David Duvall’s wife, Dani, wanted a new farmhouse-style table for their dining room. One day, she showed him a picture of one she liked and explained her specific vision. To make her dream a reality, David could have searched online or visited stores, but none of those tables would have been perfect. So instead, David simply built the table himself.
“People have forgotten what real furniture is,” David says. “They’ve become accustomed to buying from big box stores, IKEA, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware. And the truth is, all of that stuff is manufactured overseas. It’s all particle board covered with veneer. It’s not real furniture. What we’re doing is designing and building solid hardwood furniture that will last forever.”
Today, the Wake Forest couple runs Duvall & Co., a custom furniture company specializing in handcrafted wood tables that will stand the test of time.
“We’re makers,” David says. “It’s something that’s going to last well beyond my life. I’m hoping this tradition will be passed down to kids and grandkids, and, you know, once I meet my maker, that it will still be here.”
Our State sat down with David to learn more about the company’s stunning handmade furniture.
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OS: How did you get into furniture making?
DD: Technically, we started Duvall and Co. about seven years ago, but really, this company started generations ago. My great-grandfather was a furniture builder. When I go to my parents’ house, I see the original table and chairs that my great-grandfather built for my mom when she was a toddler 70 years ago. It’s really small, and it’s painted bright red. So that’s why the underside of every Duvall and Co. table is painted bright red. That’s our trademark; it’s paying homage to my heritage and my family. This company was born and bred from it.
OS: What makes your tables special?
DD: You know, we’re big believers that special things happen around the table. It could be where you asked your wife’s father for her hand in marriage, or where you told Grandma and Grandpa that they were going to be grandparents for the first time. It’s where you do homework with your kids, where you fill out college applications. We feel like the table should be something special — part of the family. It’s a piece that’s going to grow old with you; it’s going to be passed down to your kids. We always say, “Life happens around the table.” We have customers come in and we paint their hands white and they put their handprints on the underside of the table, which we’ve painted red. Then we do a clear coat over that so that their handprints are permanently sealed into the table. It is part of their family and it grows old with them.
OS: What is the process of building a table like?
DD: Sometimes customers will come in with an idea, or a picture of something they saw on vacation, and we’ll sit down and sketch out ideas and draw it. When they’re happy, we start to build. We start from scratch. We take the raw materials and start cutting and sanding until we’re finished. You always hear about people that sculpt from clay or stone, and they say, “The piece was always in there, we just had to bring it out.” What we do is sort of like that. When we look at a piece of wood, we look at the story that piece of wood tells. If it’s a piece of reclaimed wood that was hanging on the side of the barn 120 years ago, we can take that story from that piece of wood and bring it to life in a piece of furniture. Even if it’s new lumber, ambrosia maple, for example, we can look at it and see the holes where a beetle burrowed into the tree or the curling and grain where the tree was positioned in the forest. So much about a piece of furniture tells a story that you’re never going to get when you buy something from a big box store. We’re looking for furniture that tells a story.
OS: What do you love most about what you do?
DD: No two days are the same. Every piece of wood is different, every process to design and build is a little different. Customers are trusting us with something that they’re going to have forever.
Duvall & Co.
417-B South Brooks Street
Wake Forest, NC 27587