Fabulous furnishing | Features | Northern Express
Bespoke, salvaged and upcycled furniture to give your home an upscale feel
By Jillian Manning | October 15, 2022
There’s a special kind of magic involved in finding your home’s furniture and decor. Rooms should be functional, stylish, comfortable, and ready to withstand whatever your household throws at them, whether it’s weekly dinner parties or 100-pound dogs. More importantly, they should speak to your tastes in a timeless way because if you’ve purchased the right piece, it will be with you for years to come.
No offense to IKEA, although many of us love a good MALM, we know deep down that the best investments in the furniture game are high-end pieces that are built to last. Where to find this furniture is up to you, because Northern Michigan has no shortage of creative ways to find the perfect piece.
Urban Diversions, an interior design and retail showroom in Williamsburg, was born from a powerful legacy. President Dale H. Campbell is the recipient of three of the world’s highest honors in furniture and design and is in the process of producing his second collection with Kindel Furniture of Grand Rapids. (Which, you may recall, is one of the hotspots for furniture manufacturing in the United States) Whether you’re looking for a single piece or an entire house design, Urban Diversions has you covered. .
“When you walk through our door, you quickly realize this is a one stop shop for building an entire home,” says Campbell. “We do everything from kitchens to bathrooms to closets, all living areas, bedrooms, living rooms, we even make bespoke bedding and curtains. … If you like fashion, it’s a bit like the Candyland of design studios.
Urban Diversions focuses on working with American manufacturers with “price points that convey value” like Hancock & Moore and Kindel Furniture. Because these companies are based in the United States, tons of items can be personalized. Indeed, Campbell estimates that approximately 70% of sales are personalized.
“Our customers want their own look for everything,” he explains. “They want it to be theirs so their house doesn’t look like anyone else’s house. Working with American manufacturers gives us the possibility of changing everything: the depth of the seat, the width, the height, the firmness of the cushions, the different fabrics… everything is customizable.
When it comes to style, Campbell says they range from “eclectic to traditional to contemporary,” and the goal is always to complement the tastes of the client rather than imposing their own personal design preferences.
While most of Urban Diversion’s business comes from interior decorating a room or an entire home (consultations are $250 with a $3,000 down payment to follow), those looking to fill in some of the gaps with a special piece or a new sofa can enter the store and buy items directly on the floor.
“There are maybe only two things in this building that are not for sale,” jokes Campbell.
The store itself is filled with unique items beyond furniture, including cool antique signs, paintings, and lighting solutions that can spark a shopper’s imagination. Visit the showroom in person at 3586 Bunker Hill in Williamsburg or head to diversions-urbanes.com.
Parts focused on the planet
For those who want a lasting statement piece, look no further than Great Lakes Reclaimed of Petoskey. Owners Jim and Lisa Millen offer handcrafted tables and furniture from “reclaimed and recycled wood and materials” that are perfect for NoMi homes and cabins.
Each piece has its own story and Great Lakes Reclaimed is often able to create custom options for our customers. For example, the Gray Plank Farmhouse Table ($2,200) has the classic patina of weathered barn wood, but can be distressed on the table top and leg base to suit a client’s particular taste.
While the shop focuses on tables – dining tables, end tables, console tables…you name it – they also make chairs and benches to complete the dining set. And don’t miss their decorating options, which include signs, mirrors, and shelves for everything from fishing gear to skis to bottles of wine. Browse their selection online at greatlakesreclaimed.com.
Edge Modern Furniture Design is another cool place for people who care about sustainability. (Literally, their slogan is “durable furniture that will last for generations.”) Designer Mark Waldrup combines the rustic and the industrial with his custom pieces, the materials of which are all sourced within 20 miles of his studio in Traverse City.
Edge offers wood-based works like tables and bar stools that make you feel like you’re sitting at your favorite beer hall (probably because they also do seating for local restaurants). Pro tip: They also make desks, so if you’ve been working at your kitchen table since 2020, now’s a great time for an upgrade. Browse their gallery on edgemodernfurnituredesign.com.
Estate Sale Scores
Speaking of sustainability, giving an existing piece new life is a great way to reduce that carbon footprint. While garage sales are often hit or miss, estate sales can be treasure troves of incredible furniture, art and collectibles, and Brenda Meindertsma of The Spare Room Estate Sales in Traverse City knows what it takes to find a rough diamond.
Meindertsma focuses on creating small sales full of quality items. His work begins with a consultation with the assumption that everything in the house is for sale once the client has determined what he wants to keep. While that means she could sell items as small as pantry spices and wrapping paper, it also means she’s going after high-end furniture, expensive clothes, rings in diamonds, boats and even cars.
In past sales, item price tags have reached $35,000. Meindertsma is a one person team, but works with appraisers of antiques, jewelry, cameras, art, etc., not only to offer fair prices, but also to ensure that no hidden gem is hidden…because it’s happened before.
“There was [a piece of art] at the back of a closet,” she recalls. “It wasn’t framed or anything. And my antiques appraiser recognized that it was something special. The piece ended up being a signed photo taken by famed photographer Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952), and Meindertsma found herself answering calls from buyers and antique dealers. (According to Christie’s Auctions, similar pieces are worth between $15,000 and $20,000.)
His main recommendations for luxury finds during a real estate sale? Trendy rugs, artwork and contemporary or mid-century modern furniture that is in great condition or just needs a little TLC.
“There’s a large group of people who like to recycle things,” she says. “So if there’s an older end table or dining table that doesn’t look very nice, they love to get it and then paint it to make it look nice.”
Meindertsma says hundreds of people from across the state come to his sales, and people can even bid on in-demand pieces online ahead of the event if they can’t attend in person. Learn more and find upcoming sales at thespareroomsales.com.
The moose in the room
You didn’t think we’d miss a chance to mention The Quiet Moose when talking about home furnishings, did you?
The Petoskey-based interior design firm and furniture store is Pinterest-worthy in every way, with a vibe that perfectly blends Northern living with understated elegance. They are intentional to create beautiful, quiet spaces that make you feel like you are at the beach, at the spa, or on vacation in a perfectly appointed NoMi cottage. (We’d be happy to live inside their Second Home storefront if we could.)
Find The Quiet Moose online at Quietmoose.com or at 300 E. Mitchell St. (showroom) and 305 E. Mitchell St. (QM Second Home storefront) in Petoskey.