It didn’t take long for Clay Adams to realize that if he wanted the perfect dining room table, he was going to have to pick up a hammer. Six years ago, when Clay and his wife, Maggie, were in the market for furniture, the big box stores just didn’t have the style, quality or price they were looking for. So while they slept on an air mattress and watched a television that rested on the floor, Clay stopped shopping and started building.
“We wanted something that was going to be sustainable for our entire lives and that was going to have a story,” Clay says, describing the Southern farm table they wanted for their Atlanta home. “I started to do a lot of research, watched a lot of videos and bought a lot of books. Eventually I was able to piece it all together, decided what kind of wood to use and finally, a table was made.”
He finished that first table the day before Thanksgiving, just in time for ten guests to join together for a celebratory meal – despite the slight smell of the stain and finish, which hadn’t even dried. That was the day Clay and Maggie’s house turned into a showroom. Just a few years later, Clay left his job in software sales to launch Rustic Trades Furniture, the Adams’ handmade furniture line that specializes in one item that they felt was hard to find: the perfect farm-style dining room table.
Today, Rustic Trades offers two distinct styles: the Clayton and the Emerson. The Clayton, which is the style Clay originally made for Maggie, boasts a rich, warm stain over hard cherry boards and can weigh anywhere from 250 to 400 pounds. The Emerson includes a Medieval-style trestle beam that connects two base legs. And if you’re envisioning something entirely different, Clay has the skills and manpower to create just about any custom design and size – the challenge is what keeps it interesting.
“Every time I build something new, I feel like I’m moving forward. I get really excited about a custom design, because it takes a lot of time and effort on my part to research and figure out how it needs to be made,” he says. “I almost feel like I’m back in that first year of marriage when I’m trying to figure out how to make a new table.”
To Clay and Maggie, their furniture is just one more contribution to the shift towards handmade quality goods that’s happening across the nation. “I’m seeing that there’s extra value in purchasing something that no one else has, that’s unique, and that has a story,” Clay says. “There’s this movement in our country, and people no longer are satisfied with being a number, being a receipt. It’s more of a relationship than a transaction, and that’s the reason that I love what I do.”