Cubism – the art of getting organized with Cubes and cubbies

With all the papers, books, games, toys, and electronics that float around our houses, its a wonder that we can ever find anything. We loosely group things together and store them in piles which quickly turns into chaotic clutter.

DSC00515      The Cube… a classic shape that can be adapted to fit any style and space. Its straight clean lines can provide a sharp modern accent to a room or perhaps soften the space with rounded edges and a light color stain.

Organization and efficiency are high priorities in this age of technology but no app can keep your house in order; all it takes is a simple wooden cube or a collection of them. Cubes can be utilized in any part of the house to store just about anything.  A single cube can organize your Xbox games while a pyramid of cubes can store an entire library of books. Need a maintainable way to organize clothes? With cubes you can sort clothing into style, color, season, or any desirable category.

Get creative:

  • Build a wall of cubes for maximum storage space:
    • stackable
    • mountable
  • Place a single cube.
  • Use cubes as drawers for cubbies.
  • Use inserts to transform a cube into a wine rack.
  • Great in:
      • craft rooms
      • mud rooms
      • kids rooms

    Transform your space into an architectural masterpiece (and be able to find your stuff)!


Think before you Pick it up

Consider the following proposition:

  • Proposition: If it is raining or snowing then people will come to pick up unfinished furniture.

Though this is a bit tongue in cheek, we have found that people tend to come and pick up finished furniture in bad weather. Unfinished furniture is unfinished! This means that if it gets wet, then there will probably be some kind of discoloration or mark that will show up once the piece is stained. So if it is raining outside when you come to pick up your furniture, it will probably get wet and as a result won’t finish as nicely. So for the sake of your furniture and investment, don’t come to pick up furniture in bad weather!

Another unfortunate trend is that people don’t tend to bring any blankets, cardboard, or even string when they come to pick up their furniture. If the furniture is finished, then it needs to be wrapped in a blanket when it is being moved. We use a high quality finish, but wooden furniture is not metal and will still scratch and dent if it is not protected. The furniture you buy is your investment, if you don’t treat it with care while moving it, it will look like you moved it in a cheese grater instead of a moving van. Also if you don’t tie it down then it could fall over (dents) or grate against the sides of the vehicle or other furniture you are moving (scratches). Simply bringing some tie down straps or string will will prevent this. But don’t forget the blankets or cardboard because string or straps can scratch finishes too!

So take a little time (and perhaps expense) and bring some string, blankets or cardboard when you come to pick up your furniture. Damage that you cause while moving it is not the responsibility of the manufacture or retailer but is yours alone! It will cost much more to repair a damaged piece than to move it safely. So please for the sake of your investment and sanity, think before you pick it up.

Wires – don’t forget them when you buy an entertainment center

In our life as a unfinished furniture store, we build a lot of media/ entertainment centers for people. One thing that a lot of people don’t think about is wires. Once i get my TV into this great piece of furniture, how do i run the wires. When we deliver something we don’t always have the tools to cut those holes with us. This means that either you have to get someone else to cut them or reschedule another day for us to come back. This costs us time and means that you can’t use your furniture the way you were hoping when it is delivered.

So what’s the solution? A little forethought! Now that you know about the problem, try to think out what need to run wires and where do they need to go. You may need holes cut in the inside of the piece so that wires can be run from one section to the other. Or perhaps you just need a few holes cut in the back.

Below are a list of questions to help you think about wires:

  • What components need access to electrical power and where can they get it?
  • What components need to run wires to other components (speaks, TVs, Blue-ray…)
  • Are their any light switches that i might cover up? Do i want to cut a hole for them?
  • If my furniture goes where i want to put it, I’m i going to cover up any electrical outlets or light switches and if so is that a problem? Do i still need access to them?

Asking yourself a few of these questions when you design your furniture and place your order can save you hours/ days of waiting for holes  to be cut after the fact. Also if we know about them before hand they may be able to be cut in the shop before your piece is finished so they will be cleaner and neater than we can do if we have to do them on delivery.

About Seeing and Having Something to Say « Annika Ruohonen Photography

About Seeing and Having Something to Say « Annika Ruohonen Photography. I was initially attracted to this post because i have to write about our products at Durham Bookcases and I thought the author might have some interesting tips that might make my life easier. It turns out that he didn’t, at least not for work. What he said though resonates with me. As I work for Durham Bookcases (my family’s furniture store), I’m finishing my master’s in linguistics (na-na-shla-zI anyone?) and so i envy Ruohonen’s ability to speak many languages. I also know exactly what she means about something only sounding right in the original language. That’s kind of why i want to be a translator.

In some real ways writing about furniture, taking photos, marketing, and managing a website is about seeing what you see and having something to say. This blog for instance is a chance to see how our industry works, how our company works, and finding something to say about it. Not just anything, but something that helps people better understand the furniture they buy. There’s an art to taking a good product photo. I’m basically just an amateur, but i’ve found that getting the perfect lighting and backdrop for a shot is basically impossible in our building. Even if i do get good lighting and backgrounds, when i see the photo on my computer, i don’t like it and edit it anyway. Maybe i’m just too picky.

Having something to say. That’s an interesting concept in the furniture industry. Our company is a family business built in Durham, NC. We’re local and small, but we have to compete with larger companies and even with international companies that are selling into our market. It’s tough but we do it. When that’s your situation, you have something to say. You have to be able to justify why you cost more and what advantage they’re going to get by buying it from you instead of getting any-old-thing at the cheapest price possible.

So thank you Ruohonen for giving me pause to think about what i do and what my family’s company does. I hope i can think more deeply in the future about what my photos are saying and i hope i can translate that into what i write about the furniture.

It’s a matter of time – Meditations on Custom Furniture


One of the interesting things about making custom unfinished furniture and selling both standard and custom furniture is that its easy to overwhelm people. Most of the time when a person comes in, they are looking for something that suites their needs that they can take with them. It’s great when we have it, but the more functionality you need, the more likely you’re going to need something built. That is totally OK. It just might require a bit of patience.

At Durham Bookcases and similar stores, we can built what you need with the features you want. This kitchen island [1], for example, was ordered by one of our wholesale accounts in Washington, DC. We don’t keep these in stock because we don’t get that much call for them. But we built it and it turned out beautiful (at least to me!). The customer got a slat-shelf and utensil drawer. The drawer has a beadboard bottom which gives it an extra touch of charm. The slat-shelf means that water from fresh produce won’t pool and that air can circulate through what is store on it (not to mention in looks cool). This piece offers things that you might not find ready-made in a store.

It’s basically a table that has been raised and built with a drawer and shelf. So it’s similar to things we keep in stock, but required a bit of modification. We love doing that. It keeps retail and manufacturing interesting and lets customers get what their looking for.

So what does this all mean? Three things:

  1. Don’t be afraid to get what you want. You may have to look for something similar to use as a starting point and then see what modifications are available to get the features you need.
  2. Don’t be scared to let the staff make suggestions. They know their products and can probably help you get exactly what you want. When i help someone i try to keep in mind ways to get them what they want and save them money.
  3. Don’t be afraid to be patient. This is the hard one in our instantly downloadable world, but unfortunately quality and precision take time. The more features you want, the more time it might take, but in the end you get the benefits you wanted.


Why i love pine furniture

Have you ever seen something that brought back something from your childhood or just made you think of home? I’m from North Carolina, born in Raleigh, and pine trees and pine furniture does that for me. We call them Carolina Pines, those flimsy, retched little trees that grow like weeds in this state, but we love them. I have some wooden furniture made by my grandfather that he built out of pine. It’s lovely stuff really. So because of the family and state associations I love pine furniture. There’s something warm about the grain and the knots. Perhaps its a picture of how life is not perfect, but has its dark spots. whatever the reason. I love the way it looks.

My family’s unfinished furniture company, Durham Bookcases, used to build pine furniture. When we went into Afghanistan, the price for furniture-grade pine went up so high we had to look for an alternative (for some reason people did not want to pay oak or maple prices for pine furniture). In the past six months the cost for good pine materials has come down. So we’ve started building pine furniture again. This makes me happy. It’s great because it has a great price and it’s still good quality that sturdy and will last. Our pine products are available with just about as many options and customizations as the birch or oak/ maple line that you can get most anything you need in that down-home, warm pine grain.

This is why i love pine furniture. It’s simple, unassuming, and makes me think of home and family.I hope you like it too.

Unfinished for small spaces – why unfinished furniture is great for small rooms

Even though houses are larger than they were 50 years ago, we still have small rooms that can be hard to decorate. Designing a small rooms is a balance of style and utility. Unfinished furniture is great for small spaces for the following reasons:

  1. You control the interaction between color [1] , space [2], and psychology.
  2. You can find furniture that fits your space and not have to make the space fit the furniture
  3. You can get the features you need in one piece and possibly create multipurpose furniture thus saving space.
  4. You can get what you need without having to buy something bigger just because smaller sizes are not popular on the market.

For a small space, nothing gives you options like unfinished furniture. Check out your local unfinished furniture store and manufacturer to see what’s available and if you happen to be near Durham, NC come check us out at Durham Bookcases (



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