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Sally Schneider

After I had figured out the essential plan of the multi-functional space that was to become my home and ‘;the improvised life’;s Laboratory, I started bringing friends by to get their opinions and input. I also hired an interior designer to consult for a short time, to consider my ideas, challenge them, add to them, as well as help source the many items I would needtoddler pillow cases, from sinks and plumbing fixtures to door knobs. Hiring a consultant for a fixed amount of time is a good strategy if you you’;re don’;t have the resources to hire a someone to see the project though, or don’;t need start-to-finish service.

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I met Scott McFarlane through friends and liked ideas he’;d come up with for their recent renovation, as well as his attention to detail. Although I have a strong design sense, it was clear that there was A LOT of things I could use advice on. I hired Scott to consult on critical elements of my plan so architect?Emily Johnson could draw up plans that contractors would understand. Scott and I spent many hours in the empty apartment busting holes in walls, tacking up images I’;d clipped from design blogs, measuring, brain-storming.

Scott came up with A LOT of clever solutions to some extreme design problems (all pictures below are from the in-process days of the reno). ?For starters,he suggested replacing the squat 6’;5″; doors with 8′; doors, so their vertical lines would move your eye UP, making the low 8’;2″; ceiling look higher. This image of the bedroom-in-progress with spaces for 8′; doors (top) and the bedroom before (bottom) with 6’;5″; doors show the dramatic difference:

…;Here, newly-built 8′; tall storage cabinets expand the sense of space…;


photo: sally schneider

Scott gamely “;explored”; what was behind or in the walls. Here, he wanted to see what exposing the concrete block behind the sheetrock might look like…;.

Although I didn’;t always agree with his ideas, the collaboration between us proved to be incredibly useful and illuminating. Scott is great at envisioning possibilities and embraced working with the constraints i.e. challenges-at-hand (and this space had A LOT of them). When we discovered that it would add $20,000 to the budget to raise the ceilings, Scott said: “;You don’;t have that money; we’;ll figure out other solutions“;. ?And when we hit one particularly gnarly and unexpected obstacle that made my heart sink, he said gamely: ?“;It’;s a wrinkle but it’;s not insurmountable”;.?The very positive gist: ?that there were always solutions, and even if we didn’;t know the answers at that moment, we’;d find them.

Scott introduced me to showrooms that designers generally only inhabit, so I could see a range of possibilities and get the lay-of-the-land…;

I’;ll feature some of Scott’;s most impressive design solutions in future posts, like the brilliant moving wall that hides a 15′; x 2.5′; workspace, and a refinement that took?the corner window illusion?to another level!


Scott proved to be an invaluable resource in those early stages, a lesson in the usefulness of hiring the occasional ‘;expert’; who can help you fulfill your vision and teach you what you need to know, fast.

Related posts:?introducing ‘the improvised life’s new ‘laboratory’sneak peek: improvised life’s new space our cool optical illusion design solutionproject reno lesson: embrace the unexpected……… things won’t go as plannedhome planners and other ways to envision a spaceharlem lab renovation: ‘before’ photosharlem reno: first hang out in the raw space and dreamreno planning: bust holes in walls to find out what’s there!reno 101: how to find an affordable architectural plan-maker

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