Table: Architect table in elm wood in Michael’s cherry stain on top and Onyx stained legs
How we began
Contemporary Craftsman was inspired by our own furniture shopping experience. We had waited years to buy our ‘forever home’ and wanted ‘forever furniture’ that would last the decades we planned to live there. In addition to longevity, it was also important to us that our furniture was safe, American made, and sustainably crafted.
Amish furniture fit the bill. It is always made from 100% solid wood, so it’s safer and more family friendly than furniture made from artificial wood substitutes. Plus, it’s handcrafted in the Midwest from locally sourced materials and sustainably harvested woods, ensuring a smaller carbon footprint than furniture shipped overseas.
Family in Michigan owns a furniture store than sells Amish pieces, so we ordered through them, customizing all our pieces to coordinate with our new home in the woods and stains we liked best.
Our furniture intrigued many of the friends and family who visited. Most weren’t familiar with the Amish community’s furniture expertise and didn’t know it was possible to customize your own furniture. Many thought the Amish only built ‘old fashioned’ pieces and were surprised by how contemporary all our furniture was. Some even asked where they could buy something similar, but we didn’t know where to direct them as there wasn’t much Amish furniture available in New Jersey where we live.
That interest sparked an idea—what if we could bring Amish furniture to people outside of the Midwest? We partnered with our family in Michigan and started building connections with Amish craftsmen in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, and soon Contemporary Craftsman was born.
Creating our brand
We briefly considered opening a brick-and-mortar store, but quickly realized that a virtual store would be the best way to make Amish furniture accessible to everyone and allow our customers the ease of shopping at their own pace from the comfort of home. Plus, with Amish furniture—which is custom built in the exact size, wood, and stain each customer wants—it is difficult to see exactly what you are buying in person anyway, even at furniture dealers that have Amish pieces in stock.
However, we recognized that shopping for furniture online might make some people nervous. So, we did everything possible to make that process easier. Our website includes an online visualization tool, which allows customers to preview how each stain color will look on each piece of furniture. We offer wood and upholstery samples that customers can have shipped to their homes so they can see their selections in person before they buy. And we allow returns, something that few custom furniture businesses do.
We pride ourselves on being a family-owned small business and we take a personal approach with all our customers. We expect to and enjoy talking to each one of our customers directly. If you aren’t sure what will work best for you, we offer free design consultations. If you don’t see something you like or you would like a variation that we don’t offer on the website, please reach out; we have dozens of Amish partners and typically we can find one that can build you exactly what you are looking for. Or contact us if you have any questions about the furniture, the customization process, the timeline, or anything else.
If you order something online, we will reach out personally and make sure every detail of your order is correct and answer any questions you may have. And once your order is placed we will provide updates as your piece is built and then shipped. Amish furniture does take time— approximately 12-24 weeks from purchase to delivery—and we want to make sure you are aware of exactly when your piece will be delivered directly to your room.
For us, this business is truly a passion. We own Amish furniture, we support American products, and our only goal is to give people more options than just buying mass produced furniture made overseas. Connecting with Amish craftsmen and understanding the time and effort that goes into everything they make has truly been an enlightening journey for us. We’ve learned so much about the importance of owning safer, sustainable, locally made furniture. We hope that you will consider joining us on this journey.
Chris and Laura Panjwani