Modern Design: Multi-Slide Doors

When Patrick O’Neill of Greenline Fine Woodworking was called to do a historically sensitive update to one of Pietro Belluschi’s last projects, it came with a very cool addition: a meditation room designed collaboratively with Michael McCulloch, a noted Portland architect who is the current owner of the home.

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Project Goals

The intention of the design was to create a space that would blur the lines between indoors and out, minimizing visual interruptions and allowing the space to open completely to the exterior as much as possible.

Challenges

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Large, sliding full-lite doors can have challenges related to weight, stability and smooth operability. An additional challenge was to figure out how to allow the doors to meet at a corner with a only a narrow post to camouflage and complete the seal when closed.

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Uniquely Versatile Solutions

A tricky mitred corner for the track system allowed the two layers of doors to meet seamlessly in the corner. Very tight tolerances were needed to ensure a weather-tight fit when the panels were closed.

The Versatile Product Design team worked closely with the installing contractor to ensure measurements were accurate and the design parameters could be met.

Bringing multiple tracks together in the corners presented alignment challenges for both the upper and lower panel tracks. The low profile sill makes for a near-flush transition to the interior flooring. Metal tracks were inlaid into solid wood sills to create an elegantly integrated system.

The result: a glowing oasis of thoughtful Mid-Century design that feels like an organic part of this architecturally-significant Oregon home.

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Case Study: Carle Kitchen Cabinets

Carle_2003_Kitchen_A_P_Pro_ (10)Nestled deep in Southwest Portland, the Carle family kitchen was the subject of an extensive remodel that was completed in late 2014. Interior designer Barbara Sumner and architectural designer Kristyn Bester worked with Versatile’s Product Designer Rex Vaccaro, to update and modernize the kitchen.

The design process for this particular project exemplifies our modern era; most of the communication during the process happened via Skype since the Carle family had been residing in Amsterdam when the project began. As with any remodel project, the designers hit a few snags, and the home was still under construction when the family returned to Portland. Ultimately, however, the Arciform and Versatile teams were able to achieve a contemporary, streamlined kitchen that is both functional and beautiful for the Carle family.

 

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What was the scope of the project and what were the design goals?

 For Versatile, the scope involved an entire run of custom upper and lower cabinets as well as a pantry wall; a large kitchen island with a cantilevered eating area, and a built-in window bench. Some retrofit shelving and a wet bar in an adjacent living room were also included in the design. The finishes ended up being a contemporary mix of stainless steel-wrapped upper cabinets, paint grade surfaces for the pantry wall, and solid, clear, walnut grain aligned horizontally on the lower cabinets.

What challenges did the project face?

The biggest challenge that this project presented was the fact that the client had a strong desire for all of the lower cabinets to carry a visually  distinctive horizontal line from the wood grain along the length of the kitchen. The surface area along the sink wall and island was very broad, and there was some difficulty in locating beautiful, solid pieces of walnut that were large enough to cover those surfaces. The main issue with long spans of wood, however, is that they will always warp over time, so there was an initial fear that the cabinet faces would warp and be ruined.

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What were the Uniquely Versatile solutions?

The first step in solving the problem was to communicate with designers working on the project. With regards to the sink wall, the solution was to simply compromise on the pattern, and face the cabinets with a classic vertical grain rather than risk the possibility of warping. To create a horizontal appearance on the surface of the nine-foot long island, a laminating method was used, in which a few boards of walnut were glued together along their long edges in order to add stability. Laminated wood still carries the possibility of warping; however, by alternating the grain patterns on the boards (essentially flipping every other board so that the grain pattern is opposite the one before it), more stability is added to the wood,  creating a preventive measure against warping. We were also able to retain the horizontal grain pattern that the client wanted, and applying these solutions to the project resulted in a stunningly beautiful set of kitchen cabinets.

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Versatile is always looking to come up with inventive solutions for the challenges faced when collaborating with others. Our creative team worked with the talented designers at Arciform to achieve their client’s needs for this beautiful home in Southwest Portland.

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Case Study: Mid-Century Custom Cabinetry

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This architect designed mid-century modern home featured existing hemlock cabinets that needed restoration, plus a client who wanted to expand square footage and increase the utility of the space for entertaining. Versatile refinished and modified the original kitchen cabinets to house new appliances and fabricated a new bank of cabinets that matched the existing style and hardware, concealed the new refrigerator and expanded the available storage.

Project Goals
To restore and expand the kitchen with as little impact to the original fixtures as possible while modernizing the appliances and integrating them into the existing architecture.

Challenges

  1. The unusual species of the wood in the existing architect-designed cabinets required a careful exact match of wood and hardware in order to blend the new elements seamlessly with the old.
  2. Integrating contemporary appliances into a space designed for the 1960s without distracting from the period style of the space required extremely precise fits on the surrounding cabinets.

Uniquely Versatile Solutions

  1. Research of the architect’s work and a deep understanding of the principals of the original architectural style helped identify creative but architecturally appropriate solutions to the integration challenges.
  2. Precise measurements and good communication with the contractor during the design of new cabinets ensured a seamless installation.

Client’s Reaction

We love our home and think often about the wonderful job you have done for us.

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Case Study: The Block House Café

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In the heart of historic Dayton Oregon, The Block House Café recently moved into the 1886 First Baptist Church on Main Street. Working alongside architect Paul Falsetto and Fackler Construction, Versatile created a large back bar with surrounding cabinetry, wait-station and tabletops from old floor joists in the building.

Goals:

To create a large, functional and aesthetically pleasing back bar that hides the seismic bracing, and re-purpose original floor joists to create tabletops and a bar top.

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Challenges:

The biggest challenge we faced with the back bar, which included 10’ high walnut pieces, was installation to conceal three alcoves that were created by updated seismic structuring. The tabletops and bar top proposed a few challenges as they were created from wood salvaged from the original floor joists from the building. We were concerned about the tabletops cupping or warping, and we needed to create a flat, smooth surface on the bar top as there were many wormholes in the wood.

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Uniquely Versatile Solutions:

We worked around installation problems of the bar by pre-building it in 3 separate pieces with some tolerances to allow for variations in the walls when it was installed on site. The three pieces overlapped once installed to look like one piece of furniture while hiding the bracing behind.

To address the tabletops potentially warping, we added a dovetail key underneath to tie the planks together. By attaching the key to the middle plank only, the planks could expand and contract naturally, but not warp or cup. And finally, to create a smooth, flat surface on the bar top, the wormholes were filled with clear epoxy rather than a colored putty. Since the natural color of fir changes over time, the clear epoxy will make a smooth surface without worry that the wood color would ultimately shift away from the color of the putty. Versatile’s experience and expertise allowed us to anticipate potential issues and create solutions before they became real problems on site.

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Case Study: Replacement Sash for Historic Review

This lovely condo building on the National Historic Register was in need of refurbishment but had strict requirements to meet in order to maintain the historic character of the building. Their budget precluded custom replacement windows. Here’s how we helped their contractor, PATH Construction, find a Uniquely Versatile solution that was right for them.

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  1. What were the design goals of the project (including any performance, historic review or unusual specs?

Historic accuracy on a budget was the name of the game.  The primary hurdle was matching an historic glass stop profile on all the sash  No manufactured window company could provide the beaded profile and the project’s budget did not allow for custom windows.

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  1. What challenges did the project face?

We were challenged to meet very strict historic requirements for this building which is now on the National Register while also staying within a tight budget for a project this size.  These requirements included a specific glass stop profile, no visible vinyl or balance system on the front of the building, and maintaining the original window sizes, including the 1 round top window on the 3rd floor.

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  1. What uniquely versatile solutions were used to address those challenges?

Versatile mixed a variety of products from Marvin (Wood Magnum Tilt Pacs, Ultimate Double Hungs, Ultimate Awnings, fiberglass Integrity sliders and double-hungs in the basement).

 

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However, even Marvin was unable to produce the beaded profile glass stops so Versatile purchased the window systems from Marvin without any glazing.  Our shop then machined the custom stops and glazed the windows ourselves using the same Cardinal Insulated glass that Marvin would have used.  The result was a “custom” window at a manufactured price.

 

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We were delighted to assist in the restoration of this important piece of Portland’s architectural history in the heart of NW Portland.

Hot tip: these lovingly restored condos go on the market this week and they won’t last long. Check them out at NW 21st and Flanders.

 

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Case Study: Full Sail Brewing Custom Entry System

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We were delighted to recently complete a custom storefront system for Full Sail Brewing’s Hood River corporate offices. It was the perfect mix of Uniquely Versatile elements: unusual scale, specific climate and weather conditions and a client with a very specific design aesthetic in mind. Here’s a look at the goals and challenges of the project:

The Goal

Use of Vertical Grain Douglas Fir was a central design theme throughout this project.  The main entrance is meant to highlight that theme with solid CVG Douglas fir transom, sidelites, and doors with a clear finished interior and exterior.

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The Challenges

TMencer Construction Company approached us with this opportunity along with other custom shops in the region. Although our price point was higher, Tim Mencer valued our commitment to on-site consulting services, our ability to provide complete AutoCAD drawings for review and our expertise in integrating very specialized hardware for custom projects like this one.

An Off-Kilter Rough Opening: The biggest challenge to the project was that the existing masonry opening was not at all square, plumb or level. Several framing options had to be explored to find a solution that would fit the doors and glass as designed while adjusting for the variances in the existing opening.

Complex Commercial Hardware: The commercial hardware specified for the doors was very complex and challenging to integrate into an entry door of normal thickness.

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The Uniquely Versatile Solutions

Extensive onsite and off site consulting by our product development team about the available framing  options helped TMencer Construction narrow down some workable solutions to the site’s out of kilter opening measurements.

To address the hardware issue, we ultimately decided to make the doors thicker than originally specified (2_1/4” instead of 1_3/4”) in order to overcome some of the biggest hardware integration challenges and ensure greater long term durability.

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The Result

The final project’s simple lines and unadorned clear grain fir makes the entrance seem easy and approachable without hinting at the surprisingly complex design solutions required to integrate them into the space. We are proud to provide such a warm wood welcome to the staff and guests of Full Sail Brewing.

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Case Study: Custom Double Hung Window

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This may look like a humble little double hung but what appears to be straightforward actually involved a lot of attention to detail, careful coordination and amazing craftsmanship.

When this job is finished it will be very difficult to identify the original windows from our new window; aside from the fact that the new window operates like butter.

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The Challenge

Our colleagues at Kem’s Woodworking needed to help their clients meet current egress codes for a new basement bedroom with a historically accurate window that matches all the original double hung windows throughout this 1930’s West Hills home.

Kem’s cut a hole in the exterior wall directly between two existing windows and challenged Versatile to deliver a window that looked like it had always been there.

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The Uniquely Versatile Solution

Versatile built a traditional weight and pulley double hung to the necessary size to meet the egress requirements. We matched the reverse ogee interior detail and the exterior stucco mould exactly.

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Even the stepped exterior window sill was reproduced to match all original sills.

(The picture below shows the window before the finish painting was complete.)

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The Result

You would be hard pressed to identify at a glance which window was added to the home and which were original. Sometimes, the best Versatile solutions are the ones that are impossible to identify once they are installed!

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Case Study: Stairwell Lift Door

Sometimes the answer to a tricky design challenge isn’t a choice between manufactured and custom options. Sometimes the answer is to use the best of both. Here’s how we tackled one very unusual vertical lift stairwell door with a combination of manufactured and highly custom Versatile solutions.

The Challenge

Versatile client Bobby Meeker had a very unusual request. He wanted to create a privacy barrier between his main floor and the master suite above but his narrow stairwell did not have enough clearance for a traditional door to function.

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He wanted it to be beautiful and he needed it to integrate seamlessly with the traditional style of his home with no visible operation. And it needed to lift vertically. There was no room in the stairwell for a traditional swing or pocket door. But there was plenty of room for the door to lift up out of the way into the upper portion of the stairwell.

The Uniquely Versatile Solution

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The  inspiration was a door our Director of Product Development, Alan Hart-McArthur, saw in a 1920’s Bungalow in SE Portland.  From that original inspiration Alan set out to devise a weight pocket and track system that was robust enough to support the weight of the door, large enough to house large steel weights, and yet still low profile such that they didn’t take up too much space on the stairs.

The results are 15’ long weight pockets that house nearly 40 lbs of solid bar stock steel in each side and yet are a little over 3” deep.

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The Materials

The door is a standard VG fir Simpson door with Prairie grids.  The client then took it to an artist named Ron Branch who sandblasted the custom tree branch etching into both sides of the insulated glass. The door was finished with clear coat and the weight chases and tracks were primed and then painted to match the walls and trim. By using a manufactured door for the base design, the client was able to free up budget that could then be applied to creating a very custom and visually stunning etched glass design.

The Result

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The door lifts easily into the upper portion of the stairwell and the narrow weight pockets blend in visually with the rest of the space. We had so much fun helping Bobby find his Uniquely Versatile solution!

What tricky design dilemma would you like our window and door designers to tackle next?

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