With Custom Woodworking, Vermont's D'Aversa Furniture Blends Form and Function | Housewares & Décor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your support!


With Custom Woodworking, Vermont's D'Aversa Furniture Blends Form and Function 

Published April 18, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

click to enlarge Nathan D'Aversa in his Jonesville workshop - BEAR CIERI
  • Bear Cieri
  • Nathan D'Aversa in his Jonesville workshop

When Nathan D'Aversa first moved to Vermont from New Jersey in 2013, pursuing a career as a furniture maker wasn't even on his long-term radar. Despite the fact that his father is a carpenter whose interior work includes refinishing and upholstering chairs, "I didn't have much carpentry skill myself," D'Aversa said. "I was very much focused on soccer my whole life."

D'Aversa, 33, grew up in Hunterdon County, N.J., then attended the New Jersey Institute of Technology to play Division I college soccer, with dreams of going pro. But when his professional athletic aspirations failed to materialize, D'Aversa channeled his lifelong love of the sport into coaching. For a few years, he coached club soccer in his spare time while working in Vermont schools helping students with behavioral issues. However, he soon realized he lacked a passion for teaching that he once had for competitive soccer.

So, a few years ago, D'Aversa turned his attention to a different kind of pitch — the kind that gives wood some of its distinctive colors and patterns. He decided to pursue a career building home furnishings out of locally sourced timber.

"I'd always shied away from furniture and woodworking," he said, "because that's what every dude with a beard does."

After enrolling in a six-week class at the Vermont Woodworking School in Fairfax just to see if he liked it — "I made a box," he said dryly — in 2018 D'Aversa got a job at Stark Mountain Woodworking in New Haven. There, he honed his carpentry skills on home furnishings and kitchen cabinetry, then searched for a job as a furniture apprentice. Finding none, D'Aversa taught himself how to build stand-alone home furnishings such as tables, chairs, beds, mirrors and dressers. For a time, he worked at Generator in Burlington, experimenting with new designs there before opening his own woodshop.

Today, D'Aversa's contemporary pieces are sought by homeowners and interior decorators from as far away as California who are drawn to his clean, simple, modern designs. His pieces, which are typically custom-made, blend artistry with functionality.

click to enlarge Furniture by Nathan D'Aversa, including a chair, side table, cabinet, kitchen table, coffee table and mirrors - PHOTOS COURTESY OF NATHAN D'AVERSA
  • Photos Courtesy Of Nathan D'aversa
  • Furniture by Nathan D'Aversa, including a chair, side table, cabinet, kitchen table, coffee table and mirrors

"We all see furniture that makes zero sense. It's art, and that's cool," D'Aversa said. "But I wanted to make nice, in-between furniture that's something you're actually going to use."

In short, D'Aversa wasn't interested in building a $5,000 chair that no one would ever sit in.

His first woodshop was in Waterbury "in this beautiful mill house that was hanging over a waterfall," he said. "It had no business being my first-ever shop, but it was great."

Despite that locale's aesthetic appeal, it was off the beaten path. So D'Aversa relocated a few miles east of downtown Richmond two years ago, hoping he'd attract more walk-in traffic along Route 2.

His current woodshop and gallery is still largely unfinished. It's located in an old, slate gray warehouse that abuts the New England Central Railroad line in Jonesville. The warehouse could be mistaken for a vacant building from outside, except for the North Star Guns shop at one end. Yet D'Aversa is one of several craftspeople who now occupy the old railroad building — mostly, he said, because the rents are so low.

D'Aversa sources all of his Vermont-harvested wood from the Tree House Hardwoods & Millshop in South Burlington. His preferred wood types are walnut, white oak, maple and cherry. In his showroom, which is as minimalist as his designs, D'Aversa has about a half-dozen pieces on display, all of them sanded very smooth, with few embellishments or extraneous touches.

Those pieces include a round, bleached-maple kitchen table. But as D'Aversa explained, if that look isn't to his customers' taste or their existing décor, he keeps swatches on hand for them to choose their preferred wood and finish. He can just as easily make that same table out of ebonized cherry, a process that involves the use of iron acetate, dissolved in vinegar, to darken or blacken the tannins in the wood.

click to enlarge Nathan D'Aversa in his Jonesville showroom - BEAR CIERI
  • Bear Cieri
  • Nathan D'Aversa in his Jonesville showroom

D'Aversa finishes all of his pieces with a hand-rubbed oil polish. He only uses Odie's Oil, a product that contains no toxic chemicals, solvents or volatile organic compounds. Most of his pieces take him about a week to build and another week to finish. Thus far, D'Aversa has done no advertising — in part, he said, because he can't afford it yet. Most of his customers find him through interior designers or his Instagram account, where he posts photos of his designs.

"I like his furniture choices, as they have a timeless look that would fit into lots of different houses and décors," noted John Handrik, a retail specialist at Tree House Hardwoods. "As a one-man show, he's taking rough lumber and making classy-looking furniture. That is rarer and rarer these days, where woodworkers tend to compartmentalize and specialize in one aspect of the profession."

Some of D'Aversa's more recent pieces, Handrik added, "incorporate leather in a cool way that looks like it will wear into a well-loved baseball mitt as it ages."

D'Aversa's pieces aren't cheap. They range from a wall mirror that sells for $350 to a leather-upholstered sofa that costs $7,400. For now, when he doesn't have a client's project in the works, he produces smaller pieces to minimize material costs.

About a year ago, D'Aversa returned to Generator — as an instructor. Program coordinator Sam Graulty thought D'Aversa might be a good fit for teaching woodworking, which is among the Burlington makerspace's most popular classes. D'Aversa periodically teaches an introductory course as well as a more advanced class on furniture making.

"It's been a good outlet for people to have a first foray into woodworking," Graulty said about the former course. "As an instructor, he's been great."

Asked how he developed his approach to furniture making, D'Aversa answered with characteristic minimalism.

"Honestly, I started with stuff that I thought was cool," he said. "And then it hit me: I have a style. I'll just keep going with that."

Learn more at daversafurniture.com or @daversa_furniture on Instagram.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Pitch Perfect | A former soccer player and coach now gets his kicks out of making custom furniture"

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

About The Author

Ken Picard

Ken Picard

Ken Picard has been a Seven Days staff writer since 2002. He has won numerous awards for his work, including the Vermont Press Association's 2005 Mavis Doyle award, a general excellence prize for reporters.


Comments are closed.

From 2014-2020, Seven Days allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we've appreciated the suggestions and insights, right now Seven Days is prioritizing our core mission — producing high-quality, responsible local journalism — over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2023 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation