Inspiration in the Studio

Day 3 at Hickory Chair University!

Day 3

Day 3 at Hickory Chair University started bright and early with a tour of the upholstery factory. I’ve been to several upholstery manufacturer’s before, but this operation is different. The employees of Hickory Chair are challenged to perfect their systems and think “outside the box.”  I firmly believe that the management style of Hickory Chair is what has allowed them to succeed in a very challenging industry.

Check out all of the color-coded pattern pieces for the upholstered furniture frames…


Skilled craftsmen are found throughout the factory constructing the Hickory Chair frames. The quality of construction is why this furniture can be reupholstered over and over again….becoming true heirloom pieces for generations.


Laura Holland explains the construction of this beautiful chair. Hickory Chair President, Jay Reardon, stayed with us for three days and facilitated much of our training. I cannot begin to tell you how impressed I was by these two talented individuals. I truly believe they could build any piece of furniture in the entire line all by themselves!


Once the frames are complete, it’s time to apply the upholstery. Each fabric is meticulously cut for proper positioning….


And carefully sewn together for a perfect fit….


We’ve all heard of eight-way-hand-tied. Well, here it is..actually tied by hand and secured tightly. No inexpensive spring alternatives in this product.


Laura and Jay explaining the many finishing options available on each piece. Hickory Chair has implemented the Silhouettes program that allows complete custom construction of chairs and sofas….you pick your seat depth, seat height, arm style, cushion style, skirt options, and other details such as nailheads. The possibilities never seem to end.


We ended our visit with a traditional North Carolina pig pickin’ which happened to double as a celebration for the entire plant for achieving unprecedented safety goals. After spending three days in this small North Carolina town, it became very clear why I’m so excited about using these beautiful furnishings in my projects!

Thank you, Laura, Jay and the entire Hickory Chair team for your gracious hospitality and quality education! It was well worth the three days away from the studio….now back to creating!

Hickory Chair University: Day 2!

Day 2

Day 2 at Hickory Chair University started with an informative lecture on quality manufacturing of wood furnishings, including everything from furniture construction to wood veneers.  Many of the techniques used years ago are still implemented today. Many improvements in technology have allowed greater flexibility and efficiency in furniture production.

After our “classroom” portion of class, we ventured into the real world of high end furniture production…here we go.


With so many furniture manufacturers closing their doors and losing business to imports, Hickory Chair has managed to excel. It is obvious that their leadership has taken great strides to empower their employees, the true craftspeople of this fine furniture.


Attention is paid to every detail….


Notice the beautiful wood combination on this piece….and it doesn’t even have it’s finish applied yet.


Inventory is closely watched to only produce pieces that meet the demand of current orders. These pieces are ready for production…


Hickory Chair offers each furniture piece in many different finishes. The finishes require numerous layers, many of which are applied by hand…


Did you ever wonder why some drawers are so easy to operate and some…well, not so much?  Laura Holland (our fabulous host extraordinaire), explains quality drawer construction…


It’s because of people like this who care about how your drawers close….


Check out this perfect fit…


We were all fascinated by this Marielle bookcase designed by Thomas O’Brien. It is fully upholstered and is finished beautifully on the inside and out. We watched as the nailhead detail was applied….over 2,800 individual nailheads applied by a talented man with an incredibly steady hand!



I was thrilled with the options on Day 2 and couldn’t wait for Day 3. Tomorrow we tour the upholstery plant!  More options and more fine furniture created by a fine group of people.

Hickory Chair University...the best education yet!

Last week I had the honor and pleasure of attending Hickory Chair University in Hickory, North Carolina!  This three day experience was filled with education, creativity, and quality. There is so much to share, so I decided to spread it out over three days of posts…one for each day of the University!

Day 1

Sunday evening started with cocktails and dinner on the Mezzanine. This space is casual, yet sophisticated too, and filled with fabulous pieces from the various collections of Hickory Chair.


The customization available is amazing. The combination of finishes, fabrics, hardware, glass, stone….the possibilities become endless (and, I have to admit, can be overwhelming).


This bed is simple and elegant with it’s upholstered insert. Imagine changing the wood finish and eliminating the upholstery for a completely different look.


This breakfront is absolutely gorgeous in a painted and distressed finish.  Click here to see the same piece in a traditional mahogany stain. A bit of trivia and history…notice each glass door has 13 panels. Why 13? I like to think it’s because it’s my lucky number since I was born on Friday the 13th, but actually it’s historically common to represent the thirteen original colonies of the good ‘ole USA. Here I go on my bandwagon again, but I am thrilled that all of this beautiful furniture is handcrafted right here in the great state of North Carolina!


And, a little bit of current events trivia too! I love this Hallings Secretary designed by Thomas O’Brien from the showroom. It is currently playing a starring role in the Sex and the City 2 movie. A beautiful statement piece…even in the movies!


Tomorrow is Day 2 and we’ll tour the case good factory!  I promise it’s worth the visit…