Spring is here (at last) but as any long-time Asheville resident knows, it's not time to put away your coats and boots yet. By local tradition, we still have several "winters" to go until we hit the last "blackberry winter" in late April or early May.
I dropped by to see one of my customers, and she had still coats on the new entryway cubby bench which we recently installed for her.
Before, she only had a narrow space in her foyer for guests to take off their coats. There wasn't really even room to set down a chair. This is when fitted furniture is a great idea: you can turn a tight spot into a useful area.
This reminds me of a project I did years ago for an attorney who moved into an office that also had a narrow entryway. The previous lawyer had chairs in the vestibule, and clients were always tripping over one another's feet when they came in. The new bench was narrow, with no chair back to get in the way, so it made for more leg room.
Anyway, back to our current project...
Before I started work I had my wife, Faith, draw a model of the entryway cubby and bench so the homeowners could see what we planned to build for them.
This was helpful because it gave them a chance to visualize how high the various elements should be installed. The family ranged in height from little kids all the way up to a tall Dad, so we had to place the hooks where everyone could reach them.
On the other side of the entryway was the home office, which was separated from the rest of the house by a column.
We installed a pair of French doors with trim that coordinated with the existing door and crown molding. With these two projects done, the whole foyer was transformed. As the Mom said, it was surprising that a such large piece of furniture could make the room seem bigger.
This bench is mostly for guests. There's another coat closet near the kitchen which the family uses for coats and backpacks. So our next project will be to transform an empty niche nearby into a catch-all for mail, wallets, purses and keys.
(Plus an art desk for the little girl in the family. She's very excited!)
If your foyer seems "too small" to hold all the stuff it needs to hold, give us a call. We can turn even the slenderest space into an organized entryway... so you always have a place for your coat and keys.
I recently finished a built-in home office desk made from one of my favorite woods: Cherry. Look at that color!
While I was building it, I had ample time to contemplate the things that set custom-made furniture apart from pre-made pieces. One thing that makes this piece special is the care that I used when I was choosing each piece of wood.
Cherrywood has a LOT of variation, as you can see even in these unfinished boards.
The big left-hand board is fairly bland, while the one right next to it has an arrow-like pattern of ribboning. (This is another reason I love cherry... it can have a lot of depth and interest in the grain.)
As I added the first coats of poly, you could really see the difference.
When I built the drawers, I chose pieces that made a continuous wrap-around pattern, so they're as pretty on the inside as they are on the outside.
The sides of the desk also wrap around to match the header.
I got an especially pretty piece for the top. It's hard to get photos of wood grain, so you'll just have to use your imagination when I say that it had complex patterns that threw back gleams of light.
The desk really transformed the wall, which went from small and bland...
... to big and bold!
The cherrywood will darken over time and become redder as well, so this desk will just get better with age.
If your home office could use a little pizzazz, we can do that for you. And we'll pay attention to all the little details, too.
... ESPECIALLY if you already love white rooms.
But before I show it off, allow me a quick comment. In the past decade or so we've seen a lot of people paint their furniture, especially those who prefer airy, contemporary rooms in a neutral palette. And don't get me wrong... I love painted furniture and some of my favorite projects have been painted plain white.
But dark, rich brown wood has its place in light-colored rooms. It makes a beautiful foil against the white walls, and it can have complex grains which bring texture and interest to what would otherwise be a bland space.
Walnut is one of my favorite dark woods. It's got a chocolatey purple undertone and a grain pattern which, while subtle compared to oak, can often include arched patterns that add an Art Deco touch.
Case in point: our latest project.
A custom built-in AV cabinet in a bright, contemporary living room.
Or do you like it better without doors?
It's really hard to capture the beauty of this wood in a photograph, because grain patterns move with the light. They glimmer and shimmer.
But here's my best attempt:
There's a satiny ribbon effect that really catches the eye.
By the way, the shelves are adjustable in height to allow you to store larger items like stereo equipment or a hidden TV. I love the versatility of this piece. It could be a pantry, a clothes closet, a display case... you name it.
And it's eight feet tall and four feet wide, so it's much more substantial in real life.
If you've got a modern room that needs a little architectural interest, give us a call. We'll help you design a piece that changes your space... and lets you store all your stuff out of sight... so you can live a clutter-free, stress-free life.
If your family loves to do paperwork (or homework) in the dining room, this is a great solution for keeping everything tidy.
At first glance it's a cozy built-in banquette... which is already really cool... but wait, there's more!
It opens up to reveal a hidden "secretary" desk where you can stash your papers and books.
We started by building the case in our studio. As you can see, the benches are also hollow, with flip-top lids to hide large objects. You could even hide a computer router in here, and stash the laptop behind the seat, to make a home office that's invisible when it's not in use.
The dining room we installed it in was fairly small...
...so the built-in banquette seating made efficient use of the space.
You may notice that there were a few changes to the design. For example, we added two doors to the back instead of one, and painted the bottom kick to match the baseboard. That's what sets custom furniture apart: the ability to customize it to your preferences.
With cushions and pillows, the built-in windowseat became a comfortable place to relax with a book and a mug of tea.
If you've got stuff all over the dining room table, this banquette could help you reclaim your eating area but still have a place to stash things out of site. Give us a call to get one for your home, so you can be beautifully organized.
Our latest project is perfect for when you've all been playing in the snow and you need a place to capture those wet boots and mittens.
Our customers have a goal of becoming a "no shoe" household to preserve their white carpets, but there was no place for people to sit down and take off their shoes.
As usual, we worked with them to create a 3D model. They weren't sure whether they wanted to use horizontal ship-lap or vertical V-groove panels, and this really helped them visualize it.
That's just the first draft; there were several rounds of revisions to add and remove features.
We eventually included a pair of figures in the model so we could put the hooks at the right height for kids to reach them, while making them high enough to be easy for Dad to use.
Models are always theoretical, and the customers and I made a few small tweaks while I was building the cubbies. We had hoped to build a bench with a single span from wall to wall, and I even tested several methods support it in the middle. But in the end we decided that there was still too much flex, especially since several people might be sitting on the bench together.
Speaking of the bench, the homeowners requested a hardwood seat. I used a beautiful piece of oak which I stained to coordinate with the floors.
The final piece turned out really well. One of the homeowners said that she was surprised that such a big piece of furniture would make a small room feel larger.
On the other side of the foyer is a pair of French doors which I also installed, so the whole space has that elegant feeling which traditional moldings bring to a room.
We can bring the same beautiful style to your home. Just shoot us an email with your ideas. We'll be glad to help.
I'm Arthur Teel, a craftsman who builds custom furniture in Asheville, North Carolina. Give me a call to talk about your next project!