Design Brief – Shoe Storage with a Difference

This Art Deco style hall cabinet is a bespoke commission for a client who wanted a practical and accessible place to store shoes. In addition to being a practical storage solution, the cabinet is situated in the entrance hall of the house. Here it creates an immediate impression on entering the front door. The brief for this piece was summed up as: nice piece of fine furniture, practical, Art Deco styling, light coloured exterior, complementing existing hall decor. In addition to this, it had to fit into a specific space near the stairs. It also had to have a particular number of shoe compartments, of a given minimum size.

I spent some time working on ideas of how to make an attractive and practical shoe storage cabinet. My clients wanted something that would be eye-catching and make a statement in the large entrance hall. Within the design parameters outlined above, I drew up a proposal, using 3D sketches, so they could get a good idea of what the final piece would look like. A sample piece of figured maple veneer was also helpful in providing an example of the ‘real thing’, which can look quite different from the colours and shades in a printed picture or on a computer screen.

Design Solution – An Art Deco Style Hall Cabinet

The final design is a well-balanced combination of practical features and beautiful finish.

The interior has 24 individual compartments for shoes – enough for the whole family! Each drawer has two compartments and each cupboard has eight. For a quiet life, I fitted the doors with soft-close hinges and the drawers with soft-close slides, so they shut gently without banging. If or when, the need for shoe storage reduces in the future, my clients can adapt the cabinet interior for other uses. Internal dividers in the drawers and cupboards can be removed, without leaving noticeable marks and holes. The cabinet will then have normal sized drawers with adjustable cupboard shelves and they can use it for anything from drinks cabinet to games cupboard.

I designed the cabinet to be contemporary in its overall impression, but with shape and detailing that echo Art Deco pieces. Figured maple veneer on the doors and drawers gives a stunning finish to the cabinet front and the light coloured wood complements white panelling around the entrance hall. To capture the Art Deco feel, I incorporated contrasting lines by cutting through the maple veneer to expose black valchromat beneath. Using this method, as well as providing a great visual look to the cabinet, there is texture in the detail. The interior of the drawers and the cupboard shelves, are black valchromat, providing an attractive contrast with the light exterior. I have finished the whole piece in satin wax/oil. This brings out the beautiful figuring in the maple veneer, whilst providing a very robust surface to the cabinet.