We had the good fortune of connecting with Darrell Burke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Darrell, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Written in 3rd person: Owners Darrell Burke and Eric Wittgen discovered that their tastes were similar when they began to decorate the house they bought in 2011. Because they were combining households AND Darrell’s previous house (where they both lived when Eric moved from Dallas) was about a third smaller, they realized that some of the furniture and accessories they had just didn’t work in this new house. So in those months of sorting the old furniture out and bringing new furniture in, they realized that, many times, one would say that he liked (or didn’t like) a certain piece just as the other was expressing the same opinion! And that’s when the thought of Bur-Witt Design started to materialize! As for their love of painted furniture…well, that came later. When the guys purchased a cabin in North Georgia, Absolute Bliss Lodge, to be used as a vacation rental, of course their design instincts kicked in! They wanted their cabin to have an “English hunting lodge” feel…but up-to-date as well. And, of course, they were working with a limited budget. When considering where to put all of the technology and cable equipment, they started looking for a low, traditional chest to fit under a window in the great room. What they found was a 1970’s French Provencal 2-door chest in a lovely shade of orange! After a little research and some practice, they transformed it into the media cabinet you see in the pictures on this right. And from that experience, Bur-Witt Design was born!
What should our readers know about your business?
Bur-Witt Design is a quirky little home furniture and accessory business that my partner and I created in 2014. We discovered that our tastes were similar when we began to decorate the house we bought together in 2011. Because we were combining households AND our previous houses both smaller, we realized that some of the furniture and accessories we had just didn’t work in the new house. So in those months of sorting the old furniture out and bringing new furniture in, we realized that, many times, one would say that he liked (or didn’t like) a certain piece just as the other was expressing the same opinion! And that’s when the thought of Bur-Witt Design started to materialize! When we purchased a cabin in North Georgia, Absolute Bliss Lodge, to be used as a vacation rental, our design instincts kicked in! We wanted their cabin to have an “English hunting lodge” feel…but up-to-date as well. And, of course, we were working with a limited budget. When we were considering where to put all of the technology and cable equipment for the cabin, we started looking for a low, traditional chest to fit under a window in the great room. After a few weeks of searching, we found a 1970’s French Provencal 2-door chest in a lovely shade of orange! We both loved the lines and the dimensions of the chest but we didn’t have the time nor the inclination to strip it down and re-stain it. We also felt that it would be a better fit for the cabin if it looked more “antique Country French”. That of course meant we had to paint it. We did a little research and found that chalk paint was the easiest and fastest way to transform the chest. So we painted it, thoughtfully distressed it to make it look very old and voila! It was perfect! AND Bur-Witt Design was born! We take period reproductions that are on their last leg (we LOVE flea markets and junk stores), repair anything that’s broken, and then paint them. We use a variety of paint types, like chalk paint, milk paint, and latex as well as various “special” techniques like distressing, glazing, paint washes, and stenciling/transfers. In many cases, we will transform the piece into something different…like old 30s/40s radio cabinets into stylish liquor bars! The idea is to try to take furniture that is headed to a landfill, repair it, dress it up, and sell it to anyone who is looking for an unusual piece to put in their home! What sets us apart is our attention to detail AND our thoughtfulness about how to transform the pieces we acquire. They have to be unusual in their structure AND they have to be striking when we are finished! Our customers tell us all the time that the pieces we have are so different than what they’ve seen before. We also sell several lines of home accessories that fit into our aesthetic. Everything has to be as close to one-of-a-kind as possible or at least something you won’t see every day! We are very careful about curating pieces that stand out and can’t be purchased just anywhere else.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would probably do the touristy stuff first…the aquarium, the World of Coke, etc. BUT for dinners and lunches, we would go to places that aren’t as well-known. Atlanta has become a foody town and there are lots of wonderful places with great food (well, there was before the pandemic)! Favorites of ours are Southbound and The Alden, both in Chamblee, Atmosphere in Midtown, Sprig in North Atlanta, and Terra Terroir in Brookhaven.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
To all of those budding entrepreneurs! Just go for it!