The other night after a meeting with a client, a colleague and I went for a lovely glass of wine and shared a small plate – and where? The Scandinavian House – right on Park Avenue and 38th St. Its my neighborhood and this little gem seems to escape me. Their cafe is airy, delightful service and wonderful food. Afterwards we took time to visit their Gift Shop and I must say – its one of the best Museum Shops in the City. I have always found Scandinavian design crisp, innovative and always of the time. Must be the cold clear air that keeps the natives sharp! I dare you not to walk out without a gift for the holidays or for yourself – why not, you deserve it!
— Congratulations, you got new office space. After making do in space that you had outgrown years ago, you feel that you finally have the space to support your business goals and accommodate your short and long-term needs. FANTASTIC!
Your head is spinning with ideas and thoughts about how the office should be configured and while your enthusiasm in high, you also know that you’ll need a professional to help you with the space plan for the office.
Who best to d that plan– well, the landlord, right? Um, wrong, DEAD WRONG! Here’s why:
– Designing your space isn’t the landlord’s priority; renting the space to you is and they have already accomplished that. (It’s a done deal!)
— The process is as follows: the landlord will hire an architect to do the base drawings for their tenants so that they can ten obtain all of the necessary work permits for the construction that is required. You (the tenant)think that you are getting all of this for free but actually it is an (invisible)cost that has been built into your lease on an ongoing basis (even at renewal). (C’mon, you know that there is no such thing as a free lunch so why should this surprise you?!)
— A landlord won’t take the requisite time to learn about your business in-depth. The specific needs of the workers are not addressed and the end result might be space that does not support the actual workflow and requirements of the office staff. You might find yourself having to make do with the space that has been designed and who wants to have to make do in their new office space. Why should you have to settle for less than what you wanted/needed?
— This isn’t the landlord’s core business and they will not be thinking about the office technology, office efficiencies, etc.
THEY ARE WORKING WITH GENERALITIES AND NOT THE SPECIFICS OF YOUR UNIQUE BUSINESS.
NOW wouldn’t you agree that working with a space planner is a better option?:
— A space planner will take the time to assess your current business, observe your business in action and will not only ask you questions about your current situation but will probe for future needs as well.
— They’ll take the time to truly understand your vision and work with you to configure the layout to best support your goals, office operations and efficient workflow. They’ll interview your staff to get an accurate perspective on how the space will be “used” vs. how it “looks.”
— Their experience and understanding of what works and what doesn’t will help ensure that all of your requirements are met right from the ginning without the need to make corrections once the initial work is completed.
So sign your lease and break open a bottle of champagne and after that’s done hire a space planner so that the job gets done right the first time.
DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR SPACE?
You’re at home, and you just want to relax. Or maybe you’re spending more time than you’d like in the office, and you’re feeling like you can’t catch a break. In either case, your environment can make a huge difference in how smoothly your day goes. And art might play a bigger part than you’d guess.
I recently attended a helpful panel called “The Intersection of Art & Design in Healthcare,” led by two art consultants and a researcher who studies the effects of art on the patients and staff at medical offices. Naturally, the old, stereotypical hospital art came up: framed posters, amateurish animals graphics in pediatric wards and the like.
When I was a student at Parsons, one of my instructors said that there’s neither good design nor bad design – just a better solution. I think that’s true, and it can be true with the art you keep in your home or office, too.
As both a designer and a painter, I look at my clients’ properties and blank canvases the same way. Art is a matter of interpretation and problem solving – speaking to an artist’s preferences on light, balance, texture, color, materials and more. When you choose a piece to display, you’re picking up that interpretation and adding your own voice to it.
I cringe when a client says, “I love that painting, but it doesn’t match the color on my walls.” You should choose art that makes you react – whether a piece raises your senses, provokes thought or arouses you. Take your first reaction to heart.
Adapt your art to the setting, but collect what you like. Although it might not be appropriate to hang nude paintings in an office, you can still cater to the style you like, be it modernist, Impressionist or anything else. Your preferred style of art can complement your setting or room design, or it can contrast it in an interesting and carefully considered way.
Think beyond the stretched canvas. You might come to love baskets, sculptures or glass work. In my own home, I have a collection of rocks that I took from beaches I visited around the world, and they sit center-stage in my entry foyer.
Having trouble getting started? Keeping your favorite pieces in storage because you’re not sure what to do with them? Give me a call. We’ll talk about your style and start wiping the dust off those frames.
If you’re like most New Yorkers, then you probably want – or need – more living space. But the problem? Larger New York apartments sell for more per square foot than smaller ones. Each square foot of space will cost you about $838 for a studio, $1,119 for a two-bedroom and $1,837 for a four-bedroom, according to the New York Times. Add renovation fees and maintenance costs to that expansive dwelling space, and you’re left with an even bigger bill.
More and more city dwellers are finding a new solution to the problem: combining two apartments into one to get something closer to the dream-home ideal. Buy a one-bedroom for less than $1 million, scope out a similar space next door or on an adjacent floor, and you can walk away with a space that’s mysteriously more spacious than many two-bedrooms on the market. The process isn’t without its challenges, but more and more New Yorkers – and real-estate professionals – are opting for the patchwork solution as heavily desired three- and four-bedroom homes dry up from the market.
Eileen Mintz, senior vice president at The Corcoran Group, says most co-op boards don’t oppose combining apartments if renovation plans maintain the building’s integrity with plumbing and electricity. “For owners, it’s usually less costly to purchase and combine the apartment next door to their current apartment than to purchase a larger apartment elsewhere,” she explains.
But how does it work out in reality? For one space-starved client, I helped reconfigure a two-bedroom apartment, combined with a one-bedroom. (Results above.) The place became a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment – but with an expanded kitchen to accommodate a sit-down island with a pantry closet. The master bedroom became a suite including an office/library, walk-in closet, bathroom with a steam shower and a small gym with a rowing machine, bicycle and weights. Two living rooms became one open space with a dining area. When the client remarried, his bride had an apartment with a wrap-around terrace, so he sold his place and made a substantial profit that would have been impossible with separate places.
Town Residential Real Estate Specialist Gina Sabio says the process isn’t all perks, though. “Combining two apartments is an excellent way to get more space,” she says. “Although the cost of buying two apartments and combining them will cost you less, keep in mind the monthly maintenance will be combined from both apartments and increase accordingly every year.”
Terry Robison, a Prudential Douglas Elliman real estate agent, recommends planning for another fee: short-term housing during renovations. However, he says that combining apartments can be “a gift from real-estate heaven,” as long as the process gets proper attention. “Your co-op board knows you, so the approval process to buy that other unit is likely to go much smoother than if you were a new buyer,” he says. “Overall, the pluses far outweigh the minuses.”