strategy: cool un)plywood storage cabinets

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

Years ago, New York photographer Maria Robledo designed this simple, functional and really cool-looking storage for her studio. A few hours before she moved to a new space, I ran over to photograph them for ‘the improvised life’ because they are so smart and great, even though she’d emptied them out. They once held an impressive amount of office and photographic supplies, and linens and props for shoots.

Maria’s wall of cabinets is an unfussy, easy-to-duplicate approach that would translate well to all sorts of spaces.

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

A carpenter constructed them out of birch plywood. First, the he made base cabinets with moveable shelves: each is essentially a plywood box with one side missing. He bolted the base cabinets together against one wall to make an expanse of shelving over 12-feet long. Then he added hinged doors to the open sides of each base cabinets. Because the doors are flush, without moldings or embellishments, the finished cabinet acts like a wall and fades into the space. What is essentially a series of side-by-side base cabinets with doors can be dismantled and reassembled elsewhere. Notched holes with pegs allow the shelves to be adjusted.

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

Rather than have a carpenter construct base cabinets, you could buy stock cabinets from an unpainted furniture store; then cut plywood doors, in any configuration you wish, to fit (finishing the edges of the plywood with veneer). Attach with hidden cabinet door hinges. (Hiring a carpenter just to make and attach the doors, rather than the whole cabinet, would save a barrel of money.)

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

Maria painted the doors Benjamin Moore Titanium, a shade of gray she first saw in jewelry designer Ted Muehling‘s shop. It is a beautiful, highly mutable soft gray that seems to change hue with the space and light. It doesn’t show properly in the photos or on any of the paint websites I’ve looked at; a pretty good approximation is at Muehling’s site. Titanium is such an amazing color that it’s worth getting a 2-ounce sample and checking it out. (I’ve used it to paint single walls in both my apartment and my office, and take pleasure in looking at it every day.)

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

Maria found little moderne knobs at AF New York.

Here’s another example of this formula for simple plywood storage, with the wood left natural:

James Merrill/judithmillerinc.com

James Merrill/judithmillerinc.com

Many possible configurations and iterations that could be devised using this approach. For example, you could make a half-wall cabinet on which you can display photographs or objects.

Related posts: Ted Muehling and The Inspiration Journal

3 Responses to strategy: cool un)plywood storage cabinets

  1. Elisabeth 06.04.2010 at 2:45pm #

    I have always wanted to do this and believe in this concept, as well as using actual furniture in the kitchen if you can get it to fit. But, for safety’s sake, the cabinets, as do large free standing storage pieces, do have to be anchored to the wall. Also, if you have drawers in the base caninets, they need to be anchored or when you open the drawers, the cabinet may fall forward, or if the upper drawers have heavy items in them, the weight can make the cabinet fall forward. Any thoughts on how to do the anchoring?

  2. pharmacy tech 06.06.2010 at 3:16am #

    What a great resource!

  3. Sally 06.07.2010 at 12:59am #

    A good point, though I think it depends on the piece…for sure if its got drawers, a whole other deal. I will ask Nina, our project consultant. Stay tuned…

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