Custom furniture craftsman offers unique pieces and built-ins
By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Business name: Blackington Furniture
Address: 170 Shrewsbury St., Worcester
Owner: Rand R. Bardsley
What is the new Blackington Furniture?
“The new Blackington will be the old Blackington,” said Rand Bardsley, who is closing the retail store in Grafton to concentrate on manufacturing custom furniture. “We’ve been making furniture for about 15 years, and opened the store five years ago. We’re refocussing now on making custom furniture in our original shop in Worcester.”
Is custom furniture expensive?
“People are often nervous when you mention the word ‘custom,’’’ Bardsley said. “We have taken the distribution costs out. You’re buying from the manufacturer. Once you decide to buy a unique piece of quality furniture, this is the most cost-effective way to do it. And it’s going to be solid wood, handmade to your specifications.
“Our prices are competitive. I’m happy to discuss pricing and what makes up the cost of each option. A beautiful table, exactly the size you want, the color you want, everything about it exactly what you want, isn’t going to cost a lot more than if you go into a store and buy a table that’s not exactly what you want.
“Rather than fill a whole living room with cheap furniture, I tell people to buy one great piece a year and collect their furniture over a lifetime.”
How does a customer work with you?
“People should call to discuss what they have in mind. Most of the time, I go to the home so I can measure the space before giving a quote. Then I sketch the design, the customer approves it, and we build it. There’s no fee for the consultation, and we’re happy to answer questions.
“The price range will depend on the type of wood and size of the piece. Oak is stronger if the kids beat it up; cherry is beautiful but more expensive. We explain the pros and cons of different options. Once we’ve decided on a design, the price will not change if the customer doesn’t change anything.
“We’ve broadened the types of materials we use; there’s a lot more metal, bluestone. The wood is mostly repurposed antique wood. I love to make fireplace mantles out of barn board beams, for example. It’s such a nice application for that antique wood.
“We’ve bought as much metal-working equipment in the past year as we have wood-working equipment. We might do a steel base with a wood or slate top, maybe iron with soapstone or bluestone, or a barn board beam on a metal base.
“As for style, customers can have anything they want. People tell us what they have in mind, and we can determine if it’s a realistic design.”
What do you specialize in?
“Antique tables and hutches – the wood and/or the finish are antique. We also offer custom-made cabinets, both free-standing and built-in, and can do the cabinets for an entire kitchen.”
How did you start making custom furniture?
“I was in electronics manufacturing and always wanted my own company. I’ve worked with wood, built my own house. So I made a couple of antique wood tables, took them to a store and came home with a check. I decided the concept worked and I’ve grown it from there. I used the business training I had – how to focus and market a niche – to develop this business.”
Editor’s Note: The preceding is not an endorsement and is presented for informational purposes only.