After I had figured out the essential plan of the multi-functional space that was to become my home and ‘the improvised life’s Laboratory, I started bringing friends by to get their opinions and input. I also hired an interior designer to consult for a short time, to consider my ideas, challenge them, add to them, as well as help source the many items I would need, from sinks and plumbing fixtures to door knobs. Hiring a consultant for a fixed amount of time is a good strategy if you you’re don’t have the resources to hire a someone to see the project though, or don’t need start-to-finish service.
I met Scott McFarlane through friends and liked ideas he’d come up with for their recent renovation, as well as his attention to detail. Although I have a strong design sense, it was clear that there was A LOT of things I could use advice on. I hired Scott to consult on critical elements of my plan so architect Emily Johnson could draw up plans that contractors would understand. Scott and I spent many hours in the empty apartment busting holes in walls, tacking up images I’d clipped from design blogs, measuring, brain-storming.
Scott came up with A LOT of clever solutions to some extreme design problems (all pictures below are from the in-process days of the reno). For starters,he suggested replacing the squat 6’5″ doors with 8′ doors, so their vertical lines would move your eye UP, making the low 8’2″ ceiling look higher. This image of the bedroom-in-progress with spaces for 8′ doors (top) and the bedroom before (bottom) with 6’5″ doors show the dramatic difference:
…Here, newly-built 8′ tall storage cabinets expand the sense of space…
Scott gamely “explored” what was behind or in the walls. Here, he wanted to see what exposing the concrete block behind the sheetrock might look like….
Although I didn’t always agree with his ideas, the collaboration between us proved to be incredibly useful and illuminating. Scott is great at envisioning possibilities and embraced working with the constraints i.e. challenges-at-hand (and this space had A LOT of them). When we discovered that it would add $20,000 to the budget to raise the ceilings, Scott said: “You don’t have that money; we’ll figure out other solutions“. And when we hit one particularly gnarly and unexpected obstacle that made my heart sink, he said gamely: “It’s a wrinkle but it’s not insurmountable”. The very positive gist: that there were always solutions, and even if we didn’t know the answers at that moment, we’d find them.
Scott introduced me to showrooms that designers generally only inhabit, so I could see a range of possibilities and get the lay-of-the-land…
I’ll feature some of Scott’s most impressive design solutions in future posts, like the brilliant moving wall that hides a 15′ x 2.5′ workspace, and a refinement that took the corner window illusion to another level!
Scott proved to be an invaluable resource in those early stages, a lesson in the usefulness of hiring the occasional ‘expert’ who can help you fulfill your vision and teach you what you need to know, fast.
Related posts: introducing ‘the improvised life’s new ‘laboratory’
sneak peek: improvised life’s new space + our cool optical illusion design solution
project + reno lesson: embrace the unexpected……… things won’t go as planned
home planners and other ways to envision a space
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!
reno 101: how to find an affordable architectural plan-maker