Friday, February 19, 2010

Design Studio Reno, Part 2: The Details

Yesterday's post probably satisfied most people's curiosity about our design studio renovation. But then there are the people that have to know every detail...We get E-mails from people all the time who have seen our projects that have been published, or from our website, and they just have to know what wallpaper we used in that bedroom, of where we found those lamps. They have to know every paint color, as if their life depended on it. If any of that sounds familiar, then this one's for you! We've got the details behind the details, and if we left anything out, just ask.

Upholstered Linen Walls

We've already been asked a dozen or so times what color we painted behind our desk areas...And the answer is, it's not paint. The light beige walls above the desks and throughout the rest of the studio are Benjamin Moore OC-48 Hazy Skies, but the blue areas on the wall directly behind each of our desks (and in between the windows at Jennifer's desk) are linen-upholstered panels of Homasote. Homasote is a similar product to Sheetrock, although the main difference is that the interior of a Sheetrock board is gypsum plaster (a dry powder base mixed with water), and the interior of a Homasote board has s a cellulose base (recycled paper mixed with glue, similar to paper-mâché). Both are used in drywall construction and, of the two, Sheetrock is by far the more popular. However, because Homasote is essentially paper-based at the core, it tends to be slightly more porous, and better suited to use as a memo board, as we are using it (we chose to have it upholstered, but Homasote can simply be put up as is, then painted, and used that way...And when it gets too many pushpin holes, you can just throw a fresh coat of paint on it, and it looks brand new.

The panels were upholstered by Enzo Valfrè, a charming Italian man from Sag Harbor (by way of Rome). Enzo has an upholstery workroom and a line of home furnishings called the Verduno Collection, and he does the majority of our custom pillows, drapes and bench cushions.

Custom Cabinets and Desktops
The major change to our work space was the creation of the U-shaped custom built-in desks, cabinets and drawers. The impetus for this renovation was that we literally had no more room to store design resources and client files, so any re-design was going to involve the addition of significant quantities of storage options. We worked on the design for over a year, and in the end, it was built pretty much exactly to our design (we had to add some additional support on the sides and under the desks due to the long spans of desk area) . Oh, and detail alert: The color of the cabinets is Benjamin Moore OC-130 Cloud White.

The entire custom-built desk system was built and installed by Peter Zambuto and Scott Tufarella of Finished Touch Carpentry in Shirley, NY. We have been working with Finished Touch for about six years, and they have done work for most of our clients as well as our own house and design studio. And after the great job that they did here, we plan to work with them for a long time to come.

Inset Glass Workspace
We knew that we might be getting ourselves into trouble with white-painted desktops in our workspace...Even though we used Benjamin Moore Regal semi-gloss paint, which wipes clean very easily, we knew that we were going to have to deal with scuffing at some point. In order to keep our working area free of scuffs and scratches, dings and dangs, we decided during the design phase that we would incorporate the use of glass at each of our desk areas so that our day-to-day usage wouldn't prematurely damage our beautiful new white desks.

Although you would think that glass is 100% clear, the standard soda-lime glass that is most commonly available actually has a greenish tint to it due to iron oxide impurities. We wanted a white glass that would blend in with the desktops and transition nicely between the wood. After some research, we discovered a product called Spandrel Glass (sometimes also called Architect's Glass). Spandrel Glass is a normal glass sheet that has a layer of an ultra-fine colored ceramic dust called 'frit' applied to the back of the glass with a heat process that permanently fuses it with the glass sheet. The end result is a piece of colored glass that is now stronger than standard glass (due to the heating process and ceramic backing), thus making it the perfect choice to use at our desks. We ordered 4 pieces of White Spandrel glass 40" wide by 28" deep from Hampton Glass, and then Peter and Scott from Finished Touch notched out the tops of the desks and inset the glass panels so that they would sit flush.

Brushed Nickel Cabinet Pulls
For our cabinets and drawers, we had originally wanted to use a recessed leather-wrapped cabinet pull that we found from an English hardware manufacturer called Turnstyle Designs. But as beautiful as they were, the cabinet pulls in their stocked colors were over £100 each (yes, 100 pounds stirling). So that would be over $150 per pull, and considering that we needed 26 of them, and that we wanted them in white (which isn't a stocked color, and would therefore incur a special order up-charge), it's safe to say to that put them a bit beyond our budget!

Our continued research led us to a similar product from Atlas Homewares called the Zanzibar pull. The Zanzibar was definitely more reasonably-priced (around $27 per pull), but they only came in brown and black leather, and the leather wasn't recessed as it was on the Turnstyle Design pulls. At that point, we felt that we were so far away from the level of detail that we were originally looking for, that we decided to start over. And while we were on the Atlas Housewares website, we came across the Sutton Place pull, which we loved, and came in at around $20 per pull. We ordered them in brushed nickel, and that gave us an idea to add one last detail....

Stainless Steel Toe Kicks
Although this may get overlooked by most people, one of our favorite details is the recessed stainless steel toe kicks under the cabinet drawer banks. Normally cabinet toe kicks are painted the same trim color as the cabinets, but we thought that using stainless steel would tie in perfectly with the hardware, and give the cabinets a crisp, more transitional look.

For such a distinct look, the installation was fairly simple: Peter and Scott took measurements of the toe kick, ordered sheets of stainless steel custom cut to size, and then applied them to the face of the existing wood kicks with an adhesive.

So that's it...More details than most people could ever possibly want! Thanks for reading, and for those rare few that still might have questions about any of the details, feel free to ask.

Design Studio Reno, Part 1: Before & After

All we can say is...FINALLY! After nearly eight years in our Water Mill design studio, and over a year of designing the new space, we have finally renovated our interior working area! Now, truth be told, we fully renovated the 18th-century barn on our property that serves as our design studio when we first moved out to the Hamptons in 2002. We sheet-rocked the unfinished walls, put down wide-plank pine floors over the raw concrete slab floor, modernized the bathroom and kitchenette, and added a proper HVAC system. Structurally it was sound as a pound. However, the area that was lacking, especially in recent years was our desk/working area. It all started out fine...We each used our old desks from our respective places from when we lived in NYC, and over time added file cabinets when we needed more storage, and added desks when we gained new employees. However, eight years down the road, our office had become a mishmash or random, unmatched furniture. We're all for an eclectic mix, but this was not anything that could be confused for eclectic genius...It was just a mess. We never had enough storage room, so we just made piles and piles, and piles on top of other piles. It was getting harder and harder to think creatively when our surroundings were getting more and more disorganized. The homes that we create for our clients are calm, tranquil, relaxing places to escape the stress of the city...It was time for us to start practicing that we preach.

So, in late 2008/early 2009 we started talking about how we would renovate our work space...If we could ever commit to actually doing it! And just a short year/year and a half later (and five or seven or ten design revisions later), we finally set the wheels in motion. The work was performed by Peter Zambuto and Scott Tufarella of Finished Touch Carpentry in Shirley, NY., and we are thrilled with the job that they did here for us. We've been working with them for about six years, since they converted our attic into a playroom. They did such good work that we began using them for our clients' projects as well. While working for us they have done exterior framing and roofing, interior renovations, additions, full bathroom renovations, custom cabinetry and finished carpentry. And they really pulled out all of the stops for our studio :)

We have included the before, design, and after photos below...When you see the before photos, you may think that we pulled the classic makeover trick by making the them as messy and unappealing as possible in order to make the after photos look that much better. And, while there may be a little truth to that, the reality is that we really had been running out of storage room! And, it didn't help that we waited until the last minute before we remembered to take before photos...

Before: Overview of our Design Studio work area

Design: Layout for the new work area (overhead view)

After: The completed work area

Before: Austin's desk area

Design: Austin's desk area

After: Austin's desk area

Before: Design Assistant & Office Manager's desk area

Design: Design Assistant & Office Manager's desk area

After: Design Assistant & Office Manager's desk area

Before: Jennifer's desk area

Design: Jennifer's desk area

After: Jennifer's desk area

Two very happy designers in our inspirational new work space!

Tune in tomorrow, when we highlight some of the interesting design details of the new space...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mabley Handler, A Love/Design Story just posted a really nice article about us and our design firm, so check that out when you get a chance. We didn't realize that it was going to have a Valentine's Day love story spin, so that was a nice surprise! Ironically, they had been trying to schedule the interview for over a month but we kept deferring because we wanted to wait until we had finished renovating our studio (more on that later). So, I guess it's our own fault...If we had done the interview back in December, it would have just been a story about a local design team :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Think Global, Shop Local (Hamptons style)

Last August we wrote an article for Hamptons Magazine that featured some great home furnishings that were not only sold locally in the Hamptons, but were designed and/or created locally as well ("Think Global, Shop Local" - Issue 12, August 7-13, 2009). For those of you who might have missed it, we wanted to share those featured resources here with you.

CRAWFORD CHAISE LOUNGEHorizontal-channeled lounge chair in linen ($2,900)
Designed by: John Heilman of Southampton
Available at: Homenature (Proprietor: John Heilman)
6 Main Street, Southampton (631) 287-6277

Farmhouse table of reclaimed oak beams and floorboards ($5,800)
Built by: Joel Fisher of Sag Harbor (son of the store owners)
Available at: Fishers Home Furnishings (Proprietors: Susan & Bob Fisher)
144 Main Street, Sag Harbor (631) 725-0006

70's modern inspired sofa with classic tuxedo styling ($6,350)
Designed: by Louis Marra & Allison Julius of East Hampton
Available at: Maison 24 (Proprietors: Louis Marra & Allison Julius)
2424 Main Street, Bridgehampton (631) 537-2488

UNTITLED #1, 2008
Oil on linen painting, 60 x 60 inches ($5,800)
Painted by: Susan Vecsey of East Hampton
Available through: Spanierman Gallery
68 Newton Lane, East Hampton (631) 329-9530

Re-purposed clear bent-tipped bulbs encased in recycled stainless armature ($3,000)
Created by: Helen Gifford of Bridgehampton
Available through: Comerford Collection (Proprietor: Karen Comerford of Bridgehampton)
2442 Main Street, Bridgehampton (631) 537-6200

Reverse print white-on-slate Belgian linen pillow ($360)
Designed by: Nancy M. Toon of Southampton
Available at: Hound Hill (Proprietor: Nancy M. Toon)
51 Jobs Lane, Southampton (631) 377-3165

Hand-painted and -printed Madagascar straw wallpaper ($724/3.5 yard panel)
Designed by: Crezana Design of Southampton
Available through: Mecox Gardens
257 Country Road 39A, Southampton (631) 287-5015
66 Newton Lane, East Hampton (631) 329-9405

Click below to read our article for Hamptons Magazine online:
Think Global, Shop Local
by Jennifer Mabley & Austin Handler