When it comes to apartment living, many city parents are confronted with the same problem: fitting their family’s lifestyle into a tiny space. It’s not exactly easy finding room for dining, sleeping, working, and lounging—not to mention all the stuff that comes with having kids. That’s where Resource Furniture comes in.
Founded and led by two local fathers, this modern furniture company is based out of a Midtown East showroom. Its products focus on smart design and no-fuss organizing that allows even the most space-starved city dwellers to live in both comfort and beauty.
“Nobody has enough space,” says Resource Furniture Co-Owner Ron Barth—who turned out to be the perfect man to solve this common problem. A father of three, Barth traveled so often for work before moving to New York 20 years ago that he basically lived out of suitcases and in hotels. Along the way, he learned what’s essential and what isn’t in the home, and came to believe that apartment living shouldn’t make you feel denied of room to grow.
“I learned how to maximize the use of everything I owned,” Barth says. “It came naturally to me not to overdo the space I thought I needed to live well.” Then, just over a decade ago, he was approached by Co-Owner Steve Spett, who he had worked with at The Pace Collection in 2000, to use his home organizing insights to create a new business together—and Resource Furniture was born.
Today, the duo sells stylish, high-design furniture that helps people make better use of their space while treating the environment well (by reducing their carbon footprint). Some of their most popular space-saving innovations include beds and desks that tuck into the walls—without the need to remove items set out on the tabletops—footstools that transform into seating for five, and other shape-shifting home essentials. Their aesthetic is clean but bright, modular but modern, speaking to form as well as function.
While Resource Furniture is not just for more modest living spaces, it’s indisputable that small apartments are commonplace in New York—so common that Mayor Bloomberg recently held a competition to see who could design a livable 300-square-foot apartment. Resource Furniture took on the challenge and currently features a 298-square-foot apartment, complete with a kitchen area, on display in its New York showroom. Whether or not you’re tight on space, there’s something inspiring about seeing how this mock studio can comfortably hold an eight-person dinner party or sleep three.
What’s more, parental customers are always relieved to know that all Resource Furniture products are designed in and imported from CLEI Srl of Italy, a factory that’s upheld the highest of safety standards for 40 years. This becomes especially important when mounting and installing the furniture—though all the products, particularly the free-standing half, are very rental-friendly. Additional safety precautions, like pull-down beds that lock in place, ensure that the furniture doesn’t injure child or adult users. Furthermore, everything is so easy to move and set up that Barth loves telling people: “Everything works with your fingertip.”
Most importantly, all the furniture is extremely livable. The beds, for example, have real mattresses that are designed to be slept on every night, not just pulled out for the occasional guest. The furniture is also completely customizable to become whatever city dwellers need it to be beyond the showroom configurations. So if you have a daughter who’s always dreamed of having bright pink everything—it can be done.
Most of the company’s clients are families who typically seek to restructure old homes to fit their new lives, regardless of the amount of space they have. Luckily for them, accommodating spaces for multiple children is something in which both Barth and Spett have firsthand experience. Each is a devoted father to three children; Spett’s three daughters are 14, 16, and 18, with his eldest at New York University and the other two at home on their farm in Mahwah, NJ. Barth, a single parent, currently lives in Harlem with his 14-year-old son; his daughters, 19 and 30, live on their own. For many years, Barth’s youngest children had shared a bedroom, so he’s well versed in using his own furniture to creatively design a room for children who are five years apart in age.
Barth and Spett bring a family dynamic not just to their products but also to their workplace. The company considers itself to work an “old school” business model—the owners are in the showroom, and a human, not a computer, answers the phone. Its employees have created a blog to demonstrate that they’re real people who have other interests besides selling furniture.
Working with family-minded partners has also helped Resource Furniture’s leaders juggle the ever-challenging work-life balance. In 2001, Barth was hard-pressed to find a new apartment for him and his children and another for his ex-wife—while simultaneously scouting new schools for his youngest two children (one of which had special education needs). This is not to mention his timeline of a few months, plus his rules to make French toast every morning and to have dinner every weeknight with his children. “I don’t think I could have survived the ordeal without Steve and his support,” Barth says. “Having a partner with children who understood the demands was critical.”
Barth continues to praise the entire staff. “We think the best part of our business is the people who work here,” he says. “We let them take initiative and encourage them to think big.”
And thinking big seems to be the company’s mantra. Transform your smaller space into something bigger. Think about the big picture when living in a city with a growing population. Think about the big impact your life and your belongings have on the world.
“We created this so people could live stylishly and efficiently,” Barth says of their ultimate motivation. In the end, it comes down to making your home livable. The space you and your family live in should adapt to you, not the other way around.