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Choosing the Right Artisan Furnishings for Your Home: An Interview with Margo Tantau of Midwest CBK

Tell us a little about your company and the services you offer.

Midwest-CBK is a marriage of a both a long established Seasonal decor & gift company, and a well respected Home Decor company. We are based in Minnesota. We are a broad based worldly company with small town values and heart, based in Minnesota.

We are wholesalers to the trade. Our main customers are comprised mostly of small independent stores across the U.S., however Midwest-CBK also does some private label product for larger retailers as well. We manufacture over 4,000 products a year and about 1,500 of those items are Home Decor. We don't flood the market with these pieces; we'd make them in smaller quantities. You'll always find fresh relevant themes that draw on various trends and decor styles.

Can you briefly explain what artisan furnishings are?

Artisan furnishings can be best described as those that have a hand touched element. They may be designed specifically by an artist or at the very least they are handmade and hand finished. Often it is a collaboration and combination between the two.

When you're working on interior design for a home, how do you decide if an artisan piece is right for a particular room/space?

When you are planning a space for someone or for yourself, it's important to include things that give a unique flavor and an individual style to your home. What do you like? What speaks to you or your client? What delights you or makes you smile?

There are so many easily accessible products in the market today, and so many that look the same as the next. With an artisan piece of furniture, lighting, or useful accessory, you are bringing in a more unique point of view. You are investing in something that you won't find everywhere. If that is important to you, then artisan furniture will start to tell your individual story.

What are some common design styles that artisan materials would work well with?

The look today is quite eclectic, a marriage of design styles and eras. The trend in design tends to be cleaner and less cluttered over all. Consider the varied architecture across the country. You have everything from quaint bungalows to split level ranches to soaring sheet-rock palaces. Artisan materials work best in a home that has interesting things, a home where the people who live there want to express their own personal style. That allows for a broad range of possibility, depending on the look that you are going for. We have things that would be good on the coast, in an eclectic cottage, in a mountain retreat, or in a clean bright loft. Anything goes.

How do professional interior designers find artisan pieces? How can nonprofessionals find them?

Today, professional designers have a lot of resources at their fingertips, literally. There are high-end design showrooms and loads of online sites. Many smaller boutiques warmly welcome designer business. A good designer will have a laundry list of places they find just the right treasures for their clients.

Non professionals have a wide range of options as well. Chain stores, small boutiques, catalogs, online sites, and decor specialists abound. Handcrafted or artisan pieces are sought after, and easier to find. The difference is that a designer has a few more resources available to them, as well as the eye to really bring a whole look, feel, or space together. The fun thing about artisan items are that they are not a dime a dozen, so the hunt is half the fun.

What advice would you give to homeowners who are redecorating their house and want to include some artisan furnishings?

Do it! I am a huge proponent of finding unique treasures for your home. It's why I work in this industry. I completely stand for great design and for having a look that is as much your own as it can be. Don't be afraid to add in that piece that might feel a bit more unique. It's just saying that you have a point of view that is not predictable or cookie cutter. Plus, many of these things might spark a memory or create a mood that is just right for you. That is just another bonus. You are telling your own story.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

If your reader is a retailer or designer and might want to see what we offer, they can view our catalogs online or one of our representatives can help them out at If you are a just looking for a piece or an item, then ask your local favorite store what they might have from Midwest CBK! Of course, there's always the Internet.

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