About ten years ago, we needed someone to build a fence around our back yard. After contacting several carpenters, handymen, and contractors without finding a single one who had time to take on our project, we were told about a guy who had just arrived in San Francisco from Texas. The Texas guy turned out to be the always sunny, optimistic, and reliable Paul Stephens.
We’ve completed many projects together since that fence: a monstrous live edge sapele wood desk, laundry room cabinets, a wine cellar, a fireplace mantle, a built-in entry coat rack and shoe cabinet, marble shelves, closets, benches, and tables to mention a few. But most importantly there was the brutalist bathroom vanity with a concrete top that changed it all! The bathroom vanity was Paul’s first piece of furniture, and it was such a fruitful venture that he decided that from then on, he would build furniture only. This was about seven years ago.
I always enjoy working with Paul. Because he is a total magician when it comes to working with wood, and because he answers most of my questions with a reassuring “everything is possible!” Another reason is the inspiring visits to his workshop in the hustling and bustling Dogpatch area. During my latest visit to discuss an upcoming project (a sideboard with sliding doors and a marble top), I took the chance to snap a few pictures of the 11 feet tall, Provence-style cabinet he was working on – can you believe those details, and the perfectly curved legs? – and the creative and orderly chaos of tools, lumber, and wood, just waiting to be turned into a new piece of furniture.
Who knew, when Paul was building that fence, that it was just the beginning of two new careers and a great friendship. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Photos: Charlotte Coffey