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Transforming a Kitchen Cookbook Nook

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 01-07-2008 06:41 PM 7724 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have a client that lives close to me, and we have had a lot of fun designing and building things for their home. They sort of “pushed” me into quitting my day job by offering a long term commission to transform their home with functional-art pieces one at a time, according to an overall game plan. They had a general idea of what they wanted, but needed someone to turn the dream into wood.

They were willing to adapt their ideas to mine, and vice versa, and I have really appreciated them, and the work. They allowed me to turn their “Mission” Living Room, into a Carved Arts & Crafts Living Room, and for that, I am very appreciative and would be willing to build some simple cook book shelves….......But I didn’t need to.

So, we’ve been working together on the home transformation for about 4 years now.

The wife has waited patiently while I worked on the husband’s dream living room, and we took a break in 2007 to let them recover from the pricing.

But, it was now her turn to get some time to transform the Kitchen, so we started talking about some storage shelves late in the Summer of 2007. They both like to cook, but the wife is a cookbook collector and user, and has a cooking blog that she likes to write on a website…......and she has a LOT of cookbooks.

The original planning when I did the first meeting was to build some simple and inexpensive shelves to hold the cookbooks. As we sat and talked about what she wanted, the idea of a laptop station came to mind. I’m always looking for a place to try carving, or copper work, and so I made some suggestions about carving on the front of the desk. The whole idea took off from there, and I ended up sketching the ideas out.

When I prepared the formal bid and scaled drawings, I just “threw” in a price for a carved back art-chair to match the desk, and she wanted it as well. Coooool.

I have worked for a lot of folks over the past 10 years, but it has been rare that someone is as creative and fun to design with as the Wife. She allows me a lot of freedom with the ideas, which makes it interesting for me to build, and each piece is a show piece. They also let me borrow things back to do art shows with, and pays me to boot. What a deal for me, huh? They recently bought a new pickup, and even let me borrow it to pull a trailer to an art show. I took off with only 752 miles on the odometer. Whew, talk about a nervous driver.

The wood and coloring of the shelving and desk was to match the existing farm house birch kitchen cabinets and trim in the Kitchen, which turned out to be a chore, but I was able to make it work.

The wife patiently waited while I built two steak knife sets for a family in Las Vegas, and let the Christmas rush pass, but this past week it was time to get her work all finished up, cable grommets installed, and see it all in one place, except for building some storage cubbies inside the desk area.

And, as we talked last week about the coming year, they added some new projects, a new kitchen island to match, and a Cherry Wood Japanese Obi Display cabinet, and a Cherry Wood Bedroom Armoire and Jewelry Bureau, and the husband mentioned building a hat rack/cane stand to go with his Arts & Crafts Living Room.

I like working for them, as you can see, and see why.

As you can quickly identify in the photos, these are not portrait studio quality photos, but some that I took quickly with my Kodak digital camera. Sorry if the quality isn’t all that good.

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Here is the “BEFORE” photo, showing the plastic shelving and cookbook storage.

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Here is the “AFTER” photos, showing the new desk center and cookbook shelves. I built and carved the chair to match the desk, and previously blogged about the design of the chair. I haven’t gotten the photos ready for the project posting of the chair, but the desk was posted several weeks back.

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Here is the Desk with the front open and the laptop in place. The next phase of this project is to build some cubby holes, drawers, and slots inside the desk work area. The client is taking a few weeks to use the desk and see what she needs, what lighting needs she has, and how to organize it before I turn her ideas into wood.

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Here is a photo showing the Small Book shelving that hangs on the wall behind the door. This shelf was built to hold all of the small books, receipe card boxes, etc.

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This photo shows the long “L” shaped shelving that is above the windows. This shelf hold a lot of books, and a lot of weight. Engineering the design, fitting it to fit the house, and installing it where a lot of “fun” (?).

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Going from the Kitchen into the Living Room, I put more shelves above the walkway.

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Here are some shots of the carving details:

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Here is the Project Posting of the Desk:
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/3042

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Here are previous blog postings on this project:
1) Building the Project: http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/2101
2) Carving the Panel: http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/2148
3) Airbrushing the Carving: http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/2163
4) Copper Hardware: http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/2169
5) Building the Chair: http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/decoustudio/blog/2265

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If you are curious, here are the listings with the Arts & Crafts Living Room Pieces:
1) Sectioned Entertainment Center http://lumberjocks.com/projects/59
2) Orchid Stand/Wine Storage http://lumberjocks.com/projects/31
3) End Tables http://lumberjocks.com/projects/44
4) Coffee Table http://lumberjocks.com/projects/45
5) Table Lamps http://lumberjocks.com/projects/41
6) Prairie Couch http://lumberjocks.com/projects/37
7) Morris Chairs & Ottomans http://lumberjocks.com/projects/57

thanks for reading along,
Mark DeCou
www.decoustudio.com

(all photos, design, artwork, and text is protected by Copyright M.A. DeCou 1-6-2008)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com



15 comments so far

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2884 days


#1 posted 01-07-2008 06:54 PM

Fantastic job Mark, love the relief work, really looks moody as if you were in the old days maybe in a dust storm. Great looking wood, is it maple, hickory maybe. Sure looks nice. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2626 days


#2 posted 01-07-2008 06:57 PM

That is one hell of a transformation! The carving is great!

Excellent job!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Mario's profile

Mario

902 posts in 2689 days


#3 posted 01-07-2008 07:00 PM

AWESOME carving work!! that is beyond words.. WOW. Very nice work.

-- Hope Never fails

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15693 posts in 2856 days


#4 posted 01-07-2008 07:14 PM

Mark, the carving is much too nice for anyone to ever want to drop that desk down. Beautiful!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View rikkor's profile

rikkor

11295 posts in 2512 days


#5 posted 01-07-2008 07:25 PM

Man, that is utterly fantastic.

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1979 posts in 3043 days


#6 posted 01-07-2008 07:40 PM

Hey guys thanks. This carving scene is something I drew up inspired by the work of the late-Birger Sandzen, a locally famous artist. The scene is an attempt to depict a stone house homestead in the windy Kansas Flinthill Prairie. The chair is a scened I sketched up after watching sun drop behind the hills behind my work studio. I’ve been wanting to draw it and carve it since I bought this place in 2001, and finally got my chance.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2798 days


#7 posted 01-07-2008 07:43 PM

I’m excited for her (and for you, of course)... how thrilled she must be to have a place for all of her books AND a laptop desk AND a chair….... and we haven’t even gotten to the carving yet.. oooooh my she must be so proud of those two pieces
Extraordinary.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Critterman's profile

Critterman

595 posts in 2448 days


#8 posted 01-07-2008 07:56 PM

Mark, what a great project…ah…projects :>) The carving is awesome, and hey she has about the same number of books my wife does…We could use something very similar around here. Although, I don’t think I could duplicate anything close to those great carvings. Very beautiful.

-- Jim Hallada, Chesterfield, VA

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1979 posts in 3043 days


#9 posted 01-07-2008 08:01 PM

Mike: The wood is Birch, all “White Birch” which means that it was sorted at the mill and I bought the pieces without the dark center wood grain. The White Birch is the most expensive, as it is rare, and someone else has to be willing to take the other boards from the log that aren’t so “white”. All Birch has dark streaks that generally run close to the center of the log, so I suppose the “white” boards come from the log outside of the dark streaked area. I’m no Birch expert, just some observations I made as I have worked it in two projects, the first in 1997. After that one, I swore I would never work in Birch again. But, see, I can change my mind…....when I have to.

When buying birch, you can tell your dealer what you want, or just buy a bunch extra and sort through to find the boards that match in color to go together. Staining Birch is another chore all by itself, so I did not stain this work, but colored the finish the match the existing 45 year old clear finish on the old farmhouse cabinets. The old cabinets look great, just needed some shelving to match.

thanks for asking,
Mark

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1979 posts in 3043 days


#10 posted 01-07-2008 08:04 PM

Jim: you build the shelving and desk for her, and I’ll carve the panel for it. We’ll both be heros. Ha.

thanks for the encouragement,
Mark

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View Blake's profile

Blake

3437 posts in 2512 days


#11 posted 01-07-2008 09:43 PM

Beautiful work, Mark. You really transformed the look in that corner of the house. Your carving pretty amazing.

-- Happy woodworking! http://www.openarmsphotography.com

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6647 posts in 2617 days


#12 posted 01-08-2008 03:02 AM

Hi Mark;

I see you’re up to your usual stunts again.

Beautiful;

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View TomFran's profile

TomFran

2942 posts in 2632 days


#13 posted 01-08-2008 04:32 AM

Mark,

Outstanding work, as usual. It’s great that you have such a nice working relationship with your client. That really makes a big difference.

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View Karson's profile

Karson

34871 posts in 3038 days


#14 posted 01-08-2008 05:12 AM

Mark: I remember meeting them when I was at your home, and being invited to visit their home and see your work.

These items look to be stretching what you have already done into a new rlelm. Fantastic, just fantastic.

You are truly blessing them with your skills and talents.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View clieb91's profile

clieb91

3271 posts in 2572 days


#15 posted 01-08-2008 05:40 AM

Mark,
What a difference from those plastic, buckiling shelves. It all looks great. The carving is great looking. Sounds like a great family to have as clients.

CtL

-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- PortablePastimes.com (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

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