Kevin P Rodel

Cherry Sideboard with American and British Bloodlines

INLAID SQUARES CREATE LATERAL SWEEP. The author tinkered with the inlaid squares, the overhang of the top, the width and inlay of the lower raiis and the arrangement of stretchers to mitigate the strong vertical lines of the legs, the doors and the center divider.

he house was a wonderful blend of Wright-influenced Prairie-style and Shingle-style architecture built on the coast: of Maine, f lie owners wanted a sideboard to stand in the large combined living and dining room with its stone hearth, cathedral ceiling and impressive woodwork that evoked the Craftsman era. They asked that the sideboard be tied to the overall design of the interior and that it match the cherry dining table Id made them several years earlier. They also gave me overall dimensions I shouldn't exceed and asked that the sideboard have doors and a silverware drawer hidden behind the doors.

With this information in hand, 1 sat down to sketch some ideas. My overall mood for the piece would be of the Arts and Crafts period. Besides being the most appropriate for the house, it happens to be my preferred style.

A quick drawing using the given dimensions and storage requirements revealed that two pairs of doors would be most practical. My sketch was technically correct but boring. And it was too strong in its vertical lines. I prefer my designs to show an interplay of horizontal and vertical elements, with the horizontal being dominant. So I sought to make the sideboard interesting and to emphasize the horizontal.

First, I sketched a broadly overhanging top. I borrowed the curved-under shape at the edge from a piece designed by the English Arts and Crafts architect C. F. A. Voysey.

Another horizontal element, the long, broad stretcher between the sideboard's legs, with its four-square motif adds interest and visual balance. This stretcher is filched from a table by another turn-of-the-century designer, Scotsman Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

My next revision was to widen the rail below the doors and add a simple inlay. This provides another strong horizontal element and links the sideboard to the dining table, which has a maple string inlay along its skirt.

Still, I felt there was too much vertical emphasis m the piece because of the lines of the doors and the center divider, which I d left wide so that it relates to the center stiles on the ends of the cabinet. Then 1 sketched m the series of flush-inlaid maple squares, situated in line with the upper squares of the door pulls. They add a fourth horizontal element that, to my eye, balances all the features of the sideboard.

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