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Vinyl Storage for Audiophiles

Today’s article is a repost from 2014.

We’re big fans of music at Brokenpress. Alex has played music for over twenty years, in post-hardcore bands Hoover and Regulator Watts in Washington, D.C. and Abilene in Chicago. After a big of a hiatus from music, he’s excited to start playing again. My musical knowledge is limited to a chuck wagon triangle, but it’s always been a big part of my life. Together we have, and keep building, a great vinyl collection.

At first, our audio furniture and vinyl pieces came out of a need for storage, and has since evolved to be prototypes for Brokenpress designs.

Brokenpress Audio Storage Vinyl Records Chicago

One of our largest pieces created is a media library center which focuses around my father’s 1976 Kenwood KR-9600. This was the receiver to have during the monster-wars of the 1970’s. I have memories of hopping out of my mom’s car to check the mail, and hearing Dirty Deeds by AC/DC  blaring out of the house that was over 200 feet away. While it gathered dust in my dad’s basement for more than a decade, it’s now the centerpiece of a Brokenpress audio / media shelving unit.  It’s almost at capacity!

Since that piece is almost filled, where else can our records go? We came up with the perfect solution and married our love of vinyl with the need for more seating in our living room. Our bungalow has a beautiful front room with eight windows. The room is long with radiators flanking the sides of the room, making it difficult to put a couch near the front window.  The Brokenpress Design + Fabriction solution? An audio media storage bench. It’s following the same clean lines of the large audio/ media library piece: Baltic birch with white oak plugs, mounted on a steel base. The height is perfect for sitting, and the window sill can be used to hold your cocktail or snack plate when having a party and watching the new season of Mad Men. We’ll add cushions in the near future.  It’s currently holding part of Alex’s vintage radio collection, but we hope to have it filled soon with some great used record finds.

brokenpress-bench-web

Looking for some ideas for your own audio storage? Contact Brokenpress and let us come up with a solution perfect for your needs.

Functional and stylish furniture design by Brokenpress

Brokenpress Design+Fabrication is a family business consisting of Alex and myself. The more we work together, the more we find ourselves collaborating on pieces. Our first collaborative project was our audio bench. We live in our 1923 Chicago Bungalow, named Beatrice, and our living room has 8 windows: four in front and two each on the sides. Radiators flank the two smaller sets of windows, and the low window frame makes it awkward to have a couch pushed up against the window.

Brokenpress Custom Designed Furniture Chicago

Ever since we found our bungalow, I always imagined having a bench up against the window. Once we started collaborating on furniture design at Brokenpress, we found our happy medium: a bench not only for sitting, but also for overflow record storage! Our vinyl LP collection keeps on growing (yes, I’m a crate digger), and why not find the right place to store all those records in a useful space?

Brokenpress LP vinyl record music storage chicago

While we have room to grow with this storage space, it highlights how we at Brokenpress design our furniture for both style and function, and not just to fill a space. It’s a perfect solution for Beatrice, and the design could easily be adapted other Chicago Bungalow owners.

Our next collaborative effort was a bar cart.  I had been eying bar carts for a while, and none of them seemed functional to me. Some were slick and metallic – but who would want to be mixing up a bunch of cocktails when bottles would be banging against a glass shelf? It seemed to be loud and fragile, not to mention a lot of fingerprints to clean up. Other carts too simple to be functional for cocktail creation – a top shelf and one at the wheel level – nothing to support glassware or accessories. Where do the cocktail books go? And the drink umbrellas? Yes, I stock up on liquor at Costco, but who needs to store a 3 foot high bottle of booze? Even if it was a dessert cart for wheeling out desserts and apertifs, space is still needed to store glasses, plates, napkins and forks.

Brokenpress Design bar cart mixology cocktail chicago

We designed our bar cart prototype with multiple levels for various needs. Casters help make the cart mobile, but the brakes on two of them help keep the cart stable when needed.  The removable wooden bottle insert helps organize bottles, and secures them when the cart is in motion. The shelves are wood to dampen sound, and they’re heavy duty, won’t chip and are really easy to clean. Additional shelves and drawers hold ice buckets, store highballs and martini glasses, while concealing necessary accoutrements needed for crafting perfect cocktails without gathering dust. All you need to be the perfect mixologist is contained in one cart! The Brokenpress bar cart is airy and lightweight and built in the signature Brokenpress style of wood and steel.

So, next time you’re thinking you need a furniture piece for your home or office, don’t settle with big box furniture stores, contact Brokenpress instead. We don’t just build furniture, we listen to your needs. Vinyl record storage? Fireplace surround? High traffic storage bench to hold kids toys? Family heirloom? We work with you to design a beautiful piece of furniture that is functional and stylish. When you see what we can0. come up with for a simple storage bench or cocktail bar cart, imagine what we could do with other types of custom storage? Don’t forget, even if you’re not in Chicago, Brokenpress can ship, too. Contact us today to find out more.

More than just audio furniture

At Brokenpress we love vinyl; record shopping is one of our vices, for sure. We buy our records in Chicago and during any travels, so it comes natural to us to create audio furniture and vinyl storage solutions for ourselves and people who enjoy music as much as we do. By no means, though, does that limit what Brokenpress can create!

Many people contact us when they’re looking for built-in and custom furniture. A recent client moved into a new home, added a fireplace and wanted a mantle, surround and bookshelves. Our clients had a budget they needed to stick to, so Alex said they could reduce costs if they wanted to paint their cabinets instead of using wood veneer. He came in to measure the space and worked closely with our clients to find out what their exposed and enclosed needs were, and created the piece below.

brokenpress-inprogress

The mantle is walnut veneer with a hardwood walnut face; Alex found a great piece of walnut that had blonde accents on it. He knew it would look great with the aesthetic of their house.  If you look in the photo below, you’ll see how the grain cascades along the sides. He even added the electric during the installation, helping negate the need to bring in an electrician. Our clients will have their fireplace tiled and the cabinets painted soon – we’ll be sure to update with an image when it’s finished.

brokenpress chicago furniture fireplace mantle

Brokenpress also did the electric work during the installation

So don’t let our focus on audio furniture or vinyl record storage make you hesitate contacting us. If you’re in Chicago or the surrounding suburbs, need a built in or some type of custom furniture, but aren’t quite sure exactly what you want, please contact us. We can work with you to design something that fits your space and your budget.

The beauty of rift-sawn hardwood

We love working with rift-sawn hardwoods at Brokenpress. Most commercial furniture nowadays is made from man-made board and not hardwood. Both hardwood and man-made board have their advantages, but our preference is rift-sawn hardwoods for long lasting pieces of furniture.

Rift sawing is a technique of cutting boards from logs. Each board is cut along a radius of the original log, so that the saw cuts at right angles to the tree’s growth ring. This produces lumber of great stability and a tighter grain pattern emphasizing the species’ beauty, but with an added cost. The outcome is a gorgeous example of whichever selected species. However, since this process of cutting yields much less than flat sawing, rift-sawing is much less-commonly used than flat sawing. We build most of our coffee tables and surfboard tables with rift-sawn hardwoods, and feel it’s the special edge that makes Brokenpress different.

Brokenpress surfboard table mcm chicago furniture

Finished top – rift sawn hardwood walnut surfboard table

The individual boards are milled from their rough sawn state coming from our favorite lumber yard. Then after jointer and planer passes it’s onto the table saw to final size, and then glued together to create a full panel or table of hardwood. The new larger piece is then sanded in our drumsander to give it an even flatness and glue clean up. From there, we continue to sand the board at various grits to ending with 220 grit then adding multiple layers of finish to make the natural colors pop while giving the piece added durability and easy clean up. It’s a time consuming process, but the end result is something that is extremely durable and gorgeous to look at.

Brokenpress furniture chicago surfboard table

Brokenpress walnut surfboard table in progress.

Another benefit of hardwoods is the ability to repair them. We were at an event selling Brokenpress surfboard and coffee tables. Someone at the event dropped something heavy on one of our tables, making a dent in it. Had a dent like this been in a man-made wood veneer table, similar to what you’ll find a most mainstream furniture stores like Crate and Barrel, Ikea or Ashley Furniture, the table would’ve been ruined. While it was a time-consuming task to refinish the dent out of the table, the hardwood surfboard table was repaired to its original state. You could never have known the table was dented. You can see some of our tables for sale in our Etsy shop.

There are still times where man-made wood veneer furniture is the right choice. We’ll be talking about the types of wood veneer and plywood we use in our other projects soon. Don’t let the word “plywood” scare you – it’s more prevalent in furniture than you’d think.

Contact Brokenpress Design+Fabrication today to find out about having your own hardwood furniture project completed. Live outside of Chicago? That’s ok, we’ll ship, too!

We’re gonna blog!

While Brokenpress Design + Fabrication is the work of Alex Dunham, it’s a joint collaboration with his wife, Jennifer Bakija.  Better known as Secretary Ladybird™, Jen handles the secretary stuff which includes marketing and customer service while Alex is focused on the making and creating. We decided to add a blog to our website after Ladybird found a new creative outlet for herself in Grocery Gal. Upcoming posts will be from one or the other.

These posts will help give you a little more on our passions, inspirations and why we do things the way we do. We’re more than just fans of mid-century modern living building furniture in our Chicago bungalow. We hope you check our Brokenpress Design + Fabrication’s future blog posts and learn a little more about us. Cheers!