Being a ‘Bespoke’ Furniture Maker I can never second guess what my next customer might be looking for and I was surprised when asked to design an Artist’s Storage Cabinet. Having never designed or made something like this before, I wanted to make sure that I fully understood the customer’s requirements and the process for achieving this is highlighted below.

The initial enquiry was as follows:

I have a lot of art materials, including different sizes of paper up to A2, and varieties of pens, inks, paints, palettes, pencils, brushes and various sundries such as masking tape, pallet knives, sponges. Ideally I’d like a unit on castors that can store everything  while being reasonably compact, and provide a sloping surface where I can rest boards and paper while I’m doing art work. I saw something like this on a USA site called pinterest, but it was out of my price range.

I then responded as follows:

I’ve started looking at ideas for your ‘Artist’s Cabinet’ and had a look at various examples with many different styles out there, so I thought it best that we establish some basic principles first before I start designing something. I have a number of questions as follows:

  • Some examples have an easel incorporated in the cabinet. Is this something you might be interested in or is the main purpose just to store materials and presumably you would work from a separate easel?
  • Would you be interested in having the cabinet moveable, perhaps on castors (lockable)?
  • Would you use the top of the cabinet for working on?
  • Do you prefer to have everything stored behind doors and or drawer fronts or open for ease of access?
  • Contemporary style or more traditional?
  • Wood or painted?
  • Do you have a budget in mind of what you might want to spend?

And I then received the following response to my questions:

To answer your questions (I’ve started with my budget, as I don’t want to take up your time if this isn’t workable)

  • My top budget would be £1,000. If this isn’t possible for a bespoke piece of work, just let me know.
  • I would like to have an easel incorporated in the cabinet if possible but it’s not essential. My main desire is to have a compact unit where I can store and easily find my materials. (I have loads and at the moment they’re overflowing out of a box so I have to take everything out in order to find things!)
  • Yes, I would definitely want the cabinet on castors
  • I would like to be able to use the top of the cabinet for working on, especially if it has an easel incorporated, as I could keep the paints and other materials I’m currently using on the surface beside me.
  • I’d prefer to have everything stored behind doors and or drawer fronts
  • Not sure about contemporary style or more traditional. Leaning toward traditional but open to suggestions
  • I’d like a wood cabinet

The cabinet would therefore have to function as a moveable workstation when in use and store all of the artist’s materials, brushes, pens and paper etc., out of sight when not in use and whilst there were many examples of artist’s storage cabinets out there, there were very few that satisfied all of the requirements.

I then set about designing a cabinet which would provide all of the functionality required and sent this to the customer who was delighted. We then agreed the price and specification and the finished cabinet is shown below.


The cabinet provides seven drawers of various sizes, one storage cupboard with two shelves and two long slots at the back for paper/board storage and was made from Steamed Beech veneered MDF panels with solid hardwood lipping to all exposed edges, door frame, top frame and drawer fronts. All drawers on soft-close under-mount drawer slides. The top (in two pieces) slides open to allow the easel to be positioned in the well so that the artist can sit in the knee space between pedestals and work. The two additional end drawers within the top can be accessed when the sliding top is closed.


It certainly took some time to design this cabinet to provide all of the functionality required and a couple of weeks to make it but I’m very pleased with the end result and the Customer is delighted.

Posted by:euanmackinnon

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.