Marking a Memorable Year: Spring

“525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes — how do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.”

Seasons of Love from RENT

Spring was a busy time for Art Van Furniture, and we were constantly looking for ways to give back and to bolster the spirits of Michiganders across the state. Here are just a handful of examples of how we spent this season.

Mending Hearts in Haiti

With the rebirth of spring came the opportunity to once again team up with Mitch Albom. This time Mitch was taking a group of volunteers to Port Au Prince, Haiti for a five-day building blitz. This humanitarian effort took plumbers and other badly needed cargo to the “Caring and Sharing Mission and Orphanage” which was devastated by the 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010. Detroiters helped to raise $82,000 for materials and volunteers to rebuild the orphanage, but they needed a way to get to and from Haiti safely, and that’s when Mr. Van stepped in and arranged for a plane. 

“Our focus has been squarely on the needs of Michigan families in these tough economic times, but we also feel a responsibility to help around the world when tragedy strikes,” said Art Van Elslander.

“It was a privilege to help Mitch with this important project. Dozens of children will be helped by this effort, restoring the roof, kitchen and bathrooms at the orphanage.”

We’re already looking forward to the next chance we have to help Mitch — and knowing how passionate he is about helping others; we’re guessing we won’t be left waiting long.

Brave Athletes

Art Van was proud to host a dazzling reception for 545 Special Olympics athletes, volunteers, and their families who came to cheer them on at the Special Olympics State Basketball Tournament held in Grandville.

“Talk about having fire in the belly, these athletes have it. Their energy and determination is incredible. One woman’s smile was so contagious. I know she trained hard to get to the State Finals and her attitude was beautiful. It reminded me to do something better today than you did yesterday,” commented Aleta Knudholt, Grandville Store Manager.


In 2009, we had the privilege of awarding 50 charities across Michigan much needed grant money through our Million Dollar Charity Challenge. As a bonus component, we structured them as challenge grants to help the charities maximize their fundraising efforts. One grant recipient was Wigs 4 Kids. To help kick off their Wellness Center Capital Campaign in style, we hosted a fundraiser called “The Right Combination” held at Art Van Furniture on 14 Mile Road in Warren. The event was celebrated by over 400 guests and raised $17,000 for the campaign launch. The funds raised on that night, combined with the $300,000 in recent donations, brought the campaign to 25% of its goal of $1.25 million.

“At our new center, we’ll be able to help more children in one year than we’ve seen in the previous six years,” said Founder and CEO, Maggie Varney. 

In addition to this event, Art Van Furniture provided all the furnishings for the Wellness Center, and a talented decorator to handle the interior design.



Suite Dreams

Art Van Furniture was named “2010 America’s Youth Retailer of the Year” by Legacy Classic Furniture, so it makes sense that Mr. Van pledged to help the Suite Dreams Project design and furnish 50 bedrooms. One of the recipients was a deserving 12-year old girl named Lexie. Battling leukemia, we helped create a soothing under the sea- themed room complete with a mural of a coral reef and saltwater fish. Sentinel Technologies, the company that supplies the hardware and technology that runs our in-store kiosks, donated special teleconferencing equipment that allows Lexie to attend school without leaving her room. This donation will help her continue to attend classes, even after undergoing bone marrow transplants that would normally have prevented her from physically going to the classroom.

Next up: Summer

Marking a Memorable Year: Winter

“525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes — how do you measure, measure a year?”

Seasons of Love from RENT

So many events happen over the course of 365 days. And usually by the time you reach week 52, it’s hard to remember what happened during week one. We feel extremely blessed to be woven into the fabric of many close-knit communities throughout Michigan. In 2010, we formed new relationships and continued to build off of well-established partnerships. But whether new or old, our ability to reach out and help those in need has been humbling, and above all, a great honor. 

Here’s part one of how we spent the seasons of our year:

Daytime Stars Shine Bright

During the gray days of January, “Days of our Lives” stars Nadia Bjorlin and Shawn Christian brought rays of California sunshine when they lent their support and time with us at Genesis House III. Part of the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), Genesis House is committed to helping woman and children in Detroit transition to a better life. Nadia and Shawn also treated fans to autograph sessions at our Tech, Taylor, Novi, and Lakeside stores in exchange for guests bringing in toiletries and other items for Genesis House III.

Then, they headed out with Art Van President, Gary Van, to deliver 50 mattress sets, bed frames, night stands, and dressers.

To see more pictures from this special day, head over to our Facebook page.

Have a Little Faith

Four years ago when Detroit hosted Super Bowl XL, best-selling author and respected journalist Mitch Albom was disturbed by how the homeless were being treated to a “party” to keep them off the streets during the big weekend, but would be forced to fend for themselves again come Monday. So, Mitch created S.A.Y Detroit (Super All Year Detroit). Now a fully-formed 501© (3) charity, it distributes money to shelters in Detroit for projects specifically designed to help the plight of those in need.

We had an opportunity to help Mitch raise funds for his organization by hosting a party. Mitch, his co-host Ken Brown, and the rest of the hardworking news talk News/Talk 760 WJR radio team broadcast The Mitch Albom Show from our Tech Plaza. Afterwards, we held a cocktail party for 500 guests, where Mitch graciously signed copies of his book, “Have a Little Faith,” before speaking to the crowd. Together, we were able to raise over $22,000 from this event for the S.A.Y Detroit.

Share the Magic

On a brisk February morning, we opened our Tech atrium to WMGC-105.1 FM, for a live broadcast to help raise donations and awareness for the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, thirty percent of the people who visit homeless shelters or soup kitchens are families with children. The Capuchin Soup Kitchen provides assistance to these families, serving the poor who suffer from the lack of basic human needs, such as food, clothing, and household necessities. They also address psychological and social needs, and help provide motivation, self-esteem, and rehabilitation, working to build support systems and meaningful relationships.

Next up: Spring

Turn up the Twinkle Factor

Close your eyes and let visions of white begin to dance in your heads. We’ve got another classic movie party inspiration guaranteed to make your next ring-a-ding-shindig shine as bright as a thousand Christmas lights!

Welcome to Pine Tree, Vermont

Hearing Bing Crosby croon White Christmas instantly puts us in the mood for hot cocoa and a warm fire. But you don’t have to just dream about the perfect holiday: by incorporating soft textures, a little shimmy-shimmer, and lots of white, you can create your own glamorous and idyllic wonderland.

In the movie, Wallace (Crosby) and Davis (Danny Kaye) bring their entire Broadway show to Pine Tree, Vermont, to help save their beloved General’s inn. And while you won’t need to make room for a cast of hundreds, you’ll want enough space to keep your guests entertained, which starts with your seating. The Bianca two-piece sectional is a fantastic fit for our all-white theme, with a sleek outline that adds design interest and a swanky feel. For a more fluid look, try the Nero two-piece sectional from ROMA. This Art Van Furniture exclusive is also upholstered in white leather, and we like the way the chaise’s round end gives you an unexpected seating spot. Invite a couple of arm chairs to join in and you’ve got a conversation hot spot. Your guests will also get a kick out of the convenient and unique Pantinoire Collection. The versatile nesting tables give you a large and small surface, while the sofa table can easily be turned into a serving station.

Now the movie is also a love story, so make sure the fireplace is going strong so couples can snuggle on the sofa underneath plush white blankets. Keep good cheer flowing all night long by turning a sideboard into a makeshift bar area and serve signature drinks that relate to the movie like Irving Berlin Eggnog or Clooney Cranberry Coolers, so that at the end of the movie everyone can raise their glass and jovially sing, May your days be merry and bright; and may all your Christmases be white.

Serve up one of Annabel Cohen’s palate party pleasers and you may find it hard to get your guests to leave!


There are many recipe for eggnog – I like this one because it’s creamy and mellow with touch of cinnamon.

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup rum, brandy, cognac, whiskey or bourbon

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Combine yolks and 1/3-cup sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk until well blended. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine the milk, cream, cinnamon and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, whisking frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk a ladleful of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Gradually whisk the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk mixture. Chill until cool.

In another bowl, whip the cream soft peaks.  Fold or whisk cream into the milk mixture. Serve cold. Makes 8 servings.

Clooney Cranberry Coolers

1 can (6 ounces) frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed

1 can (6 ounces) frozen limeade concentrate, thawed

4 cups cranberry (or cranberry-raspberry) juice cocktail, chilled

1 liter ginger ale

Fresh lemon and lime slices

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or pitcher. Serve chilled or over ice. Makes 12 or more servings.

Cozy Tomato Cheddar Cider Fondue

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 cup finely chopped (or petite diced) drained canned tomatoes

1/4 cup apple cider

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

4 cups finely grated Cheddar cheese

Heat olive oil and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook until much of the liquid of the tomatoes is absorbed. Dissolve the cornstarch in the cider and add the pan. Slowly stir in the cheese (a handful at a time) until melted. Keep warm (do not boil!). Serve with fresh French bread cubes.  Makes 8-12 servings

Keep the Partridge and the Tree

Since the late 1700s, carolers have been singing some variation of The 12 Days of Christmas. Have you ever wondered what a Christmas like that would cost your true love? Well, if you bought all 78 items on the list, you would end up parting with $23,439.38, which is way cheaper than if you bought the 364 items repeated in all the song’s verses — from 12 drummers drumming to a partridge in a pear tree — that would cost $96,824.*

Assuming you don’t have that kind of money to spend or the space to store all those presents, Art Van Furniture has a solution: we’ve uncovered 12 (plus a few extra) fantastic gift ideas that won’t force you to rent a storage space or leave you broke.

 Good Tidings

 Make your guests feel right at home with an appealing entryway. A nicely-priced cedar chest offers an inviting spot to sit while taking off coats and boots (and a great place for storing them, too).

Once coats have been hung and the cold shaken off, warm everyone up with a festive cocktail from the bar. Our wine cabinet is sure to keep the holiday cheer flowing and encourage lots of mingling. Keep glasses within reach on top, and swing open the swivel door on the bottom to reveal bottles of your cherished Cupid Cabernet or Comet Chardonnay.




Let it snow… while you enjoy stretching out like a lady of leisure on a chaise. “Dressed to the nines,” its form offers a show-stopping presentation. Place a snazzy 17-inch square pillow behind your head (chic at $19.99), nestle in, and cover up with a warm throw (comfortably priced at $29.00). It’s our solution to peace on earth. 

Chances are, you know a gal or guy striking out on their own. If their new place is short on space, try giving a gift that’s two-in-one: The Hide-a-seat Collection features a range of colorful ottomans that conceals a seat and cup holder! It’s innovative, fun, functional, and a must-have for any hip home.


After a long day of hauling decorations from the attic and hanging lights outside, give merry gentlemen a place to rest with a reclining massage chair (including power!) that will melt away the season’s stresses faster than the time it takes to untangle tinsel.

For a little more TLC, try a therapeutic massage chair. Three auto massage programs work out the kinks in the back, neck and shoulders like a professional masseuse would. You definitely won’t have to worry about the fire slowly dying with an electric console fireplace. Move it from room to room to feel its warm glow — without ever going out to cut wood in the snow!  And on top is the perfect spot for a flat-panel HDTV from Paul’s TV.

Heavenly Peace

Make sure they get the most of their Silent Nights by offering the priceless gift of sleep. Right now we’ve stocked our sleighs with ultra premium latex pillows for a sweet sugar-plum price of $39.99. For a stocking, slip in a scented candle or relaxing room spray. Even an eye mask can help a tired elf attain sleep nirvana.

Tick-tock. Treasure your time this holiday with a Howard Miller grandfather clock. From now until January 2, we’re taking 40% – 50% off the “compare at” price. Plus, with every purchase you’ll receive a satin brass-finished “Carols of Christmas II” musical tabletop clock (sounds like a good hostess gift to us).

If you’re still scratching your head trying to think of the perfect gift, try an Art Van Furniture gift card. Available online from $25-$500, you can also grab one in-store in any denomination you want! It’s the perfect way to invest in their home and guarantee you’re always welcome to visit!

Christmas Eve is almost here, so come into one of our convenient locations or shop online to see more ideas that will help solve most of your gift-giving dilemmas, and set the stage for a very Happy New Year!

*Based on the 2010 calculations from the PNC Christmas Price Index:

Please Sir, I want some more.

We hope you’re enjoying our holiday series and finding some great party and decorating ideas for your next soiree. There was just so much information in yesterday’s “Dickens” post. that we weren’t able to share all of food, travel, and lifestyle writer extraordinaire Annabel Cohen’s tasty treats. So, buckle up your taste buds for a palate advtenture of epic portions!

Yorkshire Pudding

1 1/2 cups flour                                            3/4  tsp. salt

3/4 cup whole milk                                        3 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup water                                                1/2 cup beef drippings (or vegetable oil)

Combine flour and salt together in the large bowl. Using an electric mixer, mix in the milk and eggs. Add water and beat again until the mixture is frothy. Allow to rest for an hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray a 9×13 well with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the drippings or oil into melted butter into baking dish and return to the oven. Let the baking dish heat in then oven for 10-minutes. Open the oven and without removing the pan, pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until puffy and golden. Serve immediately, cutting into squares as your serve. Makes 8-12 servings. 

Lamb Vegetable Soup

1 1/2 pound boneless lamb meat cut into 1–inch cubes (you can use stew meat)

1/4 cup flour                                             2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cups chopped onion                                2 tsp. minced garlic

2 cups beef broth or water                        1 cup 1/4-inched diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped celery                              1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes

1 tsp. dried thyme                                     1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. dried mint                                       2 cups diced potatoes, any variety

1 tsp. salt                                                  1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup uncooked orzo                                1 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Toss the lamb and flour together in a large bowl.

Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the lamb on all sides (you may have to do this in batches). Remove the meat to dish and set aside. To the same pot, add a little more oil in the pot if there is none remaining and add the onions and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until the vegetables are softened.  Add the meat back to the pot and stir in the broth.

Add the peppers, celery, parsley, thyme, rosemary and mint, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add the potatoes and more water if needed to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes more.

Add the orzo, peas and additional salt and pepper to taste and cook for 30 minutes more. Ensure that the lamb is tender (if not, continue to simmer until the lamb is tender).  Adjust salt and pepper to taste and stir in the lemon juice. Serve hot. Makes 8 or more servings.