“A HOME IS MEANT TO BE LIVED IN and enjoyed, certainly now more than ever,” says Barbara Stone, founder of Original Charleston Bedswing. Walk into her home on any given day and you’ll find family, friends and neighbors gathering to enjoy each other’s company. It is the unique Lowcountry lifestyle that many years ago inspired Barbara and her husband, Preston, to build the first Original Charleston Bedswing.
Preston had taken up woodworking as a distraction from his high-stress job in the ER. “He would often come home from a night shift and unwind by working on the bedswing,” recalls Barbara. With her input and several skilled woodworkers in the Charleston area, Preston designed and built the first Original Charleston Bedswing by hand in his home-based workshop. “We really just wanted a special place to relax. I was also quite pregnant,” Barbara says, with a laugh, “and craving a respite from the humidity of Charleston’s summers.”
They installed the initial bedswing just in time to welcome their first child, Casey, in August 1985. Thirty-five years later, Barbara recounts the bedswing’s history on that same swing, now joined by a grown-up Casey, who runs the company’s day-to-day operations. “I feel very fortunate that we get to spend extra time together, working in the company and creating new memories along the way,” says Casey, as she scoops up her two-year-old son, Stone, onto the bedswing.
For years following the making of the first Original Charleston Bedswing, Preston continued to make them as gifts for close friends and family in his spare time. Demand grew to a height where partnership was needed. Preston turned to Buzz Withers, one of the craftsmen who offered advice during the building of the first Original Charleston Bedswing. “Buzz started Withers Industries, a maker of high-end millwork and shutters,” says Barbara. “We knew they were the right partner, and thankfully they agreed!”
Preston and Buzz perfected the bedswing design, and Original Charleston Bedswing was incorporated in 2002. Buzz’s son, Pat Withers, has since taken over Withers Industries for his father, and he works closely with Casey on each bedswing. “Withers’ craftsmanship is impeccable,” says Casey. “Our bedswings are built with personal attention to every detail. It’s a time-tested design that we proudly stand behind.”
Original Charleston Bedswing offers one bedswing style in two sizes (original and mini) with a variety of wood, hard-ware and finish options. “We sell the same style that my dad built in the 1980s and perfected until the business launched,” says Casey. “It’s ex-citing for me to continue that history.” At present, available wood species are mahogany, iroko, pine and cypress.
“We use only the highest available wood grade,” ex-plains Barbara, “so sometimes our wood options will change based on availability.”
The pieces of each bed-swing are hand assembled, screwed, glued, mortise and tenon jointed, sanded, and topped with a weather-resis-tant finish. The arms and back are rounded for comfort, and bedswing cushions come in a variety of Outdura and Sun-brella fabrics (or clients are welcome to supply their own fabric, if preferred).
“This is a unique piece of furniture for your home,” says Barbara. “And, to me, it really is a piece of art.”
Casey agrees, adding, “We install them just as often indoors as we do on porches.”
Barbara and Casey’s chatter fills the porch as they reflect on the many memories had in this exact place. “Our bedswing holds a sentiment for me that is hard to put into words,” says Barbara. “It’s where we rocked our children to sleep, had the necessary heart-to-hearts with teenagers, read a book, shared a glass of wine, and where I now hold my grandson. And I hope the same is true for every client.”
Bedswing memories are many in the Stone household. Many laughs, many naps, many smiles, many chats, many friends and always family. *