Douglas David Home has evolved from the success of Douglas David Cottage.
Clients and customers said, “Why not enjoy these things at the
lake house or beach house and also at home?” It makes perfect sense.
The concept, style and unique one of a kind quality brings just the right amount of
fun and whimsy to a room or area of the house that needs to be lightened up a bit.

Douglas David Cottage has received some great “press” this past year or two.
Press or getting “some ink” as they say in the trade is the biggest feedback you can
get as a designer and owner of a company. The fact that folks are responding and
excited and writing and talking about it is huge. When this happens and demand is
high, you know your work is understood and you are creating something that meets
the needs, makes people excited and happy. That is what it is all about...


—Kasey Husk, Indiana University Alumni Magazine, Spring 2015

Douglas David, BFA’79, enjoys the challenge of creating new things with old objects.
Made from old water skis, these Adirondack chairs are the prototypes David created with his father.

Repurposing, on display

As a longtime lover of lakes and antiques, painter Douglas David, BFA’79, has seen his fair share of wooden water skis that have been relegated to retirement in a fiberglass age. But when, about seven years ago, David decided to create Adirondack chairs from “found objects” - objects that “have a history, had a past” - the graduate of IU’s Herron School of Art and Design realized that he’d landed on just the thing to give those skis a second life.

Since that light bulb moment, David has sold dozens of the quirky, handcrafted water ski chairs that ultimately proved to be the catalyst for launching his second business, Douglas David Cottage.

And it all started, he says, with gathering water skis at flea markets. Months later, he enlisted his father to help create a prototype for Adirondack chairs, focusing largely on using pristine skis that matched each other as closely as possible.

But like the rest of his line, David found his ideas evolving.

“I’ve gotten more comfortable with it, and the more comfortable I get, the more wild they get with the color and the graphic,” says David,

who designs the chairs and subcontracts out the manufacturing work. “I’m driven by what I’m able to get my hands on, but that’s fine because that’s how life is: you do the best you can with what you are given and make it work.”

Each chair takes eight skis to build, so production is limited based on the number David and his “pickers” can locate each year. Still, he prefers selling about 15 chairs a year to giving in to suggestions that he simply produce new skis designed to look old. That, he says, would “ruin the purpose” of the chairs - and of his entire mission to bring new life to antiques in a whimsical way.

“I think what’s exciting about that is if you repurpose with that in mind, it makes it kind of a challenge,” says David, who often picks up “intriguing” items and finds he needs to live with them before deciding what to make.

—Kasey Hush, BAJ’08, lives in Bloomington, Ind.

—“Original” shines a spotlight on the works, talents, and interests of IU alumni across the globe. Have something unique worth sharing? Let us know at


—Harry L. Rinker, Antique Week, 07/29/13

My visit to the “Antiques at the Fairgrounds” show in Petoskey on July 6-7 added to the list. The highlight of the day was a lawn chair made from cut down water skis. (See No. 44 on

—Sally Falk Nancrede, home+garden, The Indianapolis Star, 05/13

What happens to old water skis and popcorn tins? If they land in the hands of Indianapolis artist Douglas David, they might be material for high-style patio furniture.

“My work is all repurposed - found objects put to new uses,” he said. “My slant is to make sure everything is functional.”

The Douglas David Cottage collection includes Adirondack chairs and bars, bar stools and side tables, all made out of old wooden skis from the ’50s and ’60s. Add to that lamps made from hot/cold jugs and Scotch-plaid Thermos bottles and repurposed leather pillows printed with images of old cars, motor boats and airplanes. Most of the vintage water skis are from the lakes regions in north-central Indiana and in Michigan.

“The fun ones I love are Dick Pope Cypress Gardens skis. Of course, Cypress Gardens (Florida‘s first theme park) is gone now,” David said.

David, a popular painter known for his pictures of peonies, will be a featured artist at the 24th annual Orchard In Bloom garden show this weekend at Holliday Park.

He is working with landscape architect Scott Myer of Northshore Landscape in Whitestown to create the centerpiece patio.

Some vintage water skis provide material for fun patio furniture, such as the $500 bar stools. Local artist Douglas David also used leftover pieces from skis for the front of the bar. The lake theme is also seen in table lamps. —FRANK ESPICH/THE STAR

Douglas David says his furniture is a small cottage industry and his primary vocation continues to be painting.

David will be joined at 3 p.m. today by Elizabeth Brown of Reclamation vintage mall, 5335 Winthrop Ave., and John Jenkins of Indy Arts & Vintage Marketplace to talk about the trend to redo, repurpose and reclaim home furnishings. Show sponsors are The Orchard School and Indy Parks.

From the water-ski chairs to old cobalt-blue sailboat-motif Atlas glasses, David’s Cottage collection has a nautical theme.

“It’s a little quirky, and I like the quirky,” he said. “The nostalgia brings back people’s youth. The Adirondack chairs are by far my most popular item. I only have about a dozen per season. The skis are hard to find, and the chairs are all handmade. I use retired craftsmen, so the quality is really, really good.”

The bars are one-of-a-kind, and the bar stools still have the ski boots on them.

“That’s what makes them so fun,” David said.

David has scoured lake country in Northern Indiana and Michigan in search of skis. The result of his efforts is seen in these Adirondack chairs, end table and ottoman. Only about a dozen of the chairs are produced per season. Priced at $1,000, they are made by retired craftsmen. Ottomans and tables are $250.

A vintage water jug has become a patio lamp. —FRANK ESPICH/THE STAR

Old popcorn and potato chip tins make conversation-piece planters and lamps. And he’s framed old wool bathing suits as chic wall art.

“We’re going to do a Bohemian picnic table for 12, still nautically slanted, still kind of a lake feel.”

His furniture and accessories were found in cottages at Indiana lakes that include Wawasee, Maxinkuckee and Tippecanoe, as well as Michigan lake communities of Petoskey and Charlevoix.

But David emphasizes that this furniture collection is a small cottage industry. He continues to paint. That’s his vocation, his heart, why he has an art studio. The Cottage collection is seasonal fun, a lake vacation of vintage nostalgia.

*Sally Falk Nancrede is an Indianapolis-based home-decor writer. Email her at

—Susan Blower, News, Antique Week, 03/13

Indianapolis, Ind. —

Indianapolis artist Douglas David has built a solid business on his fine art. In recent years, however, he has developed a secondary business selling lamps made from vintage tans, framed wool bathing suits and Adirondack chairs made from wooden skis. He calls the business Douglas David Cottage, and he travels to about three shows a year, including the Indianapolis Art and Antiques Show and Sale last weekend.

He said his cottage items sell out by mid-July. The lamps are priced at about $100-$150, and the framed suits for $500.

David said he designs the vintage lamps and chairs, while using retired craftsmen to put them together.

David, like many others, is catering to market trends and appetites.

Above: Indianapolis artist, Douglas David, creates and sells fine art as his main enterprise, but in recent years began designing lamps out of vintage cans and coolers and Adirondacks out of wooden skis. He calls the latter his cottage industry, which he sells at shows, including the Indianapolis Art and Antiques Show and Sale last weekend.

—Ilene Denton, Sarasota Magazine, 01/13


—Ilene Denton, The Luxury Home, Sarasota Magazine, 06/12


Making Waves

Quirky, comfy outdoor furniture - Adirondack chairs, dining stools, bar stools, side tables and ottomans - fashioned from vintage water skis made waves at this winter’s Jewels on the Bay Designer Showhouse. It was the Florida debut of Douglas David Cottage’s water-ski furniture line, which creator Douglas David has been selling like hotcakes for five years in the lake resort towns of northern Michigan and Wisconsin.

An artist as well as a furniture designer, David spends the winter in Sarasota teaching painting classes at Art Center Sarasota (locally, interior designer Sally Trout sells his paintings), and the summer painting on the lakes in northern Michigan, from Traverse City all the way up to Charlevoix. “It’s a really beautiful area, and the old water skis kept coming up,” he says. “I saw ways, with the advent of the green movement, in which I could repurpose them.”

His pickers forage flea markets, antique shows and family cottages for the vintage skis, and he recently purchased a collection of about 70 from a retired Coast Guard officer in Traverse City.

A cabinetmaker in central Indiana makes the bases and frames. “It takes eight skis to make a chair, and four to make a bar stool, and I’ve become more select as I discover which colors and patterns furniture buyers want - the more graphic the better,” David says. Red is the most popular color, followed by baby blue and yellow. “Those that bring the most smiles are the old Cypress Gardens skis,” he says. (A pair of them was part of a bar stool at the Designer Showhouse.)

Prices range from $1,250 for the Adirondack chair and water-ski bar to $900 for the bar stool and $450 for the side table.

—Leslie Bailey, Cicle City Style, Indianapolis Monthly, 06/12

Water-ski bar stool by local artist Douglas David.
$495 each. Posh Petals, 1134 E. 54th St., 923-6000.

—Broad Ripple Gazette, 01/20/12

Douglas David Cottage, Indianapolis, debuts this year’s home furnishings collection at the Designer Showhouse in Sarasota on Sunday, January 22, 2012. The 17th annual event is hosted by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

David’s, one-of-a-kind pieces are handmade and grace cottages and lake homes on Chicago’s prestigious north shore; the Michigan towns of Charlevoix, Petoskey and Lake Walloon, as well as Indiana’s favorite, Lake Wawasee. The Florida market is a natural progression after David’s success in other markets over the past 5 years. Sarasota’s Designer Showhouse is one of the first such events of the year and is a definite match to the seasonal production schedule and annual debut of this unique furniture collection.

“Selling out each year makes it hard to introduce our product to new markets, so you have to start earlier,” says owner and founder Douglas David. “Styles and trends are national, yet the simple and slightly quirky look of these items has long been a hit in markets where homeowners travel and have multiple homes.”

“Being one of a very elite group of 25 interior designers and craftsmen selected from Sarasota is very exciting for us,” says Deborah Coons, Douglas David Cottage Gulf Coast Office. “The professionals in this market are some of the best of the best, and the consumers are hungry for original recycled and repurposed products.”

David’s love of Florida lead him to investigate the invitation to participate in Sarasota’s event. Repurposing classic objects from yesterday into furnishings for today’s environment is what keeps David digging and looking for new and unique finds.

The patio at the show house features David’s adirondack chairs, a bar made from an old university lectern and vintage barware and accessories. The area is poised and ready for the opening brunch on Sunday. The 2012 “Jewels on the Bay” Showhouse is open daily through February 19.

Visit or for more information.

—Herald Tribune, 01/22/12

The patio, by Douglas David and Deborah Coons, has a whimsical flair based in the tropics; vintage planters are part of the patio decor; the master bath, by Brigid Hewes-Saah, Allied Member of the ASID. The showhouse runs today through
Feb. 19.

—Marsha Fottler, Herald Tribune, 01/12

Douglas David is an artist. But he has also established a business in custom furniture and decor items, stemming from his hobby of shopping flea markets, where he finds interesting objects that he can repurpose and sell to homeowners looking for something vintage that has a practical use.

For the next month, some of his product line can be seen at the Jewels on the Bay Designer Showcase in the Denton home on the patio. And he sells through his Web site, His original art is available for purchase through paintings - For more information on the 2012 Jewels on the Bay Designer Showhouse, go to www.DesignerShowhouse

Q: When did you come to Sarasota and why?

A: I first visited Sarasota when I was a child with my parents in the 1960s. I came back in the ’80s for business and have been coming to Sarasota as often as I can, ever since.

Q: Is the wood you use repurposed?

A: Yes, the wood we use on the Adirondack chairs, ottomans, barstools and side tables are all from vintage water-skis. The bar is from scraps from the water-skis, a section of a salvaged butcher block counter top and the sides from a college lectern. These items are at the Designer Showhouse through Feb. 19.

Q: What is your background?

A: I have B.F.A. from Herron School of Art/Indiana University. Additionally 11 years of summer study with master painter, Frank Mason (d. 2009) of the Art Students League of New York. I spent 15 years in advertising and marketing before transitioning into my art business roughly 15 years ago.

Q: Are you a furniture designer or interior designer?

A: I like to say I am an artist.

Q: Where do you live?

A: My home is in Indianapolis. I spend a great deal of time in Florida in the winter; Chicago and Michigan in the summer.

Q: What’s your house like?

A: It’s very eclectic and a reflection of my life’s work, travels and experiences. I find it relaxing and motivating.

Q: Are you a collector?

A: I am a collector, right now of vintage pottery and paintings. But my collections are ever-changing and I like to think that is what keeps me current. I feel collections are past, present and future and that is what makes collecting so much fun.

Q: What inspired you to design and produce furniture and accessories?

A: Spending summers the past few years in Michigan and winters in Florida. I have been close to the water, painting landscapes and seascapes and selling to various folks and thus seeing their homes. This lead to the development of these unique pieces of furniture and home accessories as a new second business.

Q: What kind of homeowners are your clients?

A: For the most part, my clients cover quite a broad range of ages, and in many regions. For many of them, they are buying for one of their homes, as many of them have multiple homes.

Q: Would some of your pieces work in a contemporary setting?

A: When a concept is strong it bridges styles and works well in varied settings. I wholesaled my artwork for years to a large national furniture store chain based on the southwest coast of Florida and they would place it in various areas and settings.

Q: What’s the price range of your creations?

A: I have some small accent lamps that are $75. My prices range up to $1,000 for a handmade Adirondack chair. My paintings range up to $6,000.

Q: Where do you find the wood and objects that you convert into original design pieces?

A: I have pickers that buy for me but I love to hunt at flea markets and swap meets, too. Finding quantities to meet the demand is getting tough. Most of the skis come from Michigan and northern Indiana where the summers are beautiful and the lakes crystal clear. I can find a few in Florida.

Q: What design trends do you see for Florida in the coming months?

A: I saw many wonderful gray color palettes showing up in Chicago last year and I see it appearing in Florida this year. I think this gray color trend will continue to grow with various accent colors over the next couple of years. I see the recycled and repurposed concept continuing to play out as well as the big demand for “made in America” quality goods.

Q: When a homeowner is selecting a piece of furniture for a room, what are the three or four primary factors to consider that would make the process easier?

A: I always say, don’t overthink it. Allow yourself to enjoy selecting the pieces. Go with your gut. If you like it and it makes you happy, it will probably be good in your home. If you have to analyze and worry, then don’t buy it.

Have an idea of the space you are filling, so you can shop intelligently. But, good “finds” will make the experience memorable and exciting.


—Jamie Hanks, Great Lakes Trader, Petoskey, MI, 08/11

Loved these Water Ski Chairs priced at $1500 pr from Douglas David of Indiana.

—Laura Pinegar, Circle City At Home, Indianapolis Monthly, 06/11

These Adirondack chairs fashioned from water skis with a timeworn patina look like something from a Douglas David painting. It’s no wonder - the popular artist known for his tranquil Indiana and Michigan lake scenes designs them. Part of the Douglas David Cottage line of found-object decor, the chairs are assembled by retired autoworkers in Kokomo,

friends of the artist’s father. One craftsman, “Stingray,” helped solve a design flaw common in Adirondacks: loose boards caused by flopping into the chair. David’s designs are held together with wing nuts - just tighten as needed. $795 at Posh Petals, 1134 E. 54th St., 923-6000,


—Shannon E. Brewer, Northern Indiana Lakes Magazine, 7/10

A line of trees keeps watch over the misty field. Above them, the clouds open gradually to reveal a pristine blue sky that darkens near the apex. The oil pointing, a work by Indianapolis artist Douglas David, is titled “Summer Clouds.” It conveys a sense of pure serenity in the beauty of the summer skyline.

David’s impressionistic landscapes, seascapes, and still lifes capture his favorite places around Indiana and Michigan lakes, and around the country. David is inspired by natural beauty and strives to create work that will stand the test of time.

“I want to transcend that idea of capturing a moment and instead paint with a sense of timelessness. I want to make paintings that have appeal now and will have the same appeal in twenty or thirty years,” he says.

David pursued a career in the business world after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree at Indiana University’s Herron School of Art. He worked with real estate developer Melvin Simon as an art director and creative director, then started his own graphic design and advertising firm in 1988.

Throughout the years, the desire to paint “kept tugging” at him, David says. He spent his free time in front of the canvas “rekindling the creative fire.” In 1997 David delved into a fine art career full-time and never looked back. For ten years David honed his craft under the tutelage of artist Frank Mason of New York’s Art Students League. In summer courses with Mason, David developed the color palette and “dreamy” atmosphere that mark his paintings.

“The feedback I get is that people really relate to the peace, the tranquility, the calmness in my paintings,” he says. “That’s great feedback for me because if that’s what my art is bringing to people, then it’s a big deal - especially in the kind of busy world we live in.”

David’s art has accumulated a number of prestigious awards, including the Distinguished Hoosier Award from Governor Mitch Daniels in 2006. And while David produces fine art, it’s not inaccessible by any means. In fact, most everyone in Indiana has owned a Douglas David painting. In 2003 Indiana residents voted for his landscape to be displayed on the state license plate. The Douglas-designed plate remained in production until 2008.

David now owns the Douglas David Fine Art gallery in Indianapolis and Douglas David Cottage, a folk art furniture and accessories business operated by him and his father. Best of all for David, he pursues his passion, painting his way across our beautiful LAKES Country.



©Copyright, 2017, Douglas David. All rights reserved.