Inspired by architecture and furnishings from the late-19th through the mid–20th century, I design and build furniture and cabinetry with a strong period sensibility. I take pride in seeing each job through from start to finish—from close discussion of aesthetic and practical considerations to drawing, production, and painstaking installation.
Every job I undertake is highly customized in design and craftsmanship. I specialize in paying such close attention to the character of my clients’ homes that my work is often mistaken for part of their houses’ original fabric—though my goal is not to deceive, but to honor architectural character and history.
With formal training and over 30 years of professional experience as a designer-builder of furniture and cabinetry, I draw on a variety of techniques including hand-cut dovetails, hand turning of cabinet pulls, carving, and finely scribed installations.
My work has been published in Fine Woodworking, Popular Woodworking, Fine Homebuilding, Old-House Interiors, Old-House Journal, American Bungalow, Arts & Crafts Homes and the Revival, and Style: 1900, among other magazines and special-interest publications.
Nancy Hiller is a rare beast of a cabinet maker, scholar and writer.”
— Johnny Grey, Author of The Art of Kitchen Design and Kitchen Culture
I trained as a furniture maker in England, where I lived for 16 years from the time I turned 12. After earning a City and Guilds of London certificate I worked for Roy Griffiths, a Slade School of Art-trained designer, building old pine kitchens at his Crosskeys Joinery. I later worked for Millside Cabinetmakers and briefly in the carpentry shop of the Imperial War Museum at Duxford Airbase before returning to the United States. Here I worked for Wall-Goldfinger and Credence Custom Furniture before opening NR Hiller Design in 1995. I have taught cabinetmaking, furniture, and finishing courses at Kelly Mehler’s School of Woodworking, the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild, Lost Art Press storefront, and Marc Adams School of Woodworking and am a member of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers as well as a Companion of the Guild of St. George.
I build from scratch, starting with rough-sawn lumber. The commercially purchased lumber I use is Forestry Stewardship Council-certified. Whenever feasible, I buy lumber that has been locally grown, sawn, and kiln dried. I am glad to incorporate salvaged lumber, hardware, and cabinet parts when practical.
When a project calls for sheet materials I buy high quality, with a preference for American-made, formaldehyde-free products: ¾-inch veneer-core plywood (not medium-density fiberboard/”m.d.f.”) for cabinet casework, spline-jointed, glued, and screwed together for maximum strength and durability; plywood (not m.d.f.) backs and drawer bottoms, etc. On the other hand, when m.d.f. is the best material for the job, such as these custom-veneered architectural panels, that’s what I use.
Non-toxic finishes available include milk paint, shellac, and oils.
We had been saving up for a car. Cars wear out. Your work wears in.”
— P. Ash, Bloomington, Indiana
Five decades in wood