If you are thinking about new furniture for your home, but are torn between something elegant and eye-catching or something practical and functional, then don’t be. You can have both in the same piece! This Walnut and Ash Burr bespoke hall cabinet is a recent commission that I designed and made for a client in Bristol. It’s an excellent example of bespoke furniture that is both elegant and eye-catching, but also immensely practical. I believe this piece shows that it is possible to have furniture which looks beautiful, but is also very functional.
The cabinet has been installed in the hall of a Victorian family home and is a statement piece which is immediately visible as you enter the room. However, its gently curving shape ensures that it doesn’t look or feel too bulky in the relatively small area. The colours of the cabinet perfectly complement the original ceramic floor tiles in the house. It looks comfortably at home in its surroundings, whilst providing a beautiful new addition to the hall. See portfolio page for more photographs.
The practical and functional reason for the cabinet is to hide all the services (cables, pipes, fuse-box, electric meter etc) that come into the hall. These have to be hidden in a manner that means they can be easily accessed by the householder and are also accessible for more major works should that be necessary. The flat door of the cabinet allows easy access into the services for the householder to turn the stopcock, change fuses, read the meter etc. For more major works, the cabinet can be moved out of the hall corner completely as it is a free-standing piece of furniture and isn’t fixed to the walls or floor at any point.
Choosing a design
After an initial enquiry from the house owners, I visited them in their home to discuss what type of bespoke cabinet they wanted in their hall. We talked about shapes and styles of cabinet, also types and colours of wood and the practicalities of making a cabinet that would hide the services in their hall. The client was keen to have something that would provide a statement as you enter the hall, with a shape not too square and boxy, preferring curved surfaces. Built-in cabinets can look attractive, but to my mind they will never look as elegant and luxurious as a free-standing piece of furniture.
There was also discussion on the very important issue of retaining access to the services in the hall. A door in the cabinet can easily provide householder access for the simple, more frequent tasks. However, a free-standing piece that can be moved out of the corner completely, provides a better solution to the problem of future access for tradesmen. Having discussed the clients’ requirements, I prepared a selection of computer-generated designs for them to consider. I also provided samples of veneer to choose from, as real wood samples give a much better indication of what the final piece will look like. The final choice of walnut and ash burr veneer was obtained from Nantwich Veneers.
From Concept to Completion
Once the clients had chosen the design they wanted I completed the construction design details and made a mock-up cabinet to the proposed dimensions. The mock-up was installed in the house in the same way as the final cabinet would be, to ensure that it would fit around the existing services and look right in the hall. Also, very importantly, make sure it would fit through the doors and porch for delivery. Having made notes about minor adjustments to dimensions from the mock-up trial, I proceeded to make the cabinet over the following few weeks.
The cabinet was installed in two stages. Stage 1, it was delivered and installed without the solid walnut top. This enabled it to be fitted into final position and levelled up, then I made a template of the exact shape for the top to fit the adjacent walls and around a services box-out in the corner. Back in the workshop I finished the solid top and shaped it to the template, then in stage 2, delivered and installed it onto the cabinet. Job done!
DOORS OPEN TO SHOW SERVICES AT ONE END OF THE CABINET AND SHELVES FOR STORAGE AT THE OTHER