Early Twentieth Century furniture has interested me even before I started woodworking. Our first pieces of furniture were Mission style from Target. They weren’t heirloom pieces by any means, but they were nice enough and lasted for a long time.
As am now approaching ten years of working wood, I went looking for a style to call my own, and starting this office series was the perfect catalyst to put plans into motion. We took a Midwest trip in 2018 that had us visit the Field Museum in Chicago. There was a furniture exhibit that had a few early 20c pieces, and I knew that my style would come from somewhere in this period.
I dove into research about Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustav Stickley, and some of their associated designers and builders. I considered Greene and Greene, but I thought it was slightly too ornate for both my taste and skill level. The furniture is breathtaking, but I also didn’t want to be constrained to copying a specific style throughout. I wanted it to have elements of early 20c, but not be a slave to it. My take on something classic, as it were.
I don’t know if what I came up with can be described properly. It’s “inspired,’ but not clearly from who. I designed the top because I liked Harvey Ellis. I went with walnut because I’m not a massive fan of QSWO (it’s very nice, but I like a bit darker wood). I wanted stained glass but I don’t have that skill set, so I used a wood substitute. There’s modern hinges but period-spec handles. Corbels were in the first drafts, but not the last.
What is in the featured image is the office area I started with, all Ikea and all white to contrast with the dark grey walls of our bedroom. Anyone with a van can go and duplicate this, and I ultimately wanted something unique, something I created, and something a bit more specific to my needs. This picture was taken in June 2017, and hasn’t largely changed. A few more LEGO models, the pics on the wall are different, but otherwise what I’ve been working with and on.
This is what I came up with.
This was my vision, as it was formed at the beginning of this series. Some changes happen along the way, so I’ll save final design language for when I actually start building them. Some of the design aspects are aspirational, like the stained glass windows. It keeps the basics of the setup, but I add quite a bit more storage.
I also designed a new TV stand and tall bookcase to go along with these, just in case I’m ever able to have it all in one room.
Again here will ultimately look a bit different as my design style evolves, but the goal is to have a mostly uniform look. The dream of having one office where all of these reside is a long ways off, but we are in need of a new living room suite anyway. These would not go to waste being built.
For right now, though, it’s time to tackle the smallest job as a way to ease into all of this.