Leading men


By Barry Kaufman | Photo by Ritterbeck Photography

Toward the back of Just Cushions, within the stunning new furniture showroom marking the Hilton Head Furniture Co., you’ll find one item that is conspicuously out of place. Arrayed throughout, the furniture on display reflects the elegance and style of contemporary Lowcountry design. It’s a delightfully refined modern motif, which makes the antique sewing machine on the back wall stand out even more.

It’s an odd bit of yesteryear among the sophisticated furniture of today. But it may be the single most important object in the room because of what it represents: four generations of a family who has made fabrication of furniture their passion.

“This was my great-grandmother’s sewing machine, originally,” said Larry Setola Jr. “She then gave it to my grandfather, Carmine, when he opened his first shop. Years later he taught my father how to sew on this machine.”

It was Larry Setola Sr. who took the past generations of amassed knowledge and opened Just Cushions in 1994, establishing the business as the island’s premiere source for cushions and upholstery. You’ll still find Larry Sr. in the back, working his craft as a true artisan when it comes to cushions and fabrication. But out front, the younger Setola (Larry Jr.) has taken the business to the next level.

“You look at a company like Sears, they didn’t innovate with the ever-changing times,” said Setola Jr. “Every business has to innovate in order to stay relevant.”

Innovation meant creating one-stop-shopping for home interiors with expert consultation. Larry Jr. started small, adding to the line of fabrics in the front showroom with window treatments, lighting options and a slew of catalog options for furniture. Given that the company was already known for its expertise, adding an adjoining furniture showroom just seemed to make sense.

“The difference with us, we know what a piece of furniture looks like when it’s stripped down. We also know what to look for to really set apart a quality piece of furniture,” said Setola Jr. “That’s why it took so long to find the exclusive lines I wanted to represent. My objective was to find companies that construct furniture the way we would do it when building from scratch.”

Once he did find furniture that met his standards, he found a huge customer base and an opportunity to truly innovate and expand on the family business. Choosing the name Hilton Head Furniture Co., he got to work transforming an underutilized part of the rear workroom into a showcase for furniture that meets the exacting standards of four generations.

This blend of old-school knowledge juxtaposed with new-school expansion and innovation has created something entirely unique to our area. Along with the dizzying selection of lines represented at Hilton Head Furniture Co., the in-depth knowledge the family brings to the table provides nearly infinite possibility.

“There are thousands of options with millions of combinations,” said Setola Jr. “You can change the leg style and wood finish, choose from the array cushion insert options, and select any fabric that we supply from our many vendors.”

From this family legacy, the youngest Setola has boldly chosen to take the firm in a pioneering direction while still embracing the roots that made it strong.

“My dad is very old school, and he taught me a lot of the old school ways of approaching business,” he said. “Show up on time, do what you say you’re going to do, and be the best at what you do.”