When Bryan and Susan Black moved their family from sunny California to the Shenandoah Valley in 2010 in search of a slower pace of life, opening a custom furniture business was the last thing on their agenda. But with woodworking and carpentry literally in the family’s DNA, it’s no surprise that both quickly became the family’s bread and butter.
Today, Bryan and Susan’s business, Concepts Created, is booming.
From tables crafted from reclaimed lumber to mantles, bookcases, cabinets and more, Bryan and his assistants (Susan and their children) are churning out one-of-a-kind pieces of functional art for families across Virginia from their home-based workshop.
You say that carpentry and woodworking are in your blood, Bryan. What’s the story?
I am a direct descendent (twelve generations) of John Alden and Miles Standish, who journeyed on the Mayflower. John Alden was the ship’s carpenter and Miles Standish was the military officer of the expedition. Various grandfathers and uncles did woodworking from cabinetry to home building. My father built boats and taught me the principles of woodworking.
How did Concepts Created get its start and why did you choose to open your business in Staunton?
While working as a finish carpenter in Southern California, projects came up that required reclaimed wood. I enjoyed working with it and began building tables as a hobby. We relocated to Virginia in 2010 and the business organically grew into what it is now. We never intended to open a furniture business; it started out of need for income and a passion for working with reclaimed wood.
Concepts Created is really an extension of our family vision — to worship, work, and play together. Our business fits beautifully into our lifestyle and family values. We appreciate the small business support Staunton offers and are proud to be part of this exceptional community.
What makes your furniture different from pieces made by other craftsmen or available at furniture stores?
Reclaimed furniture is unique to each craftsman. We produce our own artistic style and look from others. Our reclaimed furniture is different in style and construction. Every piece is built by hand, including drawer boxes and doors. We do not use any hardware in our tables with the exception of bolts to attach the legs. We use traditional colonial building techniques including a system of handmade pegs and dowels. Because of these joinery techniques, this furniture will last generations and become an heirloom.
We custom brand each piece with our shell logo. We chose a shell because it came from my family crest and it signifies a long journey – which we feel beautifully represents the life of reclaimed wood – a journey from one one place to another. In this case, a journey from a building to a piece of furniture and personally; the journey of my ancestors on the Mayflower.
I’m very passionate about reclaimed wood because it produces a look and style of furniture which cannot be reproduced from new wood and every piece tells a story. Every table is one-of-a-kind due to its history/journey, which produces its character. A table built with floor joists will produce a much different look than a table built with barn floor boards which were previously trampled by animals for years. No two tables are alike.
You make everything from tables to mantles and kitchen cabinets, what is your favorite piece to make?
I enjoy building dining tables but my favorite projects are hutches and cabinetry due to their uniqueness and complexity. My artistic creativity is heightened when I help design a piece for a client and bring it to fruition.
What has become your most popular piece and/or best seller?
Our most popular piece of furniture is a 6′ x 36″ x 30″ dining table with 2″ thick reclaimed planks and breadboards. It’s a comfortable every day table which can easily be dressed up for any occasion.
Can VBVA readers who are not near Staunton still buy your work and/or hire you to create a custom piece?
We have created many pieces for clients who do not live near Staunton. We offer delivery within a three hour radius of Staunton and welcome visitors to our workshop to meet us and see our furniture first hand.
Many clients drive from Northern VA and DC to visit us and tour our beautiful town. For those unable to visit, we welcome orders via phone and email and oftentimes do not meet our clients until we arrive on their doorsteps to deliver their furniture!
If you would like to see more one-of-a-kind pieces created by Bryan and family or would like to place an order: