New Greene and Greene Sideboard

With my reproduction Greene and Greene chairs around his dining table, my client asked if 1 would make a sideboard to go with them. I quickly agreed but soon fount! it to be an entirely different undertaking. Reproducing the chairs had been a matter of mechanics: I had to figure out how to do what the Greenes had done. But making something 111 their style to fit a specific site would be a matter of interpretation.

My starting point for the commission was a sideboard the Greenes made in 1909. Bui I would have had to contort the original to make it fit the site. The three drawings on the facing page show the development of my sideboard: the Greene's original (top), a drawing midway in the adaptation (center) and the final version (bottom).


The client intended the sideboard to be a visual anchor at the end of the room, so it had to be visible above the backs of the dining chairs. And it had to fill a long alcove.These requirements brought the sideboard's overall dimensions to 7 ft. long and 42 in. high -quite a bit longer and higher than a typical sideboard. 1 would have to do all I could to keep the piece from looking abnormally high.


The Greenes' sideboard has doors at each end and a bank of wide drawers in between. I decided to change this arrangement for several reasons. First, because the sideboard had to be so long, drawers located in the center would wind up being fir larger from side to side than they were from front to back: a recipe for drawers that bind. I also thought wide, central drawers would emphasize the length of the piece. And my client, who entertains on a large scale, was concerned that the cabinets in the original were on the small side. I solved all these problems by moving the doors together into the middle, so they would open on one large cabinet and by splitting the drawers into two banks, one on either side of die doors, as shown in the center drawing.

To help mask the height of the sideboard, 1 resorted to unusual proportioning on the drawers. Where a normal silverware drawer is 3 in. high, 1 made these 6 in. It would have been possible to stay closer to normal sizes if I had added a fourth drawer, but having more drawers in a stack emphasizes the vertical lines. 1 also preferred the appearance of three drawers. Call it mystic balance if you will, but an odd number of drawers always looks better to me.


The Greenes' sideboard has eight legs joined by wide stretchers. 1 decided to omit the stretchers and adopted the bracket detail from the chair to add decoration and a bit more strength below the case. But the number of legs didn't seem right. I did a sketch of a sideboard with four legs, but 1 thought such a long sideboard would appear ill-supported on four legs even if it could have been made soundly. 1 drew a version with eight legs (see the center draw ing). But that tended to emphasize the height of the piece and made for a clutter of brackets. So 1 drew a version with six legs; that immediately looked right to me.


With the placement of the legs, doors, and drawers determined, 1 turned to the plate rail The Greenes' sideboard has a low, solid plate rail. I wanted some thing that would lighten the sidelx>ard and relate to the brackets, so I designed a low, open plate rail by adapting the bracket shape, stretching it out horizon tally. I also took the opportunity to make a visual link to the legs. By creating a vertical center point in the plate rail, I carried through the line of the middle leg.

I used my bracket-making techniques to pnxluce the parts of the plate rail. I doweled the parts together as before, but because the assembled rail was somewhat delicate, I screwed it to the sideboard's top from below rather than gluing it.This way, 1 could transport it separately and then attach it on site.

Evolution of a Sideboard

Sideboard Sketched

Sketch for Thorsett House sideboard, Gréaie and Greene, 1909

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Early sketch for the author's sideboard

Doors have beer moved to the middle to make the rabi net more spacious. The wide stretchers have been removed in favor of brackets.


Final version of the sideboard

Two legs have beer elimi nated, giving the ptece a more horizontal appearance. Bracket form has been adapted to make an open plate rail Drawer handles have been elongated. The stylized tulip inlay of the ear lier version, drawn from the chair splats, has been replaced with a more naturalistic composition.

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  • Frans
    How to make a greene and greene sideboard?
    8 years ago

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