By Dennis Shanoff
Customers and fans of Vermont Woods Studios know us not only for our heirloom quality wood furniture but also for our unique artisan furniture offerings. And while we feel our mainstay traditional craftsman make the very best “everyday” wood furniture, there is also an extremely talented “one of a kind” wood furniture artisan population in Vermont that we also represent and showcase. Here is where art meets function.
So a few weeks ago I took a scenic trip up to Dorset, Vermont to pay a visit to Steve Holman, one of our custom artisans to check in and see first hand what he has been up to lately. And while “business travel” can be a chore or hassle this trip was considered a pleasure! Even though it’s a 2 hour drive, traveling via country roads through farms and forests is much better then having to hop on a major interstate and count exits! And it’s hard to beat the ride up Route 30 from Brattleboro towards Manchester for its scenic beauty and interesting stops. Plus Dorset is just a quick 6 or so miles north of Manchester, VT a worthy destination in itself.
Well Steve’s home and workshop is just a bit down a dirt road right off of Route 30 and when I rolled into Steve’s driveway I was instantly envious of his “workplace”! Steve has a beautiful home and a great detached barn for a workshop. Not to mention the beautiful grounds these structures are sighted on. It’s a tranquil, beautiful setting with a 50 foot walk to work each day for Steve. Hard not to like his “nine to five”!
Steve is ever busy but always gracious with his time. I was able to get the full tour and learn more about his journey to this point. Seems Steve skipped joining the family’s very successful luxury car business and followed the path of his instincts and passion. You have to admire his forgoing the likely ensured success route and braving into the unknown waters of custom and artistic work. And when Steve says he never builds the same piece of furniture twice, he is not kidding. And we are not talking about subtle variations across one style here. His work is eclectic indeed, from traditional to ultra modern. You can put 10 of his furniture pieces in one room and most would think it was made by 10 different craftsmen. But what is consistent across his work however is the uniqueness, beauty, and impeccable craftsmanship.
This day I found Steve working on a custom vanity destined for a high end home. After Steve succinctly chronicled the past 30 years and showed me around his workshop we headed over to the attached gallery. Steve keeps some of his showpieces and built on spec pieces here. And it just so happens that his wife Georgine MacGarvey is a fine artist as well but she works in oils and pastels. Her paintings are on display here as well as in a Dorset Village gallery. Here I got to see and put my hands on some truly unique and beautiful furniture pieces.
Come see for yourself. Steve welcomes visitors and many of his clients like to stop in and see their commissioned work in progress. For those that are unable to make the trek, Steve takes plenty of pictures for them throughout the build process. But if you do make the trek, leave yourself plenty of extra time. There is so much to see and do in this part of Vermont that you don’t want to wish you left more time for exploration.
This is very special furniture indeed. It is your piece alone, no one else will have the same. Perhaps you are the type where it’s important to have a special attachment to or story surrounding some of your possessions. If so and you are in search of a really special furniture piece this is a great place to start