For the renovation of my 1,000-square-foot ‘Laboratory’ in New York City, my mission was to open up the space to the spectacular park view AND fluidly accomodate an open kitchen, workspace, dining area, and living area. To do this, I removed a small bedroom to dramatically expand the main room and built an office area along one 15′ wall in the big space. The pressing question then became: how to “disappear” or close-off the office so I could “leave” my work? (This is the great dilemma of people who work at home; I learned the hard way that sleeping where you work is NOT a good idea.)
I discussed the problem with Scott McFarlane, an interior designer I consulted with early on in the project. A curtain won’t do”, said Scott. “It’s not substantial enough. You need to close your work off with a WALL, that will really make you feel it’s gone.” He thought for a moment. “I remember seeing a mechanism that was basically flat panels that roll on a track to become a flush wall that would conceal the office. When you rolled them back to reveal the office again, they would “nest” in a specially built nook.”
We found the mechanism — called the Aperto 60 H Operable Wall System — at the Hafele showroom in New York City, an extraordinary hardware company that specializes in Universal Design. (I took a tour of Hafele’s idea-packed showroom and will being writing about it in the next while).
Hafele’s operable wall mechanism was the biggest expense of my budget renovation, but I felt it essential; it made a tangible separation of the space, in effect adding back a room. The investment made the space MORE fluid and improvisational. Here’s Scott’s rough sktech of the office space:
This schematic gives an idea of the way the panels (we used 8′ hollow core doors) can slide and nest (I chose the top iteration):
Hafele’s operable wall mechanism runs along a bottom track set into the floor, and a top track anchored to studs or supports in the ceiling. At one end, a closet holds the nesting panels, with enough space left behind them for storage.
The mechanism can only be ordered through a cabinet maker. He/she works with a Hafele representative who knows the mechanism intimately and can put together a kit of parts suited to your design specs. The mechanism must be installed by someone who can really suss technical plans and implement them.
I took a gamble on this unique solution and couldn’t be happier. There is a palpable feeling of peace when I close the doors at the end of a work day. Work disappears and I am home.
Here’s the movement of the doors, from closed to open, one bit at a time:
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