Check out the video, and read an edited transcript of the conversation below:
I think for creative people . . . sometimes you just need to refresh your space, your environment, your stimulation.
Ken: I thought it was pretty ambitious when we last chatted. Having been a professional in that field before, you know, it's hard to build stuff, especially in a condo. I'm curious to see how you pulled it off.
Ken: I love it. I love it.
Matthew: So we just jumped right in. I started building some concepts out in 3D. And I think when you and I first spoke, Ken, and I shared this, I was thinking about just doing some kind of IKEA hack where we get some IKEA shelves and then just putting some wood top on it and hanging a couple of shelves and some artwork.
Ken: Those look like our wall shelves.
Matthew: Yeah. That was the original. And then I think after a lot of back and forth with Belinda, she saw this and she's like, "You know what? I feel like I need more storage. I feel like I need more shelving. And do you mind if I take it over?" She got so inspired. It turned [into] a completely custom build.
Ken: I used to be a custom furniture maker, and most of my work was clients like you guys where there's some kind of space limitation where off-the-shelf stuff just doesn't work. So your wife has unique needs, and looking at your original goals with the nature of her [multidisciplinary, analog] work, you can't really buy that.
Matthew: So the next part of it before we started cutting everything, we just got a bunch of artist tape and we put it up on the wall. It's a technique I saw from a YouTuber named Rachel Metz. Even though we had [drawn] everything out in 3D, it's hard to still feel what it would be like in the actual physical space.
Ken: Yeah. And you avoided an epic mistake.
Doing it this way was actually good for us because it made us more resourceful, because we didn't have these tools, we didn't have all the fancy things.
Ken: I've never done that actually. Wow. I'm impressed that you guys were able to do that with the hand plane and not like rip up the veneer. I can see like a nice shaving coming off there.
Yeah. It's nice and clean. No visible fasteners, that's what we call it.
Ken: That is the best.
Matthew: It was awesome. I know you guys had mentioned this … and once I started looking into it and then I started testing it on these pieces of wood you could see here before and then after, my gosh, it's gorgeous.
Matthew: Yeah. That was very satisfying. We did the the paper sanding technique that you taught me which is just getting a sheet of regular printer paper and then rubbing it down after, and it made it extra smooth.
The thing about oil is you can repair. With a spray finish, you basically have to redo the whole thing. So over the long haul, it's way better.
Ken: This is a great tip for the DIY viewers out there. The reason it's so much better for an install like this is imagine picking up this cabinet and you're trying to level. It weighs 100 pounds, maybe. And you're like, "Uh, [move it] a little bit, a little bit like this, or you drop it" or whatever. Instead, you level the French cleat and it's like just a piece of wood, super light, and you can just get it right and then you just put the cabinet on that.
I mean, I love this ... there's no product that exists for this, somebody that uses this many tools and these exact plans.
Matthew: That's all her. That's all her.
Ken: She's a professional artist, so it's worth it. And then, it slides in so you don't have to look at all that clutter. You know, honestly, that's great.
I've looked at hundreds of workspaces, Matthew, maybe even over 1,000. I've never seen this many pens.
Ken: Record holder!
Matthew: We wanted to put a bunch of plants in here. We wanted it to break everything up with these, like, nice organic shapes and just real life inside.
Ken: I love the vines because it kind of breaks up those horizontal lines. I like that brass planter too.
Ken: So you guys are cheating because you're not like true DIY because you're professional designers, just DIY on the fabrication. You're not like 100% DIY.
We look at it every day. With a lot of those things, it's just like figuring out the details, what we want to display, what's gonna represent us and her, and what's nice enough to show, and then what wants to be tucked away.
Matthew: Oh, she loves it. She's only been working in it for about two and a half weeks now, but having a very long and narrow space is pretty good because she can be on her computer here in the middle, she can slide that out of the way, she can have all this real estate on the left and right.
Ken: Oh, interesting.
Matthew: Well, I think it's because of the contrast of living in the sawdust and construction for a couple of weeks and now having this relief of everything's organized, everything's put away, and because we have all of these plants in here, it just feels very fresh. And it has this definitely more uplifting and positive vibe in there.
If you have the same environment, if you have the same stimulation, you're probably going to just keep doing the same work.
It's like every time I clean my place, or every time I organize something it's like, "Oh, now nothing is in my way. Now, I can just do the work."
Ken: Well, this project, I mean, the technical difficulty, I'm, like, blown away. I can't believe you guys did this.
Matthew: The courage is all on her because for me, when I go into any project … I like to mitigate all the ways that could possibly go wrong. But then, you know, after a little bit of research, I'm like, "Okay, I feel confident. I'll go do this." And for her, once she sank her teeth in it, once she realized like, "Oh, this is my space, I can build it how I want to. Let me see what we can design. Let me see what's out there." So it was really her that pushed us both off of the cliff of jumping in and say, "Let's make it a big project."
Matthew: Yeah, absolutely. Belinda and I met at work [in 2010], so we kind of can understand where the other person's going to think before they even arrive there. And so we just learned how to communicate and know that when we're stepping on the other person's toes and to back off and, you know, know when to release control, and then where to give it because both her and I care about different things.
Ken: I love it because when it works well, which is hard, but if it works well you get a kind of a combination of you two, manifesting itself in the space, and it's probably better than either of you on your own.
Matthew: In a couple years I know we can see each other again in person. It would be great to have you over and it'd be cool to actually come up to the shop and check all that stuff out.
Ken: Matthew, it's great to chat with you.
Matthew: Yeah. Likewise, Ken. Man, it's really fun and thanks for believing in us, supporting us. and giving us support throughout this project.
Ken: That was inspiring. Have a good weekend, man.
Matthew: Yeah, you too. Thanks, man.