Recently I sat down with KR+H's Paul Reidt and master installers Glenn Bigelow and Andy May. While they paged through the March/April issue of Design New England that featured our Beacon Street project, they shared some of their challenges and delights.
THE GAME ROOM
Glenn: This room was a challenge, but I don't remember anything out of the ordinary.
Paul: The wood in here is cherry and ropey cherry.
Glenn: I had to move the main door [entrance] into this room, shift the opening over and manipulate the casings.
Andy: I remember you doing all this trim around the bay windows. And those long miters, 9-foot-long miters on those windows. You did that with a Festool.
Glenn: Oh, the outside miter. Yeah, those were long. That was a lot of work. You don't see it with all those curtains. It is there.
Paul: That was cut in the field?(!)
Andy: Tons of work around this window. That whole wall was a ton of work. All that big huge sliding hardware for the panel. That wasn't easy.
Paul: You look at these images and you see this fully finished very beautiful space and there's a 9-foot-long field miter there. Nobody recognizes that when they look at a picture like this. How does that actually get done?
Glenn: Saw horses with lumber everywhere. Can you give me room for a minute?
Andy: Nobody talk for a minute, I've got to think!
Glenn: Yeah, no kidding. The other thing, too: don't make a mistake.
Andy: And it's prefinished, it's not like you can sand that miter and make it nice. You've got to make it perfect...in two cuts.
Paul: A lot on this job was probably prefinished.
Andy: All of it. So you can't have fasteners - it's cherry. You can't fill that and make it look good, right? You've got to work backwards. How am I going to put it all together so I can move this in, screw everything from the back, move it in so you can't see any fasteners? So, it's blind fastening, it's prefinished, it's a nightmare to install.
Paul: Well, it's either a nightmare or a glory shot! It's challenging but it shows off, you know, what you guys do. It's a perfect illustration of that.
Glenn: Oh yeah.
Paul: Yeah, it shows the craft.
Andy: I love it. I'd rather do this than an easy thing, you know?
Paul: This is super challenging work.
THE BEDROOM LIGHT
Glenn took on the unexpected task of fixing the loose light integrated into our client's nightstand. He rose to the challenge...and Andy and Paul poked some fun at him!
Glenn: Out of all those cabinets, fixing that light was the biggest challenge for me. The light was real loose so they asked us to fix it. It was awesome. I spent a couple of hours on it. What if I can't get it back together? I took this whole [nightstand] apart. I had to disconnect all the wires because the wires were all the way through there. I had it all apart on the blanket here, took it apart piece by piece until I found out what was wrong with it. I unwired it and just tightened up and fixed it for them.
Andy: We were talking about building all this stuff. And he's complaining about building a light!
Glenn: Not complaining. That just posed the biggest challenge. It was awesome.
Paul: 9-foot miter on site...no problem!
Andy: Geeze, how do I fix this light?
Glenn: Taking it piece by piece until it goes together. Yeah, and what if I broke something? Where do you get another one of those?
FIFTH FLOOR FAMILY ROOM
Glenn: I remember the first thing about this project...[our client] kept some of the old cabinetry [by KR+H for previous owner] that's been there maybe 25 years. The first thing Andy and I did was set up a temporary kitchen. We took some of the cabinets out of the [existing] kitchen and brought them up to this floor. And we set them up in here for a temporary kitchen.
Paul: Yeah. They used that for months. And then this was the last room to be finished. It's the family room on the top floor. It has a beautiful view of the Charles
Glenn: The [client's teenage] son was there when we did his bedroom.
Paul: Did he ever pay you back the 20 bucks?
Andy: He still owes you 20 bucks!
Glenn: Anybody got $20 I can borrow? ...Hey, where's the kid with my 20 bucks?
Paul: KR+H is a full service company.
Glenn: Lending firm.
FOOSBALL AND POOL TABLES
Glenn: We even made pool cue racks.
Paul: Oh my god, that foosball game and that pool table!
Glenn: See-through table.
Andy: Wasn't that Italian, too?
Paul: It's like a [$1 plus a few zeros tacked on] table!
THE LIVING ROOM
Andy: Did we make that table?
Glenn: Smitty did, yeah.
Paul: Yeah, and the banquette. We made this guy...well, we made the base and sent it to the upholsterer.
Andy: This is a cool room when you're in it. Wow. Those curtains go up two stories.
Paul: Yeah, these just keep going. That was a smart move on Terry's part [interior designer Terry Gregory]. If this were just a solid fabric that didn't have as much of that movement in it, you wouldn't...
Glenn: Brings your eye up; you follow the [wavy] lines.
Andy: And the columns.
Paul: Some of them we made and many of them were there.
Glenn: Yeah, we made a ton of those. How about that mirror panel, too. At the elevator.
Glenn: We worked with a bunch of materials - metal, wood, fabric panels, glass. These hanging shelves in the kitchen. Those were a kind of pain.
Andy: Yeah. The painter [took them out after we installed and] put them in backwards. So the holes were just a little off; the rods were a little off. That's awesome, too. How do you put [shelves] in front of a window?
Paul: Well, we've had that challenge before. Remember [Nashawtuc Road Kitchen]? A lot of storage in front of that window. Did it at [Sylvan Avenue project], too.
Glenn: Look at the kitchen. All the metal work and then what we did in here. All those had to be screwed in from above and through the sides,...and glass set in there.
Paul: We used Red birch. It had the right tone because we used Makore and some other woods [quilted maple] that it married well with.
Andy: DId Terry do this?
Paul: No, we did this [kitchen design]. Terry gave his opinion but he didn't direct this part. That is all us.
THE DINING ROOM
Andy: Look at those lights. It looks like stars in that picture.
Paul: That is such an amazing space.
Andy: And not only that, he [photographer RIck Mandelkorn] centered that picture with those lights. Almost. He's a little bit off.
Glenn: There's gold leaf in this room's ceiling and it's silver leaf in the kitchen. There were women, a couple of women taking foil...
Andy: Four inch by four inch.
Paul: There's a lot of different types of artisanry in this project. here's amazing metalwork, there's stunning woodwork, silver leafing, custom furniture, upholstery.
Glenn and Andy's gifted work was in step with their coworkers, the brilliant craftspeople in our shop. When the issue of Design New England arrived in the mail, everyone was eager to see the article that showcased a project, one of many in which the quality of their work resides. Craftspeople love their work, and it is fitting to see their individual and combined skills applauded.
Project photos are by architectural photographer Richard Mandelkorn. Thank you, RIck!