Greene & Greene Cabinet Inspired by the Thorsen House

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Project by JoeMcGlynn posted 09-25-2014 12:53 PM 7349 views 22 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This past weekend I finished a project I’ve been fiddling with for the past two months or so. I only get a few hours each weekend to work in the shop, and I started and finished another project in the middle of this one, so it felt like it took eons to get completed. The complete blow-by-blow details are on my blog.

The backstory on this cabinet is that it’s inspired by the wall cabinet in the Thorsen house in Berkley, Ca, the last of the Greene & Greene “ultimate bungalows”. The original cabinet is a spectacular piece, with really elegant details and several subtle surprises—like the fact that it’s recessed into the wall so that it is much deeper than it appears from the protrusion into the room. Dale Barnard designed this adaptation, which is essentially a simplified version of 1/3 of the original cabinet shown below.

I wanted to make a few small changes to Dale’s design, and also was having trouble picturing some of the construction details. To help with this I modeled the cabinet in SolidWorks, then generated my own plans with all of the details for the joinery. I end up doing this for a lot of my projects, it really helps me in the shop when I can focus on making parts and not worrying about figuring our how the parts are going to relate to each other.

The construction was pretty straightforward, with the door being the exception for me. I was really concerned about getting all of the muntins and mullions (whatever those are) fit properly. In the end it was pretty straightforward.

Once the wood construction was completed, the door hung and all of the hardware fitted it was time for finishing. I recently made a version of the Thorsen side table (AKA plant stand), also out of sapele, so I used the same finishing recipe: TransTint Reddish0Brown dye, Linseed Oil, Garnet Shellac and a rub out with 0000 steel wool and black wax.

The last detail was to make the sailed glass panel for the door. I tried a different approach, and built a copper frame to fit the rebate in the door first, and then drew up my patterns and cut the glass to fit. The glass panels were made using Armstrong iridized art glass, assembled with copper folk and solder.

I’m really happy with the end result, and looking forward to starting my next G&G piece which will be based on the Blacker house serving table. I have to spend some time figuring out how to do the inlay as that will be new ground for me.

-- Blog:

16 comments so far

View JoeMcGlynn's profile


219 posts in 3570 days

#1 posted 09-25-2014 01:16 PM

I should have mentioned—the cabinet will be hung on the wall. It’s sitting on the table because I need to repaint the room before I hang it. I recessed keyhole hangers on the back for this.

-- Blog:

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 3489 days

#2 posted 09-25-2014 01:25 PM

Wow! That’s a beautiful interpretation.
Your glass doors came out awesome and your use of the ‘cloud’ ornamentation is spot on.

Very nicely executed and a Great ‘Fit and Finish’.

Best Regards. – Grandpa Len.
Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View mmh's profile


3697 posts in 4939 days

#3 posted 09-25-2014 01:53 PM

Very nicely executed! This is a real classic with an extra flare of beauty.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4170 days

#4 posted 09-25-2014 02:29 PM

Lovely piece. Nicely done.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View edward60's profile


155 posts in 3140 days

#5 posted 09-25-2014 03:22 PM

Beautiful cabinet and beautiful G&G project. I like combination of the stained glass with wood in the G&G style furniture. Thank you for the blog.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3509 days

#6 posted 09-25-2014 04:07 PM

Absolutely beautiful! Also, thanks for the link to your blog that provides great details as to every step of construction, including the glass work. I look forward to studying your blog when I have more time, but would ask now if there are any particular reference sources and supply sources you recommend for doing G&G stain glass. Thanks for the post, and congratulations on a well deserved DT3!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

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3751 posts in 3634 days

#7 posted 09-25-2014 08:02 PM

fabulous piece!

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4364 days

#8 posted 09-25-2014 11:41 PM

Man that is absolutely beautiful! I love the G&G style, and your cabinet is a wonderful example! I’d really love to visit some of the Ultimate Bungalows, but I think only the Gamble House is open to the public.

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

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2795 posts in 4232 days

#9 posted 09-26-2014 03:29 AM


View JoeMcGlynn's profile


219 posts in 3570 days

#10 posted 09-26-2014 05:09 AM

Thanks for the compliments, it was a fun project.

Besides the Gamble house, there are a couple of other places to go see G&G stuff. The Huntington in Pasadena has quite a few pieces of original G&G furniture. The Thorsen house in Berkley is available for tours, hosted by the college fraternity that owns the house. The Thorsen house needs some substantial renovation and repair – parts of it are fairly well preserved, but other areas are quite run down.

I’m hoping to stop in at the Gamble house Sunday on my way to San Diego.

-- Blog:

View Phil Clark's profile

Phil Clark

359 posts in 5012 days

#11 posted 09-26-2014 01:40 PM

Simply beautiful in style and execution.

-- Legacy Woodcraft

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4364 days

#12 posted 09-27-2014 12:06 AM

Joe, if you do stop by the Gamble House, get some photos for us!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View sras's profile


6330 posts in 4345 days

#13 posted 09-29-2014 03:23 PM

That is a first class project. Excellent interpretation!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View a1Jim's profile


118200 posts in 4793 days

#14 posted 09-29-2014 03:28 PM

Impressive build and design adaptation ,beautiful ,excellent workmanship.


View notajoiner's profile


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#15 posted 09-29-2014 03:45 PM

Stunning from start to finish. Thank you for documenting the process in such detail!

-- Embrace imperfection.

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