ISSUE 94  |  Handyman Special

Homegrown Design in Kansas City

October 17, 2013 7:00 PM

BY Margot Guralnick

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Custom furniture company Utilitarian Workshop just opened its own store and community clubhouse. Its mission: To spread the DIY ethos, plant a lot of succulents, and celebrate local makers.

The shop is open Fridays through Sundays; for more details, go to Utilitarian Workshop.

Photographs by Amy Messenger except where noted.

Above: Owners (and Kansas City natives) Nicole Williams, a graphic designer, and John Anderson, a furniture maker and restaurant designer, in their new store. Anderson’s favorite material is reclaimed wood; he put it to great use in the shop, which occupies a 1940s a garage. “It was essentially a concrete box,” he says. “We specialize in bare-knuckled design.” 

Above: Located in Westside, just up the hill from downtown, Utilitarian Workshop was founded to give local creatives a place to gather and show their work. The space is anchored by one of Anderson’s trademark tables made of reclaimed heart pine and steel. At the back of the room, restored gym lockers hold supplies. Two pots of Mother in Law’s Tongue are displayed in galvanized tin bean buckets sourced from a nearby Mexican restaurant.

Above: The walls are paneled in barn boards that Anderson gets from Elmwood Reclaimed Timber of Peculiar, Missouri–a source he’s glad to share because it’s “an immaculate company.” The marble-topped table and bench of heart pine and steel are Anderson designs. He only works with salvaged material; prices on request, see Utilitarian Workshop Furniture. The leather belts and cases on display in the foreground are by KC and Co. The hanging necklaces are made of quartz crystals and leather by Megan Roelofs of Feather Spring Arts. Photo by Chris Mullins.

Above: The Kansas State flag hangs behind a display case flanked by plants in pots wrapped in thrift store fabric and tied with rope. What look like hanging birdcages are mystery objects: Old fishing baskets? Chinese lanterns? Anyone know?

Above: A heart pine and steel table with a red resin pattern. 

Above: Feather Spring Arts Psychic Quartz Jewels necklaces hang under succulents planted in vintage mixing bowls (with holes drilled in the bottoms). The glass jugs hold pine shavings from Anderson’s workroom used like incense to perfume the store. 

Above: The central table is surrounded by 1920s Parisian bistro chairs found at a Kansas City antiques store. Coming soon: dinners curated by local chefs and craft workshops.

Above: A breakfast table and benches of Douglas fir and steel.

Above: The union-style Utilitarian Workshop logo. 

No need to stop shopping: here are our recent Shopper’s Diaries.