This project started last year when we decided that the layout of our living room was not functional and did not go well with the furniture arrangement we had in mind. We had a niche in the living room that im guessing was historically a closet. It was about a 4' x 5' space--about the size of a closet--that carved a little space out of the room. Initially we had many ideas for what this small space could be... a fireplace? a bookshelf nook? built in seating? But after much thought we decided to settle with none of the above... and to make it a flat wall... esentially a TV wall. And so thats what i did. I built out a 2x4 studded wall and drywalled over top to allow for a more simple floorplan for our living room. and for a little while... about a year.. we had a 4' x 5' dead space in between our office room and our living room.
Until this year... when I finally decided to tackle this dead space closet project. Here is the before photo:
Not really showing much here... but a blank wall right? Well stay tuned...
This is my office. and the closet on the left is a coat closet. Right behind the middle section of this blank wall is the "dead space" with the living room on the other side. The idea was to open the space into the office and create a closet that also functioned as a desk area with a desktop and shelving above. Let the demolition begin!
As you can see I had to remove some original studs and use a sawzall to tear away at the plaster and lathe in order to access the space. I tried to be careful and accurate with my demolition zone in order to minimize waste and extra repair work.
I used poplar wood for the trim of the cloffice. I had a difficult time matching the profiles of the original trim--especially with the header and trimwork above the door opening. I found that my local lumber store, Cleveland Lumber Company, had the best selection of wood to choose from and was the best option for me for this project. By the war, the black tube and cord you see in this photo is for the TV in the living room. It allows for a place for the cords and cables from the TV to go and connects to outlets below--it was a great find!
For this project i tried to salvage as much trim and material as I could. If I dont re-use it for this project, I know down the road I will probably re-use it for later projects.
For the desktop material we decided to use bowling alley wood. Butcher block is a material they would have used in our 1903 home and we wanted to remain true to the time period. I ended up finding salvaged bowling alley wood on craigslist. Here is a photo of me picking up the wood from the guys barn--very cool!
There was a lot of dirt and grime on the bowling alley wood that I had to use a planar to get off. I think the wood had been sitting in a barn for nearly 20 years! The planar was able to get through most of the layers of grime and I finished with several passes with my orbital sander. Finally, I coated in an oil based polyurethane and I think I did two coats.
I decided to use left over bead board from my front porch to use as the back wall for the cloffice. I painted it white and used a nail gun to mount it to the studs. I also found a drawing with the sliders attached online that i mounted to the underside of the bowling alley wood. I also added a grommet for cord access.
I found a 24" door from a local antique shop that matched the original panel doors in our house. I also found antique art nouveau hardware and copper hinges. The last thing I want to do is put up some modern bronze home depot door knob.
And here's the complete project once the finishing touches are added!
This past year I've taken on a number of interesting home projects. I’ve gotten to the point in my home renovation where the entire main floor is mostly complete… and so I’ve been able to work on other things like furniture and fixtures. One of my favorite projects thus far has been the construction of our dining room table. It took a rather long time (a few months) because I spent a lot of time looking for wood and a steel fabricator, but once that was selected the process was not that bad. First off, here was the initial design concept, which I modeled in sketchup:
I wanted to create an industrial piece, using C-channel steel and simple connections. The steel was custom made from a company called Blue Ridge Metal works, who conveniently sells and markets their products on etsy. The fabricator, Jon, was extremely easy to work with and was able to build the table legs based on the sketchup model and sketch I put together. Here is the sketch I sent him:
The wood was purchased from a Cleveland-based small business called Razing Cleveland. They specialize in deconstruction, and occasionally have their products available for sale in their warehouse. They had an open house one day, so I figured I’d go check them out. I met the owners, Holly and Ray, who were very supportive of my efforts to use reclaimed wood (instead of new wood) and gave me a great deal on some wood boards that were previously used for framing a Cleveland home in the late 1800’s. The wood was a mix of maple, oak and cedar. My intention was to keep the dark worn surface and to do minimal sanding in order to keep the character and look of the wood.
Before going to razing Cleveland, I explored different wood suppliers and types of wood. I didn’t always want to use reclaimed wood. At first, I looked at using maple and/or some type of exotic wood. I found a few local suppliers who were willing to work with me. But the process would have taken a little longer in order to dry the wood—approx. 6-10 weeks—and the price was a little more than I was looking for—about $4-6 a board foot. If you are looking for a more finished look, I would recommend going this route. I also looked at butcher block, but that was quoted at being approx.. $2100 for everything—so I crossed that off the list very quickly!
So when I finally settled on the wood I began mapping out the cuts. First, I cut the wood slightly larger than the final length—76” instead of the final 72”. Then I laid out the boards on saw horses according to how I wanted it to appear as a finished product. When the wood was laid out I noticed that most of the boards varied in depth—which was a problem. So to account for the slight difference in size I planed the underside of the wood until all of the boards were about 2” in depth.
Once all of the boards were the same depth I used a biscuit joiner to join the boards together. I cut out notches in the side of the boards every 6” and used wood glue and clamped the boards together 2 at a time. This process took a rather long time because I only had 4 clamps and had to wait 1-2 days for the boards to dry before I moved on to the new boards.
Once all of the boards were joined and dry I made one final cut on each end with a circular saw and did some light sanding with fine grit sand paper until the surface was very smooth. Again, I didn’t want to go too crazy with the sanding because I wanted to maintain the worn, dark look of the wood.
Once the sanding was complete I used a product called Swilleys All-Natural Wood Rub to enhance the beautiful wood grains and add an element of protection against liquids and other food. Once that was complete, I worked on the steel.
The steel legs were shipped to my house without any sort of protection or coating on them, so to preserve the beauty of the raw steel I used a product called Penetrol. It can be used alone as a base coat on bare metal and will fix the rust while preserving the appearance. After I applied several coats, I used a clear polyurethane top coat for added protection and a smooth finish. These two products working together makes the steel look completely natural. It is almost a year later, and I am still satisfied with the results. This table is quite heavy, but I know it will last a long time and is definitely worth all of the work!
When we bought our duplex in Lakewood, we knew one of the most significant projects was the reconstruction of our front porch. We hired a contractor to complete most of the work (as required by our renovation loan). As you can see from the first several photos, there was quite some damage to the roof of our front porch. Moisture had penetrated the shingles and cause the wood to rot and mold. It was hazardous and needed to be completely rebuilt. The idea was to replicate the original design intent for this 1903 colonial home. We couldn't find the original drawings or any photos of the original construction, but based on our knowledge and on other similar homes in the area, we came up with this design. See the construction process below.
Here is a close-up of the most extreme water-damaged area on our front porch. It is obvious that this could not be repaired and needed to be re-built.
On the first day, the top level was demolished--including the addition that was built on later. The exterior wall was then framed in and water-proofed with Tyvek.
Let the framing begin! We made sure to add in additional perpendicular joists for added support and for mounting the bead board ceiling.
By the third day the porch was completely demolished except for the floor of the first floor and the first floor columns. The columns were braced in place and the floor that was left was patched (it needed some love!). The intent for the columns was to scrape and sand then paint when the work is complete.
Here is a good tip: make sure to stain and poly bead board before you install it. Also make sure to poly the back side of the bead board to prolong the life of your ceiling. This will keep you from doing some back-breaking work if you try to finish the wood after it's installed. Here's a photo of my garage while we were in the process of staining the wood:
Here's a photo of the porch once the bead board is installed, the siding is complete, and the lights are in. Notice the added exterior outlet and the new window and columns!
Here is the final (almost complete) product:
The before and after shot speaks 1000 words!
As mentioned in the previous post, the majority of the renovation work on our new duplex in Lakewood involved rebuilding the front porch. That meant removing the second floor roof, ceiling, and floor; included the addition that was poorly added to the home (never do that!). We wanted to maintain the look and feel of a historical Lakewood Colonial while using new materials. We new that we could not replicate the wood columns that were original to the home so we had to use fiberglass columns. We also specified a bead board ceiling and a new vinyl window on the second floor (see above). Maggie (my fiance) worked on the drawing above while I helped with the design. These are the documents we submitted to the contractor and to the city for approval. Maintaining the original integrity of this beautiful Lakewood home was our intent from the very beginning and we wanted to make sure the design was in line with the historical character of the home.
This past year (and a half?) my fiance and I took on a huge project. I'm not even sure if I can call it a project at this point but rather a compilation of projects. First off, we bought a house. It was foreclosed and vacant for two years. The house was in a perfect location for us: close to bars and restaurants in a thriving urban/suburban neighborhood close to Cleveland. The neighborhood was very walkable, the people were friendly, the housing stock was great, and the streets were narrow and full of canopy trees. We loved the location of the house: it was near Detroit Ave., the main corridor running through downtown Lakewood and it was close to the Metroparks. It also featured a spacious third level that we could use for a master bedroom and walk-in closet.
Though the back yard was small (like homes in Lakewood), it did have a detached garage and a decent size basement with two storage units.
Here are some before pictures of the initial walk-thru of the home:
After we knew for sure that we wanted the home, we had to go through the long and tedious process of closing on the house through a Fannie Mae 203b Renovation Mortgage. This allowed us to basically renovate the home and finance the payment to the contractor into our mortgage. Fannie Mae introduced this concept as a way for homebuyers to fix up foreclosed or run-down properties that were in need of repair. We were able to do a streamline 203b mortgage which allowed us to fast track the payment process to the contractor.
Through this program, we had to hire a licensed and insured contractor to complete a substantial renovation within six months of our closing date. After which, the broker will inspect the home to make sure the work was completed as outlined in the original proposal from the contractor. Once the work is approved, final payment is issued to the homeowner who then forwards to the contractor.
Overall, the entire process--from the day we begin looking at homes until the day we finally completed the renovation and inspection with our contractor, took approximately one year. It was a huge weight off our shoulders when it was complete!
I was approached by a friend of mine to design a tiny house as part of their vision for a more sustainable and minimalist lifestyle. The design was fitted to a 7’ wide by 25’ trailer—175 square feet—roughly the size of a small studio apartment in NYC. I found the design to be challenging yet fun.
I wanted to discuss my research in more detail for those who are curious or who are ambitious enough to design their own tiny house.
I've decided to transform this website into a more comprehensive design blog. I am still going to use it as a platform to showcase my work but I have decided to make a transition from portfolio / student work to a lifestyle and design blog.
That being said, I know it has been a long time since I've created a new post, and I have virtually no followers, but I am going to be posting a lot more on here... mostly on subjects related to what I am experiencing in my life at the moment. That is because I believe design should go hand in hand with what you do and experience on a daily basis. The world around you, your city, the people you interact with, the spaces you occupy, etc. should all inspire you and influence your design.
So what is going on in my life right now that influences my design? Well, to start off with... My fiance and I have purchased a home last year and completely renovated it since then. It is a duplex in Lakewood, OH.
Here is a photo of the transformation. We completed a set of construction documents which we submitted to the city and our contractor. The contractors part of the renovation was complete just before winter last year. Our part of the renovation was extensive --all the painting, dry walling, finishing, landscaping, interior framing, hardwood flooring restoration, some plumbing and electrical, roof repairs.... you name it--we had our hands on it. But if there's one thing I've learned through this process is that maintaining the historical integrity of the home is a huge challenge and takes lots of time and energy. It is so much easier to buy new material at the local hardware store and disregard the historical aspects of your home.
What else is going on in my life? Well, I am no longer in school. I graduated from the Kent State Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative in May 2013. When I got my dual degree in Architecture and Urban Design, the next week I went on a final goodbye trip to North Carolina with my friends and started a new job the next week. I have been working at ka inc. ever since. Another reason why I want to transition this website is because I want to focus less on my personal portfolio and more on design subjects that interest me. Of course, I may mention some professional work on here but that will only happen with the written permission from my firm.
So keep in tune for a whole new era of design from beyoungdesign.com!
Cleveland was a key American industrial center built near large coal and iron ore deposits during the late 19th century. It was home to John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company in the 1860s. Meanwhile, the steel industry was booming in Cleveland as well. Cleveland became a transportation hub, serving as the halfway point between the natural resources from the west and the mills and factories of the east. However, since the end of World War II, rust-belt industrial cities such as Detroit, Youngstown, and Cleveland have experienced notable population loss and urban shrinkage due to a decline in their economic and social bases. In the case of Cleveland, it was the loss of manufacturing jobs that caused the major economic and demographic shift. There is no clear definition of shrinking cities; there has been a range of interpretations of the phenomenon. The Shrinking Cities International Research Network, on one hand, defines a shrinking city as a densely populated urban area with a minimum population of 10,000 residents that has faced significant population loss for two years or more and is facing economic transformations with symptoms of structural crisis.
From a planning perspective, there is the dilemma that urban development is strongly interlinked with growth, leading to the perception that urban shrinkage is a threat or taboo. Trying to maintain a strategy of economic growth with the goal of regaining population growth used to be the common reaction of city planners towards urban shrinkage, oftentimes leading to success. In shrinking cities such as Cleveland, it is important to “advocate a new sensibility in planning that relies on honesty when it comes to coping with future challenges of shrinking cities” (Pallagst). Some planners and cities have resorted to “planned shrinkage,” in which they let hopeless neighborhoods fall to dust, and support the healthier areas that remain standing.
Reflecting on industrial cities, Florida wrote in “The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited, “I have spent my entire life living, working, and studying in industrial cities. I adore the realness and authenticity of these great cities. Cities such as Pittsburgh have imposed bottom-up, community-based efforts for growth rather than top-down policies set by local governments. While Pittsburgh’s government and business leaders implemented big-government solutions such as stadiums and convention centers, it was the community groups and citizen-led initiatives that led to a major turn-around for the city. Community groups, local foundations, and nonprofits- not city hall or business-led economic development groups- drove its transformation. They played a key role in stabilizing and strengthening neighborhoods, investing in green technology and infrastructure, and spurring the development of the waterfront and redevelopment around the universities. Many of Pittsburgh’s best neighborhoods, such as its South Side, have avoided the “wrath of urban renewal.” Others like East Liberty have benefited from community initiatives designed to remedy the damage done by large-scale urban renewal efforts that “left vacant lots in place of functioning neighborhoods and built soulless public housing high-rise towers.” The East Liberty neighborhood is now home to several new community development projects, including a Whole Foods Market, which provides local jobs as well as serving as an anchor for the surrounding community. This kind of bottom-up process takes considerable time and perseverance. In Pittsburgh’s case, it took the better part of a generation to achieve stability and the potential for longer-term revival.
It is more rewarding to invest in local assets and businesses rather than invest in large projects such as stadiums, convention centers, and hotels. It is important to employ local people and utilize their skills, and invest in improving quality of place. “Urban revitalization based on luring so-called big game projects no longer has a place in the advanced countries. If economic developers want to do that today, they should move to China. That’s where all the big corporate projects are or are heading. Revitalizing older cities in North America and Europe increasingly depends on being able to support lots of smaller activities, groups, and projects."
Critics of Florida have reacted boldly to his "creative class" theory for economic growth. Mainly, they contend that the economics behind his theories don't work. "Although Florida's book bristles with charts and statistics showing how he constructed his various indexes and where cities rank on them, the professor, incredibly, doesn't provide any data demonstrating that his creative cities actually have vibrant economies that perform well over time."
Critics note the most fundamental measure of economics, job growth, as one way to demonstrate a flaw in his theories. Florida's creativity index lists San Francisco, Austin, Houston, and San Diego among the top ten. New Orleans, Las Vegas, Memphis, and Oklahoma City rank in the bottom ten. These cities, Florida states, are "stuck in paradigms of old economic development" and are losing their "economic dynamism" to the cities that are ranked higher. As a result of his model for economic growth, you'd expect the top cities to be big job producers, however, that is not the case. Since 1993, the cities that score the highest on Florida's analysis have not seen job growth as fast as the overall U.S. jobs economy, increasing their employment base by only slightly more than 17 percent.
Secondly, critics acknowledge the fact that Florida states that his most creative cities as centers of innovation and yet, according to one recent independent study of entrepreneurship in America, Floridaís most creative cities are ìno more likely to be powerful incubators of fast-growing businesses than those at the bottom of his ranking. This study, entitled "Mapping Americaís Entrepreneurial Landscape," ranked U.S. cities on how well they produce high-growth companies.
Unlike Florida, the commission developed a precise method of measuring high-growth centers: it calculated the percentage of companies in a local economy that grew by 15 percent a year for five consecutive years in the mid-1990s. Unlike Florida's anecdotal observations of places where he assumes that plenty of entrepreneurial activity is taking place, the commissionís numbers-oriented approach precisely charts Americaís entrepreneurial topography. Unexpectedly, the study concludes that ìmost fast-growing, entrepreneurial companies are not in high tech industries, but rather widely distributed across all industries.
The study found that high-growth companies are found in all regions of the country, in the most surprising areas. In fact, many areas in the rust belt- long viewed as an area of slow economic growth- showed a large number of high-growth companies. Cleveland ranked 22 on the study for Labor Market Areas with a population of 1-3 million, maintaining a Growth Company Index of 156. According to the study, the strongest business sectors in Cleveland are business services, distributive, extractive, local market, manufacturing, and retail.
The study also emphasizes that each of the 395 regions in the country contains some high-growth companies. While there is significant variation in the percentage of high-growth companies among Labor Market Areas, every LMA hosts growth companies that provide a base on which to build more high-growth companies. Most regions high-growth companies concentrate in certain specific industry sectors. The data highlights how future economic development strategies should be based around regional strengths. The data depicts that 89 percent of all of the LMAs in the country have comparative strengths in certain industry sectors, relative to other LMAs in their population size classes.
Some critics remark on Floridaís attempt to make something qualitative and turn it into something quantitative. My core message is that human creativity is the ultimate source of economic growth. Every single person is creative in some way. And to fully tap and harness that creativity we must be tolerant, diverse, inclusive. The idea that economic growth, a quantitative variable, coincides with creativity, a qualitative variable, emphasizes this point.
Some critics claim that Florida's creativity index and its connection to economic growth is not logical. Florida concludes that the cities that rank the highest on the creativity index rank the highest in terms of economic growth due to the abundance of creative workers, rather than individual companies, who came to live in cities they admired and then started their own firms or attracted businesses seeking educated workers. What enticed these workers, the professor concluded with very little evidence, was that the cities were tolerant, diverse and open to creativity.
Many critics of Richard Florida's Creative Class argue that his model for economic growth doesn't consequently produce the greatest amount of jobs. The study titled "Mapping Americaís Entrepreneurial Landscape" emphasizes that high-growth companies are not found solely within the "creative" sector, but are found in all areas of work. The study concludes that future economic development strategies should be based around regional strengths, whether it be creative, service or working-class related. In Richard Florida's most recent book, he has responded to many of these critics and further emphasizes his main points he made in his first book, The Rise of the Creative Class, ten years earlier. However, there are other sources that cite Florida and emphasis how his theories have generated economic growth. One of these sources, titled ìCreative Place-making, which was published in 2010, outlines several case studies that have implemented Floridaís model for economic growth and have proven to be very successful as a result.
Reacting to the Critics
Like Florida, many people and organizations agree that creative place-making is the key to economic growth. The white paper titled "Creative Place-making" credits the creative locales which foster entrepreneurs and cultural industries that generate jobs and income, spin off new products and services, and attract and retain unrelated businesses and skilled workers. The main points that the research makes is that economic development is achieved through the 1.) Recirculation of residents' income locally at a higher rate 2.) Re-use of vacant and underutilized land, buildings, and infrastructure, 3.) Creation of jobs in construction, local businesses, and cultural activity, 4.) Expansion of the entrepreneurial ranks of artists and designers, 5.) Training of the next generation of cultural workers and 6.) Attraction of non-artist-related businesses and skills.
The research also states that economic development quickens because arts and cultural investments help the region to capture a higher share of expenditures from local income. Re-using vacant space generates local property and sales tax revenues that can be put towards streets and streetscape, lighting, sanitation, greenery, and police and fire. In addition, jobs and incomes are generated in construction, retail businesses, and arts and cultural production. New businesses in the creative industry and others are attracted to these communities. This research supports the idea that creative communities can spark economic development, and attract new businesses, artists and entrepreneurs. This research also emphasizes the importance of local, community-driven initiatives as the answer to long-term economic growth rather than governmental, policy-driven strategies.
In Florida’s new book, “The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited” Florida argues that the old methods for building creative communities simply will not work. It’s not enough to just provide good schools or a family-friendly environment, just as it’s not enough merely to have an environment that’s teeming with restaurants and bars. Florida argues that cities need to attract a people climate as much as a business climate. A people climate refers to a general strategy aimed at attracting and retaining people, especially, but not limited to, creative people.
There is no one-size-fits-all model for a successful creative community. An effective people climate cannot have restrictions and be monolithic because the creative class group is diverse across the dimensions of age, ethnicity and race, marital status, and sexual orientation. Building a creative community is an “organic,” bottom-up process. “It’s a matter of providing the right conditions, planting the right seeds, and then letting things take their course.”
Extensive research has been conducted trying to determine the ideal age range to target in order to build a successful community. Most community leaders will tell you that married couples in their late thirties and forties- people with middle to upper income jobs and stable family lives is who they try to attract. However, one group that has been neglected by most communities, at least until recently, is young single people. In the creative age, Florida notes, young people matter for several reasons. They are workhorses, more prone to take risks and have up-to-date skills.
But a stable people climate is not all about age. What really matters is that cities and regions have a people climate that recognizes every type of person and every type of family. Regardless of age, people enjoy stimulating, dynamic places with high levels of cultural interplay. And if they have children, that’s the kind of environment they want to see their children in. In fact, many families prefer to live in urban settings. However, the truth is that many families tend to leave the city when their kids reach school age. What’s important to remember is that families themselves are increasingly diverse and that cities must be able to attract and retain diverse people and families.
Brandon E. Young