Worth preserving

In my last post, I said that 90 percent of the work I had done over the course of my woodworking career has ended up in the Dumpster. That comment elicited a comment which suggested that this had occurred because I was working in the style of the day rather than focusing on a work that might have more staying power.

In answer to this comment, I must admit that 90 percent is an exaggeration. But I know of many installations that were demoed when new owners wanted to put their own personal stamp on their new digs. This was not so much due to working in the style of the day but working in the style of the client and their entourage of designers and architects. That’s the deal when you do custom work. I had many projects where I was the designer and these were done more in a style of my own making. Even so, there is no guarantee that new owners are going to have the same aesthetic sensibilities as those who commissioned the work or see some intrinsic value worth preserving.

Over the years, I also made many pieces of furniture and these, it seems, have a much better chance of long-term survival. They can be removed from their current environment without being destroyed. They are much more likely to be sold or given to another and, therefore, might have a somewhat longer life expectancy.

My whole point was the wasteful attitude that has become the status quo. A kitchen is not demolished because it is no longer functional or has deteriorated beyond the point of usability but simply because it might not conform to the style of the day. I have personally seen many perfectly good, fully functional kitchens torn out for exactly this reason. But there is no consideration given to the idea that this represents an appalling waste of resources and might well be destroying work that would have far more inherent value than that which replaces it.



  • Daniel Cada says:

    Have had the same experience, a substantial INSTALLED set of items demo’ed for a style change. Have tried not to take it personally, clients have acknowledged that it was a style change, not dissatisfaction. Still hurts a bit. And they’re stayed clients.

  • Dave Sochar says:

    I recently found out a 60k Master vanity pair we supplied was being removed after only 8 years to make way for a Clive Christian job. $60,000 off to the dumpster, tho someone will fish them out likely.

    Our work is priced and designed well enough to last forever, and have that timeless elegance that should make it prized into the future.

    But, fortunes grow, tastes change – what can you do? Plant lots of trees and keep the prices high.

  • We are architectural woodworkers and we build cabinets, furniture, and fixtures that meet the design intent of our clients. I have long said that we are “commercial artists” not “pure” artists. Many pieces that I have built to my own design aesthetic have not sold or have sold for IKEA prices. The good news about the work we do for others is that it is sold for our asking price as long as we build it correctly.

  • Carl Evans says:

    Years ago as the housing boom took off in the 80’s I had the opportunity to rehab the same kitchen 4 times in as many years. The house was being bought for investment each time and each new owner had their own idea of what was best for resale. I carefully dismantled each and passed them on to friends who were building their own homes so at least they found a second home. All these kitchens were practically brand new, no blemishes, no scratches, nothing to say it was time for replacement.

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