Simply Beautiful Furniture.

design

A study in peanut butter

Date added: 30-07-2009

Aside from always wanting a Barbie Dreamhouse, I can’t say I have always been particularly attuned to furniture. It’s a love that came on later in life.

Growing up though, I recall my parents being fairly preoccupied with paint. When I was around five or six, they painted our living room forest green. It was a very nice color. In fact, I have something similar in my own living room now. However, in our Spanish Colonial revival home in California, I remember them going for a faux-painted look later on that, well, ended in tragedy. It looked more like peanut butter that had been smeared on the walls than stucco or marble or whatever it was supposed to look like (they did have it repainted).

Decorating mistakes are easy to make, whether it’s believing the painter who says that the faux-whatever is going to look fantastic or choosing a trendy dining room table. The thing about furniture is that it’s a lot more expensive to change than paint. That’s why choosing great basics so important.

This was part of the idea behind our new Essentials Collection. For under $10,000 including delivery and set-up, the Essentials Collection provides a bedroom, a dining room and an office that are designed to grow with you, your family and your home. For example, the office is compact enough to go into a corner of a condo living room when you’re just starting out and good enough quality to serve as the backbone of a home office later on, unlike some of the furniture made of “engineered wood” available out there.

Do you have a decorating tragedy in your past?

Martinis

Date added: 07-02-2009

I read a very interesting article in The Washington Post by Jason Wilson about the origins and evolution of the martini. While the subject of martinis is not top of mind for me, I found this all very insightful and so, so true.

My father is one of those who began drinking gin martinis in college, you know, back in the 1950’s, smoking a pipe, wearing a coat with the patches on the elbows. It was the rage of the time. Later, when I was becoming of legal age, I fondly remember mixing him drinks where I would splash vermouth over the top only, or just say the words over the glass.

I remember sitting around with my father on one of the many fishing trips to Chincoteague Island, VA. The day was done, and we were regaling in our daily pack of lies, otherwise known as the fish stories of the day. He and I sat around drinking “martinis” made his way…no vermouth. I thought I would die. Talk about harsh.

In the article, Derek Brown says “when people finally experience a martini with unique and artisanal ingredients, it makes a world of difference”. The whole point of the article is that we Americans have somehow managed to stray from the original composition and intention of the martini.

I think that the furniture world has managed to stray from tried and true practices. When I show people a dovetail or mortise and tenon joint, they are just amazed this sort of joint is still created. The concept of wood from the trees stops people for a moment. When I say walnut, I don’t mean a walnut color, I mean a walnut tree – as furniture makers for centuries have intended it to be. So mix a real drink, and get some real furniture.

Pop Up TV Cabinets

Date added: 19-12-2008

We just had a nice little mention on Jeri Dansky’s blog site. She was discussing various pop up TV cabinets, and seems to like ours quite a bit. What is shown is a solid Mahogany Glasgow credenza with art glass doors we made in house. Greg Gloor is the designer of this cabinet, which has been quite popular.

There are various ways to hide TV’s. I own a Library Entertainment Center, which Erika and I just love. The bookcases slide to the left and right over the rear bookcases to reveal the TV. Check it out on the web site – www.hardwoodartisans.com in the entertainment center area.

Autocad

Date added: 18-12-2008

So, I have been doing a lot of work from my home lately, specifically AutoCAD drawings. It’s nice to be able to concentrate, and the complexity of the work dictates a lot of focus on the overall project. I work at least twice as fast at home as when I’m in the office. There is a lot to be said about working in some peace and quiet.

The other night I was working on a drawing I needed to get done, and had spent about 45 minutes to an hour working feverishly on it. I was almost finished, when my cat, Woody (what else would I name him?) jumped up on the table and laid down on the keyboard. When I tried to extricate him from my workspace, he hit the power button on the laptop. Everything lost. My boy, my boy. I love him, but just wanted to kill him at that point.

Washington Spaces

Date added: 14-11-2008

I met a very interesting person today by the name of Jennifer Sergent. She is a reporter for Washington Spaces Magazine, one of the magazines we advertise in.

We found some common ground in that she and I went to the same high school – Langley – though several (read many) years apart. Also, she has a blog – washingtonspaces.com/blog like I do.

I found the time with her refreshing, like talking with an old friend. It’s nice to meet someone new who has shared similar experiences at some other time. It was as if I had known her for years. Have you ever had that happen to you?

Dining: Linnaea-Style!

Date added: 21-10-2008

Wow! We’ve received a lot of interest in a product we’ve not even debuted yet… our Linnaea dining set! We’ve already drawn up plans for a table, and we’re working on the chairs as I type. Here, you can see two of the table drawings. It’ll be at least 4 weeks until we even have a picture of this never-before-seen item!

However, we do have one Linnaea dining item you CAN see now: the Linnaea credenza. This great piece is diminutive in size and works great as a small server or even as a living room cabinet which stylistically matches other items in the Linnaea Collection.

Do you have any other ideas for items we ought to add to the Linnaea Collection? If so, please leave a comment below!

Linnaea Updates

Date added: 03-10-2008

Dance, monkey, dance. The stress test worked.


Jason and me with “the slider” cabinet. The top doors slide to the center or the far left and right to reveal a jewelry drawer in the top middle. The drawer is on metal glides for full extension and is fully lined with a complete jewelry organizer. The drawers are curved fronts, like the case and top. These pieces should be in the showroom within two weeks.

Making Your Linnaea Dresser Be All It Can Be

Date added: 29-09-2008

I’m working on the pedestals for the Linnaea cabinets. We have been making decisions on the size of it, and it has been growing progressively. Seems like each time we work with it, the pedestal grows about 1/2″.

The pedestal has legs that are set at angles to the case. The legs are actually 5-sided, with a beveled interior area for the skirts to connect. They are 8″ high, and step out about 3 1/2″ in two directions. This is fairly involved as far as pedestals go.

The concern over structure here is pretty big. Many people are not kind to their furnishings, myself included, and I have a genuine concern of these legs getting sheared off from the piece, getting dragged, hit with large objects, dropped, etc. I’m always thinking of the worst case scenario when I design and build furniture. We originally were going to use a metal corner bracket to help support the joint. We found that the screw needed to provide the majority of the strength would need to run through the intersection of the two skirts, and would actually diminish the joint’s integrity by possibly fracturing the glued joint. If you have ever run a screw into a piece of wood and had the wood split, imagine running a screw into the intersection of three pieces of wood. Hard to imagine a good outcome here.

We decided that best approach to the problem was to do what they would have done in 1960, a good old-fashioned corner block that was glued and screwed to the skirts. You can see the difference between the metal corner bracket and the corner block in the photo. The effect is that the skirts become much more rigid, and thereby don’t allow any flex in the leg joint. The real test will be when I stand on top of the chest to “stress test” the pedestal. I’ll keep you posted.

Post Show

Date added: 26-08-2008

So, I survived the IWF show in Atlanta. As usual, it was a very long trip. We flew out on Thursday night, getting in around 11:00. When we got to the hotel, which we booked months and months in advance, we received “suites”. Actually, we got rooms set up for meetings with no beds in them! So, what else is a guy to do at 11:30 at night in a strange town with no bed? We went to the bar and shot some pool and drank beer for two hours. We all (six of us) ended up sleeping on cot sized roll-away beds! Nice.

Friday was the usual walking around for 8 or 9 hours, and then meeting in the lounge to discuss the day and the next plan of action. I specifically went to the third building of three, the hardware building, looking for very specific things like leveling feet and lighting and knobs and touch-up kits. Not all real exciting stuff, but hard to find, even for us.

I was so excited to find exactly what I had come for – a new lighting supplier. The guy makes solid metal casings with the new LED lamps, and will custom-make the wiring harnesses to our specifications!! These lamps were really, really nice stuff– expensive, but nice. Best of all, it is all made in the US, in Miami, Florida no less. So, after finding this guy and spending an hour with him, I felt like I could just enjoy the show, which I did.

Another thing that I pursued was finding college contacts. At the IWF, they will often times have student furniture on display. Assorted colleges will have booths set up. This is sort of a recruiting practice. I met up with the Virginia Tech Wood program. We sponsored a student this summer from Tech, and it worked out well. He was a delight to have here. My hope is I can find the “next generation” craftsman to take over this thing in 20 years.

Friday night was a surreal adventure. I found myself at a Mai Tai restaurant with my partners and I being served smoked steak. And yes, back to the cot roll-away bed! Saturday was a follow up day, which it always has been. I took all my partners to show them the lighting find. We all agreed this was the thing……..winner, winner, chicken dinner! I was shown three specific machines that they were considering, and an AutoCAD based drawing program that we are considering implementing on the sales floors.

Out of time and out of energy, back to the airport we go. During our lunch/dinner, as a group we sorted out and designed a new dining chair to go with the new Linnaea collection. There is something bigger and almost magical about the trips my partners and I have taken over the years. Call it synergy, call it cohesiveness, I call it the cumulative brain power of 150 years of experience. This is what ultimately makes these trips worth doing for me.

How I Design

Date added: 16-05-2008

I have a gift that I didn’t know I had as a child. I always knew I looked at things a bit different, but I didn’t know what that meant. Well, here it is. I can close my eyes and dissect a cabinet stick by stick, and in reverse. Some people can play music, or perform surgery, or engineer bridges. I can’t do any of that, but I can visualize like these people do.

Design is a tricky thing. Changing one thing can alter the aesthetics of a piece considerably. When I draw, I don’t use dimensions aside from the component sizes. I prefer to place a fixed shelf where it looks best, not where some mathematical formula tells me to put it, like the golden rule for a perfect rectangle. I might move a shelf ten different times before I’m happy with its placement. This happens because I need to work within the confines of the component sizes. I can’t have four different thicknesses of shelves.

Back when I used to hand draw with a scale ruler and graph paper, I used a lot of white out, a whole lot. Now-a-days I draw rough sketches and then AutoCAD the drawing. I end up making a lot of changes as I work through the design with the customer.

I designed a couch for a customer several years ago. We liked the way it turned out, and made it a standard piece. The original drawings are below, with a variety of chicken scratch notes made on the sheet. There is a whole write up on how to build the piece in addition to these notes, but it all starts with the design.

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