Rustic Appeal

Men laying new hardwood flooring

When former ad executive Michael Colton and his wife first bought their Marietta home in 1985, they didn??t want to spend a fortune to furnish it. But when they were actually looking for furniture, it wasn??t the prices they were unhappy with??it was the furniture itself. ??We just couldn??t find exactly what we were looking for,?? Colton says. ??Everything we saw was thesame, mass-produced stuff.??

So, even though Colton was more accustomed to boardrooms than band saws, he decided he??d try to make his own armoire in the rustic, Southwestern style he preferred. ??I really didn??t know what I was doing when I built that first piece,?? he says. ??I didn??t even have any power tools. I made the entire thing with a hand saw.??

Even though he was just a novice furniture craftsman, he was no stranger to creating beautiful environments. Colton started his career as a design and art director for Glamour magazine in New York, and then moved to Atlanta to join Miller Zell Design Center as senior creative director. By 1991, he??d started his own design firm, which focused specifically on retail imagery and package design.

Colton creates all of his custom peices in his Marietta workshop.

While the design element of making the furniture came naturally, building it wasn??t quite so easy. But, Colton says, he learned from his mistakes and continued to build one piece after another. Eventually, he completely furnished his entire house with custom, rustic pieces he loved. ??Making the furniture was like therapy for me,?? he says. ??I was able to get away from the stress of deadlines at work, and just enjoy creating new pieces.??

Then, in May 2002, Colton took a leap and decided to leave his design firm to pursue furniture making full time. ??The advertising business had just become so high-tech and computerized,?? he says. ??We were creating less and less artwork by hand, and the more I got away from that, the more I missed it.?? That??s where the hands-on, creative aspect of his furniture filled in the gap. ??There??s just a point in life that you want to be doing something that you really like on a daily basis,?? he says. ??Now is that time for me.??

While his skills as a furniture maker have greatly improved over the years, his design philosophy has remained the same. His current collection consists of custom-made armoires, bookshelves, shutters and tables of solid pine??just like the ones he made for his own home. Twigs and branches??his signature design elements??and bright, bold colors are also incorporated into several of his pieces enhancing the rustic look.

Colton’s vibrant armoires are all built and painted by hand.

Each piece has multiple layers of hand-applied paints and stains that are worked into every crack, and knots and scratches enhance the worn look. ??The collection is ideal for casual and comfortable homes,?? Colton says, ??especially mountain, lake or beach vacation homes. You can put your feet up on it and it will only get better.??

Like any other custom piece of furniture, the process from start to finish can be time consuming, so Colton works on only one piece at a time. Rest assured, though, you??ll get your piece when promised. ??I come from a business where deadlines mean everything,?? he says. ??My clients can have faith in me that I won??t miss a deadline. If they are buying the piece for their wife??s birthday, they??ll have it for her birthday.??

Although Colton already has several designs concepts to work with, he also works directly with clients to make completely custom items. In fact, he wants the clients to participate in the design process. ??They choose the color and the look of the piece,?? he says. ??These are pieces that my clients will have as family heirlooms, so I want them to be right.?? What??s Colton most proud of with his new collection? ??They aren??t mass-produced pieces,?? he says. ??I design and make them from the heart??that??s as good as it gets.??

For more information on the Michael Christopher Colton Collection, visit

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