In 1958, Guy Day and Dale Williams founded their mattress store with a focus on high-quality products and excellent customer service. After 10 years, the partners unveiled their line of handcrafted, personalized mattress sets under the name Verlo, a combination of their wives' names—Verna and Lois. After more than 40 years, the company has perfected its craft, manufacturing customized mattresses and selling them directly through their show rooms. The stock ranges from plush pillowtops to firm sets, both capable of supporting healthy sleeping patterns and cutthroat pillow fights for years to come.
At Chapmans’ Frame & Gallery, archival experts wield 18 years of experience to snugly fit photos into custom frames, and an assortment of artwork and accessories awaits to adorn bare walls, alcoves, and limbs. Patrons can shorten holiday shopping lists with a variety of small gift items. Small prints or handmade earrings stuff stockings with artistic style, and easels proudly display shoppers' masterpieces or still-lifes that double as impeccably detailed grocery lists. Pulling from a large selection of customized wood and matting ($50—$200), Chapmans’ framing fanatics preserve beloved photos or precious works or art, creating custom pieces that may be as simple or as opulent as the customer deems fit. Staff border an 11"x14" print with a two-inch double mat, a black wood frame, glass, backing, and finish ($100) before returning it ready for display above a mantel or inside the refrigerator.
Naked Furniture’s eco-friendly emporium boasts 17,000 square feet of heirloom-quality home fittings, carefully crafted from real wood rather than particleboard or tacky popsicle sticks. This month’s new products include a comfy eucalyptus adirondack chair ($215) from the Gardenwood Collection and a sturdy 29-inch entry table ($99), ideal for placing next to a bed to besiege a poorly defended pillow fort. The Bay Harbor Collection’s pine headboard ($199) fits any standard queen bedframe, and the solid pine single-door armoire ($559) lends a touch of elegance to otherwise drab spaceship sleep chambers. Naked Furniture’s artisans can outfit scholarly buyers with semi-custom bookcases in a variety of materials, sizes, and styles, or help customers choose from a vast selection of easy-to-use staining and finishing products while they inhale the store’s wholesome, woodsy aroma.
In 1986, Tod Colbert opened Weather Tight Milwaukee, putting his focus, unlike many home-improvement outfits, on bolstering homes' exteriors to improve the living conditions inside. More than a quarter of a century later, the company has helped more than 15,000 clients, and Colbert's concept is still going strong. Clients can replace regular windows with energy-efficient panes that stave off extreme temperatures with multiple layers of reflective coating. The company’s capable technicians can also install doors insulated with polyurethane foam, and roofing that resists ice to keep frozen slabs from sliding off the roof and denting cars or bullying helpless recycling bins.
At Ceramics Plus, the only limitations are the bounds of one’s imagination. With more than 14,000 ceramic molds and figurines lining the shelves, the studio is primed for perusal. Simply pick out a piece of bisque, decorate it to your liking, and then allow your piece to be fortified in the kiln. And when you’re looking to mix it up, the Ceramics Plus staff can share other artistic insights through jewelry-making classes or parties for special one-off gatherings such as girls’ night out or boys’ afternoon inside the mind of a pottery painter.
Creative Fire Art & Pottery Studio has a roomy workspace where adults and kids can learn the craft of clay. The facility hosts day and evening classes. There’s also open studio time, where students can come and go as they please to finish building a piece or see if their clay pigeon has morphed into a real pigeon. In party packages, you and a group of friends can get a room to yourselves to work with clay under the advisement of an instructor. It’s also worth it to stop in Creative Fire Art & Pottery Studio’s gallery, which feature a number of original pottery pieces.