It used to be that the best furniture was kept from the general public, available only to interior designers and their wealthy clients. The rest of us in the lower furniture caste have unfortunately grown accustomed to pieces that are made cheaply, with materials that can’t stand the test of time. We are actually impressed if our desks last more than ten or fifteen years. In fact, we have grown so used to disposable furniture that most people share the depressing belief that in order to find well-built, handsomely finished furniture, you have to go to an antique store.
Not to criticize antiquing–shopping for vintage furniture certainly has its appeal, and it’s the green way to go. But it can be very, very difficult to design an entire room that way…at least within a reasonable timeframe. And unfortunately for those who lusted over interlocking joinery, hand-tied springs and meticulous tailoring, yet couldn’t afford to work with a high-end interior designer, there was no other way.
All of that has now changed, according to Tom Mohnkern at Baker Knapp & Tubbs. Mohnkern, along with his associate Penny Amrani and Showroom Manager Kevin Walter, have opened their doors at 275 Market Street in Minneapolis to the general public. “We’re a high-end furniture showroom, but we’ve remodeled our structure a little bit. We used to be only a wholesale business to architects and designers, and…since there are no dealers in the area like Gabberts and Macy’s, we’re getting those end-user clients.” Offering transitional pieces (that exquisitely refined midpoint between traditional and modern), Baker Knapp & Tubbs focuses primarily on the Baker line, but also includes pieces from Hancock and Moore, Jessica Charles, Councill, Stickley and McGuire.
Each of these brands is known for its beauty and versatility, but also for its ability to last. “Really what Baker is built on is that you’re buying quality furniture that you’re going to have for the rest of your life,” Mohnkern begins. “You may get sick of the fabric that it’s in and get it recovered, but you really only need to buy a sofa once.” Most of these pieces are made in the United States, although some are made in Europe and Indonesia. He adds, “We’re proud of what we do. We’re built on a history of craftsmanship–old school craftsmanship.”
For a sofa that lasts a lifetime, some people are willing to pay a small fortune. However, it’s important to the staff at Baker Knapp & Tubbs that some of their pieces be more accessible in price point as well as store policy. “Baker is not just high-end anymore,” Mohnkern states. “Our sofas start at $3,995. It’s called Simply Baker, and it’s a great program…it was kind of designed for the young consumer that can’t afford the $15,000 sofas, but some day they will.” For those who want an even better deal, Baker Knapp & Tubbs offers a 60% discount on floor samples.
Perusing the website at www.bakerfurniture.com allows a customer to peruse shapes and textiles, as well as learn more about Baker’s construction standards. However, the best way to start designing is to visit the showroom and speak to the staff. “Between the three of us, we have over 40 years of experience in furniture,” Mohnkern declares. Additionally, Mohnkern, Amrani, and Walter are happy to offer their expertise in picking which pieces to splurge on and which ones can help you stretch your budget.
To be able to offer the best and most specific guidance possible from inside the store, Mohnkern recommends that customers bring in a picture of their room, and plans if you’re working with an architect. “The more information we have, the more helpful we can be,” he explains. Mohnkern also admits that there are times when an interior designer is definitely needed. And if that’s the case, the staff at Baker Knapp & Tubbs can connect you with the right resources to help you finish your project.
If anything ever does happen to your furniture, the store also makes getting it taken care of much easier than the typical furniture warranty experience one gets from the big box stores. Mohnkern concludes, “We stand behind our product. We make a great product. We are the clients’ biggest advocates. If there’s a problem, we definitely stand behind it. Sometimes there’s some red tape to deal with, but we do it.”
Located inside International Market Square, Suite 335, Baker Knapp & Tubbs is not the only showroom there that is open to the general public. However, the building is still oddly quiet and sparsely populated, perhaps due to the fact that it still carries the reputation, and the ambiance, of being interior designer-only. However, if you’re in the market for a piece of furniture that you will enjoy growing old with, it’s a great time to shop before the showroom gets busier. Additionally, if you’re shopping at International Market Square and not sure whether a particular showroom is open to the public, just check the sign just outside the door. And for more information about Baker Knapp & Tubbs, call the showroom at 612-341-2906.