Wood Works

K erry Triffin, co-owner of Fairhaven Furniture, began his love affair with wood “…in my basement 30 years ago.” He wanted to work from home to be closer to his then-newborn, Molly, and smiles when telling me, “She was the babe that launched a thousand book cases!” The business has occupied the building at 72 Blatchley Avenue for 23 years now, gradually transforming the roomy structure’s disparately functional innards to nearly all showroom space today, the better to display the remarkable collection of wood creations Triffin has assembled from near and far.

Triffin has his own way of operating. As a result, his store is not your typical home furnishings source, with all the usual brand names. Oh no. As he says, “It’s not same old, same old.” It’s more akin to an adventure than an errand. Even though I’d never met him before, I warmed quickly to his fresh perspective and open attitude. These qualities transcend the man and permeate Fairhaven, which both is and feels like an artists’ (and art lovers’) sanctuary, ranging from sumptuous to minimalist, expensive to affordable. It really is, as he says, a “democratic” destination.

The space seems boundless; room after room, floor after floor. The eye-catching items keep coming on a pleasing roll of stimulation overload. My favorite room houses the most brilliant bar I’ve ever seen. For $3,500, the Rocket Bar, as it’s titled, can be yours to own. This handmade piece is fully loaded, with no detail ignored – wine rack, built-in ice bucket (champagne, anyone?), a drawer for your special stash (or, you know, a bottle opener and coasters).

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Even among myriad other lust-worthy finds, this functional yet whimsical masterpiece stands out as one of a kind.

Then there’s the cleverest dining table I’ve ever seen, with extension leaves all but invisible on each end, and without the usual divide in the middle. You must see it for yourself, along with the large collection of original, untouched woods spotted by Triffin in his travels, preserved for veneers or patiently waiting for the vision that will transform them into a treasure. (Perhaps your treasure.) For the record, Triffin confides, “There’s nothing we can’t make in wood.”

By “we,” Triffin means the stable of highly skilled artisans from which he curates Fairhaven’s offerings. Once an active craftsman himself, these days he self-identifies more as an “…entropy control specialist.” I suggest you stop in and ask him what he means by that deliciously whimsical moniker. In terms of title, he’ll also accept, “woodworker, furniture maker and tree lover.”

In addition to operating one of the most spectacular lifestyle stores for miles, Fairhaven Furniture also supports local artists like the painters who exhibit their work on store walls. He welcomes anyone and everyone to visit his website for the schedule and come by sometime for wine and refreshments. “Nobody ever regrets coming here,” he says. “It’s cool. It’s different. Where SoHo meets Vermont.” Oh, and one other thing: “We love dogs and kids.” So, gather the gaggle and pop by for a peek. You won’t be disappointed.

Fairhaven Furniture
72 Blatchley Ave, New Haven (map)
Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun noon-5pm
(203) 776-3099

Written by Nell Alk.

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Nell Alk is a culture and lifestyle writer and reporter. Her work has appeared in myriad publications, both print and online, including Paper Magazine, Manhattan Magazine, Interview Magazine and Rolling Stone, among others. Learn more about her here.

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