Winston-Salem’s History of Inspiring Makers

Tracing back to the founding of Salem, Winston-Salem’s history of craftsmanship continues to live on, inspiring artisans and entrepreneurs throughout the city still today. We caught up with the owners of Sunnyside Millwork to discuss how the city has influenced their handcrafted furniture and where you can see it during your next visit.

Husband-and-wife duo David and Amber Dalholt started Sunnyside Millwork in Winston-Salem in 2016. Initially, David was making custom tables and cutting boards in the basement of their home as a side hustle to help cover the cost of diapers for their newborn. As demand for David’s fine craftsmanship grew, so did the business. 

David left his full-time job as a construction foreman (working on some historic restoration projects) in 2017 to pursue millwork exclusively, and Amber, an established artist with more than a decade of retail experience, decided to create Sunnyside Mercantile, a retail store component of their business located in Winston-Salem’s Downtown Arts District.

Why Winston

Initially from Fort Lauderdale,FL, the Daholts were looking to relocate and had friends in Winston-Salem who were already raving about the area. They visited and fell in love with Winston-Salem instantly. After all, craftsmanship is part of the city’s rich history—from the makers of Old Salem to the birthplace of NC craft beer to America’s first arts council. Amber says she and David are “just glad to carry the torch” since there have been so many artists and makers before them in Winston-Salem that helped pave the way for their thriving business.

When it comes to inspiration, Winston-Salem offers it at every turn. In particular, Amber explains how the architecture in and around Winston-Salem has influenced Sunnyside’s designs. Many of their pieces draw from the look of the city’s historic craftsman-style bungalows, pulling this aesthetic into the kitchen through tables or cabinets. Sunnyside Millwork designs often pay homage to the past with a modern take, a theme echoed throughout Winston-Salem as a whole.

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Collaborative Creative Culture

In addition to its history of makers and innovators, Winston-Salem’s creative culture fosters a spirit of collaboration among its artists and entrepreneurs. With Sunnyside Mercantile located near the Downtown Arts District, Amber has built close relationships with the owners of surrounding galleries and shops. 

Rather than operating as competitors, owners of other local businesses are excited to work together for the collective good of the city. Sunnyside Mercantile has done pop-ups with Canteen Market & Bistro—a Winston-Salem downtown urban market pairing elegant dining with gourmet goods, as well as Sawtooth School for Visual Arts—a historic textile mill now educating local artists and community members in nine creative disciplines. As Amber says, “It’s really nice to have the support of the community around us. Everyone wants to make the city even more special.”

Sunnyside Millwork

At Sunnyside Millwork, David and his team of craftsmen work with solid wood, using live-edge slabs to create one-of-a-kind creations that demand to be noticed. The finished pieces are surprisingly soft and smooth to the touch. Amber says that if you want to touch the table, it makes it more enjoyable to actually sit at that table. And since the craftsmen at Sunnyside Millwork want their pieces to be loved for generations, the way it feels truly matters. 

Since expanding their operations, Sunnyside Millwork has taken on a wider range of projects, including cabinetry, upholstery, commercial furniture, and custom designs—like high-end entertainment centers built to suit a particular space. When you wander around Winston-Salem, you can see Sunnyside Millwork creations in the lobby and wine loft at Hotel Indigo, at Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, at Dogwood Hops and Crops, and Incendiary Brewing.  

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Sunnyside Mercantile

Leaning on her art background and 10 years of retail management experience, Amber sees Sunnyside Mercantile as an opportunity to support the local economy and creative community. The warm and inviting space features carefully curated items ranging from household goods and apparel to jewelry, pottery, and art—all thoughtfully chosen to create a cohesive look. 

Everything in the store is from Winston-Salem and North Carolina, which further supports Amber’s vision for Sunnyside Mercantile to help support the local economy: “Supporting local businesses brings people who are invested in Winston-Salem to our city, so it keeps growing. When you buy local, it’s going back into the pockets of your neighbor, which further supports the community.”

In addition to visiting the Sunnyside Mercantile store on Trade Street in downtown Winston-Salem, you can also check out its wares on Saturday mornings at the new Winston Junction Market. This indoor open-concept market takes place each week in a warehouse space downtown and features food vendors, farmers, makers, and of course, a Sunnyside Mercantile booth. Amber says this innovative market is a must-experience for city visitors and locals alike. 

Ready to experience history in the making? Book a fall hotel getaway package and try your hand at pottery in Old Salem Museums & Gardens, glass blowing with the team at Olio, or woodworking with the Sunnyside craftsmen on a Saturday morning at Winston Junction Market. The opportunities to make and take a piece of Winston-Salem back home with you are endless.