Cabinet design optimizes light in sculptural glass collection
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Pamela Taylor, Capitol Closet Design, is a 2024 Top Shelf Design Awards finalist.

Specialty (Craft, Pantry, Laundry, Mudroom)

Project title:
Radiant Reflections

Project Description:
As the morning sun rises, a ray of light is fractured as it passes through the window and intersects a wall of cabinetry. The light naturally amplifies the displayed sculptural glass's luminous hues and vivid colors. This client, an art glass collector, wanted to create a space to exhibit her esteemed collection. Frameless glass doors and shelves always present the optimum visibility, hands down. Still, I wanted a design that went one step further, hoping to echo her art's glowing and reflective qualities. Light needed to flow freely in the cabinet.  

We engineered vertical partitions with large rectangular cut-outs between each section to accomplish this. This application offered a feeling of weightlessness and diminished unwanted shadows. To enhance the translucency and eliminate glare, a concealed light strip is installed and directed towards the back wall casting a balanced sheet of illumination over the shelves. Depending on the setting and desired mood, the brightness and color temperature are easily customized by the end user with a remote control. Minimally styled doors are added below for out-of-sight storage.  

The lower cabinets house solid wood pull-outs for easy access and adjustable shelves, while the upper cabinets flip open and are finished to the ceiling. The matte characteristic of the conversion varnish finish naturally absorbs light and contrasts starkly against the shimmering showcase.  The elements in this design celebrate color through light and set the stage for an enchanting art ensemble.

Project Construction:
We decided to source the punctured verticals through a wood fabricator we often work with on high-end projects. They needed the same finish on all sides, including the cut-out edges, to match the rest of the cabinetry. This cannot be accomplished with most melamine or thermofoil products. The dividing panels needed to be strong enough to support glass shelves and potentially heavy art pieces, so we specified a 1-inch-thick material. The cabinetry was dowel glue assembly. The painted finish on the cabinetry required four coats to achieve the flawless matte texture.  

To hide the light source, we used a large filler to house the glass door hinges and a recessed light strip. A channel was also dripped through the top of the cabinet to feed the wiring to the front of the outlets. We incorporated wall-mounting hardware behind the top trim and a floor-mounted design for added stability. This created a design challenge with the flip-up door size. The jog was 12 inches high, and the top trim needed to be 4 inches high. An 8-inch high cabinet was not ideal, aesthetically, and for storage, so we added a small filler under the jog to make the upper doors better proportioned for the space. The fireplace equipment access panel was on the side of the chimney, so we cut the interior end panel to allow for maintenance.  

Materials Used:
Infinite Quest Cabinet Corporation – cabinet components, MDF doors, slab doors with an eased edge, 1-inch plywood panels with custom cut-outs, plywood cabinetry with dowel glue assembly, custom - matte conversion varnish finish, Elements Design – Frameless Glass Doors, Northern Contours – "Swiss Elm Sky" countertop, Hafele – LED Lighting with adjustable color temperature and dimming capability, Hafele – tab pulls, Hardware Resources – solid wood drawer boxes, glass shelves

Equipment Used:
KDCW Software, AutoCAD programmed using WoodWOP on a Weeke BP 140 router for lighting,  SCMI panel saw,  edgebander,  system drill press, RTF fitting insertion machine,  line boring machine, an incredibly talented and experienced production team


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About the author
Michaelle Bradford | Editor

Michaelle Bradford, CCI Media, is Editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine and Woodworking Network editor. She has more than 20 years of experience covering the woodworking and design industry, including visits to custom cabinet shops, closet firms and design studios throughout North America. As Editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine under the Woodworking Network brand, Michaelle’s responsibilities include writing, editing, and coordinating editorial content as well as managing annual design competitions like the Top Shelf Design Awards. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media.