By Faith Teel
Our latest project gives off those French Country vibes that Marie Antionette loved so much...
No, we didn't build that... it's Marie's famous watermill cottage at the Hameau de la Reine. We're just including it to set the tone. Because after all, it's the middle of winter, in the darkest days of the year, so why shouldn't we while away a little time looking at beautiful French Country and Tuscan houses in summertime?
It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it.
Anyway, speaking of sunny Old-World style, we recently built a French Country banquette to match an elegant Asheville kitchen with European flair.
Well, most of the kitchen had flair. But this little dining nook wasn't quite big enough to suit the busy family that lives in this home. The floor plan didn't even allow for a fourth chair at the table, which was awkward since there were four family members.
Working with Elizabeth Rogers at Hannah Lowman Styling, we designed a cozy U-shaped banquette with a large bookshelf behind it to hold the homeowners' many cook books, as well as their wine racks and kitchen appliances.
The project would be faux finished with pin-striping to match the existing shelves and cabinets.
We started by building the benches, which were hollow, with flip-top lids to allow for lots of hidden storage. (This kitchen really needed more storage!)
Then we sourced custom trim pieces to match the trim on the cabinet doors. And tested out the cushion thickness... in case you're wondering, 3 inches is ideal for a seat cushion. Or two inches if you don't like a very smooshy banquette seat.
When we got to the site, we temporarily removed the window trim because the bookcase was such a tight fit. That's what makes the difference between custom and ready-made... a custom cabinet can be built to truly fit the room from wall to wall.
There was a ton of storage in these bench seats, and we included soft-close supports that really made them a pleasure to use.
And you can't see it in this photo, but the seat back on the right also folds down to allow access to the deep storage space under the shelves. That means there's lots of space for those rarely-used platters that you still want to be able to reach when you throw a party.
We found a beautiful flush-mount brass pull for the seat back. (It's these little details that count.) Here's a photo we snapped before the cabinet was finished. It's actually a bit weighty, almost like a door knocker.
The finished banquette looks like it was always a part of the kitchen. The homeowners are expecting to get the table and cushions in soon, and we can't wait to see how Elizabeth styled the room.
We've got lots more cool projects coming up in the New Year. If you saw our "Christmas card" email, you probably saw the blue bookshelves with the hidden door. But before we start that one, we're scheduled to build an elegant modern entertainment center with an electric fireplace... yet another project in the condos at 55 South Market Street in downtown Asheville.
So stay tuned, and don't touch that dial!
And if you've got an odd space in your kitchen that you don't quite know what to do with, give us a call. We'll turn it into an elegant space chock full of useful storage.
We're starting a fun new project this week: built-in dining room banquette seating in a home in Montford.
Check out the interactive 3D model which we made for our customer. Click and drag to rotate it.
For those of you who can't load the model, here's a still picture:
The banquette is for a writer who loves to do her work in coffee shops and would like to have a similar set-up at home.
This is the first draft, and the final version will have a few small changes. One feature which we're definitely going to include is a hidden fold-out "secretary" on the back to hold books and papers when they're not in use.
The seats will also have flip-top storage which will be perfect for larger items such as blankets or wifi equipment.
The extra storage allows this dining room to double as a home office, and it will also be a great place for our customer to meet clients.
If you have a room that needs to serve several functions, custom furniture may be the best option to maximize storage and get exactly what you're looking for.
This was a small job with a big impact: open shelving for a chef who was updating her kitchen. Let's start with the glamour photo so you can see what we made for our customer.
We actually built these a few months ago, but we've been waiting to get a photo of the finished kitchen.
Check out the "before" photo. Wow, those cabinets sure are orange!
Our client was already remodeling when she called us. She had installed a new tile backsplash and was about to paint her kitchen cabinets.
She also wanted to expand the kitchen peninsula to include an end unit that would hold small appliances like her stand mixer. Since she couldn't find what she needed online, she had us build the custom piece which you can see above.
Soon after we installed the cabinet, she replaced the countertop with a larger slab that extended over the new shelves.
As you can see, the kitchen also lacked open storage for spices and ingredients, which is important when you need to quickly grab a pinch of something to spice up a recipe.
We worked together to design a wall unit that was just deep enough to hold a row of Mason jars, but not so deep that it would get in the way when people walked through the room.
It was still summer time when we built these, so we took advantage of the sunny weather and worked outside.
Faith recorded a video of me making the final touches to the cabinet finish. This is the difference between custom made furniture and the stuff you get from a factory: I personally go over every surface to make sure the finish is perfectly smooth and all of the joints are seamless.
Even in a closeup photo, you can't see any seams at the joints. It's one solid unit.
If you need a special storage unit and you just can't find what you need online, we can design and build a piece that's just right for your home.
I recently finished installing a pantry that's more like a sculptural assemblage than a piece of furniture. I'll show you the glamour shot first:
A retired kitchen designer recently contacted me for a little help hanging cabinets in her own home. She had recently purchased her house, and the kitchen didn't have much storage.
Since the sink is on a peninsula overlooking the living room, there's a whole kitchen wall that doesn't have upper cabinets, so she had to come up with a storage solution on one of the other walls.
Her plan began with a bunch of cabinets from IKEA's LIXHULT line. These are like sleek little metal storage lockers, and they come in a variety of colors and sizes. Here they are on the IKEA website. Note the rail on the inside of the door. Perfect for holding recipe cards and notebooks!
We created a collage of fourteen cabinets, which turns out to be a generous amount of storage space.
Although IKEA cabinets are well-known as a "DIY" brand, this particular installation wasn't for amateurs. A cabinet like this is heavy when it's full of food, and that means that each cabinet must be fastened to a stud in the wall. That's tricky with such small boxes like these, since a stud isn't always where you want it to be!
If you'd like to try this look in your home, give me a call to get it done safely. I love this stuff!
I'm Arthur Teel, a craftsman who builds custom furniture in Asheville, North Carolina. Give me a call to talk about your next project!