Walnut Kitchen Cabinet Challenge
Versatile is always looking to come up with inventive solutions for design challenges. Versatile’s experienced team specializes in balancing period appropriate architectural design specifications with modern performance standards. We combine historic techniques with modern technologies.
The biggest challenge that this project presented was the fact that the client had a strong desire for all of the lower kitchen 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. Locating beautiful, solid pieces of walnut that were large enough to cover those surfaces proved difficult. However, the main issue with long spans of wood is they will always warp over time, causing the kitchen cabinet faces to be ruined.
The first step in solving the problem was to communicate with designers working on the project. The solution to the sink wall issue was to simply compromise on the pattern, to face the cabinets with a classic vertical grain rather than risk the possibility of warping. A laminating method was used to create a horizontal appearance on the surface of the nine-foot long island. A few boards of walnut were glued together along their long edges in order to add stability.
Versatile’s Custom Wood Island Challenge
This custom wood island project in Lake Oswego, Oregon presented an unusual and challenging design puzzle for the Versatile Wood Products team. Turned legs and a maple butcher block featuring end-grain detail, coupled with a mixture of stainless steel and wood elements came together beautifully in this custom wood island.
A stainless steel prep sink and counter were integrated into a triangular notch. An extremely close tolerance was needed for the end result to be flush on both edges. Versatile customized each surface that intersected with the stainless steel counter. This ensured a smooth transition between the two elements.
Window Spring Counterbalances
A window balance is a mechanical device, normally spring-loaded, used in hung windows to counterbalance the weight of the sash during operation.
The primary advantage is that a spring balance requires less space than weight-and-pulley systems, which have to leave several inches of room for weight pockets on either side of the window. This is especially important on bay windows or for banks of windows, where the mullion space between sashes is limited. Spring balances are also invaluable for plank-frame houses, where the absence of wall framing make weight pockets impossible, and in solid brick walls, where spring balances alleviate the need to build openings any wider than necessary for the window proper.
Versatile relies on Marvin double hung windows to meet many of its window design challenges. Marvin Windows’ inserts and tilt pacs use modern spring balances that allow us to leave the original weights and weight pockets in place when replacing an old window.
Restoring windows is one of Versatile’s favorite design challenges. Done well, it is tricky to identify at a glance which window is new and which were original. Sometimes, the best Versatile solutions are the ones that are impossible to identify!
Stairwell Lift Door Design Challenge
Sometimes the answer to tricky design challenges 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.
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.
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.
Seismic Bracing Design Challenge
Versatile’s experience and expertise allowed us to anticipate potential issues and create solutions before they became real problems on site.
Our goal for the Block House Café was to create a large, functional, and aesthetically pleasing back bar that hides the seismic bracing. Re-purpose original floor joists to create tabletops and a bar top.
The biggest design challenge Versatile 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. They were created from wood salvaged from the original floor joists from the building. We were concerned about the tabletops cupping or warping. We needed to create a flat, smooth surface on the bar top as there were many wormholes in the wood.
Uniquely Versatile solutions included working around installation problems of the bar by pre-building it in 3 separate pieces. Along 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 to create a smooth flat surface on the bar top as well. 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.