Furniture with heart


What started as a stress-relieving hobby in their garage has transformed into a full-time, family business that is setting a trendy, yet timeless tone when it comes to handmade furniture.

Robbie says there is a big focus on natural elements this season with lots of wicker and rattan, light wood and weaving. Photo: Chris Allan Photo

When you walk into Howie & Co at The Litchi Orchard, you instantly feel inspired to redo your whole home, or better yet, pull up a chair and make the shop your home! It is obvious in the attention to detail and the carefully selected items, placed just so to compliment the gorgeous furniture, that this is not your average home decor shop. And that is exactly what Salt Rock’s Carmen and Robbie Howie envisioned.

“I have been in the furniture retail business for a long time and just got fed up with seeing how expensive furniture was becoming – and the quality was rubbish. I started woodworking and wanted to learn how to make decent furniture to offer good quality items at reasonable prices,” says Robbie. He started small with chopping boards and slowly started doing bigger projects. Carmen showed him a picture of a shelf, then a server . . . and so the furniture-making business started taking shape.

They decided to take the plunge and launched Howie & Co in 2018, now employing a team of six staff members to help with the woodwork. “Most of our work is custom-made. Our style is contemporary. We like sleek lines and we are always evolving to keep up with trends. This year, we are focusing our energy on creating our own ranges where we can really show our personality and create our own look. It will also be much more convenient and less time consuming to have stock available in our ranges,” adds Carmen, who is the creative mind, spending most of her time sourcing iconic, interesting, on-trend décor items to complete the look.

“I follow many designers on Instagram and look for inspiration on Pinterest and in home and décor magazines. It is an interesting time with so many trends. People want to be individualists and express their personality in their home. The big stand out this year is natural elements with lots of wicker and rattan, light wood and weaving. These materials are all eco-friendly, which is also important to us, as we only source responsibly harvested timber.”

Timber also goes through trend cycles, explains Robbie, with oak being the most popular at the moment. “Oak is a light wood, so you can stain it in almost any colour, making it really versatile. Mahogany, like imbuia, has quite a bad connotation because most of us immediately think of that old-school ball and claw mahogany bedside table from our parents’ or grandparents’ homes. Cyprus is also a nice hard wood, but it usually has that cottage style furniture look with all the knots. Oregan pine often has a yellowish look which is not so popular at the moment, while salinga has a pinkish tinge which many people also don’t like too much. Walnut is my favourite – it smells amazing. I use it a lot in my designer cutting boards.”

Look out for the launch of their website and their new ranges coming soon and pop into the shop for some home inspiration to make your heart sing and your mind dream.

Details: Howie & Co, The Litchi Orchard, Foxhill, FB: Howie & co.or, IG: @howieandco or contact Robbie: 082 854 5916

Text: Elana Wagner