At our studio, we try to harmonize traditional woodworking techniques with modern innovation, so the pieces we make not only have a soul, but a brain too. When we were tasked to create an entryway console and bench for a client’s clean, white foyer, we were excited by the opportunity to design two great accent pieces that would not only increase the functionality of the space, but bring warmth and texture as well.
We try to incorporate as much of the natural beauty and uniqueness of the desired wood species from the very beginning of the process. White oak was the best choice for this project because of its straight, coarse grain, material strength, and light, honey tone that worked perfectly with the existing features of the home.
We played with an alternative sort of joinery that used horizontal and vertical slats set in a half-finger joint within a CNC dado-cut side panel. This sort of “exposed” joinery also allows the slats to flex under the weight of the sitter and provides a comfortable place to remove and store your shoes without compromising strength.
The floating console, in contrast, used simple joinery so visual interest was added by wrapping the flat-sawn wood grain down the sides of the body, with a tidy miter joint in the corners, and a gentle angle to face of the cubby and drawer.
Our initial plans for this project were flexible, so we experimented with different textures and methods to see what would work best. We went through three different patterns, beginning with soft waves cut on the CNC and eventually settling on repeating parallel CNC-cut dados, with the top dado accepting a separate oak strip to function as the handle and mimic the joinery of the bench.
The underside of the handle is gently curved for comfortable opening and features a cheeky stripe of pale sapwood on the face. We decided to highlight this natural contrast in the feet of the bench as well.
This small element may not seem significant, but we think the subtle details add personality to the design. Even the body of the bench seems to gracefully float above the stretchers. We wanted every aspect of these designs to look weightless, yet feel sturdy when used.
To add a touch more functionality and warmth to the floating console, we concealed a track of small LED lights underneath. The lights are set to gradually illuminate as people walk through the hall and softly faded away after a set time, making the entryway feel welcoming and cozy.
Both the bench and console were finished with a natural oil to provide a durable but soft finish and bring out the beautiful honey-ocher tone of the white oak. We prefer natural oil to polyurethane or polycrylic finishes because it penetrates and fortifies the wood rather than creating a protective layer on top and makes the wood feel supple to the touch.
Finally, we’d like to thank our client and their designer, A Dash of Whimsy, for their ideas and patience. This project was a delight to work on from concept to installation and we are really looking forward to our next project in this home, a floating desk with storage and shelves to match!