Big Box Store(age)

Originally posted on 8/10/2013; 7:04:26 PM

This is a story of the evolution of a project from design to implementation. My client wanted lots of storage space in a small but delightfully sunny side room that opened onto a patio and deck space. The walls were painted light pastel green and two of the walls were almost entirely glass.

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I felt a sense of fluidity and water due, in part, to the color of the walls, bright natural light in the room and my client’s love of birds. I drew up a design that I thought reflected that, incorporating curves rather than squared corners and straight vertical elements or grain orientation on the cabinet fronts. I thought that using recycled materials for the cabinet fronts would be attractive and a bit rustic (see drawings below).

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After seeing this, my client realized that she preferred straight, clean lines and found a picture from a magazine that she liked (see below).

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Magazine Photo showed a dinning room cabinet with clean lines, no profiled edges or adornments. The grain of the doors runs vertically and the grain of the drawers runs horizontally.

We agreed that we would use maple, lightly stained, for the cabinet fronts and top. I copied the design theme of the cabinet in the magazine – doors on the outside boxes and drawers in the middle one and door grain running vertically and drawer grain running horizontally. The observant reader will notice that the cab in the mag has inset doors and drawers in a cabinet body that does not have a face frame (a “framless” design). I don’t think that would have worked on a cabinet of this scale and bulk. Using a face frame and full overlay doors and drawers allowed me to maintain a consistent, one-inch wide gap between all protruding elements on the face, doors, drawers, top edging and base trim board. This creates a similar aesthetic as the magazine cabinet. It also allowed the use of finger grips instead of hardware, which would have complicated the look. Below is the finished product

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Following are a few pictures of the work in progress.

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First, as with most cabinet projects, I had to make a level platform

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For the 12-foot-long run of cabinets, I used three separate boxes, each with two storage bays, the two end units would contain doors with adjustable shelves, and the middle one would house four drawers. similar to the cabinet in the magazine photo

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We decided to use finger grip cutouts on the doors and drawers to avoid distracting knobs or pulls.

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Here you can see how the light stain really made the grain of the maple lumber pop.