Ellis Walentine
I think your latest revision is better, Bill. I also agree that the customer is the most important consideration in any furniture design. After all, it is their functional requirement that motivates the build, but I don't agree that you need to sacrifice proportion, composition and decoration in order to satisfy the functional aspect. I think design is the practice of solving all variables simultaneously -- function, aesthetics, cost and engineering.

If I can weigh in on a few lingering aesthetic concerns, I would say, generally, that I prefer a more spartan, vernacular design, more in keeping with original examples of this type of cabinet. But, that's just my preference and needn't be yours. I lived with an original Chester County corner cupboard for half a century and am used to that particular, unadorned look, with simple, elemental moldings and proportions that balance function and delicacy. The departures you are suggesting, particularly with the emphatic moldings, conflict with my mind's eye of what this piece should look like...but that's not bad. It's just an observation based on my biases. The corner cupboard definitely morphed beyond its original roots, and your choice of ornamentation should meet your own preferences and the surroundings in which the cabinet will find itself, at your daughter's home.

Individually and culturally, we are subconsciously aware of and biased by proportions and details that we have become accustomed to. In furniture design, when we mix and match motifs and features -- or tweak proportions -- we risk setting up a disconnect in the viewer's mind. I know this little digression probably seems way too academic, but I think that understanding the concept can have a positive influence on the final appearance of the piece, without sacrificing function.

In the case of this particular piece, your explanation of the need for a wider cabinet is well taken, and can easily justify the double doors top and bottom. Eliminating the center vertical dividers between doors -- typical in early examples of this sort of cabinet -- will actually improve the function by making the interior more accessible.

I still would suggest divided-light doors rather than large single-pane ones, although this will add quite a bit of complexity to the build. This is an instance where budgetary constraints may override a desired look, but at the expense of an aesthetic that the viewer might expect. And, if you really want arches in the door and bottom rail of the case, do make the curves fair. The eye detects even the slightest deviation from proper geometry.

Again, these are just my observations and words of advice; it's your problem to solve and I'm encouraged by your dedication to design. Have at it and have fun.


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