For several months now I have been dreaming about building a credenza as the ultimate next project to tackle. I don’t have a clue where I am going to put it when its done. I don’t have any space for a 6 foot long cabinet, but I really want to build one.
So I started drawing and looking at pictures of credenzas online. A credenza is basically a low, wide cabinet that is mostly used these days as living room furniture, often below the TV. My first design looked like this:
What I liked about this design is the simple symmetry and the fact that there was an open shelf in the middle where you could put the DVD player and be able to use the remote control without opening a door. But I felt like there was something just too generic about it… something bothered me about the design but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I asked my wife, “does it look too Ikea, or something?”
Then I walked into the kitchen and it hit me. This is the cheap Ikea cabinet we have been living with and looking at every day for the past 5 years:
When I finally made the connection, I couldn’t believe it. My brain had sub-consiously lead me to the familiar and I had re-designed our Ikea cabinet. How weird and absolutely hilarious. No wonder I came up with that design. But it wouldn’t do at all. So back to the drawing board, and this time the goal was to design something as far from the Ikea look as possible.
I really struggled with the door/drawer arrangement in the front of the cabinet. How could I lay it out so that it was interesting, practical, and unique? Here is part of my brainstorm-on-paper process:
Finally I came up with this design, and built it in Sketchup:
...And I really liked it. The style, proportions and layout was just what I was looking for.
Then one day I was in the shop and was thinking about this project and I decided to build a 1/6 scale model of it out of scraps. I didn’t have my Sketchup drawing with me so I built it form memory. I forgot the exact dimensions and layout of the original drawing and it ended up a little different, including three drawers on the left side instead of two.
I also decided to try something a little different and added an inlay (masking tape) of “grass” across the front for visual interest. Here is the 20 minute model I came up with:
I’ve never built a model before starting a project, but I’m glad I did. First of all, I hated the “grass” inlay. Too corny. And after taking it home and comparing it to the Sketchup drawing, I decided that the original proportions of the drawing were much better than the model. I also like the two drawers on the left instead of three.
I had also put four sweeping arches in the Sketchup drawing that cascade from top right to bottom left (look closely for the thin black lines). I really like those arches and think I will carve them into the front of the solid drawer fronts instead of inlay them. That will keep the color uniform and subtle, add depth to the piece, and make the furniture-savvy recognize instantly that this is a solid-wood piece of furniture… no veneer to be found.
Feel free to let me know what you think.
-- Happy woodworking! http://www.openarmsphotography.com