At Home With…
Early in Sara Zook’s career, a client asked her to design a few pieces of custom furniture. The designer discovered a new passion—and a great business. “Because I love the classicism of antiques, I wanted to create a product that would stand the test of time and have that classical element, but would be new,” she says.
Early in Sara Zook's career, a client asked her to design a few pieces of custom furniture. The designer discovered a new passion—and a great business. “Because I love the classicism of antiques, I wanted to create a product that would stand the test of time and have that classical element, but would be new,” she says.
Today, New Classics Creations is known for its custom designs, intricate inlays and buttery finishes. Take the C-leg table, for example (above). “It was the first piece we ever designed and made. It's made in any wood, and you can do ripping and tearing techniques and make it look really casual.”
Each piece is “bench-made,” crafted by one person from start to finish. Along with Zook's modern furniture line, Beaux Modern, New Classics Creations is available through The Shanahan Collection in Denver—a showroom her husband started and her daughter now manages.
For this inspired artist, designing furniture is about more than just form and function. “It's all about the stories, not the objects themselves,” the designer says. In both her professional repertoire and at home, each piece of furniture comes with a tale—of antiquing trips with her family, travels throughout Asia or inspiration from the shapes she finds in cities or nature. “Our house is nothing but a collection of pieces—from primitive pieces to silks. Everything has a fabulous story.
“This chair was a gift to my daughter Kirsten for her high school graduation. I bought her two of these emperor chairs. The wood is called ‘wang wali' and was only used for royalty. It grew in a very small forest in Northern China.”
“We found wonderful ‘jewel' pieces during a week-long trip to the Loire Valley in France. On this 1720 armoire, I love the really big bun feet. And it's not a typical French piece. The barley corn—or Jacobean—twist shows the English influence.”
If you're thinking about working with a designer to have some pieces of custom furniture made, we checked in with Sara Zook to bring you the details on what goes into the process
“Any design process follows 4-5 basic steps,” she says. The processes are: Programming, Schematic Design, Design Development, Execution of Drawings and/or Samples. “Any design is a process between the client and the designer.” Here, Sara breaks down the steps that go into the collaboration:
1. Review the general description of the piece with the designer: materials, colors and feeling, style—antique, transitional, modern, or cutting-edge modern, for example. Discuss the function of the piece and review your home's space plans and/or floor plans for the room to determine the general size and scale of the piece.
2. Review budget ranges.
3. Ask the designer to prepare 1 to 3 sketches for design concepts to be sure you are communicating together. Ask the designer to prepare preliminary budgets based on all of your information.
4. Ask the designer to prepare scale drawings, details and color samples, etc.
5. Review final pricing, designs, samples, schedules and the contract and for sign-off with the designer and client.
6. Stay in touch with the designer during the process for any further clarification on the design.
7. Enjoy a wonderful new piece made uniquely for you.