Tough Customer

 I’ve heard it said that the most demanding customers are the ones who have (or think they have) a higher level of knowledge about a product. The guy who’s driven by price is easy. You can either hit the price or you can’t. But that customer with strong ideas can push back and challenge you. I like to look at it another way and view it as an opportunity to grow. I’ve dealt with many tough customers in a past life in manufacturing: Boeing, Sikorsky, Caterpillar, John Deere, Harley Davidson, none however as tough as my wife Barb Walker. She doesn’t give a rat if I have some amazing wood I’m dying to build with, and is not impressed with a new technique I’m anxious to try. She’s good and she’s usually right. She jokes about making a video titled “How to Get What You Want – Advice for living with a woodworker”.

Right now I’m in the early stages of designing a sideboard or a serving table for our dining room. At this point I only have a vague idea of where it’s going and a short list of requirements. First, the room is small. Our oval dining table is flanked on one side by a small serving (think sofa table) that’s 30” high X 14” deep X 54” long sitting where the new piece will go. Right now there is about 32” of clearance between the dining table and the smaller table. When we squeeze in family for a meal it’s tight already. Barb wants something with a little storage space. We have debated everything from a narrow table with a single row of drawers in the apron to a small chest of drawers tucked into the corner. I tend to favor a traditional  sideboard form that might offer a little more storage. I’m getting way ahead of my self.

Right now I’m just trying to establish the footprint and it’s really about comfortable traffic flow. I usually don’t use graph paper but it’s handy when looking at a room layout. I made up a scale drawing of the dining room and placed sticky notes to show the relation between the dining table and the small table that currently sits there. The dotted line touching the edge of the small table represents that 32” of clearance that I don’t want to lose. To the right are possible options for sizing the new piece. Barb and I will discuss this weekend and hopefully get this resolved.

George R. Walker

About walkerg

Woodworker and writer
This entry was posted in Design Basics, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Tough Customer

  1. Jared says:

    My wife was reading this post over my shoulder and would like to be notified when your wife’s video is available.

    – Jared

  2. Neal Foxworthy says:


    I have seen huntboards that are curved on both the front and back sides that are designed to fit into a bay window. This may give you the clerance you ae after.


    • walkerg says:


      That’s an interesting tack I had not thought of. In this case it may not work as the bay windows extend down to within 18″ of the floor. A 30″ or taller sideboard would partially block the window. The concept of a curved peice to set in a nook like this is an idea I’ll tuck away for future reference.


  3. jlsmith says:


    Its clear that you want to keep an open mind about the design but your potential shapes are restricted to only modified rectangles. I wonder if you might explain why this is so. Is it based on traditional forms? There is clearly a potential for some sort of a corner design. Have you eliminated this option for some reason?


    • walkerg says:

      Yes in this room at least, I am sticking with something a bit more traditional, thus the rectangular based form. I kicked around an idea for something built into the corner some time ago (I’ve been promising to build this for years). Not sure why, but that aproach went down in flames. The space already has two built in corner cupboards flanking the bay window. The house was built in 1949 and has very nice existing architectural moldings and built-ins . Something I would never be able to afford if I was buying new construction.

  4. Pingback: Limit the palette and make it memorable « Design Matters

Comments are closed.