One must bypass a bright red door before they can step inside 141 Design Company in Williamston. Once inside, they will be surrounded by vibrant furniture that has lived a life of its own. Unlike traditional furniture produced by the masses every day, 141 Design Company creates custom furniture from salvaged wood for anyone who desires it.
“We’d like to consider them heirloom pieces,” said co-owner Chantelle Deimling. “These aren’t pieces that you sell in a garage sale in two years; these are pieces that become functional in your home—they’re art.”
141 Design Company opened in September 2016. Before that, it housed Bungalow 47, a furniture paint line Deimling created with her business partner Jill Rinner.
When the business outgrew the building, they relocated it to a warehouse in Haslett. With an empty building, Chantelle and her husband Brian Deimling contemplated selling the building, leasing it, or using it.
“Because [Brian] builds furniture, we decided we’d move back in and use it as his furniture building shop, and then we opened the small boutique in the front to allow people to come in and shop,” Deimling said. “This particular building is very useful as far as what we [are] doing.”
Co-owner Brian Deimling builds all of the custom furniture with Chase Robinson, a shop apprentice who received the job unexpectedly.
“I knew Brian and Chantelle; they’re old family friends,” Robinson said. “I just came in to say ‘hey’ and he showed me around the shop and kind of mentioned he was pretty busy and needed help. I said, ‘Hey if you’re willing to teach, I’ll come in and help in any way I can.’ He’s a good teacher. Whatever you want to learn how to build, he’ll teach it to you.”
Although “he couldn’t even read a tape measure,” Brian Deimling said he was worth investing in.
“He enjoys working with his hands,” Deimling said. “His passion about building—it’s really easy to teach skills to somebody who’s passionate; you can’t really teach passion to somebody who has skills.”
Originally, Deimling was going to build furniture for the showroom. However, so many people wanted custom furniture that he switched his focus. Since opening 141 Design Company, he has built various pieces, including dressers, tables and clocks. Like his wife, he hopes to create heirloom pieces that will be passed down from one generation to the next.
“I would like [customers] to feel very proud,” Deimling said. “In other words, this is a piece that would have enough value to them and their family that their children are fighting over it when they pass away.”
Besides selling custom furniture, Chantelle Deimling hosts art classes at The Bunkhouse, a building across the street and another business she and her husband own. She was inspired to start offering art classes because “people want to learn how to paint.”
“I can’t paint everybody’s furniture; that’s not feasible,” Deimling said. “And I think it’s more exciting to teach somebody how to paint so they have that same thrill and they can be proud of the piece they’ve painted.”
Haslett resident Amy Satterla has been a customer since Bungalow 47 was created. When the Deimlings opened 141 Design Company, she continued supporting them.
“I love shopping at [141 Design Company] because of the rustic, small town, charming atmosphere Chantelle offers,” Satterla said in an email. “They put their hearts into this business and treat each and every customer as if they have known them forever. They have awesome customer service and the charismatic charm of the store definitely can’t be duplicated online.”
Exceptional customer service is something Brian Deimling takes pride in.
“We’re competing against online sales, and what we can offer is a great customer experience when they walk in the store,” Deimling said. “That’s what a small business has to do today to stay alive.”
Deimling said that online shopping has had a damper on their community.
“Like all small towns, this town is in debt,” Deimling said. “People in this area that are buying online are destroying the community. We got a lot of empty spaces up and down.”
With goals of improving Williamston and hope that their businesses will be under one roof in the next few years, Chantelle Deimling says it’s an accomplishment that the doors are still open.
“People seek out the place; they travel to come here,” Deimling said. “People like to come and just visit, and they come more than once. Obviously we have to earn an income, but we also want to offer things that are authentic of what we love, and what others love.”
With success since starting Bungalow 47 seven years ago, the Deimlings aren’t finished.
“It’s all being built right now,” Chantelle Deimling said. “This is just the beginning of what we’re doing.”