Meet Jesse Dresbach

As a regular reader of Design*Sponge, I took note recently when a blue ombre wooden chair was front and center on the popular design blog. The piece was stunning, modern, cutting-edge and a DIY component was added to the post. I had to check it out. Upon closer inspection I ended up clicking on designer Jesse Dresbach's Etsy store and then to his blog. And then there was the big reveal—Dresbach is from Santa Cruz. In fact, it turns out he even lives in my neighborhood. To find a furniture designer that far away on Design*Sponge, when in fact he's living just down the street is pretty serendipitous. I contacted Dresbach to see about doing a Q&A with him here on The Penny Rose, and he was more than willing. He also shared some of his recent work here including the piece above which was also featured previously on Design*Sponge.

What's the name of your company, and do you service mostly Santa Cruz residents, or do you have a wide-reaching net of customers? 

I chose the name "Nine Red" for my company because if you look out over the Santa Cruz skyline, you'll see the radio towers with nine red lights, slowly blinking.  Ever since I  moved here, I've always lived in a place with a perfect view of them, peeking in my window. I needed a flexible, non-specific name that would allow me to do a variety of projects, and there it was. Actually, most of my work has gone outside of Santa Cruz. It's neat to think these pieces are sprinkled throughout the U.S. The main cities I have sold to are New York City and San Francisco. Shipping has been quite a challenge, but not impossible. Most of my traffic and customers find me through my blog, ninered.blogspot.com

How did you get into this business and what do you love about it? 

I got into furniture redesign when I was living in an apartment, with a bunch of OK furniture I acquired along the way. I always wanted to redo my apartment, but my wallet disagreed. So, the next step was to just do it myself. I had fun and got a lot of great feedback and support from family and friends, who encouraged me to sell my work. I gave it a shot, had some success, and just kept working. I love the satisfaction of taking a piece of furniture that you wouldn't look twice at, and turning it into something people love. That's a really great feeling, and it's good for the environment too. It's definitely a lot of work, and tries to consume almost all my spare time, but it's very rewarding and I'm strict about taking days off.

How many times have you been featured on Design*Sponge? That's a big deal in the design community.

I've had my furniture featured three times, and a full tutorial once, so four. It's feels surreal, honestly. It's extremely flattering when the editors of Design*Sponge say they like your work enough to feature it on their site. That has definitely been a major source of encouragement for me to stay true to my ideas and try new things; I can't thank them enough. The Internet is a double edged sword like that. A great source of inspiration and feedback, while also a realm where you put yourself out there, you're vulnerable to negativity and harsh criticism. It's important to remember that you won't please everyone, and to just keep going.
Tell me about a few of the projects featured here on The Penny Rose.

Frank Lloyd French Provincial Table (above): This was on Design*Sponge, and you wouldn't believe the mixed emotions out there. The table came to me in OK shape, it just needed to be refinished. I love paint, and I love wood, so I wanted to mix them here.  Some people think it's a terrible tragedy when you put paint on anything wood. I personally feel that if you take one look in a thrift shop, you'll see we have plenty of furniture to go around—and a few painted pieces won't hurt anyone. I love Frank Lloyd Wright, and his work inspired the pattern on this table.
French Provincial Coffee Table (above): This is another paint and wood combo. I don't know exactly where the hexagon idea came from, to be honest. I was just refinishing it, got the urge to add hexagons, and went with it. My partner loved it so much he convinced me to keep it, so I'm sitting at it right now.  All I can say about this one is that good tape is very important!

Barn Red Dresser Shelf (below): This is the perfect example of re-purposing an older piece. I let the furniture be my guide on this one. My mom came across this dresser, which was in bad shape. Broken drawers, tracks, you name it. But the bones were good, it was solid wood, and had a lot of charm. I ditched the top two drawers, opened it up, and turned it into a dresser shelf combo. I gave it a new paint job, and I put holes in the back for wires, if the new owner wanted to put a TV or stereo in the shelf. I always imagined a record player in it, I don't know why!

Learn more about Jesse Dresbach at his Etsy shop or at his blog