Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Painting a Clear Picture

Hi there gang.  It's been quite the week, so time for a not so quick update.  My new shop space fell through, so no more new space.  :(  It's all for the best though.  I am working with a new broker to find a space that is even better.  :)

Anyhow, on to the good stuff.

I am working with one of the best clients EVER!   He is super creative, but analytical as well.  His attention to detail is second to none.  Add to that........ He is the sweetest man EVER!  I've pulled out all the stops for him.  Every detail for his new cabinets has been painstakingly thought-out, rethought-out, and then, just for good measure.....  That's right..... thought-out, again. 

These intense demands have pushed me hard to do all of my drawings on the computer.  In the past I have used Sketchup for basic renderings only, and have never fully utilized the programs ability to model a project in full.  100+ hours later, I am about to start cutting materials for 2 of the 3 rooms in the home.  And mind you, I am cutting all the materials from a computer generated cutlist.

I thought it would be fun to show my process from the beginning, all the way to completion.

Here is how it all started in one room.  A sketch provided by the homeowner that gave me the basic information I needed to provide a bid. I started all of the computer work after we decided to work together.  **A good relationship with your clients all starts with the ability to get along with each other.  If I don't like you as a person, I likely wont want to work for you.  And if you don't like me, don't hire me.  Life is to short not to enjoy what you do, and who you do it with.**

Below are actual screen shots that I created to show the client.

We've modified just about every dimension in these built-in's about 4 times.   The nice thing about a computer generated workflow, is that I am able to talk with my client, make changes, and instantly show the new mock-up. This can be done in person with a laptop at their location, or on the phone.

One of the biggest challenges of this project was it's location.  The home is a condo unit nestled in a historic building in one of Portland's most hip and densely populated areas.  It's got plenty of challenges.  No parking.  A service elevator that is the size of a porta-potty. Endless condo association guild-lines that dictate the hours of making noise, the types of finishes that are allowed, and I think I remember seeing something about my shoe size requirements.  I would love to build 4 big boxes in the shop, and then set them in place.  However, that is not possible.  I also can't just set up a portable shop at the site and construct them there.  The cabinets need to be fully assembled in the shop, then broken into smaller pieces for transport and reinstalled on site.  There are 12 individual cases that all need to blend as one built in.

Below are 6 options of a section for the Living Room.  Once these basic elevations were made, I inserted them into the model for a full rendering of the cabinet, as you can see below that.  One of the joys of working in a "historic" building, is the "historic" details that must be maintained.

**note: if you look at the top sketch, you will notice base molding around the entire cabinet.  We have omitted that to get a bit more storage space, and add a bit of balance. **

Also I am able to view the project from any angle, or material.  I can also add dimensions.  This is the plan view (from above) with materials in place as well.

This is the final Living Room Elevation.

A very clear picture can be had using these computer techniques.  Some people are able to visualize anything, and don't need to see these renderings, however some truly rely on these types of drawings to help familiarize themselves with the project.   If my clients need visualization........ I give them visuals.  Period.

The next installment will show the cabinet construction.  I will be using the computer generated cut-list.  As with all computer programs, if you input junk, you get junk out.  We will see how accurate the lists are, and what obstacles I had to overcome in order to put it all together.

Do you find it helpful to have these kind of mock-up's?  I'd love to get your thoughts.


  1. It is very fun to see all these steps and how you get from one end to the other of a project!

  2. Thanks! The building process can be pretty intimidating to some clients. I try to break the project down into small more manageable pieces. Stay tuned for the next round.

  3. What program are you using for your computer drawings? I like that you included the low tech drawing too. Good luck with it. Looks ambitious.

  4. Thank you Jeff.

    I am using Sketchup. It's proving to be great, but buggy as can be.

  5. Nice work man. VERY clear representation of the piece to come. I know the client appreciates that.

    The big question is, at what point do you need to stop making changes and insist the client trust your judgement?


  6. That's a great question Adam. I have found that being very clear with the time involved in making additional changes to the design can persuade clients to move forward. That's a fancy way of saying. "I'm happy to make those changes, but it will cost you more money than we'd originally budgeted." I have found that every client is different, and I know this client will not be happy until we have it exactly like he wants it. And that is great in my book. The happier the client is in the end, the better. I should note as well that I don't ever sit on my hands, and keep my mouth shut. If I feel the changes will not work as proposed or see budget issues, I point them out right away. I am also happy in this case that the client is incredibly wonderful and as smart as they come. When he speaks, I am MORE than willing to listen. :)

    Does that answer your question?