Many times I have been presented with complicated design objectives for unusual or challenging spaces. These are the projects I welcome, and that test my creativity and problem solving skills. This is the point when the design process itself becomes the most critical element to ensuring a positive end result.
As an example, I will describe for you the complete process by which I took an idea, or in this case a homeowner's dream, and how I brought it full circle. The idea was to convert an under utilized second floor of a barn style garage into a fully functional detached home office. It was also important to the client that the barn be restored to a rustic aesthetic and provide a special place in which to enjoy the company of family and friends.
The process begins with a tour of the under utilized space and to hear first hand from each member of the family what aspirations he/she has for the room. Although the primary use of this office was intended for my male client, I made sure to include his wife and two children in the process. It is an interesting exercise to explore the potential for a space with 4 individual users.
I then took photos and proper measurements of the space which was cluttered and confused. The client had clearly attempted to use the space as an office, but the room lacked organization, proper furnishings, lighting, and character. But there was clear potential. Most people are adversely affected by a disorganized workplace, and so we needed to remedy this situation. These images and dimensions would later help me during the process to redefine the room with a functional space plan.
I decided to compartmentalize the single floor space into three areas. The room is not very large, so to accomplish the design objectives of the family, I had to prioritize the goals and identify what made most sense. It was extremely challenging, but my aggressive plan defined the new space with a combination of functions. It would soon host an executive workstation, conference room/play area and casual lounge seating. It was at this point that I presented the plan to the client as “The Executive Suite.”
We established a date to hold a presentation meeting. I sat down with my client and his wife. I drafted three floor plans with varying furniture assortments and material recommendations. There were a couple of existing conditions that I wanted to maintain and needed to clarify. For example, a working cast iron stove is a wonderful design element that would not only add character, but would aid in heating the space and creating ambiance. For budgetary reasons, we needed to discuss these elements in more detail during this same meeting. It was at this time that we reached consensus on which floor plan maximized the space and best met the original goals of the family. It was an exciting moment to have a clear direction. There was some skepticism with the plan since it was a very aggressive approach to the room. But we were all very pleased to move forward and anxious to see it come to fruition.
Although the client hired his own contractor for the job, I met with the builder myself to review in detail the structural concerns, service enhancements and carpentry elements that would transform the space into a rustic, executive suite. He and I worked together as a team during the entire process. Since office and personal storage was a main focus for the space, I also prepared scaled drawings for all the required carpentry. In the end, I designed 3 banks of cabinetry that is intended for office supplies, books, media, board games and Legos. Most cabinetry is closed storage to keep the space organized and clutter free. The office needed to be visually calm when my client conducted business in the space. His level productivity was kept in perspective as I continued to design with function and purpose.
As construction began, I worked closely with the contractor to ensure that we met all the design objectives and remained on budget. I was involved with electrical and structural enhancements. I then focused on the furniture assortment, soft treatments and interior hardscaping for the office. I also located a batch of reclaimed wood flooring and barn board that was then installed on a feature wall and used to clad the ceiling beams. We definitely achieved the goal of rustic aesthetic by introducing this raw, authentic material into the design. It is historic, warm and stunning.
I placed orders with the various suppliers for all the required furniture. Choosing accent lighting and purchasing a new cast iron stove was next on my list. In order to fully achieve the rustic aesthetic throughout, we then added a faux wood paint treatment to the existing white aluminum window. It properly completed the look. It was at this stage in the process that I focused on the details and pulled it all together for a fine and appropriate finish.
The process by which you achieve design is just as important as the design itself. I take great care with each project. Sharing with you the various steps in the process further demonstrates for you how I approach design and the way I work with my clients. It is an honor to work with good people and each job deserves thoughtful design.