Design and Inspiration #1: Visiting Sam Maloof's House ... updated 12/28/07

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Blog entry by gizmodyne posted 12-28-2007 04:24 AM 7649 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Design and Inspiration series Part 2: Mission Furniture: How to Build It »

I received tickets to the tour the Sam Maloof foundation from my in-laws for Christmas, and we headed out for the tour today. The house and workshop are located in Alta Loma, California about 35 minutes from my house. You can’t take photos inside, but I took a few outside and through the windows.

The house and workshop were moved from their prior location in 2000. They built a new house as well as a little bookstore, and an art gallery.

View of the facilities with mountains in the background.

Passageway with bamboo.

A peek into the workshop.

Sam’s garden gate.

Garden Gate Latch

A peek into the house.

The Furniture
As we toured the house we were allowed touch the furniture. I had seen many pieces at museums and in his auto-biography, but touching the work was amazing. The finish is flawless. Silky smooth and natural grain.

The finale: We got to sit in a Maloof armchair. Very comfortable; great lumbar support! I highly recommend a visit.

Supporting Art
Sam Maloof supports other people’s art as well. It would be easy for a rich and famous guy to only say: look and me and my work. However, the house is filled with other people’s art: local artists, both famous and up and coming artists, street artists, his friends. The foundation, in fac,t accepts art from unknown artists. Write a letter to Sam for consideration in the new gallery.

Using what you have

Sam reminds me of my wife’s grandfathers who would be/ are from the same generation. Nothing is or was wasted, and they would never live outside of their means.

When Sam was starting out, the house was a tiny guest keepers cottage. He had no furniture until he made some. According to the tour, he refused to go into debt to buy wood or expand his home. Therefore the house is built with recycled materials galore. Also, the early pieces are made of less wood then you would think. His early kitchen table has a cork top, and then many of these pieces were upholstered. Now that he has money, he works in exotic hardwoods as well as the traditional walnut.

If you have never read his auto-biography, it is a great picture of his early life and influences with a strong theme of the love and support his wife offered him as a woodworker. Very inspiring.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

13 comments so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5198 days

#1 posted 12-28-2007 05:03 AM

It just feels like a home! Thanks John.

View Dadoo's profile


1790 posts in 4874 days

#2 posted 12-28-2007 05:05 AM

Cool tour Giz. Thanx for shareing!

-- Make Woodworking Great Again!

View Kaleo's profile


201 posts in 5023 days

#3 posted 12-28-2007 05:10 AM

Man what an awesome experience, thanks for sharing the pictures

-- Kaleo ,

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

514 posts in 4953 days

#4 posted 12-28-2007 05:41 AM

It is quiet an insperation being there at his shop and house.Did you get to meet Sam?He does “a day with Sam Maloof “at his house also ,I think like 3 times a year I have been to that once and would highly recomend it

-- Scott NM,

View gizmodyne's profile


1784 posts in 4974 days

#5 posted 12-28-2007 05:47 AM

No meeting. Just the tour. I saw the class listed through Riverside Extension but is already full. I will keep looking. He is about to turn 92, so I gotta get on it.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

514 posts in 4953 days

#6 posted 12-28-2007 05:55 AM

Yeah make sure if you can get in I’d do it,you will love it.It fills up VERY quick though so keep your eye out for it.I will try and post some pictures from the class

-- Scott NM,

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 4920 days

#7 posted 12-28-2007 05:57 AM

Thanks for sharing the tour!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4977 days

#8 posted 12-28-2007 06:07 AM

That was a great gift from you in-laws. I have tour envy.

As for as the day-with-Sam Maloof thing, I think there may be a list you can get on for email notification. One of the members of our woodworking guild was lucky enough to get that experience. I think he mentioned in a newsletter article that is how he found out.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4983 days

#9 posted 12-28-2007 12:23 PM

You’re killing me.


-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4758 days

#10 posted 12-28-2007 02:01 PM

What a wonderful gift. I’d consider it better than a museum tour, because it is (was) lived in.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4846 days

#11 posted 12-28-2007 03:17 PM

Thanks, John, for including us in your experience.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View DrSawdust's profile


323 posts in 4982 days

#12 posted 12-28-2007 07:55 PM

What an awesome experience. Thanks John.

-- Making sawdust is what I do best

View RBWoodworker's profile


442 posts in 4236 days

#13 posted 03-23-2009 07:13 PM

I have toured Sam’s place and have been there many times since he lives not far from me.. I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to be among the makes you just want to run home and start beautiful pictures and glad you had a great time..

-- Randall Child

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