Times have gotten complicated and so have the people that live in them. Life used to be so much simpler, but was it less perfect? I’m not talking about the quality of life, but what we as a people expect of it.
I see it in many aspects of our lives, but it’s most clear to me in woodworking (probably because I’m fully immersed in it daily). What I’m talking about is our quest for absolute perfection, and I’m as guilty as any. Somehow I just don’t think our forefathers were as worried about the minutiae of things. They were too busy hunting and gathering to worry about taking a “half-a-thou” shaving with a handplane.
The Industrial Revolution has ruined mankind. We’ve driven the soul out of the creative process. Everything is all “piston-fit.” Sometimes I just think we need to relax and enjoy things for what they are – not what we wish they were.
The cupboard pictured in this post is a beauty. It’s a large piece, but it doesn’t appear to be bulky. The feet look large enough to adequately support a piece of this size and the crown molding certainly doesn’t look like a shrunken head up there. The door panels give the piece good lift while not being so tiny that they look out of place. The drawers look roomy, but don’t stand out as being way out of proportion to the rest of the piece. And the size of the panes of glass in the doors is large enough that you can see the contents of the cabinet, but small enough that the doors themselves don’t look gargantuan. All-in-all it’s a cupboard of great design – a real thoroughbred.
The things that are going to bother most people are the shelf placement in the upper cabinet and the door pull placement. And this is exactly what I’m talking about at the beginning of this blog post. Who cares if the shelves don’t line up with the door mullions? And there’s a practical reason the one stirrup drop is higher than the other. When I look at this piece, I see the work of a highly skilled craftsman who had a tremendous eye for design. What he didn’t have was an obsessive-compulsive need to line up everything perfectly. And he’s not alone.
There are lots of 18th-century pieces out there that have misaligned hardware and/or shelves placed for optimal use rather than optimal aesthetics. I’ve seen hardware that was mismatched or missing altogether. There’s something to be said for appreciating the quirks that some makers built into their pieces. And in the case of this particular cupboard, just because the guy was building in the Chippendale style doesn’t mean he had to make absolutely everything symmetrical. Sometimes, we just have to appreciate things for what they are – with all their faults included.