Preston Stone was working a lot of night shifts. The medical director was looking for a little peace and quiet when he returned to his busy Mount Pleasant home. “I needed a little space from our kids during the day,” he recalls. He and his wife, Barbara, both imagined something big and comfortable for their porch, a cozy retreat where they could sneak in a nap or just get away from it all.
Quite the handyman, Preston had noticed a few bed swings around the Lowcountry and set out to improve upon the design by making his own version using furniture-grade cypress. He proudly hung his first bed swing on the family porch. Jane Gregorie, who started a fabric shop that would eventually become GDC Home, saw it and asked Preston to craft one for her.
“She made beautiful cushions for her swing out of her shop,” says Barbara. Friends and family took note. Preston found himself taking requests for more and more swings, and the Original Charleston Bedswing was born. As the orders streamed in, the Stones knew they had a burgeoning business and turned to South Carolina-based Withers Industries, a manufacturer of wood products and custom millwork founded 30 years ago.
A family-run business, the company is known for its high-quality wooden shutters. The Stones knew they’d found the artisans to take over the construction of their beloved swings.
Veteran craftsmen individually construct each Charleston Original Bedswing in one of two sizes—original or mini—using select, furniture-grade cypress or mahogany. “We use the highest grade wood available any where,” says Barbara. “There are no knots, no plywood.” Withers’ woodworkers then apply a tough, weather-resistant finish to achieve long-lasting color and gloss retention. Four finishes are available—clear coat mahogany, clear coat cypress, cypress painted white and cypress painted black. Customers can also opt to have their bed swing custom painted in any color offered by Sherwin- Williams.
“There are lots of options for finishes and customization,” says Barbara. “All are made out of acrylic to be long-lasting and harder than regular coatings.”
“In coastal homes, the Original Charleston Bedswing allows me to enhance and complement the homeowner’s view and provide a comfortable place for them to stretch out, rest and enjoy their home after a busy day,” says Sissy Bradham of Sissy Bradham Interior Design, who often installs the Original Charleston Bedswing in her clients’ homes. “The swing itself can be dressed up or down, depending on what fabrics you choose. I love how the Original Charleston Bedswing exudes a calmness that’s almost always quickly followed by an occupant!”
Inside, outside, by a pool, the Original Charleston Bedswing is a unique and inviting choice for living rooms, outdoor kitchens and more. Crafted to stand up to the elements, the cushions are made of reticulated fiber, which has open pores to allow water and air to easily flow through.
“The fabrics used for our cushions and pillows are produced by Outdura, a performance fabric known industry-wide as the premier producer of outdoor materials,” says Barbara. Outdura fabrics are fade-, moisture- and stainresistant. They are easy to clean, yet soft to the touch like traditional interior upholstery, and available in more than 50 designs. “Many designers customize the bed swings for seasonal changes,” notes Barbara.
Constructed to be durable and long lasting, the swings are also easy to maintain. “Simply wipe your bed swing with a clean towel on a regular basis,” advises Barbara. Take it from her: The original swing Preston constructed more than 20 years ago still hangs on the Stone family’s Mount Pleasant porch.
M.S. Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Charleston.
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