We are very excited to show off our latest remodel to our office!
Beginning in the Fall of 2018, Brandy and Joseph had decided it was time to update our office kitchen. The counter was beginning to warp severely, the floor wearing, and plumbing fixtures leaking. We had grown by 50% as an office since the initial kitchen was constructed, and it was time we expanded to accommodate everybody’s needs.
Though I had just left architecture school and had dove into the profession, sure that I would have to make my rite of passage picking up changes as a BIM monkey for some time, Joseph and Brandy very kindly handed me this opportunity to see a project all the way through to completion months after starting. Though I certainly had never designed a kitchen save for what schematic drawings I had made in school for purely speculative projects, I was very excited to meet this challenge and get my hands on what it meant to actually build, not just simply draw one’s design.
I began with a consideration for our layout. Knowing that we would need to expand past our current boundaries to meet everybody’s storage needs, I wanted to bring our line of cabinetry onto the next wall, though I knew that this would mean having to deal with a corner (always a notorious waste of space!) My solution was to then leave these corner cabinets open, to encourage their use and to prevent the hiding and forgetting of spilled food, extra tupperwares, etc.
One of the things I loved most about this office since the day I had stepped in to interview were all the beautiful material finishes, and their exposed, gritty beauty. Our plywood furniture, our wood flooring (who lived a colorful past life as a college basketball court), the little areas of exposed brick, the reclaimed wood window trim, the exposed conduit. It all told a story of how and what the building was constructed of, and even the building’s past lives (ask one of us some time, you will not be disappointed).
It was for this reason that I chose to use materials that were not just veneers under a covert base, but materials that were shown off for what they were. This led me to choose birch plywood for our cabinets, steel for our sink, and gun-blued custom steel for our door pulls.
If there was one thing I have learned the most about during the design process, though, it was the power of the budget. I think it was a wonderful exercise to edit down what I thought was most necessary: where to prioritize using expensive materials, and where we could save costs. This would lead us to pursue a hybrid construction for our cabinets, combining both manufactured cabinet boxes as well as custom fabricated parts.
In addition to seeing the design for the kitchen realized, I also put on a contractor’s hat and conducted the construction of the project, through to completion. I ordered all of our materials, scheduled all of our subcontractors, and even helped with actual construction myself (along with everybody else in the office who pitched in!) This was certainly a first for me, and I feel that I have gained invaluable experience, as well as knowledge between the difference of how designers see their work and how the builders make it.
Though this project was seen as my project, the truth is there’s no way I could have actually built it as planned without the help of all the people involved:
Alex Jordan from Jordan Woodworking was our cabinetmaker, and I am very grateful for the time and effort he put into making sure the cabinets would perform as designed. The coordination of manufactured cabinet boxes with custom doors and accessories required a serious amount of coordination, and if it were not for Alex’s stalwart commitment to tight, precise craft the cabinets would have definitely not come together so well.
Ray Tuomey from McLean Forge was our metal fabricator, and was always willing to answer my questions as we designed our door pulls. He worked with us through many design changes, and was committed to providing us with exactly what we wanted. In the end, he delivered us a very well-crafted series of pulls that have performed wonderfully.
We also had many other subcontractors who did a wonderful job and were a pleasure to work with, such as our excellent floor refinisher Woodwise Inc, our plumbing contractor Around the Clog, and our countertop fabricator Moros Fabrication.
Our many different vendors we used for materials were also indispensable for this project. Whether it was Lynn Vechell with Caesarstone, Bonnie Lyons with Ferguson, or Ashley Jewell with Daltile, they all were very helpful in providing us the information and samples we needed.
Most importantly, I couldn’t have constructed this without the help from everybody at WORKSHOP8, who advised me and participated in desk crits during design, came in on their time off to help with demoltion and construction (as well as our new mural!!!), and gave me the opportunity in the first place to even redesign this kitchen. Thanks everybody!
Thanks for Reading!
Mitch Deans | Architectural Designer
28 May 2019