Around the house: Teak Wall Unit

February 20th, 2009


[bull figurine by Royal Dux from Czech/Bohemia, plant by IKEA, teak candlesticks purchased from ebay]

My mom bought a Danish teak wall unit in 1971 from the Cado line designed by Poul Cadovius. Even then, it was an investment piece, costing over a thousand dollars so if you ever find a solid teak modular unit and it’s $1000-1500, it’s not that crazy a price. She lived in downtown Toronto back then, but has since moved into a condo and the wall unit just doesn’t work anymore so I was fortunate enough to have it passed on to me. It fills a space in our eat-in kitchen perfectly, and allows us to display our many objects.

Which leads me to vignetting. This is such a tricky art, and although I would not dare to assume that we are experts on it, I must say John has a certain ability with it. So knowing how hard it is, we thought we’d offer up some inspiration.

But first: a breakdown of the wall unit, because it’s a remarkable piece of furniture. It comes with four vertical pieces (one not shown) that use the tension of springs and a couple of screws into the ceiling to stay in place. We’re pushing the limits of these pieces right now because our ceiling is almost too tall to hold them in place. The heavy bottom sections are a record rack and bar–right now they house random stuff and alcohol. The magazine tray is one of my favourite parts because I always have newspapers littering the kitchen–yes, I am one of those who “reads” the weekend paper all week long. We’re using the 3 narrow shelves because small objects are better displayed on a shelf that is not so deep.

Not shown: a giant tv tray, a couple of deeper shelves and a large two shelf compartment that has glass sliding doors, for glassware I assume, but one of the doors has gone MIA over the years. The most incredible thing about this modular unit is that each solid teak (read: heavy) section is held in place by little wooden pegs that slide diagonally down into the holes that line the vertical pieces. This has baffled me ever since I was a child because these pegs are only about an inch long and I can barely lift those heavy lower pieces.



The non-committal era: this is the first configuration we had and as you can tell, we were totally clueless on where to go with it.  Although it’s not the worst setup, it’s not all that interesting either.


The school project: by this time we’d progressed from the previous photo. We’ve moved the shelves so they are on top of each other, and we filled the opposite space with a piece of art.

I had to do a self-portrait for a school assignment so John helped me rig this set up. Funnily enough, we basically moved objects from the living room into the kitchen, proving that our style, though varied about our space, does work together. So this set up is definitely conveying a more old timey look. The record stand is acting as a record stand, for once. Notice the use of repetition and colour scheme, as well as a variety of scale. I think those are the most important components in creating an effective display. We’ve used compatible shades of dark red, blue, black and white for a cohesive look. Books create verticle and horizontal lines that mimic the wall unit. A couple of cameras and a telephone play off of each other. We kept the figurines to birds only and grouped three German pottery vases together. The globe is a larger piece so we left it on it’s own to provide some breathing room.


Current configuration: And here is the current look. Of course, when we first devised this set up, it was a lot sparser but our compulsion to collect is filling up the shelves slowly but surely. We need more display cases!

This time around, we went for  a white colour theme (with dashes of black, dark blue and green). Glass bottles, figurines and scales dominate. The materials are all similar, mostly glass, enamelware (the coating on enamel is fused powdered glass) and white ceramics. Breakable is also an applicable key word.

Circle shapes are found all throughout, the family scale on the bottom right of the unit is intentionally paired with the danish decorative plate right above it, while all glass bottles, enamelware, bowls, plants, candlesticks, have circular bottoms as well. The glassware is important because it’s got shape and substance but visually the light travels through it and you can see through it so it’s less present than say the white enamel pot. We felt that some small green plants were needed to provide an organic feel and a splash of colour (now if only we could remember to water them!).

We created more interest by grouping objects in odd numbers, each shelf has a grouping of three atleast once. We also laid out the objects at different heights to create a sense of scale, and an overall balance when looking at the wall unit in it’s entirety–the highest and lowest shelf have large scaled objects at each end, and the two middle shelves have their large objects in the middle.

And just for some further eye candy:


[scale from Value Village, figurine from John’s mom, Swedish Cakes & Cookies cookbook–I’m still dying to try making the Napoleon, the ultimate in pastry]


[viking glass figurine by Hadeland Glassverk Norway given as a gift by our good friend Rita, vintage ceramic bird figurine given as a gift to Juli from John, Copenhagen plate from Value Village]


[These milk bottles are art pieces that I bought from distill in the Distillery District, vintage 1940s owl figurine from Rogue Gallery, Queen St E]


[hey! it’s the Kaj Franck mushroom bowl!]


[vintage postage scale bought from the Christie Antique Market–the next one is in May, deer figurine from Value Village]


[woman figurine/bell from Value Village and enamel pot from the cottage]


[vintage milk bottles from my Aunt Gwen – she has a huge collection from her father, deer figure from John’s mom]

So basically, this display consist mostly of vintage finds and gifts received meaning that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have an interesting display.

5 quick Tips to Vignetteing

1) stick to a colour theme

2) odd numbers make for interesting groupings

3) use a variety of heights & weights

4) repetition– find a connection between the objects you’re displaying

5) take your time to find objects you love

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