Why Shell Out Big Cash For Mass-Produced Furniture When Khaki Caekaert Can Build It?

If there's one thing I love, it's a man who goes by his initials. If there's another thing I love it's anyone who will re-create Anthropologie furniture for a fraction of the price. I found both in a local woodworker named Khaki Caekaert. But you can all him K.C.

My path to K.C. began when I discovered this amazing chest of drawers on Anthropologie.com. The drawers from "Anthro" were on sale for $1,789 with an additional $300 for shipping. Ouch. Double ouch since my parents didn't leave me a furniture fund. Instead I just lusted after that reclaimed wood bitch for weeks until I had an idea -- why not ask a friend who's learning woodworking if he knew anyone that could make it for me? That lead me to K.C. who quoted me $800 for the entire piece -- design, wood, build, varnish, pulls, etc. Fortunately, I have a brain that works so I said, "Let's do this."

When I first met K.C., it was after he'd completed my media cabinet/credenza/T.V. stand with cabinets. I went to his shop on the rainiest of nights and walked into everything I imagined a woodshop to be. It smelled like a mix of sawdust and varnish and there were gorgeous custom-made pieces everywhere.

K.C. lead me to my cabinet and started talking me through it. And K.C. loves to talk. He told me about how the boards were reclaimed and the dangers of working with reclaimed wood which is why the price tag is typically higher. There can be nails or metal bits buried inside the boards,so when you run it through a drill you might break the machine or the board might just kick back and break you. K.C. told me that my piece was made of reclaimed cedar and the planks were so thick they split them down the middle for practical purposes. So now, the inside looks brand new, but the outside is just as rustic as I wanted. There are no screws, nails or bolts holding my cabinet together. It's all fitted joints the way a true artist does it. I know this is shocking, but IKEA isn't an artist. Weird, right?

K.C. learned woodworking pretty much through trial and error and if you've ever been to Twisted Root SMU or the desperately missed Cowboy Chow, you're already familiar with the fine arts of Khaki Caekeart. For those restaurants and others he's created tables, chairs, desks, steam tables, saloon-style doors (Hey pardner, let's get pissin') and more. He even designed and built several abstract buffalo heads and a 7-foot carved wood Indian. He's created works of art without wood, too, and poured countertops with car parts, made a huge service counter for a movie-themed restaurant in Fairview and carved a backscratcher with the middle finger extended for a personal friend. So, yeah, K.C. has a sense of humor, too.

When I asked him how he got into woodworking, I got the Encyclopedia Britannica version and now you're going to get it, too. Like I said, K.C. loves to talk ... and I don't love to edit. He grew up in Montana and has held just about every job you can imagine. He was a cowboy, a professional bowler and eventually went into heating and air. Several years ago, his family needed someone to fix up his mother's house for sale and reluctantly he agreed. While he was restoring the house, he realized he knew more than he gave himself credit for and found his next calling -- carpentry. He bought some books and got to work -- tinkering around with techniques. On more than one occasion he refers to what he does as artwork and it truly is. He says he plays around with art and wood when "he's not trying to make money."

The other thing that sets K.C. apart is he is both the designer and the builder. If you have the pleasure of touring his shop, you'll see that come to life. There are small tabletop boxes with parquet inlay that he's created, huge wall hangings, cedar chests and more. His natural curiosity keeps him busy and his gift of gab will keep you entertained. You're just as likely to find him carving a walking stick as you are re-creating a cabinet. But the one thing that's consistent in all his work is dedication and insistence on perfection.

He told me that if anything ever goes wrong with the cabinet to call him and he'll fix it. He stands behind everything he does and it shows. He's part of a pocket of artisans who are tucked away over near White Rock Lake. I know for a fact there's an upholsterer over there who moonlights as a clown. Seriously. His business card is two-sided.

So in this "Shop Local" world we're living in, it makes it easy to feel good by supporting your local artisans ... especially when they're right in your own backyard. They mostly rely on word-of-mouth so ask around. It's a tightknit community, too, so they likely know someone who knows someone who can do what you're looking for. And in the meantime, if they wanna scratch that Anthropologie itch? More power to them. In true old-school fashion, K.C. doesn't currently have a website, though he's working on an Etsy shop. If you'd like to reach him, call 214-938-0228 and he'll tell you where to find him.

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