Title:
Modular furniture and method of forming same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular furniture assembly including a first freestanding furniture unit having a frame with a first side having a first preformed hole, and the frame supporting a sink. The assembly further including a second freestanding furniture unit having a first side with a second preformed hole, and a first fastener positioned within the first and second preformed holes to secure the first and second furniture units together to from an integral, first furniture assembly. Also, a method of forming a modular furniture system, including opening a first preformed hole in a first freestanding furniture unit by removing a first removably replaceable plug from within the first preformed hole, opening a second preformed hole in a second freestanding furniture unit by removing a second removably replaceable plug from within the second preformed hole, and positioning a first fastener within the first and second preformed holes to secure the first and second furniture units together to from an integral, first furniture assembly.



Inventors:
Lizell, Christopher A. (Green Lane, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/399389
Publication Date:
08/24/2006
Filing Date:
04/07/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B77/08; A47B77/04; A47B81/00; A47B91/00; A47B96/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HANSEN, JAMES ORVILLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MOAZZAM & ASSOCIATES, LLC (MCLEAN, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A modular furniture assembly, comprising: a first freestanding furniture unit having a frame with a first side having a first preformed hole, said frame supporting a sink; a second freestanding furniture unit having a first side with a second preformed hole; and a first fastener positioned within the first and second preformed holes to secure the first and second furniture units together to from an integral, first furniture assembly.

2. An assembly according to claim 1, wherein said first furniture unit has feet with adjustable leveling devices.

3. An assembly according to claim 2, wherein said adjustable leveling devices include a threaded element.

4. An assembly according to claim 1, wherein said first furniture unit has a first opening extending through a second side that is structured and arranged to receive a conduit.

5. An assembly according to claim 4, wherein said first opening extends through a baseboard that is positioned under said sink.

6. An assembly according to claim 4, wherein said second side is a rear vertical side of said first furniture unit.

7. An assembly according to claim 4, wherein: the second side of the first furniture unit is covered with a removably replaceable panel and the first opening extends through said panel.

8. A method of forming a modular furniture system, comprising: opening a first preformed hole in a first freestanding furniture unit by removing a first removably replaceable plug from within the first preformed hole; opening a second preformed hole in a second freestanding furniture unit by removing a second removably replaceable plug from within the second preformed hole; and positioning a first fastener within the first and second preformed holes to secure the first and second furniture units together to from an integral, first furniture assembly.

9. A method according to claim 8, further comprising: removing the first fastener from the first and second preformed holes and closing the first preformed hole again by reinserting a plug into the first preformed hole.

10. A method according to claim 9, further comprising: closing the second preformed hole again by reinserting a plug into the second preformed hole.

11. A method according to claim 8, further comprising: removing the first fastener from the first and second preformed holes; positioning the first fastener within the first preformed hole of the first freestanding furniture unit and within a third preformed hole in a third freestanding furniture unit to secure the first and third furniture units together as an integral, second furniture assembly.

12. A method according to claim 8, further comprising: further securing the first and second furniture units together with a second fastener extending through additional predrilled holes in said first and second furniture units after removing an additional releasably securable plug from each of the additional predrilled holes.

13. A method according to claim 8, further comprising: adjusting leveling devices on the feet of the first and second furniture units to level the single furniture assembly.

14. A method according to claim 8, further comprising: forming a first opening in the first furniture unit; and connecting a conduit to the first furniture unit, the pipe extending through the first opening.

15. A method according to claim 14, wherein the first opening extends through the baseboard.

16. A method according to claim 14, wherein the first opening extends through a rear side of the first furniture unit.

17. A method according to claim 8, further comprising: covering an opening in a first side of the first furniture unit with a removably replaceable panel, the first furniture unit having a frame and four sides, and the opening leading to the interior of the frame; removing the panel from the first side to expose the opening in the first side; and attaching one of a door and a drawer to the first side to provide selective access to the opening and to the interior of the frame.

18. A method of forming furniture, comprising: covering an opening in a first side of a freestanding furniture unit with a removably replaceable panel, the furniture unit having a frame and four sides and the opening leading to the interior of the frame; removing the panel from the first side to expose the opening in the first side; attaching a device to the first side to provide selective access to the opening; and opening and closing the device to selectively access the interior of the frame.

19. A method according to claim 18, wherein opening and closing the device includes pivoting open a door.

20. A method according to claim 18, wherein opening and closing the device includes sliding open a drawer.

21. A method according to claim 18, further comprising: removing the device that provides selective access to the opening; and replacing the panel to its previous position on the first side of the first free standing furniture unit.

22. A method according to claim 18, further comprising: providing one of a drawer and a door to another side of the freestanding furniture unit that is opposite to the one side of the furniture unit.

23. A method according to claim 18, further comprising: adjusting leveling devices on the feet of the first and second furniture units to level the single furniture assembly.

24. A method of forming a modular furniture system, comprising: opening a first preformed hole in a first freestanding furniture unit by removing a first removably replaceable plug from within the first preformed hole; and positioning a first fastener within the first preformed hole to secure the first furniture unit to a second furniture unit as an integral, first furniture assembly.

25. A method according to claim 24, further comprising: removing the first fastener from the first preformed hole and closing the first preformed hole by reinserting a plug into the first preformed hole.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/167186, filed Jun. 28, 2005, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/582,813, filed Jun. 28, 2004. Each of the above-identified applications is hereby incorporated herein by reference in their entirety, respectively.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to furniture such as cabinets and, in particular, to a cabinet structure for accommodating conduits such as plumbing and electrical wiring and outlets, and methods for forming modular cabinet assemblies.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One aspect of the present invention relates to a modular furniture assembly, including a first freestanding furniture unit having a frame with a first side having a first preformed hole, said frame supporting a sink; a second freestanding furniture unit having a first side with a second preformed hole; and a first fastener positioned within the first and second preformed holes to secure the first and second furniture units together to from an integral, first furniture assembly.

Another aspect of the present invention is a method of forming a modular furniture system, including opening a first preformed hole in a first freestanding furniture unit by removing a first removably replaceable plug from within the first preformed hole; opening a second preformed hole in a second freestanding furniture unit by removing a second removably replaceable plug from within the second preformed hole; and positioning a first fastener within the first and second preformed holes to secure the first and second furniture units together to from an integral, first furniture assembly.

Another aspect of the present invention is a method of forming furniture, including covering an opening in a first side of a freestanding furniture unit with a removably replaceable panel, the furniture unit having a frame and four sides and the opening leading to the interior of the frame; removing the panel from the first side to expose the opening in the first side; attaching a device to the first side to provide selective access to the opening; and opening and closing the device to selectively access the interior of the frame.

Another aspect of the present invention is a method of forming a modular furniture system, comprising: opening a first preformed hole in a first freestanding furniture unit by removing a first removably replaceable plug from within the first preformed hole; and positioning a first fastener within the first preformed hole to secure the first furniture unit to a second furniture unit as an integral, first furniture assembly.

Other objects, features, and advantages of the illustrated embodiments of the present invention and the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the illustrated embodiments of the present invention, the accompanying drawings, and the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The illustrated embodiments of the present invention are further described in the detailed description which follows, by reference to the noted drawings by way of non-limiting exemplary embodiments, in which like reference numerals represent similar parts throughout the several views of the drawings, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary removable modular baseboard system in an assembled position, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram showing an exploded view of the exemplary removable modular baseboard system shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary cabinet having a partially assembled removable modular baseboard system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram showing exemplary removable boards having notches that fit around conduits, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary removable modular baseboard system that includes a detachable base with four sides, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary removable modular baseboard system that includes a detachable base with one side, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary cabinet containing a removable modular baseboard system without a base, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary cabinet containing a modular shelf unit and a removable modular baseboard system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a modular furniture assembly in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of three units of the assembly of FIG. 9 arranged in a different configuration than in FIG. 9 and without side coverings or counter tops in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of units of the assembly of FIG. 9 separate from each other and the other units of the assembly.

FIG. 12 is a cross-section along line 12-12 in FIG. 1 with respect to the middle unit illustrated in FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 is a front view in partial cross-section of the unit illustrated in FIG. 12.

FIG. 14 is a rear view of two, attached furniture units in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 15 is a rear view of the two, attached furniture units illustrated in FIG. 14 but showing the panels having been replaced with a drawer and a door, in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 16-16 in FIG. 6.

FIG. 17 is a partial, cross-sectional view similar to FIG. 13, but showing another foot configuration in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

Before one or more embodiments of the invention are described in detail, one skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction, the arrangements of components, and the arrangement of steps set forth in the following detailed description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

The illustrated embodiments of the present invention, and especially with respect to FIGS. 9-17, show a modular cabinetry system composed of various configurations of freestanding furniture modules. Each module may include provisions for such things as modular connectivity, conduit routing, toe-kicks, and base seals for kitchen and bath applications. The embodiments provide for a simplified and completely non-marring installation process allowing for the flexibility, value, and reuse properties of fine furniture within common cabinetry applications. The embodiments may bridge the gap between furniture and common cabinetry products by providing, among other things, a secure and non-marring mounting method, non-marring modular attachment method, a non-marring conduit routing method, and a comprehensive toe-kick option with non-marring base seals, all within a modular and freestanding furniture design that presents many advantages over common cabinetry products, as will be seen.

Among the wide variety of applications, some applications of the invention may include kitchen cabinetry, kitchen islands, and bathroom vanities. The invention may also find use in many other applications where built-in cabinetry, or freestanding furniture is utilized.

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary removable modular baseboard system 100 in an assembled position, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Removable modular baseboard system 100 includes receiving frame 110 in which a plurality of removable boards 130 is disposed. Removable boards 130 are shown in FIG. 1 as having substantially the same width and substantially the same length. In another embodiment of the present invention, removable boards 130 vary in width. In another embodiment of the present invention, removable boards 130 vary in length.

Receiving frame 110 defines the board-receiving area. Receiving frame 110 is constructed from a single sheet of material. In another embodiment, receiving frame 110 is constructed from two or more pieces of material.

Receiving frame 110 is mounted on top of base 120. Brush seal 160 is affixed to the other side of base 120. Base 120 and brush seal 160 define the height of the access area beneath removable boards 130. Brush seal 160 is designed to contact the floor. An exemplary brush seal 160 includes a polypropylene bristle in a metal channel with an overall height of approximately 0.88 inches. Brush seals are manufactured by Precision Brush Company of Solon, Ohio, for example. Bristle material and color is chosen depending on the application and customer preference. For example, in a kitchen or bath area, a bristle material resistant to water, fungus, and bacteria, such as nylon or polypropylene, is used. In other applications such as entertainment centers, horse or goats hair bristles are used for the desired look, color, and feel. The bristle density can also be chosen to suit particular applications. For example, if the cabinet is placed over an HVAC vent, a lower bristle density is chosen for greater airflow. In a kitchen area, a very high density bristle is chosen for a tighter seal against water, dirt, and pests.

Alternatively, brush seal 160 could be any air permeable barrier that allows the passage of air, compensates for the unevenness of a floor, and eliminates any gaps visible between the bottom of the cabinet and the floor. For example, plastic strips or cloth strips could be used in lieu of a brush seal.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram showing an exploded view of the exemplary removable modular baseboard system 100 shown in FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 2, removable boards 130 are shown with varying widths.

FIG. 2 shows that base 120 and brush seal 160 define the air gap between receiving frame 110 and the floor. FIG. 2 also shows that removable boards 130 are supported by lip 170 formed in receiving frame 110. Removable boards 130 are also held in place by contact with each other. Removable boards 103 can rest next to each other or can interlock, such as by tongue and groove connections. If air circulation is desired, boards 103 can be placed with slight gaps in between adjacent boards. Lip 170 is formed around a board receiving area of receiving frame 110. In another embodiment of the present invention, lip 170 is created by the connection of base 120 to receiving frame 110.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary cabinet 300 having a partially assembled removable modular baseboard system 100, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Receiving frame 110 is connected to a cabinet housing so that brush seal 160 makes contact with the floor. Receiving frame 110 and removable boards 130 function as the bottom shelf of cabinet 300. The opening of receiving frame 110 and the opening of base 120 allows plumbing and electrical wiring to pass from the floor into cabinet 300.

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram showing exemplary removable boards 130 having notches 180 that fit around conduits, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Removable boards 130 allow notches 180 to be cut outside of the interior space of a cabinet. In another embodiment of the present invention, at least one removable board of removable boards 130 contains pre-cut notches 180 of varying sizes and shapes. In another embodiment of the present invention, notches 180 of different sizes and shapes are pre-scored on at least one removable board of removable boards 130 to allow for easy removal during installation (e.g., the notches can be conveniently punched out). In another embodiment of the present invention, at least one removable board of removable boards 130 contains on at least one side pre-marked notches 180. In another embodiment, notches on adjacent boards 103 can be aligned to accommodate a conduit in between both boards.

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary removable modular baseboard system 500 that includes detachable base 520 with four sides, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Removable modular baseboard system 500 also includes receiving frame 110, brush seal 160, and a plurality of removable boards (not shown). Detachable base 520 is connected to receiving frame 110. One or more sides of detachable base 520 can be removed from detachable base 520 and receiving frame 110. In an alternative embodiment, instead of configuring base 520 of removable modular baseboard system 500 to be detachable, base 520 can be a built-in non-removable base to provide added strength if necessary for certain cabinet applications.

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary removable modular baseboard system 600 that includes a detachable base 620 with one side, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Detachable base 620 is connected to receiving frame 110. An air permeable seal 160 is attached to base 620.

Another embodiment of the present invention provides a modular shelf unit without a base, which can be positioned, for example, in a cabinet toward the bottom as a removable modular baseboard or higher in the cabinet as a removable modular shelf. FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary cabinet 700 containing a removable modular baseboard system without a base, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Cabinet 700 includes receiving frame 110 and a plurality of removable boards 130. A removable modular baseboard system without a base is used to give cabinetry a more furniture like appearance. Receiving frame 110 can, however, be produced with pre-drilled holes to accommodate installations with or without bases.

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram showing an exemplary cabinet 800 containing a modular shelf unit and a removable modular baseboard system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The removable modular baseboard system includes receiving frame 110, plurality of removable boards 130, and base 120. The modular shelf unit includes receiving frame 810 and plurality of removable boards 830. The modular shelf unit provides additional storage space while allowing access to plumbing and electrical wiring conduits.

FIG. 9 illustrates one example of a modular, freestanding furniture assembly 10 formed from a number of individual freestanding furniture units 12-16. Assembly 10 may be formed in numerous configurations and from numerous types and styles of units 12-16, in addition to those illustrated in FIG. 9. The illustrated assembly 10 shown in FIG. 9 is formed from five freestanding units 12-16, which may all be secured together to form a single modular assembly 10. In FIG. 9, the units 12-16 include a tall cabinet 12; a wide cabinet 13 with drawers 20 and a door 22; a single cabinet 14 with a single door 24 and a single drawer 26; a connector cabinet 15 (best seen in FIG. 11); and a sink cabinet 16 with a sink 28 and doors 30. The units 12-16 may be made from any of a variety of appropriate cabinet and furniture materials, including but not limited to wood.

Each unit 12-16 is versatile in that it can be transformed between a freestanding piece of standalone furniture and a part of a modular assembly. Additionally, each unit 12-16 individually may be transformed to take on various configurations, as explained below. As seen in FIG. 10, in their basic form, units 12-16 are cabinet frames without sides, doors, or drawers and capable of being joined with other units 12-16. In FIG. 10, some of the same basic units 13, 15, and 16 from FIG. 9 are shown in a different arrangement than that shown in FIG. 9.

In FIG. 10, sink cabinet 16 includes sink 28 attached to the top of the frame 34, which includes four legs 41 and four feet 42 with each foot 42 supporting a respective leg 41 against the floor 50. At the bottom of the sink cabinet unit 16, removable boards 130, as discussed above and illustrated in FIGS. 1-8 may be employed for the convenient passing of conduits, such as plumbing pipes 104 and electrical wires 106. Connector cabinet unit 15 has all sides removed and includes merely a frame 40, legs, 41, and feet 42. FIG. 10 illustrates how connector cabinet unit 15 is positioned in a corner of the module assembly 10 to be developed with the two other units 16 and 13 that are positioned at a right angle relative to each other. All side panels 76, as discussed below, for the connector cabinet unit 15 have been removed. Wide cabinet unit 13 includes a frame 46, legs 41, and feet 48 and has all doors 22, drawers 20, and panels 76 removed resulting in the door openings 23 and drawer openings 21 in the frame 46 being revealed.

FIGS. 12 and 13 illustrate the feet 48 of units 12-16 in more detail. Since the feet 48 may be substantially identical for all of the units 12-16, only the feet 48 of connector cabinet unit 15 are illustrated. Each foot 48 may include a device to make the respective unit 12-16 level regardless of the unevenness of the supporting floor 50 and so that the cabinetry may be resistant to movement in order to preserve watertight seals for such things as kitchen and bath countertops and to protect internally routed conduits from unnecessary stress and damage. Thus, stability of each unit 12-16 is provided through the use of the leveling devices, which may be hidden within the feet 50.

As seen in FIG. 13, each foot 48 of connector cabinet 15 includes an adjustable leveling device 52 that is capable of being adjusted up or down to change the effective height of its respective foot 48. Various leveling devices may be used, including leveling glides such as those manufactured by International Equipment Components, Inc. The leveling device 52 illustrated has a protective base 54, which includes a protective surface 55 to protect the floor 50 from being scratched by the leveling device 52, and a protruding, threaded stud 56 that permits the base 54 to be rotated and move up and down relative to a corresponding threaded member 59, such as an insert nut, which is rigidly attached to the foot 48. Since each of the four feet 48 of corner cabinet 15 has a leveling device 52, the unit 15 may be leveled regardless of the unevenness of the floor 50.

The leveling devices 52 may include vibration dampers designed to resist and dampen applied forces, jolts, vibrations, and impacts. The leveling device 52, as illustrated, employs the protective surface 55, which may be formed from a resilient material, such as neoprene, to form a built-in suspension system and to permit the base 54 to contact the floor 50 with a powerful friction grip to prevent movement of the unit 15. Thus, the surface 55 may not only provide protection for the floor, but it may also provide dampening action and a friction grip between the cabinet 15 and the floor 50. Therefore, the unit 15 can remain freestanding even against walls and can function with or without a rigid attachment to a wall. Thus, the freestanding units 12-16 may be easily secured to the floor 50, and wall damage may be avoided.

Each of the units 12-16 may be connected to each other by attaching the frames of adjacent units 12-16 together. The units 12-16 may be attached in variety of ways, but the units are illustrated as being attached by fasteners 60 (best seen in FIGS. 14 and 15) extending through holes 62 in the respective frame for each of the units 12-16. In the illustrated embodiment, the holes 62 are predrilled so that each hole 62 can receive either a fastener 60 or a plug 64 to hide its respective hole 62. The plug 64 may be, for example, a wooden insert that provides a finished or decorative look to a frame when it is desired to use a unit 12-16 in a manner in which a side is facing away from a wall or is otherwise in plain view.

The illustrated units 12-16 each have four pre-drilled holes on each side through which a joining fastener 60 may be used to secure the units 12-16 to each other. When not used, each hole may be filled with a plug 64. Through the use of predrilled holes 62 and plugs 64, each unit 12-16 may give the appearance of being finished on all four sides, when desired, while allowing for various configurations as described herein, such as a right, or left hand configuration, or a center island application with opposite sides of a unit 12-16 being functional with drawers and doors.

To attach one of the units 12-16 to an adjacent one of the units 12-16, the two units to be connected are positioned adjacent one another in an abutting relationship. Also, holes 62 of abutting units 12-16 are aligned so that the units can be fastened together. FIG. 14 illustrates the connection between connector cabinet unit 15 and single cabinet unit 14, as viewed from the side facing toward from the rear view with respect to FIG. 1. To make the connection, the plugs 64 are removed from all of the aligned holes 62 facing the opposite unit, and a fastener 60 is inserted through each set of aligned holes 62. Any appropriate fastener may be employed, including fasteners such as a joint connector bolt and nut as manufactured by Stafast Products Inc. The fastener 60 illustrated in FIG. 14 is a two-piece fastener, with a threaded female part 66 and a threaded male part 68. Each part 66, 68 has a corresponding slotted head 70, 72 so that each head 70, 72 can be turned by a tool, such as a screwdriver, to tighten the fastener 60 and secure the units 14 and 15 together. When it is desired to separate the units 14 and 15, the procedure may be reversed. That is, the fasteners 60 may be loosened and the parts 66 and 68 removed from their respective holes 62. Then, the units 14 and 15 may be physically separated, and a plug 64 may be reinserted into each hole 62, which is shown in FIG. 14. Then, each of the units 14 and 15 may be used alone as a standalone unit or together with the same unit or other units in a different configuration. The use of the holes 62, fasteners 60, and plugs 64 permits the units to be changed back and forth between various configurations and between use of a single unit 12-16 as a standalone unit or as part of a modular assembly, such as assembly 10.

Each of the units 12-16 may also utilize removable baseboards 130 as described above, and removably replaceable backing boards or panels 76, which can be modified for plumbing and electrical conduits, 104, 106, entering from wall or floor areas. Panels 76 may be constructed so that they are not load bearing and may be replaceably attached to a frame member of a unit 12-16. Therefore, structural modification of a panel 76 for such things as the passing of conduits does not affect the structural integrity or value of the particular unit 12-16. A new panel 76 may replace previous panels 76 that have been altered for various reasons, such as for the passing through of conduits. The removable baseboards 130 and panels 76 may also allow access to areas behind and beneath the units 12-16. As described herein, the removable panels 76 may be replaceable with drawers and/or door fronts for dual-side applications.

FIG. 15 illustrates that each of the units 12-16 may have removably replaceable side panels, such as panels 76, as in shown in FIG. 14. When units 14 and 15 are, for example, against a wall, the rear sides 74 and 75 of each unit, respectively, that is against the wall may have a panel 76 that encloses the frame of the unit. However, if it is desired to use the units 14 and 15 away from the wall in, for example, a kitchen island cabinet where both the front and rear of the unit can provide drawers and doors, each panel 76 may be removed from its respective frame to uncover drawer openings 21 and door openings 23 in the frame in the same manner as described above with respect to FIG. 10. The panels 76 may be secured in various, appropriate manners, including through the use of dowel pins or fasteners extending between a panel 76 and the frame. Any openings in the frame caused by the connection with a panel 76 may be covered by a device similar to plugs 64 described above. FIG. 15 illustrates the same rear sides 74, 75 of units 14 and 15, respectively, shown in FIG. 14, but with drawers 80 and a door 82. Thus, the units 14 and 15 may be used in the center of a room with drawers and doors accessible from both the front 84, 86 and rear sides 74, 76 of the units 14 and 15, respectively.

Each of the units 12-16 may include a removable toe-kick or base 120 with a brush seal 160 as described and illustrated above with respect to FIGS. 1-8. FIG. 16 illustrates a cross-sectional view of a brush seal 160 with a brush 162 held by a support 164 that is rigidly attached to base 120 by an appropriate fastener 166, such as a screw.

As mentioned above, the units may take various configurations. One such alternative configuration for a foot 48 of a unit 12-16, is illustrated in FIG. 17, which illustrates a foot 88 that provides an additional thickened area 90 in the foot 88, adjacent to the base 54 of the leveling device 52. Foot 88 further provides the ability to support the unit, regardless of the use of the leveling device 52.

The units 12-16 can be used differently depending on the desired application. In one use, removably replaceable plugs 64 are removed from within preformed holes 62 and a fastener 60 is positioned within the preformed holes 62 to secure two of the units 12-16 together to from an integral, first furniture assembly 10. Then, if it is desired to separate the units 12-16, the fasteners 60 may be removed and the holes 62 closed once again by plugs 64. If it is later determined to reattach one or more of the units 12-16, the plugs 64 are removed and fasteners 60 employed once again to joint abutting units 12-16, for example, a different assembly 210 may be formed. Adjusting of leveling devices 52 and the making of openings for conduits may occur at any time during use of the units 12-16 and in any configuration. Similarly, when covering an opening in a first side of a unit 12-16 with a removably replaceable panel 76, a unit 12-16 may be used with a panel 76 and then used without the panel 76 and, instead, with doors and drawers. Further, if desired, the doors and drawers may be removed and the panel 76 reinstalled. Similarly, if a panel 76 has been reconfigured for a dedicated purpose, such as having holes for passing a conduit there through, and that purpose changes, the panel 76 may be replaced with another panel 76.

The foregoing disclosure of the preferred embodiments of the present invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many variations and modifications of the embodiments described herein will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art in light of the above disclosure. The scope of the invention is to be defined only by the claims appended hereto, and by their equivalents.

Further, in describing representative embodiments of the present invention, the specification may have presented the method and/or process of the present invention as a particular sequence of steps. However, to the extent that the method or process does not rely on the particular order of steps set forth herein, the method or process should not be limited to the particular sequence of steps described. As one of ordinary skill in the art would appreciate, other sequences of steps may be possible. Therefore, the particular order of the steps set forth in the specification should not be construed as limitations on the claims. In addition, the claims directed to the method and/or process of the present invention should not be limited to the performance of their steps in the order written, and one skilled in the art can readily appreciate that the sequences may be varied and still remain within the spirit and scope of the present invention.





 
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