Local Designer Creates Floating House Shelves

Designed to hold small household items, Judson Beaumont's floating house shelves are the quirkiest new place to put your keys

Judson Beaumont’s new floating house shelves are an homage to architecture

It’s hard to know where to look once you step inside the Parker Street studio where Vancouver’s Judson Beaumont and his Straight Line Designs team craft their distinctive wood furniture, art installations and custom commissions. B.C.-pine-beetle wood polished and shaped to look like river stones transforms a cabinet into a conversation piece. An Airstream trailer–inspired treehouse (destined for the Vancouver International Airport) has started to take shape. And floating shelves that double as miniature mid-century houses are lined up on a wall – a dreamy 1950s-era subdivision adrift on an invisible cloud. These new curiosities from Beaumont beg for up-close inspection.

Click through to see and learn more about Beaumont’s new floating house shelves

Off-cuts as Inspiration

One Saturday, while working at the studio, a pile of wood off-cuts in the garbage caught Beaumont’s attention. “I just had a whole bunch of strips left over and I just started thinking, ‘What about [making] little side shelves, like a little floating shelf that cantilevers off the wall?’

Most of Beaumont’s ideas start on paper with him sketching away for hours, exploring shapes, unexpected features and pondering how and why things are the way they are. “I’m just curious; I’m always trying different things.”

Homage to Architecture

“I’ve always liked architecture,” says Beaumont. “I was just in Palm Springs and I loved those butterfly homes with the angles: the Alexanders.”

The 1950s homes were catalysts for the “modern-to-the-masses” building movement that took root in the California desert. Although the affordable estates had similar floor plans, their distinctive “butterfly” roof lines gave these modernist homes the aura of looking custom built.

Form Follows Function

“I want to do all different types,” says Beaumont. “I want to do a Vancouver Special, old warehouses and grain elevators… just old architectural shapes that are functional, that you can put your coffee cup on or phone, or whatever.”

Beaumont prefers to keep the houses he designs minimal, but each will include one all-important feature: a fireplace. “It’s the heart of the home,” he says.

Dollhouses for Grown-ups

Beaumont’s inimitable work includes putting arms on furniture and making pieces bend and sway and melt and drip. But his “dollhouses for grown-ups” have nary an appendage or curve in sight. Instead, the owner or observer is invited to interact, play with scale and introduce movement by adding elements, whether a set of keys, cellphone or mid-century miniature. “What about a wireless speaker there, next to a little chair?” says Beaumont.

Next up, he plans to build a diminutive garage for his friend who has a beloved collectible model car. And on a larger scale, a condo building that will stretch up the wall. We’re curious to see Beaumont’s artful take on Vancouver’s ubiquitous towers.

It’s no Facade

There’s no facade on the mini estates, Beaumont points out. “I’m making the inside of a house without a front on it. If you look at it, your brain still says, ‘yeah, that’s a house.’ It’s a cutaway view.”

Thirty years ago, when the Emily Carr student started gluing chunks of wood on canvases, his teacher encouraged him to “sculpt” in the wood shop. “I figured, the first thing I should learn to create is a box. Because if you can make a box, you can make anything,” recalls Beaumont. “So I made these beautiful geometrical cubes with one corner knocked off them…”

Not unlike an Alexander house–inspired floating shelf, with a butterfly roof line.