Custom Furniture Spells Success for Design Firm

Custom Furniture Spells Success for Design Firm
By Daina Darzin

"We were a very arty kind of family; I started decorating when I was seven years old," she recalls with a laugh. "I'd come home from school and re-arrange the living room."

Art school throughout childhood, followed by the Art Institute of Chicago, prepared Lycknell for the design business, where she's helmed the Wyomissing, PA-based Lycknell Interiors for more than 20 years. Capitalizing on her art background, she's built a successful business on understanding and catering to consumers' desire for customized products that are both uniquely beautiful and highly functional. 

'Unfitted' design

Lycknell Interior's Pennsylvania market leans heavily toward traditional looks, she explains, with French and English styles predominating. But Lycknell Interiors' custom-made fabrications often feature unique design qualities which add a flight of fancy to the mix.

"I've tried to keep the kitchen and bath as a room, not a factory," she explains. "I try to keep it relaxed." Lycknell doesn't care for huge banks of cabinets in the kitchen, preferring an "unfitted" look combined with base cabinetry, with much of the storage taking place in an old-style walk-in pantry. 

Kitchen islands are a specialty of Lycknell's: "I consider them a little jewel in the kitchen, a focal point. I didn't want to do the typical boxy island," she explains, so "we do islands that look like an old farm table. There's even a sink in it, even though there's no solid sides. You see the plumbing going down to the shelf below, and it looks sculptural." 

The unique look of visible plumbing lines is also available in a shower. "The piping is not in a wall, it's exposed, and it looks wonderful," she says. Bathroom vanities are another specialty: "I got into those while trying to make bathrooms not look so 'clang-y,'" Lycknell notes. 

Overall, Lycknell expresses a preference for natural materials in her designs, particularly granite and marble. In addition, the design firm specializes in custom islands, armoires, home entertainment centers and custom-made faucetry. Lycknell Interiors also carries such high-end appliance lines as Viking, Sub-Zero and Miele.

Plans for growth
Lycknell's company has grown primarily by word of mouth. While she does advertise in the Yellow Pages, the vast majority of her business is referrals. "I've always been a believer in two things: What's good for my customer is good for me. And don't sell anything to anybody unless we know it's what they really need and what will make our project look the best. Also, I've always taken things to the next level." This involves a pro-active, rather than reactionary, approach to trends, gauging the marketplace and planning ahead. "We've never stayed stagnant," says Lycknell. 

Currently, Lycknell Interiors' "next level" involves sales on the Internet via a Web site in progress, which will be geared for architects, designers and homeowners, with professionals receiving a discount. "Because we have so much capability in manufacturing and fabricating, we must go out of our area," Lycknell explains. "We'll put some basic vanities, [home entertainment] centers, tapestry carpets, islands on our website," she notes. 

"I'm very hands-on," she concludes. "When I go to the workroom in the morning say I designed an island, [I'll look at it and think], 'I don't like that leg quite so wide, can we take it down?' So it's truly a custom item, done according to beauty and proportion. Just because I drew something up, doesn't mean that's the way it's going to end up. My clients know that, appreciate it, and give me full rein. Because they know when they get something, it's going to be better than they expected."

Lycknell Interiors


LOCATION: Wyomissing, PA

PRINCIPAL: Gloria Lycknell 

SHOWROOM: 3,000 sq. ft. plus 3,500 sq. ft. production facility

HOURS OF OPERATION: By appointment, Mon. - Fri., 10 a.m. -5 p.m.
Employees: Nine

MAJOR PRODUCT LINES: Mostly custom-made items; granite, marble, Viking, Sub-Zero, Miele, custom faucetry

SPECIALTIES: Custom kitchen islands, vanities, cabinets, armoires, home entertainment centers; carpets for kitchens & baths

BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY: "What's good for my customer is good for me. We don't sell anything to anybody unless we know it's what they really need, and will make our project look the best."