Evolving pieces

Isn’t it amazing how furniture needs and styles have changed over the decades?

The reason I bring this up is that twice in the past month, I have seen some sweet looking armoires. One was a piece that my friends Chris and Sofie gave to another one of my friends who needed a closet space the ‘den’ of a house he bought. Another time was when I was in Yuma in the Casita next to my friend Kevin’s home on the big western swing. The Casita didn’t have a closet.

A clothes Armoire

Why did these two pieces stand out so much? It’s because in most houses, they are 100% unnecessary. That hasn’t always been the case. Before today’s home with walk in closets that – in some cases – are larger than most bedrooms, people just didn’t have that many clothes.

Hello in there!

Add to the fact that the average home built today has an extra 1,000 square feet than the average home built in 1973, and you start to get the idea that a separate piece of furniture to hold clothing is becoming a quaint anachronism – kind of like a pump to draw water from a well to do the cooking. Or building a hope chest for a young lady to keep her wedding dowry in – wait a second, I have built three of those!

Another piece that has changed dramatically over the years has been the TV entertainment center. In years past, entertainment centers were built around deep, heavy picture tube TVs, which required a great deal of size. Today’s flat screens, well, I’m surprised by how inexpensive they are.

Back when the kids were little, Rhonda and I bought a 32 inch picture tube TV for about $800, and we thought we got a heck of a deal on a store demo model. I built my breakfront entertainment center around the dimensions of that TV, and I ensured that the piece would serve as storage and a center for all of our viewing needs.

This past weekend when I was in Best Buy (I had to buy a new Mac Mini because the hard drive on our seven year old MacPro bit the dust), I saw 36 inch flat screens for $239.

Now, if you look for plans to build an entertainment center, you will find that most are low-slung affairs with space for the TV to perch on top or be mounted to the wall above.

What has become of those large TV cabinets made of those choice hardwoods? Well, they are being converted into home offices, bars, craft centers or even clothing armoires.

Go figure.

What does this mean for us as woodworkers? I’m not sure, but it will be interesting to see what changes happen over the next ten years as the way we use our homes changes.

One thought on “Evolving pieces”

  1. So true.
    Some of the furniture I built a long time ago became obsolete for the purpose it was designed for.
    Some made the cut and was saved and repurposed for other things, and some went the way of the doe-doe.
    Good observation Tom.

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