The Bulb Culture Evolution

Our Custom Office Furniture

Mitch Herrema
November 19, 2019

When we moved into our new studio we had a strong desire to put our unique interests and collective style into as many aspects of our space as we could.

Why Build Custom Furniture?

We had specific needs, knew of resources for materials, had the know-how, and willingness to dedicate the time needed to put it all together. Several team members would claim wood working and building things as hobbies or interests, and they’re always looking for variety in their work. They’re scrappy and like to do things on their own, so between confidence that we could do it right, and thinking it would be fun, we landed on the decision to assemble our own furniture.  We also like big desks, which are typically more expensive from manufacturers. We wanted furniture that would be high quality, durable, and unique.

Sources of Inspiration  

We have a few different tastes in the office, ranging from modern, contemporary, and industrial. Industrial doesn’t necessarily fit with the Bulb Digital brand, so we've done our best to include an industrial flavor into the more modern leaning designs.

We drew inspiration from companies we admire like West Elm, Joybird, Article, Steelcase, Herman Miller, IKEA, and CB2, along with, sites, blogs, and social accounts for mid-century modern furniture and styling.

Pieces We've Built


We didn’t want the veneer to look like most manufactured desks, but our initial desktops were still a bit generic. Meaning we went to a store and purchased what is typically used for a butcher block island countertop. We finished those desktops with Tung Oil and Polyurethane to add the unique look we wanted.

We then found a style of leg that we liked for our desks. We found a metal leg fabricator business on Etsy, called Cottage Industry MI, and discovered he was local to Grand Rapids. We reached out directly and learned we could have custom pieces built. There were some concerns for stability with only side legs holding up heavy desktops, so we requested two cross pieces, one for a footrest and one for a mount for wiring/cables. Our desks were complete!

It still seemed necessary to explore other options. We wanted our process to be repeatable, so we got our next set of desks from West Elm Workspace. There were some pros/cons to these desks, so we weren’t entirely sold on them as our go-to solution. This confirmed our desire for figuring out a repeatable custom solution.

We've continued to use the same design for desk legs and we’re very happy with the ground welds and quality of powder coat from Cottage Industry's recent work. It's great to support someone local, while also making the overall process easier.


We also had to install our own kitchen and when we needed a countertop, we couldn’t find anywhere that had them on hand. Our search led us to the Michigan Maple Block Co.  in Michigan and we really liked the maple wood. We then found a local distributor, Direct Supply Inc. They were able to get us a finished butcher block countertop that we would only have to cut the sink hole out of. We've continued to use that for our desktops, kitchen counter tops, and high-top table. We also used it for some open shelving.

We then started using Direct Supply as a source for our desks as well. After being satisfied by the quality, price, and timeliness, we’re now using them going forward with all new desks, countertops, or tabletops that we need.

Conference Room Table

This one was a bit of a headache. It required a lot of angled cuts, big stock, and attention to detail. After getting a few quotes on the legs, we ended up with a plan to get the top plates for the legs laser cut at a local machine shop that could then deliver them to Cottage Industry MI’s shop for the welding. We wanted integrated power, so we required a few holes for wires to travel through the legs, as well as, precision-cut opening for a power solution from Byrne.

We also wanted a two-piece live edge table top with power outlets in the middle, which required sourcing some large boards. Thankfully, one of our Father in Law's owns and runs a sawmill operation, so we were able to get our live edge conference room table top from him.

High Top Table

During the design evolution of the desks, kitchen, and conference room table, we were also trying to plan for a high-top table. We had a tough time designing a big tall table that would be both stable and stylish. After getting quotes for a few options, Cottage Industry MI, suggested we design the legs similar to the conference room ones. This ended up being a great solution for our stability and style problems, while also creating continuity of design throughout the studio.

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How It All Came Together

Collaboration was essential. Once we had a design, we were dependent on several different components and suppliers and we were able to execute our vision.

After some research on style and materials, design iterations for quality and stability, testing ideas and options, and some assembly, we ended up with a studio full of furniture that fits our needs. We created a repeatable solution that is our own and isn’t overly expensive. We could never have done this without finding some great local companies to collaborate with.

Future Ideas

There’s some desire for a shuffleboard table, but we're tight on space right now. Once we have more room we may try to use our resources to create a “custom-ish” shuffleboard table with added “bar-like” tops along the sides.

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