I LIKE ARTS AND CRAFTS STYLE FURNITURE. And I like all of it; both the American and English Arts and Crafts styles along with their various sub-categories. I have purchased a number of books on the subject and a bucket list item for me is to tour as many Greene and Greene designed homes as possible. Also a bucket list item: to build the super cool Blacker House chair. On Instagram I follow people like Darrell Peart and Brian Brace and the hashtags #stickleyfurniture, #greeneandgreene and #artsandcraftsmovement. So I’m into it.
But, when it comes to furniture for my own traditional styled home, Arts and Crafts furniture would feel out of place. So my goal has been to design furniture which has subtle elements of A&C designs. An example is the Window Seat Bookcase and the Montreat Side Table. For the Window Seat Bookcase I included several broad curves which span it’s length. The Montreat Side Table features a slat design which has it’s origin in the slats found on Kevin Rodel’s Inlaid Bed. I don’t think anyone would call either my bookcase design or side table an A&C piece, but there are hints of A&C present.
With this subtle A&C style in mind, I began a design exercise in 2018 for a new media table to fit a newly purchased TV. I am calling it’s style Craftsman Lite. The design continues to explore the idea of adding subtle A&C design elements to basic furniture forms. This blog post is meant to show the design progression of the Arroyo Media Table (Arroyo is a term used frequently in Edward R. Bosley’s book Greene & Greene, a great book). I intend to build this media cabinet once I finish my kitchen cabinet renovation.
THE DESIGN PROGRESSION
Using SketchUp, I created a number of 3D models of what I intend to build with the design changing a lot over the years.
I am fond of furniture which is symmetrical, but also has some playfulness. The Window Seat Bookcase (link above) has a form which is rectangular and divided into three sections; two of which are narrow and one which is more broad. This is similar to the Greene and Greene designed Freeman Ford Serving Table above (more images here). This layout is also found in the exquisite Darrell Peart Aurora Sofa Table. I’ve used this format in my woodworking plan, The Versatile Media Cabinet. For the Arroyo Media Cabinet, I decided to use the Freeman Ford Serving Table as a starting point. The idea being “could I adapt this look for a design more suitable to my home?” Take a look at the design progression below.
Version one has been resized to be in scale with the wall which it will reside on. It also has been sized to be in scale with the TV we purchased. Note the wide apron just under the table top retains the original Freeman Ford stylized dropped lower edge. The look of a wide lower stretcher is actually drawer fronts. Version two removes the upper apron in favor of more drawers and the black paint is meant to replicate the negative space seen in the base of the Freeman Ford table. Version three is a much cleaner design which adds slightly tapered outer legs and a classic Greene and Greene graphic element to the lower center drawer.
Design four above is even more refined. Here I have lengthened the table top more, returned to the look of a wide upper apron via drawers. The lower drawers are not as tall, the outer legs are not as thick. In addition, the lower drawers have been lifted higher above the floor, there are now short tapers added to the leg near the floor and I have added an accent color in various places.
NEXT FOR THIS DESIGN
This design is close to being final. I am not yet satisfied with the structure of the cabinet. I am relying on the table top, two plywood cross members and the bottom web frame to provide strength along the length of the cabinet.
But the more I study it, the more comfortable I am with the joinery. The design could be seen as three separate sections joined together. A concern would be the ability of the table to sag along its length should two people attempt to lift it by grabbing the ends of the table. But with four cross members which are interlocked via notches in the legs, I think the structure is sufficient.
I don’t think anyone who looks at this design will even remotely think of the Freeman Ford Serving Table and that is a good thing. But the Arroyo Media Cabinet has Greene and Greene in it’s DNA which is nice to contemplate. I’ll continue to study the joinery and I need to look at the overall dimensions, especially the depth of the Arroyo Media Cabinet to make sure it is in fact not too big or too small. Actual construction most likely would begin in the Spring of 2022.