Nightstands For A Lady

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Project by Phil Brown posted 04-28-2007 04:50 PM 1519 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I dug these out of my early projects album, two custom made nightstands for a wonderfully eccentric artist couple.

It was intimidating working for these folks in my early days. They were picky and focused and knew exactly what they wanted.

The upper floor of their house had a central studio with skylights bringing in the natural light with separate bedrooms at opposite ends of the studio so as not to disturb each other during creative periods.

I did a lot of custom renovations in their home and they ordered night stands for the lady’s bedroom, not as blocky as furniture they were looking at in retail venues.

These came right out of my head. Being in the moving industry I knew rough dimensions by eye and slimmed them down a tad to hopefully create a more feminine profile.

These folks were hard to please, in a good way, and it stretched me, helped me gain confidence in my work and as I handled peoples personal possessions daily, already had the ability to communicate with my customers, thankfully.

The photo of the two pieces together was taken in my first shop which I lost in a horrific life change. Came home one day, and everybody and everything was gone. It took years to recover.

I lived out of a suitcase for a number of years, and one year these folks asked me to look after their house while they took the winter off down south. As most of my daily work was not on the highway at the time I accepted and lived in this glorious mansion for six months surrounded by all their wonderful art hanging on every wall. I used to sit at his studio desk and read from his extensive library.

Now, I have a confession to make. He did get under my skin a little too deep on one occassion and I just had to take him up on his “attitude”. I felt a little down trodden about my abilities which he seemed to communicate weren’t up to his standards possibly, and there was hesitancy on his part which I understood. The way he communicated was from his own level of expertise, forgetting what it was like to be an amateur, which has been a lesson to me and I am thankful now for his way of coming across, the same as my other young professional artist friend who sends the amateurs to me to critique their work because I can go back and think on their level and help them get to the next level without brow beating.

There it is. I felt brow beaten as he examined my work. So, here’s what I did. No I didn’t hurt anyone. Coming from the moving industry and fixing my own claims, I had various scratch and dent fixer-upper markers and such. I took the tiniest scratch fixer marker and physically drew a pine knot on the upper right corner of one of the nightstands before I sprayed the clearcoat and delivered the pieces.

They were delighted with them after he went over the furniture with a fine tooth comb. Imagine a finely dressed “English gentleman” in his tudor mansion looking down his nose through his spectacles at me, boring holes in my every ability. It was a good thing. I was able to withstand the scrutiny and gain his confidence and was given other commissions and the invitation to look after their home which I enjoyed immensely.

I snapped the photo of the single nightstand during my house sitting period. The joints and finish, and the faux knot were all in fine shape and that felt good. Fifteen years later I hear he’s been asking for me through mutual friends. His wife is in a nursing home now. I think I’ll go into the city early, next week, and visit him before I go trucking

The nightstands were made from pine finished in dark walnut and spray lacquer.

-- Phil Brown, Ontario

9 comments so far

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 4110 days

#1 posted 04-28-2007 05:25 PM

It never ceases to amaze me that some people believe they are better than others. People that rise to a level of success and then forget where they started haven’t learned much on their journey. It’s even worse when they are born into success, do nothing of value, but still somehow have the gall to bring attitude.

It’s sounds to me like life’s trials have made you a better stronger man Phil.

-- Bob

View Phil Brown's profile

Phil Brown

219 posts in 4082 days

#2 posted 04-28-2007 05:41 PM

Bob, I’m thankfull that life has taught me these things as much as they hurt. Right now its hard to understand about having to go back to trucking at night but it must be for a reason as well. Maybe its to keep me humble should I enjoy future success in woodworking and be able to stay at it fulltime. I’ll be able to help others reach their goals without browbeating them.

-- Phil Brown, Ontario

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4101 days

#3 posted 04-28-2007 05:50 PM

We all have a lot more in common than we think…as a teacher…I am humbled every day…and only after 9 years is it easier to take it with a grain of salt and learn from it. I hope your time on the road helps you dream up some wonderful creations…your work is always wonderful!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4184 days

#4 posted 04-28-2007 06:44 PM

life lessons. Gotta love them.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Phil Brown's profile

Phil Brown

219 posts in 4082 days

#5 posted 04-28-2007 07:08 PM

In my blog today I mention that I met a driver last night who is seventy two years old and as fit as a fiddle. He handles a truck with the confidence and ease of a young man. I have twenty five years under my belt, he has fifty two. I hope to see him again at the depot where I switch trailers. There didn’t seem to be a thread of superior attitude in his demeanor. What a gentleman, and someone I could learn from. Can you imagine the life lessons he could pass on.

-- Phil Brown, Ontario

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4184 days

#6 posted 04-28-2007 07:55 PM

and the universe has provided you with the opportunity to meet this man—even if it was only the one meeting, he has already made an impact on your life and now ours!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Wooder's profile


163 posts in 4210 days

#7 posted 04-29-2007 01:08 AM

Neat story, great outcome! Way to go Phil!

-- Jimmy

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4242 days

#8 posted 04-29-2007 04:24 AM

I always find something in woodworking that relates to life in general. Learning patience to achieve a better outcome, for example. It seems as though you have this experience too.

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

View Phil Brown's profile

Phil Brown

219 posts in 4082 days

#9 posted 04-29-2007 04:47 AM

My dad used to tell me to go easy on my projects. He had patience to get through to a satisfactory outcome over time. I had to get finished right away. I quess he’d been through enough life lessons to acquire that patience. I think I’m getting there too.

-- Phil Brown, Ontario

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