Stylish table for office in the sky.

Michael, a Sydney barrister, required a made to order solid timber table with legs that would fit precisely over a set of filing cabinets.

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Wanting to match the style of his desk and storage cabinet, he requested that I visit his office to discuss type of wood and check the specifications to be included in the design. Australian mountain ash was chosen and a desk drawer was supplied as a colour match for the workshop when applying the final finish. The table, which can be re- purposed in the future, is a great looking solution and softens the visual impact of the 4 metal filing cabinets.

The view from the office is impressive. The direction is along the harbour, towards Manly and the “heads”, which form the entrance to Sydney from the ocean.

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How to improve Scandinavian chain store furniture.

Reading an article today in the Sydney Morning Herald, I was informed that there are companies across the world “piggybacking” onto IKEA products with improvements and decorations. Seems people will pay a lot more if the result personalises and differentiates the original item.

The article, attributed to Bloomberg, lists companies such as Prettypegssells which supply’s furniture legs, Superfront of Stockholm (both of Sweden) and Mykea which produces stickers. Comfort Works in Melbourne, Australia, retails slip covers for a sofa sold by IKEA: exceeding the original item’s price of $249AUS!

This is of great interest to me. I’ve been puzzled why people, including close acquaintances, with progressive ideas and ideals and an appreciation of personally crafted objects, will drive to and purchase furniture from the nearest Scandinavian supermarket chain store.

Of course, price is one reason. But what is the value of something replicated across the world with no connection to local culture and destined to be dumped: most likely on the side of a road?

I have an admission. More than twenty years ago, myself and my partner Claire, bought a queen bed from IKEA, most likely for price, and from a store probably a hundredth in size smaller than the current flagship in Sydney.
Within six months the bolt on pine legs broke off and I had them remade from timber to my own design. The management at the store was honest and reasonable and admitted that they couldn’t rectify the design flaw. They gave a discount on another item and we were satisfied. The bed, well it went on to last longer than Claire would have preferred.

Contact me if you would like an improved version of something spied somewhere else. Made in a little place called…Sydney!

Kangaroo Valley, Australia…of course!

Susan was building a house on her property, a couple of hours south of Sydney, with the intention of sharing this special part of Australia with future paying guests. She wanted to reflect the natural charm of the surrounding tree lined ridges in the kitchen, which at the time was still being built. Flat packed veneer board units just wasn’t going to do it. There was a corner under a window and kitchen appliances such as a fridge and an oven to fit in too.

Looking for stand alone second hand items was proving difficult. Especially ones of the right size and able to have a sink and plumbing alterations and be ready to fit into a building schedule.

I suggested the made to order option using un-planed solid Australian mountain ash. This would give an authentic rustic effect. Two separate units that would come together in situ with drawers and doors and space internally for plumbing and extra storage into the corner. Susan requested that 2 finishes would create a contrast. One a natural clear lacquer and the other a dark teak stain.

I remember the hot day that Susan and her partner came to the workshop and patiently packed and tied the cabinets onto their ute (utility vehicle) for the drive down to Kangaroo Valley. The pictures show the result. If you wish to book a stay at Susan’s property and see for yourself, contact me for her details.

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Coogee, Sydney: Art Deco apartment renovation.

A familiar sight in Sydney are rectangular dark red apartment blocks built in the early to middle 20th century. The blocks were constituted of four or six “flats” arranged two per floor and accessed by stairs through a front or side ground entranceway. .My clients, Jane and Chris, were lucky to have one of these flats. Theirs was at the top and to the rear facing east with middle distant views of the ocean.

Wishing to renovate the area around the front door and adjacent bathroom, they discussed with me their ideas to improve storage for linen and general items and their wish for a solid timber vanity cabinet with separate mirrored top cabinet to fit between an exterior wall and yet to be built internal wall.

All items were custom made in sustainable plantation Australian hoop pine. The 2 section storage cabinet alongside and above the inner entrance doorway was painted after installation by the client to blend into the space and walls. The vanity cabinet was finished in clear lacquer at the work shop. The real timber effect creates a warm natural feature amongst the surrounding painted surfaces.

The client chose the “sea shell” knobs for the bathroom suite. They correspond with the red colour on the Art Deco wall ornaments. And also with the chrome bathroom fittings such as the taps and the window fastener. This provides that extra detail and personal touch that makes a really, truly satisfyingly result.

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A custom kitchen challenge

Project: replace existing kitchen cupboards with white painted timber units.
Location: small heritage sandstone & brick house, Woollahra, Sydney, Australia

Carrie was looking for cabinetry to complement her kitchen with its raw brick walls, exposed Oregon timber roof framing and clay tile floor. Wanting to avoid the veneer-board look, she chose an Australian sustainable plantation “hoop pine” timber which, when painted, would have a solidity and depth equal to the other materials in the room.

Two other considerations for the project were an existing thick marble top around the sink and under the window to be retained – and the many exposed pipes and electrical wiring from previous times. Carrie couldn’t part with the marble top which had gained charm from use, as a natural material does. She also needed the pipes, wires, taps and other utilities to be accessible yet hidden without too much loss of storage space.

Mid project, Carrie changed her mind about the timber work top, deciding to go with a metal surface instead. The workshop was able to change specifications and a bespoke stainless steel top was ordered.

The benefit of personal service and custom design!

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