Custom furniture versus customized furniture. What’s the difference?

We hear these terms at our favorite furniture stores, in advertising and promotions all the time. It’s supposed to be something cool, something that makes our furniture special or stand out from the rest. But, it’s confusing and we have to wait a long time for it. So, what does this all really mean?

There are distinct differences between custom furniture and customized furniture. And, it all depends on what you want and what you’re trying to achieve for your client (or yourself teehee). Reading below will help to clarify what it means to get custom vs. customized furniture and what to expect.

Custom furniture is when a designer pitches a design to a furniture manufacturer and, if accepted, the furniture manufacturer produces that design. The furniture piece is not something the manufacturer already makes. This would be a new product for the manufacturer.

Example: Jill Designer is working on a remodel for a client. Jill finds a photo of a sofa or sketches a sofa design for a client (we’ll call the sofa “Haley”). Jill’s client loves it. Jill has to find someone to make it. Jill pitches the “Haley” sofa to Annie Furniture Manufacturing (AFM). AFM accepts and produces the “Haley” sofa. The “Haley” sofa is not something AFM already makes. This would be a custom sofa.

Hi, I’m Jill Designer looking for someone to make a special sofa for my client!

Custom furniture can be time consuming and very costly depending on the sophistication of the design and the capacity of the furniture manufacturer. First sizing, trims, accents and cushioning have to be considered. Second, a prototype must be made. Once a prototype is made, there are many rounds of adjustments. For sure there will be several visitations by the designer to the factory just to perfect the furniture piece. This process could take up to 4 to 6 months or more!

Customized furniture is when dimensions are changed or some part of the design is changed on an existing piece by a manufacturer. This is what we do at Nathan Anthony!

Example: Jill Designer looks at Nathan Anthony Furniture’s catalog and sees the Marlborough 90″ wide sofa. Jill feels this will be perfect in her client’s home. Jill wants the Marlborough made by Nathan Anthony Furniture, but it’s too small for her client’s needs. Jill needs the Marlborough to be 120” wide instead. Jill will work with Nathan Anthony Furniture to order the Marlborough in a custom size for her client. The production time will usually take up to 6 to 8 weeks. Here are some examples of customizations from our collections:

Nathan Anthony’s Marlborough sofa designed to be 90″ wide, with 2 seat cushions

Nathan Anthony’s Marlborough sofa customized to be 120″ wide, adding center leg for support and a third cushion

For the designer, customized furniture is less time-consuming and less-costly than custom furniture generally. Prototypes are not needed and visitations from the designer are non-existent. However, when you change an existing design, there are many hoops a manufacturer has to jump through to get the new specifications correct.

Examples: a new pattern needs to be made for the framing department, the cutting department, and the sewing department. Also, there is an added cost to ordering special-sized components, i.e., cushion fills (foam, fiber, down/feather). Ordering special size components depends on lead times of the manufacturer’s vendors. Artisans will have to slow down and hand-hold the order through the manufacturing process.

These are just some of the reasons customized furniture takes less long than non-customized furniture, generally 6 to 8 weeks.

Customized furniture does not only mean changing dimensions, but it can also mean changing the styling, i.e., adding or removing nailheads, adding or removing welt, changing feet or base types, etc. One example can be found on our Whisper chair. Whisper is designed with a cutout back framed with beautiful wood trim. A client wanted a more contemporary look. The designer ordered the Whisper chair without the wood trim around the cutout back. Both styles are beautiful, but different.

Nathan Anthony’s Whisper chair, designed with cutout back lines with wood trim

Nathan Anthony’s Whisper chair customized to exclude wood trim cutout on the outside back

Thank you for reading! We hope you found this blog helpful. If you have any questions, contact us. To keep up with the latest happenings here at Nathan Anthony, please connect with us on FacebookGoogle+TwitterInstagram and Pinterest.