Our client had a stairwell running up through the center of his house. On one of the landings, he had a wall with 22” of unused space behind it and wanted display cabinets sunk into the wall. We treated it much like a fireplace mantle as he wanted a very rich looking face and surrounding woodwork.
We were to design, build and install the unit. It had to match what mouldings existed there already.
Here’s a early construction pic in the shop / notice that the columns, left & right, sit on the sheetrock and the cabs run deeper, back within the wall. My son, Brian did the majority of the build. By the time he’s my age, he will have passed me in his grasp of this skill.
We added the top (which was to act as a shelf) and primed it.
Here it is installed…
Once the paint was finished, the knobs were attached & the glass inserted…. our client sent me this finish shot as he was so pleased.
He had just bought a high-end townhouse overlooking the Hudson River. He wanted to have a foldaway bed (Murphy Bed) in the guest room.
A niche existed in the wall already so I had to determine whether a Queen sized Murphy bed would fit.
I did a simple drawing showing how I wanted the bed’s bottom to be paneled and included storage cabinets above as we had the room for it.
I usually build a piece an inch less wide than the spot it is to go …to compensate for inaccuracies in the walls, floors, ceilings. I did some research of various hardware kits available. I only wanted the metal parts that allow it to swivel up & down and the mechanism to lock it into it’s closed position …with everything else about the bed, custom made by us.
As small as I could make this foldaway bed to hold a queen sized mattress, we ended up with only an eighth of an inch on each side. Too close for comfort.
Here is a 17 sec video of my son demonstrating how it works right after we installed. You’ll notice that the locking mechanism utilizes two small plaques that when lifted upward, not only unlock the bed from it’s vertical position but also act as support legs when it arrives at it’s horizontal position. So that the plaques looked like they were there for a reason, we mounted a clothes hook on each.
Leslie Gustafson & Co. (interior design) worked with us for this and a number of other projects we accomplished for him before he moved in. I’ll be posting three other blogs of projects for this same client. Stay tuned….
My eldest son now does carpentry & construction with a good outfit but he learned his woodworking skills as a cabinetmaker in our shop. They got a job redoing a kitchen six months back & he used our shop to make the cabinetry.
Here is his layout being rendered… (the only part I did)….
He knows how to both build well and achieve great detail. Here are three pics of the island being assembled…
They wanted the counter in a dark color & he suggested using walnut rather than trying to stain maple very dark. This addition was pricey but looked ‘killer’ when installed.
These pics show the 2” solid walnut planks & how he treated the outside edge…
These finished shots are a tad soft in focus but you can see how handsome it turned out.
We had worked with this client before on numerous projects. They had an apartment in Manhattan as well as their country home, a nearly 200 year old farm house they had been renovating slowly but surely since they bought the place ten years ago.
When they called asking about our building a bar for them, I figured it was that basic, finished basement bar we’d made for clients a dozen times before.
However, when I arrived, they showed me a small closet with a standard door (30X80) and suggested that, perhaps, the bar could fit inside the closet w/o any modification to the size of the opening. I was still scratching my head when they went on to show me a series of pictures of an antique, Deco-style bar. A small unit, (on wheels) they had found for their apartment in the city.
He loved this bar because, upon first inspection, it was all enclosed, but as you opened the front panel, which hinged outward and down, three things happened. First, the panel opened only 90 degrees so it’s back face acted became the surface to prepare cocktails on. Secondly, a clever arrangement of brass arms automatically lifted away the unit’s ceiling AND thirdly, also caused a tray of a dozen glasses to rise up and outward towards, what I’d imagined was, the tuxedoed host, serving his guests in some old, 1930’s movie. It was a very cool, old bar.
Right after their explanation and photos, they looked over at me and simply smiled. Following an uncomfortable silence, I said “aah… sure! We can do that”.
Driving back to the shop, I thought of what might reasonably be done w/o subcontracting a machinist, mechanical engineer… and perhaps, a therapist.
It had to store SO many things… 40 bottles of liquor & wine, shot glasses, scotch tumblers, wine glasses AND… a wine cooler (and the stereo distribution amplifiers for the whole house that sat inside this closet already)
I positioned the serving section half way up the opening (at standard working height) and let the above and below areas handle the storage for all the bottles and the cooler.
I envisioned a means of having the tray of glasses come out towards you as you opened the bar’s door panel.
They liked the design and trusted us to figure out the mechanism. So we began.
What was so great about their antique bar was how tightly everything fit inside when it was closed, but how easy to get to it all when open. The movement was relatively simple, but there were a number of requirements for this contraption. How far would the tray move when the door was opened? Would it miss the wine glasses hanging from it’s ceiling? The swing-down door was to have a mirror on it’s back side to act as a counter top to mix drinks on… which made it heavy. I found some adjustable tension, brass flap stays to ‘cushion’ the door from slamming into it’s open position (held at 90 degrees). I knew we had to build an operating model (wooden prototype) before committing to the actual construction.. Here is my cellphone’s video of the mock-up.
We adjusted arm lengths, pivot points and the amount of tension until we liked how the mechanism moved. I ordered 1/8″ x 3/4″ brass bar stock to make our arms. It was soft enough to be a pleasure to work with.
Next we designed a handsome, functional tray for all the glasses… in mahogany with thick, ebony inlays. My son (always eager to do finer, more intricate work) volunteered.
We created three tiers for glasses. Each glass sat within it’s own recessed circle, lined with felt. We made decorative side walls left, right and across back.
A brass lamp was mounted above. It illuminated when the door was opened. Here’s how the tray looked following it’s lacquer finish.
Because the closet’s interior had more room to the right of the doorway, we needed to create an extension that had to be removable during installation. The lower shelf configuration was also removable to allow access to the audio distribution system..
The wine cooler required ventilation… and with no other way to circulate air other than through the front, I suggested these little ‘jail house’ doors. This picture is from another project done a few year back.
We’ve done a number of projects for them (four of which are in a single room). Here is a short video of that room after all was completed.
This is the same client (friends, actually) for whom we constructed an exterior door (see oldest post here- ‘A Castle’s Exterior Door’… at the bottom of the page).
Anyway, this stone house was built over 75 years ago and we believed the old tongue and groove pine was original. Nice old wood but it made the living room a bit gloomy and she wanted to brighten and ‘clean up’ the look. They wanted to keep the stone fireplace and redo everything else.
We designed low shelving for that wall, the wall to it’s left and included a place for cord wood ‘waiting it’s turn’ to heat the house. It was a bit pricey so we eliminated the shelves returning on the left wall and… got to work.
The paneling was removed to expose the studs, the walls sheet-rocked, the stonework re-chinked, floors sanded / urethaned and the walls painted before installing the bookshelves.
We installed all the finish woodwork including some wider molding for the windows (more ‘old-world’ look to work with the stone). All painted white for a nice contrast. I fabricated some thick, oak, quarter round molding for the hearth’s edge as it sat 2″ above the floorRather than build the whole cabinet deeper, I elected to simply extend the floor of the cord wood opening. We protected it’s interior by lining it (floor, walls, ceiling and back) with sheet metal. I’m interested to see how this will stand the test of time.
I usually like the look of very old wood but it’s not quite so special when everywhere you look, you see nothing but walls of dark wood. I think this room is vastly improved… as our friends, all along, believed it would be.