Five Questions: Arthur Teel of Artisan Built Ins


We sat down this past week with Arthur Teel of Built In Artisans for a little Q & A session.

1. How did you get started?

I've loved building furniture ever since I was a teenager. I started even before I finished high school, as an apprentice to architect Max Green. 

Max was an architect, furniture designer and cabinet maker, and he taught me the essential skills needed in order to create custom furniture and installations. He also gave me my first experience in remodeling a historic home. I've remodeled several homes for myself and others since then, including a general store and an old tobacco barn, and it's always been a rewarding experience. (I haven't done much remodeling in awhile since I've been busy with furniture... but maybe some day.)

I continued my apprenticeship with Bruce Nygren, building and installing high-end custom European styled cabinets, and then with John Wesley Hammer as a trim carpenter and cabinet installer. After that I felt confident enough to branch out on my own and begin making my own custom designs.

2. What's one thing people don't realize about carpentry?

There's a busy season and a slow season. The best time to call a carpenter is late winter and early spring, because it gets pretty quiet around then. Actually as far as I can tell, this is true for almost any craftsman, even plumbers and electricians. It's almost like people have a hibernation period, and when the trees wake up, they wake up too and start calling.

I like the seasonality of it now that I've gotten used to it. It gives me time to take a deep breath and consider my goals for the rest of the year. I guess that's what everyone else is doing, too!

3. Tell us about your process.

I would almost say that there's a natural process to the way we work. It's all in response to what we believe our customers want.

When you first start a new project, you're doing research and you usually just want to know what's possible within your budget. So you can start by sending us a general idea of what you're looking for, plus maybe a few inspiration photos, and we'll send you a ballpark estimate.

Then you want to get to know who you're working with and make sure they're on the same page as you. So my wife Faith or I will meet you at your home, and you can get to know us and explain your vision. After that, Faith will take your ideas and turn them into a 3D model so you can preview your project before we build.

Next we build the piece, and whenever possible this is done in our studio. So there's a lot that happens behind the scenes. I build one piece at a time, by hand. This gives me a chance to select the best materials, and really take the time to get every detail just right. 

Once everything is ready, we'll get back in touch to schedule the best time to come out and do the installation. And voila, you have your new custom built-in furniture.

4. How does a client initiate the process?

Just email us at and tell us your ideas. Or call or text (828) 649-0507. Faith usually answers the phone, and she really enjoys that part of her job, so please feel welcome to call.

5. What's one of your favorite projects?
I love built-in bookcases, so I'd have to pick one of those as my favorites. They really transform a room. And they make decorating easy... just fill them with all your favorite books and you instantly get texture and warmth.

If I had to pick which one... well, it's a toss-up between the modern offset version and the classic white ones. I guess I'd go with the modern ones, just because they're not something you can buy pre-made at that size, so they're special.