Small Space Furniture Building

Here in Seattle, we are currently in the process of making our little house a home. While Eddie has been living here almost a year, I just moved in, and we’re enjoying making it our own together. One of the really nice things for us has been the ability to custom-make furniture for our small space both to maximize storage potential and to save some money. While Eddie wouldn’t describe himself as handy, I took up some basic furniture building a couple years ago  after finding Ana White’s blog and find it to be a really fun, satisfying (sometimes frustrating) endeavor.

In my last place, I built a media center and two bookcases. They were really fun to make and ended up looking like they came out of a Pottery Barn catalog (but I guess I’m biased!). People were always shocked to hear I’d made them. Then came their next question, “but don’t you live in a dorm?*”Media CenterIMG_0055

So, after getting that question a million times, I thought I’d dive in and talk about what it’s like to build furniture in a small space with no access to outdoors or a garage! The short version – I lived with sawdust everywhere.

Room full of half made furniture photo

Now for the long version. In my last place, I had an extra bedroom/office area that I took over from time to time with projects. The first time I built any furniture, it took ages and I had no extra room for about 4 months while it looked like this.

I don’t have a table saw so at first, I would figure out every cut I needed to do, drive home 6 hours to my parent’s house, talk my dad into helping me buy and cut the wood, stuff all the wood into my tiny well-loved, magic Honda Fit, and drive home. Now, I do a combination of that, and getting things cut at McClendon’s – the best hardware store ever – who are happy to help me make a bunch of project cuts, even on wood I already had.

I’d work in spurts and sometimes clean up in between and sometimes live with the chaos. So, sometimes my kitchen, living room, and extra rooms looked like this:


When it came time for stain or paint, I laid down a huge drop cloth from a hardware store and went for it. While things were drying, they couldn’t really be moved, so I had to just live with it and get it done.

*This is a whole other conversation sometime, but for the first several years of my career, I worked with college residence halls and this involved living in an on-campus apartment. So technically, yes, I did live in a dorm. 


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