Selecting the Right Contractor: Some Helpful Tips…

When a client is ready to renovate their space, after they have selected the Architect, selecting the right Contractor is the next step. It is so important in the process. Moving forward with your project in the right direction and following these tips for Contractor selection will save the client from any surprises. Many times the Architect can recommend someone who they trust and who they know has a good reputation and professional work ethic. But there are times when the client selects the Contractor themselves. Here are some helpful tips to remember when searching for a Contractor for your renovation or construction project.

  1. Communication: the Contractor must be responsive to your questions and also prepared for any challenge and have the ability to go over and explain scenarios to the client.
  2. Punctuality: being on time for appointments and meetings and also having a clear and concise job site schedule reflects on their professionalism. Time is money.
  3. Transparency: A good Contractor will be upfront about prices and change orders that could occur. I would steer clear of a Contractor who over promises, then under delivers. They should be honest about their abilities and past experience.
  4. A Contractor should educate the client about the extent and challenges that may arise during the renovation, be a listening ear but not a “yes” man. They must be able to tactfully advise and let the client know that maybe something that they want is not cost effective, or appropriate
  5. There should always be a good rapport, if the client is comfortable discussing all elements of their project freely with the professionals they hire, this will only lead to a more successful project, with excellent results.
  6. Architect/ Contractor rapport: while it is important for the Client and Contractor to have a good rapport, it is even more important that the Architect and Contractor do. They will work side by side to design and execute the design, collaborating to provide the best service for the client. The trust level is important and the ability to accept suggestions and compromise on issues for the good of the project is crucial. Their relationship can create a magical result.

These are just a few basic tips for selecting a proper Contractor for a renovation. Having these ideas in mind during the process of Contractor selection can save the Client headaches and issues that can arise when the professionals that are hired are not capable to problem solve and rise to any challenge. An informed, communicative and professional Contractor leads to a successful and beautiful project with long lasting results.

 

Advertisements

Small Projects Do Not Mean Less Work…

 

Often in my professional experience, there has been this scenario: a client has uttered these words during a consultation…”oh, it’s just a small project …” I instantly get that innate sense that …it will not be that small in reality. A project’s size does not always determine the amount of design, thought and construction.

Small spaces, like a studio in New York, a small boutique, micro office, or apartment lobby can be potentially more challenging than for example, a large loft or 2000 square foot space. It is about how the space can be transformed to cater to the client’s needs. Clients have ideas for their small space that seem possible in theory but when we really look at the dimensions and layout we may find more challenges than the client though. Everything in a smaller space is like a puzzle; every piece must fit together in order to function.

Whether the space is small or large is not always what determines the roadmap of design and what the client wishes. In the process of design, the Architect/ Designer identify certain design features that work properly in smaller confines. There will inevitably be special restrictions that must be overcome to create a space that is both aesthetically beautiful and fully functional utilizing every little area to its potential.

In the theater, there is a saying…”there are no small parts, just small actors…” This holds true to the Architect/Designer. Every Project is major, no matter what the size, but it is the approach, challenges, and confines of the space that make every project unique. Even what may appear as a small amount of construction and renovation, may not be small amounts of design.

 

 

 

 

Urban Living….Tiny Space, Grand Purpose

Urban living has many perks… the energy of a large city, culture, diverse communities and culinary options that seem to never run out. But in one area the modern urban dweller sometimes needs to compromise…that is with the size of their living space. The goal of many who live in a large city like New York City is to get a space that is in a good location and by today’s pricing a “value” that meets their budget.

Real estate in New York is expensive and gone are the days of getting a large “fixer upper” at a low price and doing some work on it to make it your own. We learn to adapt to an ever growing, more populous city and that has taught us to do the most with a sometimes tiny space. How do we get the most use out of our living space which may lack the square footage?

City dwellers have learned that organization and consolidation are their best friends. Developing these skills will make living in a smaller space easy and enjoyable. With some optical illusions and design tips you can transform  that tiny space into a  perceived grand living area you would have never thought possible

The first thing to do is to get organized…rid you space of unwanted items and focus on quality pieces of furniture and personal items that have meaning. Once you begin to adapt to this concept, you will be freed of having a lot of “stuff” that you never use. You train yourself and  become an expert at de-cluttering.

Ask a design professional for a consultation, this is a more cost effective way to get some ideas about how you can use your space to the best advantage. If you do not have a budget for a renovation or for a professional to do home improvements, you can with a lower cost ask a designer for a lighting and color consultation, and maybe even furniture layout advice that can assist you in this transformation. ORA studio offers  a Space Analysis Consultation, which is a one-time fee and can help with anything from space assessment to  plan layout suggestion, or lead to the beginning of the project with our firm. Our client gets a report of what the designer thinks is the potential for their space and it is their choice to further the project with a design professional or use this valuable advice and create changes and enhancements on their own.

Paint color, lighting and decorative pieces can make your space feel expansive. It is about the optical illusions that you can create that  make a tiny space look grand. Incorporating storage and built in units can free up floor space taken by large freestanding storage. Shelving and high storage and wall units can expand the living area space while keeping clutter to a minimum. A murphy bed can also free up living space and create a larger looking space concealing the bed during the day.

Tiny spaces, micro apartments and a minimalist attitude toward living, especially in the city have been trending for a few years now. In a city like New York people are outside, they go to parks, cafes, plazas, and playgrounds to enjoy. Coming home is their sanctuary; whether it is a large loft or a micro apartment it is the idea of how you want to live that is important. How we use the space fully and practically can make such a difference. Even a tiny space can be grand in its purpose

 

http://www.orastudionyc.com

 

 

The Essence of Design…

The Essence of Design

In the past few years, due to the evolution of technology and communication, the way we interact has changed greatly so I made the decision to learn and incorporate this new aspect in the promotion of my business and my work.

The profession of Architect/Designer is more than just working with clients, honing design skills, and developing new and innovative ways for our clients to live. There is also the business aspect, promoting the business and brand to the public.

Whether it is articles, blogs, social media websites, press releases, or digital publications, there are many avenues that a smart marketer can utilize to their benefit.

Since the explosion of Facebook video, Youtube, Instagram, and Snap Chat, more and more designers have produced videos about their path to becoming a designer, their philosophy, their projects, distinctions and their relationships with clients.

In addition to our video testimonials entitled “Testimonial from a Happy Client”  We are releasing a series of videos that profile my professional life path and philosophy of design and my interaction with clients.

The first video is “The Essence of Design and Architecture with Giusi Mastro”  and I could not be more excited to share that with everyone. Produced and Directed by Tom Spota of Vidualiz Productions http://www.vidualiz.com/ , it is really a more biographical video about who I am and how my love of my home, Italy, Art and History inspired me to become an Architect and Designer. It is a small slice of my life and my passion and the motivation behind my chosen career path. It features images of some of my NYC residential projects and shows a client meeting. I am  sharing it here www…..and I hope that you enjoy it and pass it on to other design lovers and aspiring designers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8mlvhshlpM&t=9s

Communication is the cornerstone of working with clients, and through this video medium I am grateful for the opportunity to share my ideas and work with a broader audience.

 

Modern Living: Designing a Tech Savvy Home…

We live in an age of constantly changing and evolving strides in technology. We use our phones, tablets and laptops as  convenient portable devices that help us  get from place to place, provide us with important information, and chronicle our lives. In our homes, the tech aspect has become a vital element when designing and laying out a living space.

Tech savvy homes can make life easier and save time. From the Kitchen to Bedroom, and Bathroom, adding technology to  residential design can add to functionality and also cut costs. From lighting to computer controlled heating and air conditioning, to floor warmers, screening rooms and spa features, a smart home can add to our quality of life. State of the art Kitchens and hydroponic gardens are  leading the way in residential design. From induction cooktops to convection ovens, clients are more and more often requesting these cutting edge appliances to enhance their busy and informed lifestyles and assist in cooking and entertaining.

Tech generated materials, solar panels, laser printed fabrics and engineered wood are products that are environmentally compatible and beautiful. They withstand the elements and produce green energy thus contributing positively to our environment.

Our homes are not only living spaces. They have become our place of business too. More and more the home doubles as the office and clients want the accessibility and features of a professional space. An audio visual expert can survey the space and install electronic systems that are appropriate for the space, adding to the client’s wish list of functional features.

With the quick advancements in technology, these updates can be made to our homes, increasing the value of the property and also providing the most cutting edge innovations to our clients. There is no denying that tech savvy living is beneficial, with ever changing innovation clients want to keep up with the newest design trends for them and their family.

These trends in home design have given birth to centers for sustainability and education  like Project Farmhouse in New York City  https://www.projectfarmhouse.org/ where we can learn more about the environment and how to live in a healthy and socially conscious way.

 

White Noise…

In my past blogs about color, I have talked about the Psychology and the Science of color in Interior Design and beyond. White, even though defined as the absence of color, can enhance a space in impactful ways.

I love the feeling white evokes, and I utilize white in my designs to create a sense of harmony and purity and to play with light and form. White invokes an airy, uncluttered aesthetic, providing a Zen like attitude in a space. It can instantly refresh a room, and with minimal expense, white paint can make what may look old, new again.

I am a minimalist at heart; for me it is not the amount of items, colors, and textures in a space that make it minimal, it is their symbiotic relationship  to each other. White  represents a minimalist attitude and  streamlined aesthetic that creates a positive and uplifting state of mind.

Incorporating white into your space can give an invigorating lift to your room, changing the dynamic and focal point. White can make a room look more expansive, with clean lines. White is a color that opens up many decorating options that can change the mood of the room by changing just a few accent pieces or adding colorful artwork.

Although to some white may seem a “non-color”, it has a lasting effect, laying the foundation of a space and to ground it. It is the blank canvas that  artists work on, allowing our design ideas to shine.  

http://www.orastudionyc.com

 

 

Why the Architect is a Client’s Best Friend….

602495_10151104200187582_21347146_n

When a client decides to embark on a design project for their home or work space, they have many important aspects to consider:, wish list, budget, time, renovation or new construction, and much more. One of the most important decisions is to hire the right Architect for their project. An informed client understands that there is no greater ally on a design project than a trusted Architect. There are a myriad of reasons but here are just a few crucial ways the Architect will be the best friend you ever had and your project will definitely increase in value with this decision

Architects are wired to be the best listeners and to care. A good Architect is ready to listen to all your challenges and concerns, to your fears and apprehensions and assess what is needed for your particular project, and they will not stop until you are happy with the results. They care about the function, flow and harmony of your space and your pocket.

A good Architect inspires you to dream beyond your vision and broaden your horizons so that the end result is even greater than you imagined. The Architect’s comprehension of beauty, functionality and budget constraints is essential, each space is as unique as its client.

Architects identify a problem and then rise to the challenge, because they are strategists. They can discern what the best solution is, even with an unexpected bump in the road. Your Architect is the only person that will tell you the truth, even what you do not want to hear. If the client asks for a solution, that may be a good idea, but too expensive, incorrect or unsuitable, an ethical Architect will take the risk to illustrate why the idea is counterproductive for the project.

Their ability to work well with Contractors and other craftsman and workers is essential.  With a team that respects and accepts the Architect’s role as the decision maker and concept creator, the end result will reflect in how these relationships flourished. The client becomes the big winner of this well balanced relationship.

Because the Architect understands the pattern of everyday life, they are attuned to what is needed and at what moment. They are practical dreamers, working with each client and their determined budget and timeline and creating a wonderful space within those specific parameters.

This is why an Architect is the Client’s best friend on their design project. They are the diplomacy that holds the team together, the listener, the therapist, the artist and the producer of great spaces and elevate the quality of their life.