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Q & A with Artisan and Builder David Dall
We are thrilled to present “The David Dall Collection” at The Local Vault. As principal of Clarke Builders Inc, a premier custom home building firm in Old Greenwich, Dall builds mainly in the Greenwich area as well as in Fairfield County, Westchester County, Long Island, Stuart FL and Palm Beach. Clarke Builders has been family owned and operated for more than thirty-five years.
What made you decide to create your own collection of furniture?
When visiting our home, people often ask “where did you get this, where did you find that, it’s incredible, I have to get one of those.” The answer is always, “David made it.” For example, my console tables … People see them, and want to know where they can get them. Of course that’s when I tell them, “I made them.”
What makes your furniture unique?
Anyone can get a new tripod light from Restoration Hardware, but to me, “made in China” doesn’t tell a story. What I create cannot be found anywhere else, all my pieces are just like my console tables, one-of-a-kind. Everything is r-epurposed, right down to the barn which came from a Greenwich estate that was due to be demolished to make room for a new home. We dismantled it and brought it here piece by piece, thus saving the homeowner the expense of demolition and saving the environment from the debris.
Where do you find your stuff?
Flea markets, estate sales, if I see something hinting of demolishing, I’m the first to knock on the door. My first stop is always the basement and then the rest of the house.
Speaking of flea markets, you just finished taping your fifth season of “Flea Market Flip” for HGTV and their sister station Great American Country TV with Lara Spencer. How did you get involved with the project and what do you do on the show?
Lara often saw pieces at my house, and things that I was creating in our barn and really liked what I was doing. I helped her re-purpose/reinvent a few of her own things & then we ended up going to estate sales & flea markets together, fixing up a few things and selling them. Lara got the idea for a show where teams would compete against each other, buying junky things at flea markets then transforming them into wonderful pieces and reselling them. The team who netted the most profit would win a cash prize. So, the show was born and we actually filmed the first season of Flea Market Flip in my barn. The show grew so fast that we needed more space so we have relocated to warehouse space in Stamford. Along with three other “Fixers,” I help the teams (two people each team) who often have great ideas but lack the ability and equipment to see their vision out. We often make suggestions of how to make their projects better and help them create wonderful pieces. Most are great, some are not. Remember, we don’t pick the projects!
Lately, it seems you can hardly drive down the street without seeing a home being built or one under construction. As an experienced builder, what type of work do you specialize in?
I can custom build anything. I love incorporating old architectural elements into the new building projects because it gives the house, the room, life beyond the ordinary.
When you add things like hand-hewn beams or vintage tabacco press tin stamps back splash, it creates something unique with a sense of style and history. Anyone can buy a mass produced chandelier. I prefer unique pieces, so I created two chandeliers for our kitchen, which in their former life were industrial mixer whisks.
Good news! These lights are exclusively for sale on TLV in the David Dall Collection
Over the peninsula, I installed a light fixture that once stood in a train depot ticket booth in Colorado (Insert kitchen picture)
What type of clients do you work with?
For both my building business, as well as my side hobby work, it’s people with discerning taste that appreciate quality craftsmanship and want an experienced professional with a long track record. My clients have eclectic taste. They don’t want off the shelf, cookie cutter construction. They want, and deserve the best. Our track record speaks for itself.
Do you have a signature style?
The style depends on the architect and the homeowner’s taste. I like to suggest, sprinkle in some old architectural elements to give the home a personality. I love using vintage doors in special places like wine cellars or pantries. I recently installed a beautiful antique stained glass double door between a foyer and living room which came out of a 120 year old Greenwich estate that was being demolished. I have used gorgeous stainless steel, riveted panel fire doors on exposed tracks like barn doors to separate rooms, vintage chandeliers and architectural elements that make everyone say “WOW.” That’s what makes me smile! Make the house your own by adding interesting elements.
What type of questions would you advise homeowners ask when interviewing a builder?
They should ask a lot of questions. Ask for references, you need to speak to people. Ask Town Hall. Inquire how long they’ve been in business under their current business name. This is very important as anyone can say they have been in business for forty years but they might not tell you they have changed names sixteen times. This would indicate trouble. Ask how many comparable projects they’ve done and ask to see them.
What is the current trend?
Less is more. 10 years ago our average house was 10,000 square feet, now it‘s 6,000-7,000 feet on average but still on similar size lots. The houses seem to be getting smaller and I feel it’s simply because people don’t want the hassle and expense of a huge estate. Not to say that everyone wants smaller homes, I recently signed on a 15,000 square foot home on North Street for a young family of four.
If you were to build your own house, what style would it be?
I would likely go with a Georgian colonial or simple farm house. I like simple, traditional style.