storytime with gary
gary shares the stories behind some of his favorite pieces
Tell Us Again About Daniel’s Bunk Bed
What do you do when you want to give an 8 year old a rugged, fun, and adventurous bed that fits in a room that’s 12’x12′? You build UP!
We packed this solid oak bed with a number of features that provided interest and adventure in a small footprint. Bunking the bed gives floor space. Two 36″ triple bookcases and a tall DVD rack sit under the side of the bed, and a 2’x3′ panel holds a cork bulletin board (put on after these photos were taken). The bed was built 12″ longer than the mattress it would hold, so that a platform could be placed at the head to hold a lamp and alarm clock. For fun and adventure, we put in an “alternating tread” ladder to get up to the loft.
But the real fun starts when you pull the green book on the bookshelf… Voila! The cork board panel swings open, revealing open play space underneath the loft! A small push lamp, mounted to the ceiling, illuminates the space inside and the shortened book rack at the head of the bed lets plenty of air inside (not to mention a “lookout” for incoming sisters!). I’ve been told that many a sleepover has retired in sleeping bags stored in the cave beneath.
A Story to Sink Your Teeth Into: Estelle’s Breakfast Nook
Estelle is a 93 year old, “with-it” woman who is self-sufficient and living in her apartment in Floral Park, NY. She downsized a 6000 Sq ft. home into a one-bedroom apartment after her husband passed away. The new apartment didn’t have an eat-in kitchen and Estelle didn’t like sitting at a her large dining room set alone. Unfortunately, just about every square foot of the apartment is taken. We sat together to come up with alternatives.
A small area on a return wall next to the kitchen was occupied by a small Oriental box that wasn’t really being used. This proved to be the perfect spot to put a breakfast nook. Picking up on her darker wood furniture preferences and her preference for Asian styles, we decided to build a bar-top sized table and stool combination out of walnut that had a sleek, minimalistic feel. The leather-seated stool needed a back for comfort, but couldn’t stick out into the room too far. An angled, small-of-the-back, rest was the solution. It’s comfortable and secure. The table is custom sized to maximize the available space. Beneath the table top, I added a narrow slot in which two small walnut trays (not shown in the photo) hold utensils, napkins, etc.
Estelle has a lot of nice furniture. I’m thrilled to mention that she considers this her “favorite” piece: Something she uses every day and that she considers to be her own creation.
A Dream Come True: The Bent Stretcher Collection
Sometimes dreams have a strange way of giving us ideas. One night at 4:00am, I found myself slipping in and out of twilight, dreaming about designs of a coffee table and end table set for the living room of a new client. Although primarily living space, the room doubled as a gallery, featuring several pieces of the client’s original artwork. My pieces were to be predominantly functional, but we wanted something that would provide a subtle focal point, as well. They would not stand out or compete for attention, but needed to have an artistic visual interest – something “different,” that would be fitting of the importance of the room to the client – within their supporting role.
As I lay in bed, a thought crossed my mind: If you had a table with standard stretchers (the pieces that run between the legs along the length of a piece to provide spacing and support to the structure) and you pushed the bottoms of the legs towards each other, what would happen? The stretcher would be forced upwards, “snapping” in the middle. I saw angled legs and the stretcher forming an upside-down “V” in between. In my mind, I could see that the piece felt lighter and suddenly had a very unique perspective. I had never seen anything like that before, and I quickly determined that I could build it without sacrificing strength or stability.
That groggy vision stuck and became the signature visual focus for a series of pieces that I named “The Bent Stretcher Collection”. The collection now has “River-tables,” coffee tables, dining tables, and end tables that all carry that unifying visual element. Clients started asking for the look of the bent stretcher.
Who ever said that dreams don’t come true?
A Statue with No Limitations: Linda’s Display Pedestal
Linda is a successful business person, animal lover, art collector, volunteer, and philanthropist. She lives in a 10,000+ Sq ft. stone home in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. The interiors are a perfectly executed mix of clean marble warmed with country wood elements that maintain the heritage of the original 1776 farm house. Her furniture selection covers centuries of styles, working perfectly together to create an opulent, clean, open airiness – fitting of the grandness of the house.
Linda showed me my challenge: On the floor, in the corner of the dining room, sat a statue that was given to Linda’s late husband, in honor of his many years of service to the company he headed. He had been incredibly proud of that award, which stood on a mantle before the room was renovated, just before his death. It had been safely stored in the corner ever since, but it was time to give the piece a new viewpoint; one that would communicate the importance it had for him, and her.
The statue literally had wings. It deserved a light and uplifting foundation. However, it was quite heavy, requiring the pedestal to be strong and formidable. Still, I didn’t want a solid block or anything that would feel heavy. I considered a metal framework, but it didn’t feel right for the home. The room was bright and the furnishings around where it would stand were ornately carved and topped with marble. Nothing else was metal. It needed to be a warm wood, and an uplifting design.
The solution lies in the column of the pedestal. What looks like an organically sculpted center post is actually a façade that houses a 1/2″ solid metal rod, bolted into the base and top plates. The center post supports the mass of the statue. The four bent laminated wings that flow between the top and bottom plates serve no structural value. Instead, they provide the illusion of holding the statue aloft, as if it weighs a feather. The choice of solid walnut provided a warm offset color for the marble flooring and complemented the French Provincial chest that sits next to it. The stand is solid, stable, and remarkably strong – considering how much light you can see through it.
We feel the piece provided just the right balance of strength and beauty. The proportions are set to assure that the statue remains the star. The pedestal’s lines bring your eye up to the statue and highlight it, as if holding it to the sky preparing for it to take flight.