How To Design Your Own Furniture

Some times you just have to get your hands dirty, wrestle with an idea, sit on it, and wrestle with it some more. In the end, you’ll see how your hard work pays off! This is how I felt about a piece in our home.

We have an oddly long rectangular living room that includes a corridor to the remainder of the first floor. This meant I had a long blank linear wall that wasn’t a part of the living space, but played a visual role in the room. I know this wall needed something, but finding the right thing was a process. I have learned that I am always grateful for the process!

It first began with identifying the situation: I currently have movies, a dvd player, wires, some mementos, etc that all sit under our tv. I see them sitting out but certainly don’t want to because the magnitude of things feels cluttered. This led me to the question that fueled the design: how can I design a piece of furniture that serves as a cache that pulls together the wall space while providing a clear and clean visual design in the space? This seems like a loaded question, right?

As the iteration process began, it became easier to pair down my thoughts into a brief statement: A Modern Console – Elevated and Sleek. This brief statement easily summed up all my ideas and made it clear and simple. This is why the iteration process is so great. Just because you know what you want and don’t want, it doesn’t mean that you have the solution. It’s good to press into the process. We can learn so much! It was with this clarity that I could really begin to design. And I am so excited with the piece!

I truly had a great time making this piece. But I will tell you, a key helper in my joy was all the leg work I did before. Sketching it out, over and over again. Making measurements and cut lists. Researching hardware. Modeling it in Sketchup. I really had to suppress my urge to jump into it too soon (I am learning from my incredibly patient husband). It was worth it!

The materials and form really scripted the design parameters. I chose to use raw wood because I knew it would really ground the piece and also speak to my family’s love for the organic. The small black door tabs popped but didn’t distract from the clean lines in the piece. In fact, it enhanced them because the pulls carried out the existing lines. I used European hinges so the hardware would be hidden (those were tricky to figure out, but if you read their specs well, you’ll be just fine). The legs holding up the piece match the tabs, but by elevating the cabinet, the space feels more open. This is a helpful tip for furniture pieces in a foyer or corridor. Those spaces can easily feel cramped, but elevating the furniture off the floor can help the room feel bigger and more spatially connected.

Once the research was done and I had my plan all laid out, it was time to build! I bought the Birch Ply a couple days early and laid it in the room. Wood sometimes shrinks and expands based on weather conditions. I wanted to get the wood conditioned before building so I wouldn’t later find problems in the furniture. Saturday came and it was time to start! It took me all day, roughly 10 hours to build the cabinet frame, face plates and cabinet doors. I installed the doors the following week and it was then completed! So. Much. Fun.

If you have a dream in your space, be motivated! You can make it happen.


Wood (birch plywood): Lowe’s

Tab Pulls: Top Knobs

Legs: AORYVIC 8″

Cabinet Hinges: Rok Hardware