Traditional custom furniture often brings to mind chicken-scratch doodles on the backs of napkins, rounds of approvals with designers, and the nail-biting wait until your one-of-a-kind creation gets delivered to your home. Oh, and the exorbitant prices. Having the perfect couch that fits your space or the just-right shade of sage comes at a cost, and made-to-order can certainly cost you.
That’s where custom direct-to-consumer furniture brands like Interior Define, Burrow, and even Anthropologie come in. They’re the more streamlined and comparatively less expensive cousin to the traditional stuff, but with the same quality, uniqueness, and in some cases, even more customizations.
Having a DTC model means pieces cost less because there’s no middleman and less mark-ups involved; you’re not working with a designer who has to source materials and contractors. Now, that doesn’t automatically translate to “affordable” because nothing about custom will ever be wallet-friendly, but the DTC route makes it more reasonable for your budget. And as someone who’s had to figure out how to fit a too-large couch in a too-small apartment without sawing off half of it, finding reasonably-priced, good-looking furniture that actually fits into your space is, well, kinda priceless.
Ahead, five of my favorite DTC custom furniture shops that won’t cost a fortune.
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For those who love options, Interior Define has plenty—and we mean, plenty. There are more than 15 seating collections from modern and low-profile to traditional and tufted (including a mid-century modern collab with designer Jason Wu), more than 120 fabrics and colors, more than 20 leg styles, multiple lengths and widths, and multiple cushion styles and fills. Whew. Thankfully, to keep you from feeling too overwhelmed, there are free virtual or in-studio design services (though we recommend calling your nearest location to see if they’re doing in-person appointments), free fabric swatches, and a free augmented reality iOS app where you can see designs in your own space. Before deciding on two Jason Wu accent chairs, I’d gotten a batch of free fabric swatches and was able to “place” the chairs in an empty corner of my living room with the iOS app, saving my back and my brainpower. Now, they make up the perfect nook for reading and lounging about.
Given the level of customization and the pandemic’s strain on the supply chain, pieces can take anywhere from 20 to 26+ weeks. But for those who don’t want to customize furniture, there is a selection of ready-to-ship items that arrive in about 3 weeks and include some of the most popular styles like the Sloan sectional and the Graham chair.
Being able to customize the depth of the cushions and even the cushions’ fill is unique for an online store, and it’s still less expensive than working with a designer for traditionally custom furniture. But, if you’re able to wait, you can score deals of at least 15 percent and save a good chunk of money. Its sales also come with a fun little twist—it lets you choose the easier stuff now like style, size, and cushion fill, and you can choose the fabric later even after the sale has ended. And let’s be real, the fabric color is usually the hardest part anyway.
While there’s no interior designer by your side to bounce ideas off of, Burrow makes custom furniture as streamlined as it can get. There are only three collections to choose from (which means you won’t be poring over style after style), each with a handful of arm styles, leg styles, and life-proof fabrics from velvet to leather. The modular pieces can fit any space, no matter how cozy or cavernous, and you can pick up as few or as many seats as you need so you’re never stuck with a too-large couch. It feels like a prix fixe menu of sorts, which is great for those who prefer a tighter curation.
I’ve had the Nomad Leather King Sofa with an ottoman and chaise for more than three years, and it still looks as good as it was on day one. The full-grain leather is on the more expensive side for Burrow, but since it’s the top-most part of a hide, it’s also the strongest, most durable type of leather and hasn’t ripped, torn, or even wrinkled in the past three years. Many leather couches are made with genuine leather instead, which can be made of multiple layers of low-quality leather glued together. It can look great until it doesn’t, and can easily get punctured. I also recently got a four-piece sectional from the Field collection, and it’s super comfy and plush.
Take advantage of Burrow’s sales, especially around big holidays. It’s currently running a Labor Day sale through September 6 with discounts up to $1,000 off, plus free shipping.
For prints, prints, and more prints, The Inside by Havenly has you covered. Of the 130+ fabric swatches available, 100+ are prints of some kind—animal, botanical, floral, it even has the iconic zebra print by Scalamandré.
You can customize both indoor and outdoor pieces beyond the usual couches and armchairs like headboards, room dividers, cabana chairs, pillows, rugs, and even wallpaper. The breadth of categories is quite large (almost as large as the fabric choices), and every fabric can be applied to every piece of furniture so you can literally get everything to match. In addition to Scalamandré, The Inside has collabs with print house CW Stockwell, designer Sheila Bridges, and the Iris and Carl Apfel-founded Old World Weavers. Neutral lovers need not apply.
The Inside started out as a custom furniture retailer, but in 2021, was acquired by online interior design service Havenly, one of our favorites we tested. This means that once you’ve figured out your furniture, you add on a room redesign package see exactly how it’ll fit in your space, too.
Surprise, surprise: our fave store for candles and cute mugs is also home to custom furniture. Some pieces are from the Anthro brand itself while others are exclusive designer or brand collaborations, but everything naturally feels infinitely cozy, comfy, and lived-in.
Anthro has more unique pieces than other stores due to its general boho vibe, and more furniture beyond seating too. Here, you’ll be able to customize serpentine sofas and swivel armchairs as well as cane bed frames. The level of customization depends on the specific item and you won’t be able to choose between a general color palette or change the seat depth. For example, you can choose the orientation, fabric type, and color of a serpentine sofa but not the legs, or only just the fabric and color of these swivel armchairs. For someone who’s already a big Anthro fan, you’re guaranteed to love the custom aspect, but should you need any pointers, there are virtual and in-store design services.
There’s also white glove delivery for $149 no matter the amount or size of your pieces.
Inside Weather is among the more eco-friendly of the group, as its furniture is
made-to-order in northern California with sustainable materials such as recycled plastic water bottles, and brand initiatives such as planting two trees for every order.
In addition to seating, you can customize everything from the size and shape of coffee tables to handles and door fronts on credenzas to even floor pillows for a truly cohesive space. Everything can have the same trim or similar finish, or you can go wild with contrasting colors and textures. For someone who might want a one-and-done furniture shopping experience, this would be your best bet. There are free design services and swatches, too.
Because pieces are designed in-house and manufactured in California, shipping is a lot faster—currently, many pieces are estimated to arrive by early February, though this can vary depending when you live. There’s also an extremely generous 365-day return window should you not be satisfied with your order, which is almost unheard of for any made-to-order furniture.
Currently, there’s 20 percent off sitewide with the code LABORDAY during its Labor Day sale.
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