I was working on this towards the end of winter 2012. I knew I wanted something a lot smaller than the 50’s style 6′ Buffet I found while driving through Pennsylvania for an incredible $20.00. At 4′ in length it is the perfect size for the room, and a great resource for storing all of our media and music. It is 30″ high with compartments sized for vinyl records and laptops.
It has been a fickle battle trying to get the living room exactly proportioned. The room is fairly small, but has great light most of the year. I have been really pushing for this “little parlor” feel for the space. Surrounded by lots of compartmentalized color on the wall and ceiling for extra depth, and smaller tailored light wood furniture pieces that each have their own little coordinates to the proportion of the wall colors. This is believe makes the room both a celebration of color and object in tandem.
The original sketch for the piece ended up becoming a schism between symmetry and asymmetry. It haunted me for a bit, to the point where I found myself arguing in my head with certain professors from the past. Ultimately, the means outweighed the conceptual argument and the piece was built symmetrical, (if you don’t count the grain on the panels). The legs are cherry and were recycled from an Occasional table I found in Bushwick. I half sanded them leaving some of the residual stain and sealant. I hope when the pine begins to age and darken brown it will compliment the legs more.
I am happy with the piece and I like that I could flip it around and have no doors with all the faces open. Working on it has definitely raised the bar, and made me realize how much time, thought, and precision I need to account for. What helped the most was bumping up the scale of the drawings so that a lot of the additional work like hardware and structuring could be determined earlier on.
I needed to change things up in the living room. I was getting pretty bored with the old arrangement. So, I built a new modular for the shelves that I had done previously…
…and turned the shelves into a corner unit. I found some old tables in the trash, sanded and refinished the legs.
Here is the result…
I was coming back from the bar the other night with Kevin, Right out front as we were leaving was a giant mirror. It had been left leaning against a no parking sign in front of the bar. There was a frame partially on it. It was really gaudy and glossy and hideous, behind it was a small sticker that said “Made in Italy.” I giggled about the thought of that for a bit and then I took it home, took off the frame, cleaned it up a bit, realized there was a pretty big chip on one of the corners, and that it was permanently glued to a piece of particle board that was all torn up and larger than the mirror itself. There was no real way to take off the particle board without using some toxic chemical so when I made a new frame for it I had to find a way to incorporate the nasty board the mirror was attached to into the design of the frame.
I measured the wall in our bathroom, the mirror size was a perfect fit to fill the space over the sink and toilet and replace the cheap little plastic home depot mirror the apartment came with. I then drew up some sketches. I wanted part of the mirror to be revealed and the other part to have three shelves so that each of us could have our own “spot” in the bathroom. I played with a few variations of this, some with shelves over the toilet, one with a light attached, but ultimately ended up building a shelf with three dividers that ran along the base of the frame acting as a sill. This also helped me brace the frame more stiffly since the mirror was a pretty heavy piece of glass. What was nice about this was that there was a general shelf for everyone in the apartment and then three little pockets for personal items like tooth paste, razors, hair goo, etc.
When the whole thing was assembled, I stained it with a nice minwax grey so that the wood grain could still show, yet be a bit muted to help match the existing “earth palette” of the bathroom which consisted of grays, beiges, charcoals, and browns.
Around the same time all of this was happening I found this old wooden box on the side of the road that I was able to sand and finish in the same grey. Coincidently, it had three shelves in it as well, so the theme carried on. I mounted the grey shelves behind the mirror so you could see what was on them from behind you, as you were getting ready in the morning using four “L” brackets from the dollar store. The stain was $7.00 and the wood I used was around $16.00, the “L” Brackets were 99¢. The whole project after tax was about $26.00. I am so happy with the new mirror; it makes the small bathroom feel so much larger, and has so much more storage capacity without cluttering the sink and the bathtub. I personally like to keep those surfaces clear so they are easy to clean and so peoples’ bathroom belongings don’t get all full of gunk. There is nothing worse than a moldy bathroom. ew. Bathing is a ancient ritual and the space around it has always been emphasized. Making this an apartment improvement that was well worth it.
A friend of mine from college recently moved to Brooklyn for law school. If there is one thing I have come to realize, it is that law students study hard and acquire lots of reading material along the way. So, my friend’s apartment isn’t that big, a typical “railroad” style in Bushwick. Her kitchen is also the dining room , the study and, the entry way. A few months ago she had asked me to build her a set of shelves for all of her law books as well as make a little space that she can do her readings and papers. I sketched out a few designs for her and she was pretty excited.
Below are a few of the initial drawings…
We wanted to keep the budget flexible, and I also wanted to experiment with “Oriented Strand Lumber.” It is extremely inexpensive (about $14.00 for a 4’x8’ sheet) has a great surface texture (especially when you put a gloss or satin on it) and, the best part is that it comes with information about the type of wood, installation methods, manufacturer, and so on printed right on the surface of the board almost like newsprint. In that, I saw a bit of an opportunity to use the information of the print and integrate that into the design of the shelves and desk.
One of the most important things about this project was that the shelves had to be fairly modular so that we could disassemble and reassemble them easily when it came time to move and install them into her apartment.
The desk was the biggest challenge because I wanted it to be fixed to the shelving unit, as well as fold down when she wasn’t using it for studying or anything else. I took the same width that the shelving units were, and made that the overall width of the desk so that it could fit inside the vertical boards along with the rest of the horizontal shelves. This also allowed the printed board to be a horizontal graphic when the desk was folded down. I measured overall desk dimensions from other examples I had in my apartment to make sure the surface of the desk was not to high to work comfortably on, but also looked proportional with the rest of the shelving unit. It also had to be short enough to fold down flush against the unit. I used a 1 1/8” wooden dowel for the pivot connection of the desk and bored it into the vertical members so that the dowel could be pulled into the frame and locked when the shelves were finally assembled.
This meant that the legs of the desk had to be removable and somehow rest on the edge of the desk when it was closed. I used angled cut wood for each of the two legs as sort of a way finding system for attaching the legs without any instruction.
Once all of this was completed the whole thing was assembled into two units that were connected with purple (her favorite color) shelves that interlocked with one another. This was so that the shelves could be broken down into two units and could be next to one another or separate depending on the need in the space.
Finally, I attached a small reading lamp with a light socket I had left over from another project and the whole thing came together.
While I was setting up my office at home I realized I have collected over the years quite a bit of materials, and other random supplies. For the sake of productivity and to help clean out my workspace I sketched up some ideas for a nice portable cart that my materials could live in. I needed the project to …
1) Stay in a pretty small budget (after all, this is just a container)
2) Go well with the 48″ modular I already have set up in the office
3) Hold not only the wood and metal materials (mostly sticks) I have on hand, but hold my paper materials which are larger format, as well.
I sketched out a pretty simple system that involved using one 4’x8′ sheet of laminated plywood and folding it into a u-shape using three planes. I built a framing and wheel assembly on the underside of the “u” and connected the two vertical planes with two inner trays using 1″ dowels as spacers. This helped to add a nice reveal in the cart to make it seem as though the two inner trays were hovering inside the “u” shape. It also was beneficial because I can stick smaller objects like rulers, and t-squares between the 1″ spaces at the two longer sides of the tray. The trays are set up just to act as partitions or dividers, and all the materials rest vertically while being supported in compression by the plane at the bottom of the “u”
I gave the inner trays a light finish and the outer planes a dark ebony finish. This was also to show a visual lightness inside the “u” shape, that in a lot of ways is a cradle for my materials and supplies. All in all, the project cost about $60 and was so worth it. It cleared out and entire closet in my apartment as well as a lot of the clutter around my desk.