In May 2017 we decided to begin the renovation of the third floor of our Lakewood home. It had been a goal of ours when we bought our home in July 2013. In fact, the third floor was a big reason why we fell in love with our home. We saw huge potential in it after walking through it for the first time. Here are some before photos:
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.
When we moved into our house several years ago, we had a laundry list of renovation projects that kept us busy. One of the most exciting projects was constructing a built-in pantry for our kitchen. Our new kitchen is much bigger than our prior kitchen, but it lacked some vital storage space. We wanted a pantry to store our dry goods, spices, cereal, etc. Luckily, our kitchen was adjacent to our guest bathroom; which had a decent amount of unused space that we could use for the kitchen. Here are some before photos of the spaces I am talking about:
So this is our kitchen (above) and here is our bathroom, which is adjacent to the space:
First step was to demo mark with a score line using a utility knife the area of drywall we wanted to demo. Then i used a small pry bar and hammer to peel away the layer of drywall on each side of the room. For the floor, we wanted to keep the existing tile. The best way to selectively remove tile floor is to use a utility knife. First score the grout lines between the tile you are going to remove. Then use a pry bar and a hammer to pop up the tile. More than likely the mortar unerneath the tile will come up as well and there will be some subfloor repairs that you will need to address. Luckily for us, as you can see in the photo above, the subfloor was mostly intact when we removed the tile. The next step, which i didnt document, was to install an elbow for the floor register so we could install a vent on the face of the new wall.
Next I framed in the opening by removing the existing studs and placing new studs in between the existing layers of drywall. Then I made some subfloor repairs and installed the bottom plates for the new stud walls.
Next I used straight 2x4's to frame out the wall for the pantry and storage niche in the bathroom.
Because I was going to keep the existing ceiling, I was strategic about the demo to the ceiling by using a utility knife and framing the wall piece by piece (bottom plate first, then top plate, then studs in between) rather than building the wall complete like is typically done. This way i avoid unnecessary demo in the ceiling that is usually required in order to squeeze the new wall in.
Here is the finished product in the bathroom. I built some containers out of old pallets. I installed aluminum angles to hold stained pine shelves. Since this photo we have replaced the crappy vinyl wall base with poplar 1x6 and molding to match the original. Im planning on replacing the pallet wood with something more long term... but for now, it works.
The finished product. We used a pantry from IKEA and sized the opening to fit.
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."
Brandon E. Young