THE LOCAL FILES: SORRENTO FURNITURE
Gerry and Cynthia Walsh are the force behind Sorrento Furniture. Well respected for their expertise in custom-made sofas and armchairs, the couple are also well known for their impeccable style and grace.
Gerry grew up in Brighton, and his life as a craftsman began in his teens when his neighbour who had an upholstery business asked if Gerry wanted an apprenticeship. It was a serendipitous opportunity for Gerry who, with dyslexia and ADHD, had a hard time at school with teachers who didn’t know how to handle him. So to be offered a job at the age of 15 was a wonderful chance to forge a life for himself.
“I used to help my neighbour during the school holidays, so taking on an apprenticeship just felt right. I don’t know what it was, but when I went to trade school I discovered I was really good at it. And after having had such a horrible life in regular school where everyone thought I was stupid, to find I was admired by my fellow students, that I was respected by my teachers and that people wanted for form friendships with me, it was life-changing and it gave me so much confidence. I didn’t change, but my world did.”
Gerry and Cynthia were married in 1983 and they started a small furniture business in their garage shortly after. The business grew and became heavily focused on commercial work, from large shop fittings to restaurants (including major contacts with a number of restaurants within the Crown Casino complex). The commercial side is still going strong.
Around eight years ago Gerry and Cynthia were approached by the owners of Sorrento Furniture to take over the premises and the client base, and so they decided to add this ‘direct to consumer’ business to their portfolio. (They also made the Mornington Peninsula their home). It was a practical decision that fitted with their overall business plan, but it also gave Gerry and Cynthia an opportunity to go back to their original dream of custom-making furniture for people’s homes.
“Our customer base is predominantly from the Mornington Peninsula,” explains Cynthia, “predominantly for people who own holiday homes in the area. Once we have made furniture for their holiday homes this often expands to making custom furniture for their primary residence in Melbourne.”
What Gerry creates is really the ultimate piece of furniture. He has considered every element – from using ethically sourced timbers, to environmentally friendly glues, to creating the perfect fill to provide comfort and support and sourcing the best quality fabrics. Combined with Cynthia’s talent for spotting the latest trends and understanding colour and design, they make a formidable pair.
Says Cynthia, "We simply love textiles (okay, truth be told, I love textiles!). We have such a huge range to select from, all carefully curated to offer something for everyone's taste and style."
Sorrento Furniture’s core collection of contemporary, stylish hand-crafted lounge settings are inspired by coastal living. They are unique, comfortable and supportive and are built with a quality that will last for decades. Each piece is made using the finest materials and an impeccable eye for detail.
Sofas, lounge settings and armchairs can be customised to suit you – your style, your aesthetic, your room size and your preferred shape - in your choice of leather or fabric upholstery. Each piece is manufactured on site at their Mornington showroom using skills and techniques by master craftsmen. They will work with you to design a piece of furniture that’s as individual as you are, and that will last for a lifetime - lounge suites, armchairs, ottomans, piano stools, benches, dining chairs and banquettes - with cushions and throws to match.
And if you have a piece of furniture you can’t bear to part with, Sorrento Furniture will lovingly restore if for you. Gerry’s first apprenticeship was in re-upholstery so he’s passionate about restoration of beautiful furniture. You can rest assured that you are in good hands. “Our customers will often re-upholster family heirlooms,” says Gerry, “and use them as an anchor to create new custom lounges to fit in with them.”
Adds Gerry, "We are passionate about our craft and creating furniture that delights our customers. It’s a family tradition – over four generations.”