Broadleaf Studio is a Mid-Century Modern inspired design, furniture and woodworking shop run by Matthew McMillan. With impeccable attention to detail and craftsmanship, each piece is created by hand and built to last for generations.
By balancing the streamlined nature of mid-century design with the practical needs of a modern and busy lifestyle, my furniture is both beautiful and utilitarian. Built properly, furniture should be artistic and fully functional. Chairs, for instance, should provide a comfortable seat and be of solid construction to stand up to young children, pets and general use.
Like many people around the world, my wife and I (along with our dog, Maggie) live in a smaller home - about 1200 square feet. We need to utilize space intelligently and make sure we have adequate storage. Most pieces were originally conceived to be used in my own home. My focus and personal preference leans toward wall mounted furniture with a focus on both form and function.
Each piece is built by hand using fine local hardwoods that I typically mill myself, and when appropriate, durable fabric that’s easy to clean. Over the past fifteen years I have organized my workshop into a space that is well designed for building the highest quality solid wood furniture. I try to approach woodworking from a balance of efficiency, safety and a deep appreciation for the material.
In my work I use an array of hand tools and machinery. Hand work is often safer, provides a more visceral process and a more artistic expression in the resultant piece. It sounds cliché, but when you spend time working wood with tools powered by your own body, you have a much greater appreciation for the material and the process. I suppose it's like a writer who uses a typewriter rather than a computer. There's something inherently romantic about the tactile feel of getting as close as you can to your work.
Working entirely by hand, however, is not a practical approach in today’s marketplace. As such, I have outfitted my workshop with top of the line equipment. The machinery in my shop is industrial level equipment and most is 60+ years old - picked up from friends or old factories. It's a labor of love, and I enjoy putting in some elbow grease to restore old machines to their former glory. The combination of hand and power tools results in a more personalized product for the best possible value.
Any structural components are made using the strongest methods possible - generally mortise and tenon or dovetail joinery. In order for furniture to stand the test of time, the strength and integrity of each joint is of the utmost importance. Unlike most mass produced furniture that is meant to take a trip to the dump after a few years, my pieces are designed to last a lifetime. Have a look for process pictures throughout this site or on my Instagram page to see how things are made.
Though I primarily use solid hardwoods, a veneered surface sometimes makes more sense. When needed, I prefer to make my own bandsawn veneer in house to have complete control over material thicknesses and grain pattern. This is the sort of attention to detail that I believe is crucial and separates my work from others.