with their custom requirements, we can best match their needs with our builders. Everyone at Creative Home Furnishings has an extensive service-industry background. Our focus is less on “making the sale,” and more on discovering “what is going to make you happy”. For example, do you know what you like or do you need help in determining your style, and what are the functional needs you are looking for? We want our clients to be invested in the process and become part of the story of their furniture. As a result our clients are enthusiastic about Creative Home Furnishings to the point where we have many intergenerational sales.
We hear you specialize in solid-wood, built-to-order, Canadian-made pieces; why, and why are these appealing to modern consumers?
We want our clients’ furniture purchases to enhance their homes and their lives. Working with solid wood and our own design lines gives us the flexibility to readily adapt those designs to accommodate a client’s specific functional and spatial requirements. In addition, those designs can often be slightly tweaked to suit a client’s taste. For example, with several of our media cabinet designs, we can modify dimensions to accommodate the specific sizes of the client’s electronics. As well, people are increasingly concerned with the socio-economic and environmental implications of what they are buying: will it have longevity, is it well made, is it ethically made? Our clientele want to ensure that their purchases are a worthwhile investment, and that it will have a positive impact on the local economy. That said, there are many reasons to feel good about the furniture we sell:
- solid-wood furniture is made from a renewable resource; it doesn’t use the same amount of glues as a veneered particleboard product, so there is less off gassing. As well, a solid-wood piece will last and can often be repaired or refinished. Our pieces are also passed down between generations and our furniture is handmade, it’s not “fast fashion”;
- built-to-order means that your furniture is hand crafted specifically for you. We do not sit on masses of inventory; there’s no warehouse full of unsold product that entailed wasted energy and materials to produce, and subsequently has to be stored. We have a smaller environmental footprint: you want it, we make it. It is a bespoke product at affordable prices; and
- Canadian made is always an advantage. There is a growing awareness of the challenges that Canadian small businesses are facing and of the need to ensure their survival against foreign competition. The client knows that their hard-earned dollars are going directly back into the local economy. From a quality standpoint it also ensures that their processes adhere to all of the rigorous Canadian Environmental Standards. Furniture from a Canadian builder has a much smaller carbon footprint than furniture that is shipped from halfway around the world.
Your in-house-designed lines: how do they differ from each other and how do you recommend customers choose between them?
Our design lines vary from traditional to contemporary styles, and are rooted in a West Coast aesthetic. Our focus is on complementing the beauty of the wood grain by using subtle detailing. Even our more-traditional styles have a more-streamlined minimalist profile. Ultimately, in terms of deciding between styles, our clients generally are immediately drawn to very specific styles. It’s like choosing the perfect pair of shoes: you know what you do and don’t like, right away. If our clients are unsure, our experienced staff can help them decide which line will fit the client’s vision and décor.
Can one furnish one’s entire home at CHF?
Absolutely, we carry furniture for the whole home from dining and bedroom suites to home office, living-room furniture and storage solutions. Lots of storage solutions!
So, what’s currently trending in home furnishings? Have current affairs impacted how people are furnishing their homes?
Not surprisingly, many of our clients are spending far more time at home than ever before, including in some cases working from home. As a result there has been a lot of demand for desks, bookcases to keep clutter to a minimum, and comfy sofas! As well, with people eating out less, there is a lot more at-home dining. Whether it’s take-out or home cooking, they want comfortable dining chairs and a nice table to gather around. Staying at home has also meant people have taken on a lot of renovations. One of the outcomes of a renovation is often a whole new vision of the space and its furnishings. That’s where we can come in.
What’s next for business? What can we look forward to from CHF?
More designs, an expanded ability to order online and a continued focus on celebrating Canadian wood builders and upholsterers.