Monday, December 10, 2018

After Demo, Then What?

If you've never had a remodel or renovation in your home, the steps can be a little vague. Often I find it valuable to let clients know what they can expect in terms of work and, consequentially, how long it all takes.

Let's start with a simple remodel of a space. Nearly all of my projects consist of "going down to the studs" as it is called in the industry. This step is referred to as "demo," as in demolition...it is when all the elements of your old space are removed and demolished, often in a delightful flurry of sledge hammers and crow bars, to create a blank slate and make way for your new space! However, if I am dealing with new construction, that leads to the same result: the studs.

And this is where we start this phase of the journey. Studs are what make up the framing of a room. A residential room is typically framed with 2" x 4" or 2" x 6" pieces of wood spaced 16" apart, on their center lines. These pieces of wood are the studs.

Below is a photo of a master bathroom suite I designed. The 2" x 4" framing you see is outlining what will become a new bathroom and master closet.


But here is where things can get a little vague. Mostly of my clients know that the next step is for the walls to go up and then they assume it is done. But there are many time consuming steps in between, performed by skilled, master craftsmen, to achieve walls that are ready to be painted.

The first step is to put up the drywall. This is generally a gypsum board product in a sheet form with paper on the back and front. They typically come in 4' widths with a length ranging between 8' and 16'. The drywall is affixed--normally in a horizontal orientation--to the wood studs and held in place with drywall screws.


Once this is done, the next step is to apply drywall compound (a thick, plaster-y substance sometimes called joint compound or, euphemistically, "mud") to all joints (where two pieces of drywall come together) and over the heads of the drywall screws. Sometimes this is done by a different team. I have seen drywall installers come to affix the drywall only and then pass these next steps to plasterers.


Then over all the joints comes a material called drywall tape. This joint tape gets embedded into the joint compound itself using a trowel blade so the finish is smooth.

This is left to dry for 24 hours.


A 2nd coat of mud is applied on all taped joints and this is left to dry for yet another 24 hours!

Next comes a sanding to knock down all uneven spots or areas where there might be some excess mud. It should look something like the photo below.

Steven Puetzer/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

The 3rd and final coat of joint compound is often called a skim coat. A smooth skim coat is almost universally desired but it is possible at this point to do what is called a "knockdown" coat which consists of giving the mud a texture. There are many textures with many names. You may have heard people talk about a "popcorn" ceiling, a kind of ceiling finish (usually containing asbestos!) that was popular in the 70s and 80s with a very bumpy surface resembling a layer of popcorn or millions of tiny stalactites. That is an extreme example (it was generally sprayed on instead of applying by a trowel), but there is also "orange peel" texture, a wall version of the popcorn ceiling. And one of the more subtle textures is called a skip trowel texture. While there will still be a few low peaks here and there, it is not as offensive as orange peel or popcorn. But in this day and age, a smooth finish is what everyone agrees looks best.

After the skim coat is applied it must--you guessed it--dry for another 24 hours. You can see how this process takes time and patience. Once a client sees the steps necessary, they have a newfound respect for their home!

To prepare the walls for painting, they are given a final sanding, and are then wiped down with a sponge to remove all the loose dust. Now the wall is ready for a drywall primer. Why a drywall primer? Haven't we reached the end of what could possibly be put on the walls? Well, the drywall primer is made of a PVA or shellac/alcohol-based primer and is applied to seal the porous drywall and joint compound. When you or your painter comes to apply paint, whether latex or water-based, the drywall primer will prevent the paint from soaking into your drywall and joint compound.

It's quite a process...one that surprises those unfamiliar with construction. But your home is important. Think if it as protecting the integrity of your investment as well as enriching the quality of your life within it.

Happy designing!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Know Your Chairs: The Ribbon Chair

Since we just looked at French designer Pierre Paulin's Elysee sofa last month for the Know Your Sofas series here, let's look at his iconic Ribbon Chair.


The Ribbon Chair and accompanying ottoman were created in 1966 by Paulin and made from a metal frame with horizontal springs, covered with foam and stretch fabric. One look at the geometry and you can see why it is called the Ribbon Chair as it is a continuous run of a single narrow plane, indented to create the back.


And like so many modernist pieces, they work well with contemporary, transitional, or traditional elements.


The chair is also a television and film star in its own right, featuring heavily in the 1970s British sci-fi series "Space: 1999" (along with a slew of other iconic furniture pieces and lighting by Artemide). You can see it prominently below in the first still from the show, as well as peeking out from behind show star Martin Landau in the second image...


...and we just recently saw it in last year's extraordinary "Blade Runner 2049" too!


This amazing chair is still in production and available through Artifort.

Happy designing!

Monday, November 26, 2018

How To Conquer Blind Kitchen Corners

For years, kitchen design has bemoaned blind corners in kitchens. I am sure we are all familiar with getting down on our hands and knees and reaching into the dark recesses of a far corner in a completely impractical lower kitchen cabinet. What does one store back there? Certainly nothing used daily. Such areas often turn into junk yards, full of things you forgot you even owned.

But there are now some wonderful, practical products to increase precious, usable space in a kitchen.

The easiest way to open up those corners is to make sure there is total access. Normally, the space you see below would be two separate units but here they are open to each other and the door configuration helps to be able reach in and get what one wants. The challenge remains though to drag out items from the back, so it is still a reach.


Another solution for corners is to use the corner on an angle. This is an improvement but there is still a bit of wasted space on the sides as the storage space is on a diagonal.


The corner lazy susan was popular for a while but as you can see by the round shape of the storage racks, there is unused space all around the circle.


Omega National Products married the full-extension drawer/diagonal storage idea with the lazy susan and came up with this compromise:


A very popular product for these hard-to-reach corners is something called a Le Mans. While the storage decks themselves might vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, the basic idea is the same: a pull out is cleverly shaped to allow the deck to be pulled out and then angled to the side.


If you're tired of reaching back into a blind corner of your kitchen cabinets and are looking for storage solutions, give me a call. I'd love to help.

Happy designing!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

I wish all of my readers and followers in the United States a very happy Thanksgiving Day!


"I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual."
--Henry David Thoreau

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 12, 2018

A Sleek "Marble" Bathroom by Fiorito Interior Design

Originally built in the 1980s with terra cotta tile and cheap, polished brass, this bathroom (previously seen in this sneak peek) is now a sleek, modern marvel. The juxtaposition of simplicity and luxury is evidenced by the walls clad in a large-format porcelain tile that looks like marble but requires no sealing or maintenance and is easy to clean. Gleaming modern plumbing fixtures also present restraint but with a touch of glamour. The eleven-foot wide vanity with integrated toe kick light is capped by a single-piece framed mirror that coordinates with the furniture below it. A dynamic, graphic light fixture presides over this improved space and mirrors the diagonal herringbone floor.
All photos: Bernardo Grijalva


And for contrast, here are some BEFORE images...


If you have been thinking about a bathroom remodel but haven't yet, give me a call.
Happy designing!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Know Your Sofas: Pierre Paulin's Élysée Sofa

French furniture and industrial designer Pierre Paulin did not get off to an auspicious start: after failing his Baccalauréat (the end of high school exams that determine whether or not a student goes on to university studies), he trained as a ceramist in Vallaurius and then as a stone-carver in Burgundy. But when he got into a fight that injured his right arm, his dreams of being a sculptor came to an end. Yet he found himself later working at Gascoin, then Thonet (previously here) and then Artifort where he gained international fame for the creation of his Mushroom chair in 1960 and his Ribbon chair in 1966 (this will be featured later in an installation of Know Your Chairs).


Then in 1969, he was commissioned by Jean Coural, head of the Mobilier National, an agency of the French Ministry of Culture, to redesign four rooms in President Georges Pompidou’s private apartment in the Élysée Palace. Paulin proceeded to cover the Napoléon III giltwood-paneled walls entirely in beige fabric and bring in newly designed pouf-style sofas and chairs, which became known as the Élysée collection. The sofas and chairs were molded from strips of wood wrapped in foam and upholstered in leather.


The sofa, alternatively called the Pumpkin (look at the shape) or the Alpha (after the Alpha manufacturing company that made the originals), was in brief production until 1973 but did not really gain a cult following until the early 2000s. The rarity of the originals makes them highly sought after for high price tags, but fear not, Ralph Pucci has brought the Alpha sofa back into production!


Happy designing!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Amberg Studio Creates Digitally Printed Leather

English leather craftsman Bill Amberg of The Bill Amberg Studio commissioned artists and designers to create patterns to be digitally printed onto leather hides. This new technology offers exciting possibilities in the world of leather upholstery but also other applications as well: leather floor tiles, wallcoverings, and fashion items like bags and shoes!

Avant garde furniture designer Faye Toogood opted for an abstract pattern reminiscent of cave drawings...


...while L.A.-based interior and product designer Natasha Baradaran went a different route with a traditional floral lace pattern.


Design icon Tom Dixon created a pattern that mimics crinkled aluminum foil! This trompe-l'œil effect will surely delight anyone who first sees the pattern and then feels the soft smoothness of the leather!


And interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud imagined a set of hand drawn concentric circles in soft, comforting colors. They recall growth rings of trees.


Happy designing!