In the process of planning our Laboratory’s renovation, we called on a number of friends for advice: designers, artists, and people who just had plain good sense of one kind or another. When I told artist friend Lisa Morphew of the prices some of the contractors we’d spoken to were quoting us she said: “Honey, what you want to do isn’t rocket science. It shouldn’t cost so much.” Lisa, who had worked construction and transformed a wreck of a house in North Carolina into a wondrous space, proceeded to give us a lesson in how our place was made.
Pointing to the sheetrock wall that bisected the living rooms and second bedroom which we were dying to take down, she said “I could take that down with a shovel if you have one. I’ll show you how easy it is, and you’ll understand how it’s made”. A shovel?!! We didn’t have a shovel on hand so we went around to the hardware store and bought one then and there. We weren’t going to miss the chance to see that wall come down.
Lisa, and a friend, proceeded to demolish the wall in less than half an hour.
Lisa used the shovel to slash the sheetrock open and then lever huge pieces off the aluminum studs.
…The inner workings of the wall – aluminum studs, BX electrical cable and outlet boxes – became visible. And suddenly, so did the possibilities for the space. The obstruction that we’d tried so hard to envision GONE, suddenly was. But most importantly, Lisa gave us a big gift: a lesson in how the wall was made and how easy it is to take down (and how to carefully navigate unexpected things that might be in there, as well as the BX cables). Once we knew that, we were much better able to imagine how our renovation might go, deal with the contractor…and to improvise with the design we were making.
After Lisa left, we hung out in the space for hours imagining, dreaming, with a new sense of the realities involved (photo top).
Check out how where that early lesson helped take us.
Related posts: introducing ‘the improvised life’s new ‘laboratory’
sneak peek: improvised life’s new space + our cool optical illusion design solution
harlem lab renovation: ‘before’ photos
harlem reno: first hang out in the raw space and dream
reno planning: bust holes in walls to find out what’s there!