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Custom Furniture reviews in Chicago

  • A
    Marcus @ Easy Does It Furniture Restoration is a Guru of a Cabinet Surgeon! I found a 500 pound, 8 1/2 foot tall armoire that was the perfect fit for the 2nd floor of my classic Chicago row house. Unfortunately, moving the piece into the building & up the staircase was not a perfect fit. Six men where unable to maneuver the beast into place. After letting the armoire sitting wrapped in a tarp on the front porch for many weeks, I knew something had to be done. After calling Easy Does It Restoration, Marcus came to the South side of the city (on a Saturday; no less). Within a few hours, Marcus delicately carved the cabinet into sections that would easily be navigated through 3 doorways & a 90 degree pin-turn at the top of the staircase. Watching the Furniture Doctor in action was fascinating; 4 types of saws, chisels, wedges & drafting tools. It was similar to watching a Chef filet a large fish. Marcus truly is an artist & has empathy for the preservation of history & familiar/sentimental value. A Gem. A rare find.
    - jeff d.
  • F
    REVIEW OF PAUL SCHULMAN DESIGN We hired Paul to design the kitchen and two bathrooms in our 1910 condo, and we intended to hire him to oversee the entire remodel budgeted at $150,000. Initially, he appeared professional, responsive, and creative. However, working with Paul turned out to be a horrible experience. He repeatedly missed promised deadlines, delayed meetings, gave endless excuses (seven by text alone), and blamed us for problems resulting from his poor management of the project. All along, his work contained numerous errors and oversights, and he offered few constructive or creative solutions. We tried to be flexible and accommodating, and Paul several times apologized for the delays and communication issues, blaming personnel issues (he soon thereafter fired a new employee) and family issues (new school year, etc.), which we could certainly appreciate. Unfortunately, it only got worse. Nearly two months after his proposed design deadline, he largely stopped responding to my e-mails (four e-mails over two weeks) and kept postponing phone conversations. We asked him to complete the design work by a new deadline in order for us to consider using his company to supervise the remodel. Instead of completing the design or asking for another extension, he said that our project “caught him at a bad time” and that we would be “best served going elsewhere.” Because he chose to quit four months into the project, he waived our final payment (he had tried to collect it before the work was finished and he refused to refund what we had already payed totaling over $4,000). If you hire Paul, do not pay the final invoice until the work is complete to your satisfaction—but even that cannot guarantee completion. Overall, we were left pretty unimpressed with his design skills. Good design requires a commitment to both the big picture and the fine details. Paul repeatedly promised but never actually attempted to pull all of the details together, which probably resulted in more revisions than necessary. The selection of tiles, paint colors, moldings, light fixtures, electrical design, etc. was promised, but never delivered. One hires a designer to think through how all of those details, colors, and materials interact: how a paint color looks next to certain materials and fixtures in the actual room. In reality, Paul basically just told us to research faucets online ourselves and directed us to a few tile manufacturer websites (he pulled some selections together on pintrest, but they were hardly helpful—mainly because they were not envisioned as part of a larger whole). He had bold ideas about tiles ("a beautiful hand-painted tile would look good there"), but then would leave it to us to research and come back to him with the options, only to get no response. This was his standard practice, and ultimately we felt that Paul’s work lacked both vision and execution. A rough budget was coming together towards the end, though it still had numerous errors and omissions. When he chose to abandon the project, he again blamed our indecision for wasting his time—in actuality, the budget and finish schedule was so poorly executed that it required corrections to the majority of line items; I’m sure that was frustrating for Paul and his team. Some changes were due to their own oversights, and others were due to discoveries about the hundred-year-old building, which is a totally normal part of the process. As I would say, better to make those changes on paper than after everything has been purchased. Paul frequently complained that we were being unreasonable or costing him money. He complained that we had sent him 138 e-mails over six months: Really, it was 121 emails, including scheduling exchanges, brief messages of approval (e.g., “sounds great!”), e-mails to follow up on promises and deadlines unmet by Paul and his team, e-mails requesting updates after weeks of silence, and—of course—ideas and feedback on the designs, some of which had to be revised or returned to earlier ideas: anyone in design knows that is just part of the process and, again, many of the revisions were due to his own initial errors or oversights. Paul claims to have 17 years of design experience, but every architect, contractor, and designer who has seen his drawings for our project has pointed out numerous problems with them. Multiple contractors have said that the designs were so incomplete that any reasonable sub-contractor would have to overbid the job to protect themselves from potential changes. Paul clearly lacks solid construction knowledge and experience. He deemed several of our ideas impossible from a construction perspective; in reality, many of our original ideas actually ended up being easier to construct than those in his plans (again, we ended up having to toss out most of his drawings—a total waste of $4,000). As clients, perhaps we were too proactive with our ideas, research, and sketches; perhaps we cared a lot about good communication; perhaps we didn’t give him enough free reign with the budget—perhaps our budget (pushed to over $150,000) was too small for him; perhaps we frustrated Paul because we brought changes to his attention that needed to be made to improve the design. But overall these concerns could have been avoided with more careful and attentive work on the part of Paul and his team in the first place. I know there are worse remodeling horror stories out there, and we feel fortunate that we did not have to use Paul for the actual renovation. But we genuinely hope no one else has the experience we had with Paul Schulman Design. In summary: + Design process was delayed almost two months and never completed. + Numerous (at least twelve) initial mismeasurements in crucial places. These were off by 3-4” and would have cost us a lot of money in change orders (e.g., I asked Paul if he would be responsible if I ordered cabinets based on his measurements and they happened to be wrong; he laughed and dismissed it as an impossibility because he used a laser measuring device—he should probably get the device recalibrated or learn how to use it). + Designs contained amateurish errors and oversights: cabinet doors that would hit each other when opened; a shower that would drench the user when turning the valve on; a custom vanity (35% upcharge, by the way) with a sink specified that would have been 2” too large to fit. These are oversights that you hire a designer precisely to avoid. Worse, Paul would complain when we brought them to his attention. + Revisions of designs were often delayed by weeks and were often incomplete. + Paul would often commit to doing tasks by a certain date and fail to do so. + Meetings were frequently rescheduled with little regard to client's time; too many excuses were given; we actively had to request updates. + Prices are inflated: his demolition bid was over $9,000 while other contractors bid it at $4,000; his plumbing bid was $13,000 per bathroom, other plumbers consistently bid each bathroom around $2,000-$3,000. Those are huge differences. + Lighting and electrical design was largely absent and thoughtless. + Drawings were incomplete and amateurish. (For example, Paul never provided a standard demolition drawing, specifying which walls, etc., needed to be removed). Basically, Paul does not have architectural skills, so when you show his drawings to a contractor/ plumber/ electrician/ cabinetmaker, they do not have enough clear information to work from and bid out the project accurately. The drawings project an air of accuracy (e.g., measurements to an impractical 1/16”), but actually contain numerous larger more meaningful errors. If you compare Paul’s drawings to a professional’s drawings you will immediately see the difference. + Generally inconsistent communication: sometimes Paul would respond quickly and thoroughly, other times there would be no responses whatsoever. + It took four weeks and four e-mails for him to finally return our house keys! + We found Paul because of his excellent Houzz reviews, but beware: Houzz allows companies to delete bad reviews! A few pros: + Paul took detailed measurements and made CAD drawings of the original layout and elevations. However, there were numerous errors with his measurements (he measured a critical door opening at 2’-4 7/8” when in fact the opening was 2’-8”; that’s a 3” difference that required a complete redesign of the area around it). + He made several site visits to confirm aspects of the existing structure that would influence the design. However, I discovered that at one of these, he cut two large holes in a wall that did not need to be opened, disturbing the plaster in a room we were not planning to renovate or even repaint. Worse, he threw away the pieces, making the patchwork more difficult. More evidence of his clumsy work. + Paul has strong opinions, which can be useful, but sometimes interferes with imagining creative solutions to problems. + Paul is admirably committed to his family and rarely works weekends or evenings. I honestly appreciate that.
    - Ben S.
  • A
    I had a custom made, 5 section wall unit. The center section was significantly deeper and was originally built to house a 32" CRT TV. Since I was not going to put a TV in the wall unit anymore, I wanted to dispose of the center section and push the remaining 4 sections together. Unfortunately, the remaining sections that had been next to the TV section had mitered moldings and unfinished edges that left gaps when they were pushed together. I contacted a few customer furniture/repair companies and none wanted to take on the job. When Marcus looked at it, he said he could definitely fix the problem. He was very communicative once he took the sections to his shop and triple checked exactly what I wanted before making any modifications. He delivered the modified sections yesterday and I'm very happy with the result. I was certain I'd have to either live with the ridiculous looking gaps or dispose of those two sections. The modifications Marcus made give the wall unit the continuous lines on the molding that I was looking for. I can definitely recommend Marcus. He was a pleasure to work with and does excellent, high quality work.
    - George H.
  • A
    They do not take cosmetic or structural shortcuts. Furniture comes back sturdier than it was when dropped off. The attention to detail is remarkable. The final product is exceptional in comfort., appearance and craftsmanship.. The craftsmanship to price ration is very good.
    - Susan L.
  • A
    They were excellent on timing, started right away, moved quickly, were very careful with my things, and very polite. They had a system and knew what they were doing. Nothing was damaged or broken. Excellent Price! These guys are where it's at.
    - Amy Jo P.
  • A
    They did a wonderful job. They out bid other providers by thousands. They were on time and very professional. They cleaned up after themselves which I thought was very professional. I would recommend them to everyone.
    - Diane B.
  • A
    It went very well. Alex did everything he promised in a prompt and competent way. The work he did building and repairing was excellent. He cleaned up his work so there was no mess left for me. Building the bookshelves was a complicated project and he did it perfectly.
    - Jean G.
  • A
    Efrain helped me outfit a cafe with bench cushions and the result was WONDERFUL! The upholstered cushions were custom built to the weird dimensions of the benches, and they fit perfectly when they were brought in. I was so impressed. Not only does Ancor come through with quality pieces, but they are also exceptional when it comes to customer service. Efrain was easy to get a hold of and very patient while we made our decisions. Throughout the process, he was super helpful and answered all of our questions so we could be confident in doing business with Ancor. I DEFINITELY would do business with them again!
    - DeAnna D.
  • A
    Habitar's design team is excellent. We worked with Mackenzie, who was responsive, punctual, and knowledgeable on the designs. Chris was our project manager and is likely wise always on-time and responsive. In fact, everyone on both design and build teams was on time, and responsive. Mitch, the owner, took the time to speak with me on the phone on three different occasions before we even invited someone in to bid the work. The build team (Strategem) does high quality work. The built-in cabinets required a lot of detailed finish work. The team was there for three days repairing even the tiniest seams in the wood for a custom, finished look. Very happy with the end product. Strategem will not only do a punch list check-in after the project, but they also check-in after three months. We are planning to use Habitar/Strategem again for another remodeling job we will start soon.
    - Benjamin H.
  • F
    Owner and furniture maker Tim, missed 3 promised delivery dates with excuses about things going wrong.  As of 2/22/16, the owner has stopped returning my calls and texts.  He has not delivered. He is not communicating.  He has not refunded my $200.00 down payment.  You be the judge if you would do business with Chicago Timber Works.
    - Justin L.
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