Bespoke furniture can be both elegant and practical

I designed and made this Walnut and Ash Burr bespoke hall cabinet for clients 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 practical and functional purpose of the cabinet is to hide all the services (water pipes, electric cables, fuse-box etc) that are in the corner of the hallway.  The hall is in a Victorian family home and is a beautiful room in its own right, with original stained glass windows and ceramic floor tiles. The clients were keen to make the most of these features and turn an untidy, ‘working’ corner of the hall into something eye-catching, which would set the tone for the whole room. They wanted the services to be hidden, but they need to remain easily accessible to the householder and accessible to tradesmen for more major work, should that be necessary.

Choice of free-standing cabinet over built-in

I visited the clients in their home to discuss what type of bespoke cabinet they wanted and we talked about shapes and styles, types and colours of wood and the practicalities of retaining access to services.  The clients were keen to have a piece that would provide a real statement as you enter the hall, ideally with curves and not too boxy.  In response to this part of the brief I suggested a free-standing cabinet as I believe that, although built-in cabinets can look attractive, they will never look quite as elegant and luxurious as a free-standing piece of furniture.

A free-standing piece also looks much less like it is hiding something and more like a piece of furniture that has a place in the room for aesthetics as much as practicality.  An added benefit of the free-standing piece in this situation is, whilst it provides easy day-to-day access, it can be moved out of the hall corner completely if access is required for work on the services.

If you are interested in a bespoke hall cabinet – see also my Art Deco Style cabinet here

Final Design Features

I provided the client with several designs to consider and they chose a design which fulfils the brief perfectly, with the following features:

Elegance and Aesthetics

  • Once installed in the hall, the cabinet provides a statement piece which is immediately visible as you enter the room
  • The gently curving shape of the cabinet ensures that it doesn’t look or feel too bulky in the relatively small area of the hall and there are no awkward corners to get snagged on
  • The colours of the cabinet complement the original ceramic floor tiles and the rich tones of the solid walnut top enhance the beauty of the stained glass windows
  • Although the house is Victorian and the cabinet is a contemporary style, it fits very comfortably with the original hall features and doesn’t feel like an intruder
  • The cabinet design has a timeless quality, which ensures that it will remain an elegant and beautiful piece in the hallway for many years to come.
  • The doors are hung on polished nickel butt hinges, which underline the luxury and quality of the piece and are ideally suited to this design.

Functionality and Practicality

  • The cabinet has a flat door which allows easy access to all services so the householder can turn the stopcock, change fuses, read the meter etc.
  • For more major works, the cabinet can be moved out of the hall corner completely and is easily replaced.
  • The solid walnut top has been shaped to snugly fit the back and side wall of the hall, so that items can’t be lost down a gap between the top and the wall.
  • The curved door opens out fully to reveal 3 shelves of easily accessible storage space.
  • The whole cabinet has an oil/wax finish which provides a water resistant and durable surface.