Following some renovation work, my in-laws found themselves in need of a kitchen cabinet. The piece was supposed to occupy a specific place, so there was little space for manoeuvre when it came to determining the dimensions: it had to be 80 centimetres wide by no more than 30 centimetres deep. While there was some flexibility in deciding the height, it too was influenced by the surrounding elements, and was left at 2 metres.
The most eye-catching element of the kitchen is a rustic fireplace, so it only made sense to use the same style for the cabinet.
In Romania, folk art has been particularly vivid and we can therefore draw upon a wealth of traditional motifs and patterns. While there were many regional styles, there are certain traits that are immediately identifiable as “traditional” or “rustic”: hardwoods were used abundantly (later, when softwoods were introduced, they were heavily dyed, to mimic their appearance); tool marks were often left visible and the wood was only rarely planed; natural shapes, like wood crotches, were integrated and used structurally; straight lines alternated with arches and curves; the decoration was almost always incised or chip carved, although paints were also used.
Many of these elements have been recuperated and reinterpreted by Romanian architects and furniture-makers active in the first decades of the 20th century, a time of great artistic achievements, when truly original and distinctive pieces were created.
With that in mind, I set about designing my kitchen cabinet. The sides and headboard feature arches inspired from the religious architecture of Romania, which has been influenced, in turn, by the traditions of Byzantium and the Middle-East.
The three uppermost shelves are curved and their edges have received a gentle chamfer.
Moreover, their spacing is graduated (between the first and the second shelf, the distance is of 55 centimetres; it decreases to 45 between the second and third, then to 35, then finally to 30 between the fourth and the fifth). The aim here was to make the cabinet look slender and elegant.
In order to retain the rustic appearance, the back of the cabinet has not been lined with plywood, but rather with tongue-and-grooved pine boards (sold commercially as wainscoting).
The doors have a frame and panel design (the panel is not solid, but uses the same pine wainscoting). For the frame, I chose a splined mitre design, using walnut veneer for the spline.
When it came to finishing the project, I’ve used two layers of a walnut-coloured dye from Oskar. In order to create a contrast, I’ve left the panelling of the doors in their natural colour.
Finally, I’ve applied three layers of a water-based varnish from Kober. This has been the first time I’ve used this water-based finish, and I’ve been pretty happy with the results.
The finished project, installed in its place in the kitchen, looks like this.