A remarkable shoe cabinet

A remarkable shoe cabinet

If you love your shoes as much as my client does, then you'll love this story.

Our most recent custom creation is a bespoke shoe cabinet. Century old timber meets a smart design with high quality craftsmanship. This shoe cabinet shows what’s possible when you listen to your clients needs, collaborate with them on design and material choices, and are given the freedom to make it without pressure.

Shoe cabinet made from reclaimed Australian hardwood


There are those that want their reclaimed timber to look like new and those that want to celebrate it where it’s at. This project is the latter. This cabinet is remarkable because we've designed something unique using timber that is more than one hundred years old and allowed it to stand up and shine.

When working with old timber, we love nothing more than celebrating its past and preparing its future. This shoe cabinet has all sorts of feature nail and bolt holes, chisel marks and marbled grain that each contribute to telling its story and making it uniquely remarkable.

This item is one of my favourite custom creations. It has taken a long time to get to this point, but its definitely worth the wait. 

To really appreciate this creation requires deeper analysis. Let’s dive in!


Humble Beginnings

I regularly ask my community what furniture they need and through that I discover a world of wonder. In June of 2023, I did exactly that and my client 'Linh' responded with "a beautiful low profile shoe cabinet that you can also sit on". From here our journey began.

The Brief:

The design thinking process is an exploration of ones context that results in a design that delivers on all user needs.

This stage is our opportunity to understand the context of our client. It can be a fun exercise that takes place over the phone, socials, email, surveys, or in person - what ever is most relevant for the client. It helps them really think about their needs, not just their wants. Learn more about our furniture design process here.

For example: 

  • What problem is it solving?
  • What does it do?
  • What does it look like?
  • How many shoes does it fit?
  • What sizes will it hold?
  • What types of shoes?
  • What shapes?
  • Where will it be located?
  • What are the measurements?
  • Who's shoes will it hold?
  • Are there any designs you've seen that you like?
  • Are there any timber species or colour tones you prefer?
  • Will it compliment other furniture in your home?
  • Will it be in direct sunlight?
  • Etc, etc....

Design Phase:

From here we begin 3D design. It's the most effective and efficient way for a client to see what they're getting before we go anywhere near the workshop. It's playful too because the client gets to hypothesise on different design ideas without it being both time or financially expensive.

The insights learned during the brief phase that needed to be incorporated in these designs were:

 Insight Design Feature
Holds ladies shoes Shelves height and depth
A few pairs of high boots Shelves cut out
Mens shoes Side gaps to allow air flow. Shelf depth and heights vary between left and right.
Used as a seat Height and timber thickness. Very accessible handles
Located at front door Very visual - a show piece
Located in hallway Sliding doors to reduce space friction
Hardwood furniture is throughout the house Timber tone to compliment other furniture
Environmentally minded Reclaimed timber with character on show


The designs evolved through client collaboration and in the end it delivered on all the insights identified.


Material selection:

When you're environmentally conscious, reclaimed timber is never a question but an expectation. This cabinet was to be a show piece in the clients home that could impart its historical story.

We started by providing offcuts of a variety of timber species to ensure the species selected was within the tone desired. The shortlist was Australian Blackwood, Spotted Gum and Blackbutt. The final selection was Spotted Gum.

It took some sourcing but we finally found some beautiful century old hardwood that had spent its prior chapter as beams in a warehouse in Sydney. To look at these timbers on selection would have been very undesirable to most, but we knew it would ooze character once cleaned up.

That first pass through the thickneser did not disappoint!

The outer cabinet was made from the century old warehouse beams whilst the shelves were made from 70+ year old timber fence railings from Robertson (shown with moss in the below photo). Both timbers revealed extraordinary characters once milled.

The doors are made from spotted gum plywood. There is less chance for movement and when closed the natural horizontal grain pattern is breathtaking.



When the design is done and you have a solid direction, the rest comes down to craftsmanship!

  • Mill the timber: square faces and edges
  • Join the timber: quality tools without shortcuts
  • Cut to size: we love precision and safety so we use a Sawstop table saw and Festool for most else.
  • Design details:
    • Waterfall edges provide that continuous grain look around the cabinet
    • The aeration feature on the side are for both function and aesthetics
    • Sliding door tracks make robust doors glide effortlessly back and forth
    • Shelf cutouts are purpose designed for the clients boots
    • Invisible shelving brackets to give that floating illusion
    • Angled legs applied at ends and middle to enable the cabinet to be both admired and used as a seat
    • Custom designed handles for function and aesthetics
    • 7mm spotted gum veneer backing for rigidity and surround aesthetics
  • Epoxy: with so many historical features (holes, cut outs, grain defects) it was essential to use epoxy to fill these voids. This meant that the timbers historical story remains visible but in a way that doesn't affect the current use.
  • Sanding: rigorous sanding was applied throughout the process. We only ever sand up to 120grit as anything past this makes it very difficult for hardwax oil to penetrate the timber.
  • Oil: we use Fiddes hardwax oil in satin which is a beautiful blend of natural oils and waxes offering exceptional durability and resistance for internal timber surfaces and areas subjected to a high degree of wear.
  • Final Touches: soft feet are applied to the base of the feet to ensure such a heavy unit can slide and not grab and also to cater to the often variances in clients flooring heights.
  • Care: this cabinet needs very little maintenance. It will continue to do its job as designed for a very long time to come. To protect the hardwax oil, we recommend aftercare protection spray by Fiddes.



People are often blown away that one can turn an old piece of dirty timber into something so remarkable. 

Group of photos of shoe cabinet making stage


Shoe cabinet made from reclaimed Australian hardwood

Shoe cabinet made from reclaimed Australian hardwood

Shoe cabinet made from reclaimed Australian hardwood

Shoe cabinet made from reclaimed Australian hardwood

Shoe cabinet made from reclaimed Australian hardwood


To get in touch to discuss your next custom project, please head to the Contact page. 

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Until next time...

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1 comment

I’m absolutely thrilled to read your blog post about the remarkable shoe cabinet you created for me. It’s been an incredible journey seeing my vision come to life through your expertise and dedication. From the initial concept to the final product, every step of the process has been a testament to your craftsmanship and attention to detail.

I can’t express enough how much I love the shoe cabinet. It’s more than just a piece of furniture—it’s a work of art that beautifully combines history, functionality, and design. The use of century-old timber and the thoughtful design elements truly make it a standout piece in my home.

Despite the project taking almost a year, every moment was worth the wait. I appreciate the time and effort you put into ensuring that every aspect of the cabinet met my needs and exceeded my expectations. It’s not just a shoe cabinet; it’s a reflection of my personality and style, thanks to your collaborative approach and dedication to customer satisfaction.

Thanks Dave once again for creating such a stunning piece for me. I will cherish it for years to come and will proudly share the story of its creation with anyone who admires it.


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