A series of unfortunate events forced Paul and Dale Chaplin into desperate times and it was a hand-made Christmas present that sparked the beginning of a new chapter and Paul’s Beach House Furniture.
He is soft-spoken, has a humble smile and is passionate about memories, family and good quality furniture.
Paul grew up on the North Coast and, in fact, his parent’s home was one of the first houses built on what is now Ocean Drive. He started his career in the furniture industry and owned a factory called Sheffield Custom Furniture which was set in Sheffield Beach in the 80’s. His wife Dale, on the other hand, was known for her popular business called Desperate to Decoupage.
The couple were doing well, but felt the need to do more and when they moved to Mount Edgecombe in the 90’s, their lives took on a completely new direction. “It didn’t make sense to me at all but I felt a calling to plant a church. My kids were teenagers and we saw a need to start a youth group and get the young kids on a better path,” says Paul, who has five children and eight grandchildren.
Much to his surprise, when he asked the New Covenant Ministries to send a pastor to the area, they suggested that he take on the role. “I told them it would be impossible. I had never preached a day in my life!”
After much thought, Paul eventually agreed to give it a try, and they planted the church on 21 November 1999, next to the driving range. “I was terrified, but it was also the most exhilarating time of my life – and it felt right.”
He left the church in 2007 to take a sabbatical after his wife fell ill and realised it was time to hand over the reins to someone else. “That was my best moment, because I realised that If I died now, I had accomplished something that goes beyond me.”
They moved back to the North Coast, but a series of unfortunate events saw them hitting rock bottom. “Things got so bad that I was forced to sell our furniture to put food on the table,” he says.
For Dale’s Christmas present that year, Paul scrounged together some scaffolding planks and designed and made a dining room table, after having had to pawn off their old one.
Little did Paul know that this table was the start of what would become a very successful family business. “While I was offloading the table, a decorator spotted it and ordered two for her shop in Ballito. A week later she asked me to deliver one of the tables to a client of hers in Zimbali.”
Intimidated by the client’s impressive home, Paul said he felt quite embarrassed bringing in his table. But once it was in place, he realised this could be a business. “It looked beautiful in the space and I saw then that this style of furniture had incredible potential. Six months later the business was doing well enough to support us.”
Now, the fully-fledged furniture company has a team of skilled craftsmen who create beautiful items, working outdoors under a litchi tree – so poetic!
One of the most unique and almost magical elements of Paul’s furniture is that it is not made to suit the latest trends, which last just a season or two. They are once-off, individually-made pieces, with history. “I believe furniture has to tell a story. That’s why we only use one hundred percent recycled timber. “Our aim is to see each creation as an object of beauty – beautiful to look at and silky smooth to the touch. When this goal is achieved, each piece is signed with my name.”
The unique look and personal touch of Paul’s Beach House Furniture was a crowd-pleaser at this year’s ECR House & Garden Show where Paul and Dale’s boho-chic stand won a gold award and was voted Best Stand!
Pop in and visit them at the old Day Star Chickens farm, off the R102 near the kennels in Leafy Lane and enjoy watching old school craftsmanship at work.
Details: 0832963219, www.paulchaplin.co.za
Text: Elana Wagner