25 August 2011

fireplace proposals (and a rant)

m21 had a meeting with clients yesterday to present some options to turn a small sitting room into a media room/library. our goals were to provide some needed storage, a spot for a large flatscreen TV, and to update the bland (and architecturally inappropriate) mantel into something a bit more dramatic- all without reconfiguring walls, or any other major remodeling, just some "cosmetic" construction. the home was built in late 1940's, and remodeled within the last few years, and as is often the case, the prior homeowners didn't hire a designer to lay out furniture plans, or think about how people would actually *live* in the home, and thus we were left with nowhere to hang a TV and provide seating opposite, so we had to resort to hanging the TV above the mantel... never m21's first choice, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do!

and people, again, before starting any construction or remodeling, PUHLEEZE hire a designer to do a furniture and lighting plan; architects and contractors first priorities are not how a room will look and function with furniture in it, and you could be left with a bedroom with no wall big enough for a bed and headboard, let alone nightstands (so common, it's not funny) or as in this case, without wall to hang a flatscreen and have room for some some decent seating opposite (the arrangement the prior homeowners had to resort to watch some TV was just too ghastly for words). oh, and the fact that the architect didn't center the fireplace on the wall (easily accomplished by moving an added wall a mere FIVE inches) simply boggles my mind, and unfortunately, it's too late to make that 5 inch move now. a layperson homeowner reading the plan would never even think to look to catch such a thing, but to someone like me, it would jump out immediately...

so again, PLEASE, i'm begging all homeowners planning new construction or a remodel, spend a little extra money to do a furniture/lighting plan before you get your blueprints approved, even if there is no immediate budget to redecorate after the remodel- it will save you a lifetime of working around ill-shaped rooms with bad lighting and nowhere to put a sofa, and i guarantee it will be the best money spent during your remodel!

now that our little rant is over, here's a picture of the mantel as it stands today followed by sketches of our ideas to update things (just to be clear, that's not my client's furniture btw- they are too tasteful for that, thank goodness. this was the last occupant's decor on the day of the final walkthrough):
just not quite right...
a proposed sketch to return to the mid-century roots of the house.  this idea was quickly nixed by all, even me. ;-)
a modern and minimal take... too modern, probably, but the homeowners have lots of contemporary art and furnishings, so it would have worked, especially given the clean lines of the home's original architecture.
a bit more transistional, with a combination of fixed and adjustable shelving, and a overscale picture frame style molding as the mantel surround.
this was the client's choice, a clean lined stepped out bollection molding fire surround, flanked by floor to ceiling adjustable shelving (you'll also note that with the addition of the shelving and everything else going on, it becomes harder to notice that the fireplace is off-center)

10 comments:

Linda Merrill said...

Truer words were never spoken!!! I am working with clients who just spent 18 months building a 5400 sq. ft. custom home and didn't bring me in until a week before they got their occupancy permit. They are not bringing their existing belongings from another house, so need everything down to the dishes. Oh, and they already painted and "love" the colors - even though they have no flow. They can't fit furnishings where they thought and they even ended up with a room dead center in the house that has no windows but every wall has a door or other opening on it. It's the pass through from the front foyer and into their master suite, and a cross hall into their kitchen/family room. And this room is expected to be their formal living room with maybe 12 sq. ft. of workable floor space.

And, of course, they didn't budget enough for the cost of filling up the home, nor planned on the time it would take to order and get in even retail level furnishings.

They put a lot of thought into some of the details in the house, which are quite nice, but oy veh on the rest!

Thanks for letting me vent. Can't do it on my own blog in case they see it!!!

columnist said...

Things not being centred drives me crazy too; it's on a par with badly hung pictures.

JD said...

Hi, So funny, but true, my sister built a home designed by her husbands' friend. 7000sqft.The only wall in the master for the bed faced the closets and watercloset,not the treetops that needed those special amazingly expensive windows!The kitchen had an island 15',with the ovens opposite the sink and the end of the bar was for bar stools right next to the subzero, so when the bar stool fell over it hit the frig.and dented after just six months.To say nothing of having to carry the turkey about 35 ft to the dining room. She divorced that man.D

CB said...

Love seeing these sketches! I liked the mid century option myself but the pick will work nicely. Good luck with the redesign :)

maison21 said...

JD- at my old firm, i worked on a multi-million dollar project where the home was a U-shape around a courtyard- the kitchen and dining room were on opposite sides of the U, meaning the shortest path from kitchen to dining involved going thru exterior doors and crossing the patio... so imagine carrying that turkey 35 feet- in the rain.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Hmm -i'm sorry but I'm going to have to pick at one thing you said. Any good architect will think about how a room is laidout -but obviously contractors do not. So don't go lumping us in the same group!! HRMPH!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

and PS -i'm a fan of the bolection fireplace version that was selected!

Raina Cox said...

An excellent post!

I adore seeing your elevations.

classic • casual • home said...

Nice work. The off center fire place is much less noticeable. In my own home, I dealt with an off center 1950's fireplace by putting an antique commode on one side and had a custom larger piece built for the other side (with tv components) and a stained top that matches the commode.
Love what you did!

pink . gray . gold said...

i highlight the word DESIGNER - someone that can read floor plans, draw them up, knows how to space plan (yes, basic i know - but honestly) etc. SO important. too many decorators running around who can't do what you just did for your clients christian. good job too!