by Carla Edstrom
If you take a stroll around most department stores today, you will see a lot of vintage inspired furnishings and furniture that looks repurposed and salvage rescued. From Shabby Chic to Farmhouse style, the design trends are all about chippy paint and reclaimed barn board signs. Although the style is supposed to look like you got the furniture from your grandparents’ farmhouse, you have to really search for original items that are not mass-produced. But fortunately, we have a woodcraft artist in town who creates one of a kind specialty furniture and other unique wood crafted items.
Kevin Artzner, the owner and artist of Coastal Woodworking in Southport, has been making furniture for the most part of his life starting as a child. “My dad was a woodworking hobbyist and I grew-up watching and helping him in the shop. I guess it is hard to say when I actually started because I always remember doing it,” he said. “At a young age I would take scrap wood and just make things like stepstools or signs as gifts. I have always enjoyed making things and using my imagination. I try to take on projects that will have a new challenge or learning opportunity whenever possible to keep growing. Woodworking is one of those crafts that builds up layer by layer,” he said. “Most project have the same basic steps in some form or another but when something new is required, that is when I like it the most.”
You could say that woodworking is in his blood. Being a native of North Carolina, Artzner had the opportunity to be around the furniture industry from a young age. “I grew up in Kernersville, NC, which was one town over from High Point, NC and the Furniture Capital of America. With such a major industry in the area, it was normal to take woodshop from the 7th grade all the way through graduation as a way of preparing students for a future trade. I did just that,” he said. “After graduation, I went on to get a degree in Marketing and then entered the corporate world working in product development and marketing. First for a paint and finishes company, then a hardware company, next a power tool company before finally entering the furniture industry.”
Having spent most of his career in a corporate setting, Artzner appreciates how woodworking takes his mind off of daily work stress. “After a day in the office and meetings, it just felt nice to make something with my hands and give my mind a break,” he explains. “Currently I am the General Manager for an e-commerce site and I do my woodworking after hours and on the weekend. I like the balance it provides me between a career and still having time to pursue woodworking.”
Architecture and home design are where Artzner finds his greatest inspiration for new work. “I like to look at a room that catches my eye and then incorporate those elements into my design. It could be a grand entrance with arched doorways and pillars that inspires me. Not everyone can afford that level of detail in their home, but a piece of furniture can have similar elements and offer the same level of interest for far less money,” he said. “I would say the majority of my projects start with an inspiration piece or very basic concept. A great example would be a tool chest table I built a few years back. While at Seaglass Salvage Market in Leland, NC I came across a rusty tool chest with drawers. I loved the look and age it had but I knew it had so much more potential and life in it,” he explained. “Like most projects, I just started with an idea in my head and no real plans were drawn-up. I like to get started and let the materials drive the build.”
From classic farmhouse tables to rustic and repurposed shaving brush handles, Artzners’ work is creative and fresh. I especially admire how he can incorporate the beach style with his use of color and textures, and then switch into making solid and classic heirloom furniture designs. “My favorite project is my sawhorse table,” he said. “This was a design I had originally come up with while in the furniture industry but at the time it did not fit within our product offering. I had wanted to build one for years but did not have a need in my own home. So when I started selling to the public, it was one of the first things I created. It continues to be my most requested build from customers.”
“I would suggest that anyone looking to start woodworking invest in the right tools. I think most woodworkers are probably better than their tools allow them to be. This does not mean you need to go out and buy everything they offer at the home center, but instead try to think about what you want to make and what tools are needed,” said Artzner. “My bandsaw is the same model as my dad’s, a 1970’s Craftsman with 40 years of parts and accessories available. Every time I stand in front of it is a reminder of my past and how it connects me with who I am today.”
You can see Artzners’ work at Northrop Mall in Southport and Seaglass Salvage Market in Leland where you can talk to Artzner one on one about his work.
Find him on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest: @coastalwoodworking
Phone: 910-477-1330. He also welcomes commissions and work for retail stores.