SHELF LIFE: What's on our walls

Whether or not you think that actual books are becoming relics of a pre-digital era  (it should be said - we still like flipping through paper) books make the best wall-candy. And there are so many ways of architecturally integrating bookshelves into living spaces.

You don't necessarily want the vessel which displays these beautiful items to detract from the books themselves.  There are many options for bookshelves and they usually fall into two categories: built-ins and free standing shelves.  Free standing shelves can be a nightmare for new parents and/or anyone in Los Angeles or earthquake prone areas.  Built-ins can be lovely but don't provide the flexibility inherent to free-standing shelves.  So is there be a happy medium?  The answer is yes. The answer is Atlas Industries.

We love Atlas shelves.  The AS4 Modular system they provide is a wall-mounted, modular product which integrates shelves and drawers to your liking.  You can pick from their standard finishes of white oak, maple or walnut.  In our project in the pre-war 14 Sutton Place South (NYC), we used the walnut finish and in Tuxedo Park we customized them to be white lacquer to fit in with the predominately white living room interior.   These shelves are elegant and simple yet they have a crafted, warm character to them.  The best part?  You can take them with you when you move.  We know because we have relocated our walnut shelves three times and have reconfigured them to different room sizes. 

So check out our little  literary secret:


OPEN & CLOSE : Windows

Windows are a big deal. For our current project in Hollywood, windows cost roughly twenty dollars a square foot. That's twenty percent of the per square foot renovation cost, more than almost any building trade. In California, Title 24 energy standards have made new window installations require nationally certified brands, which eliminates the possibility of using less expensive local providers.

While the cost of high-quality, energy-efficient windows creates a challenge in terms of budget, it also speaks to the impact of good windows on the design of a project. Not only do the best windows look great, they perform great too. In our project on Patterson Brook Road, winter maintenance bills are less than half those of comparably-sized homes with older windows and insulation. Fuel costs can only go up.

Even in Los Angeles, where windows often stay open throughout the year, we feel that buying the best quality windows is an investment worth making. As temperatures climb and the need for central air conditioning becomes universal, tight building envelopes will downsize HVAC systems and improve indoor air quality. Low-E coatings and gas infill will reduce solar gain and allow for bright interiors without amplifying heat loads. Larger glazed openings will increase occupant comfort without compromising thermal performance.

Who knows, windows might just save the world. 

IN THE SHADE: Canopy Breaks

Been thinking of shading devices for our sunny backyard in Hollywood. Here's a throwback to a very successful example at one of our favorite desert hotels. The red of the canopy (hard to see in thumbnail) adds a beautiful wash to the exposed concrete walls. One of the only color elements in the entire building palette. Could work!

H20: Trenching

Here's any image of our back yard in Hollywood. We're upgrading the site power to 600AMP and plumbing service from 3/4" to 1-1/2" for all the units. Something (or someone) bumped into the exposed coupling one night last week. Should be an expensive water bill!