Thursday, June 20, 2024

NC trend: Famed Tar Heel artist Bob Timberlake launches furniture line with an Amish twist.

Bob Timberlake

Legendary painter and designer Bob Timberlake is returning to the furniture business.

He’s struck deals for his “American Home” line with Archbold Furniture  and Carolina Customer Leather to manufacture bedroom, dining room and office furniture. It’s been rolled out to test stores and will launch nationwide later this year.

“I’ve had to fight hard to keep my furniture ‘Made in America,’ believing American craftsmanship is second to none,” says Timberlake, 86. “I spent a few days with Archbold at their facilities and having worked all year with Carolina Customer Leather, there is no question this fact remains true today.”

The “World of Bob Timberlake” line with Lexington Furniture sold an estimated $2.2 billion, an industry record after it was introduced in October 1990. Sales at the famed Harrods department store in London topped $100 million annually for more than a decade.

At the end of 2009, Timberlake’s license with Lexington expired after he objected to the company using Chinese manufacturers to make his furniture. He then worked with Hickory-based Century Furniture, which made the furniture until the end of 2019. He spent last year designing a new line and finding the right manufacturers.

Archbold Furniture, a privately held company based in Ohio, has made solid-wood furniture since 1900, though it started as a ladder manufacturer. The ladder business was sold in 1997. In 2010, it partnered with an Amish finisher, and its products have 13 stain options applied using old-fashioned Amish techniques. The company’s furniture is sold to nearly 500 retailers in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Carolina Custom Leather is based in Conover and uses solid hardwood frames and offers more than 500 leather and fabric covers in its manufacturing. Its owner, Todd Stroud, was previously president of The Tanner Co., furniture importer. He also worked at Hickory-based Bradington-Young, which makes chairs, recliners and sofas.

“We are excited to be working with Bob on the new Bob Timberlake American Home collection,” says Stroud. “All the upholstery will have Bob’s love for the outdoors.” Carolina Custom Leather will debut five sofas, six chairs, two office chairs and three dining room chairs from the collection in April.    

Timberlake’s son, Dan, says the company conducted extensive research and evaluated furniture manufacturers to select the partners. The Timberlakes plan to strike other licensing deals later this year for lamps, lights and rugs.

The 15 test stores offering “American Home” are all east of the Mississippi River in various states – Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia, for example – says Dan Timberlake. He added that more stores wanted
the furniture, but that they wanted to limit the initial rollout.

Sales are exceeding expectations, says Dan Timberlake, declining to provide numbers. The line will launch for nationwide distribution on April 13 at the International Home Furnishings furniture market in High Point.

At the Doerr Furniture store in New Orleans, the king-sized bed is selling for $3,150 while a nine-drawer dresser retails for $2,887. A five-drawer chest costs $2,250, and a two-drawer nightstand sells for $871. A mirror is $540.

Bob Timberlake became famous in the 1970s for his paintings of rural America, which have been shown around the world. His Lexington gallery, which is open Wednesday through Sunday, sells prints and originals, as well as some of his previous furniture designs.

Some of the pieces in the new American Home collection from Bob Timberlake.
Chris Roush
Chris Roush
Chris Roush is executive editor of Business North Carolina. He can be reached at

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