(The following was written by C&H team member Kelly Mahan, and was originally published in the Montecito Journal on March 2, 2017)
Three years ago, notable Los Angeles furniture maker Jay Keefrider, along with his wife Sirie, packed their bags and headed to Santa Barbara, where they have quietly been making a name for themselves by building meticulously handcrafted furniture for Montecito and Santa Barbara homes. With a workshop located in the up-and-coming Lagoon District of downtown Santa Barbara, the couple, along with their shop dog Tallulah, pride themselves on building heirloom quality pieces, and they are quickly becoming a fixture in the local business community.
Keefrider Custom Furniture founder Jay Keefrider landed his first job in a woodworking shop as a teenager in Philadelphia, and he went on to study furniture design at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Georgia. After receiving his BFA, he packed up and headed west, where he started his own furniture workshop, Cotterpin Design, in Los Angeles in 2001.
According to the couple, the business thrived, and evolved from a custom furniture shop to a more extensive business which included designing and building a variety of other projects, including custom built-in work and finish carpentry in homes and businesses, art installations, display rooms, custom sourced and installed architectural millwork, television and movie sets and more. An artist and craftsman at heart, Keefrider says he slowly found himself missing the days in which he was working face-to-face with clients, rather than being behind the scenes running a growing business. An opportunity arose to switch gears when Sirie, a molecular biologist, accepted a post-doctorate position at UCSB. “We cannot imagine living anywhere else now,” Jay told us during a recent visit to the workshop, which houses the business, dubbed Keefrider Custom Furniture, a new iteration of Cotterpin Design.
Once married and in Santa Barbara, Sirie, also an artist at heart, began spending more and more time with her husband in the shop, and has learned the art of woodworking. She gave up her career in academia after 15 years as a research scientist, in order to help support the family business. “I am constantly in awe of Jay’s creativity and skill. He is the best teacher, and he is always coming up with new ideas and techniques,” Sirie said.
The couple specializes in custom dining and coffee tables, beds, built-in cabinetry, and much more, using a variety of wood including locally-sourced walnut, maple, mahogany, and exotic woods. Their woodworking runs the gamut from designing a piece from scratch, to replicating a piece from a photo, to repairing or modifying existing furniture pieces, to making a piece that matches a specific design already present in a client’s home. “It’s really important that we visit our clients’ homes, to get a feel of the environment and space in which the furniture piece will be placed,” Jay said. Custom pieces take anywhere from three to eight weeks to create, with the ultimate goal of making clients’ visions come to fruition. “It’s our number one priority that our clients are happy,” Jay said.
The Keefriders hope to inspire others to surround themselves with quality, handmade furniture, which will last for generations. “Furniture is a tactile object that you interact with everyday. Why not invest in something functional and beautiful, that isn’t going to end up in a land fill?” Jay said. “We love to think that when we’re gone, we will have left our mark, and there will still be Keefrider pieces out there,” he said.
For more information, www.keefridersb.com. The shop is located at 434 E. Haley Street, Unit C, call 617-3342.