YOUsonian Furniture


Frank Lloyd Wright designed some Usonian furniture specifically for the Goetsch-Winckler house.  In addition to the built-in desk, sofa and bookshelves, there are end tables, low stools, dining chairs and dining table sections that came with the house.  The house plans show wooden beds as well, but the original owners took those when they moved.

It is interesting how little else is needed to furnish the home.  We added a bed, a grand piano, rolling desk chair, some comfortable chairs by the fireplace, and a snack table expertly constructed by our neighbor’s woodworker father that is designed to look like the low stools.  But one space remained an empty canvas.

No matter what other owners have arranged, the Studio wall perpendicular to the entrance doors does not feel like a place to sit.  It is an area to pass through on the way to the various activity centers of the open living space, and the perfect spot for a storage/display piece. (Yes, a major art piece would also be appropriate once the thermostat that protrudes like a giant brass clown nose smack in the middle of the wall is dealt with.)

Unsure of what we might store or display in this space, and not finding any retail offerings that spoke to us, we decided, in a moment of temporary insanity, to construct an interim piece.  As the photo discloses, we have no, I repeat NO woodworking skills!  But in the spirit of Usonian do-it-yourself, this did not stop us from  building our own YOUsonian credenza.

Our brick and board bookshelf utilizes bricks salvaged from a deconstructed outdoor pathway, one 4’x8’ sheet of plywood cut to order by the home center, and molding cut by us (measure twice, cut once, swear repeatedly).  Including wood stain, we spent about $40.  (Yeah, I know, hard to believe it’s worth that much!)

Our intention was to replicate the height, trim and color of the built-in desk and dining table, which we did.  We realize that our creation is to a fine woodworker as an out of tune kazoo band is to a classical musician, but it is allowing us to discover what type of custom piece we will need for the space.

The Norm Abrams of the world can rest assured that WE woodworkers have no intention of building any more YOUsonian furniture, but perhaps some of YOU fine woodworkers have ideas for an 8’ wide and exactly 27.5” tall open and/or closed storage piece that retains the details of the Goetsch-Winckler’s original furniture.  If so, please share your ideas in the comments.

3 thoughts on “YOUsonian Furniture

  1. It is a unique hidden storage system. An area of horizontal boards in the hallway wall are piano hinged to open upwards, each one with a shelf behind. The original owners were artists and it seems like the perfect spot for storing paint and supplies. I’m emailing you a photo. I’m working on better photos for a post on all the interesting storage spaces in the home. Watch for it later in November.

  2. Audrey, thanks for the reply.
    One other question. What is going on on the other side of this book shelf from the hallway side? From what plans I’ve got there is a closet with doors that the bookshelf backs into. Your reply makes me think that it might not be a closet with doors but something else.

  3. Audrey,
    Is there a built in recessed bookshelf some where in your house?
    I recently saw a photograph in Carla Lind’s palm size Pomegranate edition of Usonian Houses. On page 12 there is an interior shot, said to be of Goetsch-Winkler. It shows a built in recessed bookshelf. Is this accurate and if so where is it? … the first bedroom backing into the closet?

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