This winter I flew my 25-year-old son, Juan Lopez Gil, in from his home in Buenos Aires to work on a photography project with me. For a period of three weeks, we trekked all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, photographing Casa Kids’ completed custom room projects, as well as my furniture and wood shop in Red Hook.
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My son, a burgeoning photographer who specializes in products and interiors, was able to take high-quality photographs using very basic equipment.

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Juan exhibited a professional eye for camera positioning, staging and lighting, getting me some fantastic material to add to my catalogue of imagery.

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Over the course of the three weeks, he photographed more than 20 rooms. We intend to eventually develop a photography book together.

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RG at office

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I converted a loft space into a hybrid home office/playroom in this Tribeca apartment.

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My team and I gave the space dual functionality by installing a desk in an existing recessed niche so that it becomes a home office, yet leaves plenty of floor space for the three children who live here to play.  Above the desk, we installed cabinets with sleek sliding doors. White accents complement the natural birch finish used throughout the remainder of the space. 

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I built an extensive bench and storage system along the room’s longest wall, creating an enormous amount of storage space, intended for toys in this case, while maintaining the sleekness of the loft. The benches extend into the living room, creating cohesion and flow within the space.

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Below the benches, cabinets and toy carts allow the kids to wheel their toys in and out for easy access and quick clean-ups.

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Along the walls adjacent to the desk, extensive cabinets and shelves are designed to rest flush with the room’s existing features.

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The space beneath this staircase was an underutilized and oddly-shaped area that required a highly customized solution. I designed and built a cabinet equipped with loads of shelving space, both open and enclosed, as well as deep drawers.

 

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Before.

Before

The bottom drawers double as a bench.

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I designed these complementary kitchen cabinets to fit perfectly within this room’s existing niches, adding cabinet, counter and storage space, while obstructing as little floor space as possible. The pieces, which are more traditional than my typical aesthetic, are appropriate for this mid-century Brooklyn townhouse.

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The wider cabinet (pictured below), features transparent enclosed cabinetry that serves both as a design element and a part of the piece’s functionality, allowing the family who lives here to easily locate and access plates and other kitchenware. The counter doubles as a cutting board and is constructed of maple butcher block.

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The more narrow cabinet (pictured below) is designed to double as a wine rack and display area for glassware. Deep lower cabinets in both units allow for ample enclosed storage to ensure the space is kept uncluttered.

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The residents of this DUMBO apartment enjoy a spectacular view of downtown Manhattan, as well as the Brooklyn Bridge, and they hired me to add a kitchenette and wet bar to their rooftop. The perfect place for outdoor entertaining.

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In this case, my team and I used marine fir plywood, which is an exterior grade wood known to be outstanding for use outdoors due to its strength and resistance to water. It’s often used for boat interiors and, as it’s exposed to elements over the years, its color only improves, becoming darker and more rich.

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Sliding cabinet doors and discreet handles keep the piece looking sleek.

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The kitchenette is fully functional, featuring both a deep sink and refrigerator.

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I recently introduced this new design and Rima Suqui reviewed it for the New York Times. The Marino Bunk Bed is made in Brooklyn and comes in natural, blue or white.

The ladder is attached to the beds and doesn’t reach the floor so a pull out trundle can be placed under the bottom bunk. The detachable hanging tray acts as a night table.

We shot the bed downstairs from our shop at the Valentino Park in Red Hook.

For a recently renovated townhouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn I designed a custom cabinet for the entryway.

The entry hallway cabinet is the place where you keep your jacket, your hat, your keys and the dog’s leash. It’s also the first impression when you enter a home so it is important to keep it organized.

 

Behind the doors there are hooks. The lower cabinet has open cubbies for shoes.  It’s easy to make the hallway cluttered with all those things you don’t know where to put and end up hanging near the door.

Most New York apartments come with these huge and ugly air conditioning units under the windows. If you are renovating your place, you probably want to build cabinets around them improving the esthetics and adding storage in otherwise unused corners.

The countertop has a cut out for a new grill. The grill has an access panel so you can reach the controls.

This cabinet was lacquered and the counter top was made of Corian, a very hard material that will not get ruined by the sun or water.

The panel that covers the front of the radiator has to be removable for service access.

At either side of the unit, cabinets with doors are installed. Depending on the room they can be used to store anything from silverware, place matts, toys or clothes.

The cabinet can also have a pull down hamper. These cabinets are made to size and tightly fitted in the space.

BUNK BEDS TIMES TWO

February 27, 2012

In a beautiful downtown loft, I built two white bunk beds, assembled side to side along the back wall of the bedroom. Four sisters happily share the room.

The guard rails are higher than the normal and the footboards are totally closed to provide a bit more privacy to each child. The ladders don’t reach the floor so a trundle bed can be pulled out from underneath.

Every bed has it’s own wall mounted light with its own easy-to-reach switch. The ladders have additional cut outs for the kids to hold themselves safely as they go up and down.

MEDIA CABINET, LACQUERED WHITE

February 18, 2012

I recently completed a 21 feet long multi-use cabinet in a spacious loft in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The cabinet is installed against a wall that has variable depth, alternating between deeper and shallower spaces.

The lower cabinets have doors while the upper ones are open. All the wiring is concealed and easy to install. We left cut outs, grommets and chases connecting the cabinets together.

To the left side is the dinning area so the cabinet serves as a buffet. Towards the center is the TV and to the right there is the audio section including a turntable in a pull out tray.

Before and after

A MURPHY BED WITH A FACE

February 12, 2012

The key issue in these wall mounted beds is what to do with the huge underside of the bed when it is folded. In this design I created rows of narrow shelves to place books facing out, photographs or drawings.

The strips of crear acrylic hold the books in place as the bed opens down. This bed is a Queen size, mounted sideways.

 

Our CNC router (computerized numerically controlled) cuts the plywood in an effortless pass, leaving very smooth edges that require less sanding than the usual. I chose the Techno CNC because they are made in the USA and the company is based just outside the city.

It is incredibly precise and fast when you compare it with traditional methods, particularly when cutting curved or intricate shapes.

The router table is designed for sheets of material measuring 48″ x 96″. It cuts plywood, MDF and acrylic. It’s automatic tool changer will grab the indicated router bit from the tool holders which sit along the side of the table.

A powerful pump creates a vacuum under the table surface. This negative pressure, evenly distributed along the table, sucks down flat and tight the pieces of plywood against it.

The computerized router increases productivity and precision providing a clean and perfectly consistent cut.

In storage deprived New York apartments there are never enough drawers or shelves. At three feet from the ground, this bed has the equivalent of a dresser, a bookcase and a small closet under it.

Oscar checks out his drawers and the steps going up

The leather handles provide a warm, rustic touch.

The end of the bed has open bookshelves.

The bed is made of bamboo and MDF

The elevated platform beds can come apart and be lowered closer to the ground. The middle components can be used separately extending the useful life of this bed. Made to order in Brooklyn.

I have a storefront window in Vinegar Hill. It’s a window without a store: it advertises my web site. In the window I place small chairs and desks or scaled models of loft beds and other furniture that I make. In the walls I hang sketches.

I keep the lights on at night. It makes the window seem less lonely as passers by stop for a peak.

There is something about the size and colors of small children’s furniture that fits well for a window display. Particularly the scaled models.

This window is an opportunity to show some of my designs and add some light and color to the street. It has brought some new clients too.

I recently completed a project that involved splitting a room for two sisters who both needed a space to claim as their own.

I created a two sided cabinet that divides the room in two halves. The room has two windows, one on each side so both areas have natural light.

Room division for two children

The floor plan and the initial sketches

The partition is 7 feet high and has drawers on one side and bookshelves on both. Each girl has also her own mirror.

The cabinets are secured to the wall but they are easily removable and the components can be used independently and in a different configuration.

VIDEO INTERVIEW

October 30, 2011

In this recently completed video I talk about my work and designing for children. Documentary filmmakers Bret Sigler and Liam Dalzell capture some typical moments at the shop, from the initial sketching to the fabrication process. The final part of the video shows a very nice custom room I did in New York City last Spring.

 

Preserving wood’s natural character and a little history too. In a Meat Packing District loft I built and installed a floor to ceiling cabinet wrapped in reclaimed lumber. The upper shelves were supported by bolted steel angles. The old lumber belonged to the walls of a dismantled farm house in upstate New York.

The boards were carefully selected for structural integrity, color and texture. One by one we cleaned, hand brushed and applied a clear, dull protective coat for durability to each board.  No stain or additional coloring was used in the process.

The overall roughness was smoothed over so as to make the cabinet more pleasant to the touch. Some imperfections were kept and some others were corrected in the interest of preserving the character of the piece but without being a “purist”.

Using reclaimed wood appeals to me for at least three reasons: the beauty of the patina, that only the exposure to the elements can create, preserving a bit of history, by bringing to the present something clearly made in the past and most importantly, the environmental benefits of giving a second life to these battered wood planks that otherwise would have gone to waste.

BUNK BEDS TWIN OVER FULL

August 14, 2011

When that special visitor is in town. A twin bunk bed over a full sized bed has several benefits when compared with a regular, twin-over-twin bunk bed. You can lie down and read a book with your child or you can pull out the trundle below it for your son or daughter and let your mother-in-law sleep in the larger, more comfortable full bed.

But most days your child will enjoy a larger bed that becomes the focal point of the room as it also functions as a daybed. A large bed is more conducive to sharing moments with parents or siblings and read or watch a movie together. The trundle bed also gives children more flexibility for sleep overs.

The stairs can also be used as storage space when drawers are added to them. But more importantly they are well designed steps that are very safe and very easy to climb up and down. The round port holes are strategically placed so that kids can use them as hand rails.

In this similar design, all in natural birch, the bookshelves flank the stairs on the left end of the bed. The custom bookshelves have round poles that also act as handrails. The steps have drawers that are 22 inches deep. The whole bed is 9 feet long by 5 feet and 8 inches.

These types of beds take up more space and are more expensive than regular bunk beds but they offer added features that solve spatial challenges with a pleasing design. For best use of this unit I recommend a minimum room size of 120 square feet. For more information or to obtain a quote please email me at rg@casakids.com

WALL MOUNTED DESKS

July 18, 2011

Twin girls get twin desks. In a Greenwich Village home I designed and constructed two identical desks for 5 year old twin sisters. Their bedroom doors face each other and are connected by a hallway. The girls can see each other from their desks but still have the privacy of their own rooms. Twins are said to enjoy a special connection so maintaining this symmetry was a quality I aimed to preserve.

The desk top includes three long pencil drawers. In addition, three magnetic boards are attached to the back wall of each desk, just above the counter top

The desks are made with birch plywood and assembled with screws that are visible on the sides of the bookshelves. This project is designed like a Meccano toy or an Erector Set, whereby the assembly is executed by screwing together already-finished components. No glue was used in this project, all the joinery is mechanical.

We’ve also created taller shelves for books and shorter shelves which are perfect for collections of small objects. Hanging the desk from the wall is a way of streamlining the cabinet’s profile and creating both a smaller footprint and a lighter feel.

For smaller spaces and younger children, a compact version is available. This one has adjustable height.

In a bright loft apartment in DUMBO (Brooklyn) I built two cabinets in a combination of walnut veneer and white painted plywood. For the living room I designed a media cabinet that holds books, a flat TV screen and a variety of stereo components, including large speakers.

The cabinet, almost 9 feet tall and over 7 feet wide, frames a large flat TV screen, mounted on a removable back panel. Selecting the wood and choosing how to lay the veneers is part of the attractiveness of using walnut in this unit.

The upper doors have extension arms that hold them open at 90 degrees. The lower cabinets accommodate  the audio equipment in pull out trays. The speakers are hidden behind doors lined with speaker fabric. All the equipment can be connected and disconnected easily. Additionally we have created gaps and cut outs for the wires to efficiently run through the cabinet.

For the master bedroom I designed a large dresser, bookended on the right side by a tall, mirrored shoe and bag closet.  The most visible and appreciated portion of a cabinet is its face (doors, drawer fronts) so we make them in the nice, expensive wood. The cabinets (boxes behind the faces) are built in regular plywood painted white.

I recently converted a walk-in closet into a tiny bedroom for a soon to arrive baby girl. The small space had only one sliding door opening to her brother’s bedroom. We created a second sliding door, opening into the hallway right across from the Master bedroom (see floor plans) making it easy for the parents to watch their baby.

The custom crib was designed to fit tight in this space and is only two inches smaller than the standard crib size. Under the crib we fitted two large drawers. The crib easily converts into a toddler bed (not shown) that can carry the child until she is six or seven years old. On the other side of the room, in an existing niche, we created a built in dresser just about the right size for a changing tray and a hanging cabinet above.

 

 

BEFORE AND AFTER

The roughly 5′ x 6′ room opens up on two sides and further integrates with the adjacent spaces.

As you enter the boy’s room you see the side of the new Armoire which has shallow shelves for collections of small toys and picture frames. The Armoire has hanging bars behind the doors, adjustable shelves and large drawers below. The boy’s room already had a toddler bed and a dresser. We added a window seat with drawers and two bookshelves above.

Bruno patiently awaits the arrival of his baby sister.

This was a relatively inexpensive solution compared with the cost of moving to a larger apartment. With a customized solution like this one, a small storage space can become a beautiful and functional baby’s room.

Not long ago I restored and re designed an old cabinet that had belonged to my client’s grandmother. It is a typical china cabinet, a dinning room piece with drawers on the bottom and glass doors above. To make it more functional and improve its proportiones we created a middle section with a marble top.

Before, during and after renovation

The original piece was too short and had too much ornament, including an ondulating crown molding that we replaced by a straight one. We reinforced the legs, did new backs and removed a lot of the decorative molding. The cabinet wasn’t of particularly great craftmanship but the strong memories made it worth keeping. The job was to make it more functional and refresh its look.

Finally we finished the cabinet with a warm, earthy patina. We sanded down the old cherry finish and did a three step glazed process: a beige colored base with a darker glaze on top  and clear satin lacquer as a final protective coat.

The brass handles and knobs were stripped down, re oxidized bringing the dark brown patina back to life. In the right side of the lower cabinet we created a wine rack.

When working on an old piece, if it is very valuable for its design and craftmanship I would restore it as it was originally. But if it’s not of such high standards, it’s OK to keep some things, delete others and add some new ones that hopefully will enhance the original design.

I recently completed a room for two brothers, 9 and 13 years old in a Tribeca loft. The room is small so we had no choice than to partially block the window with the bunk beds. Still, the “L” shaped configuration of the bed opens up the space and creates a more airy feeling.

The dresser hides the air conditioner but is on wheels so it can be moved out when the building services the system. The lower bed has two large drawers. The upper bed is extra long and has a headboard with a small bookshelf for a book, a glass of water and a lamp.

As you enter the room, on the left side wall there is a hanging bookcase with a flip down desk.

The boys are very athletic and in such a small room a ladder would have sufficed. But stairs were a requirement because Chino, the loyal family dog needs to go up to the top bunk bed at his own will. And he deserves it.

Inspired by Donald Judd and Jean Prouve…

I recently completed several bookcases that were designed as stacked plywood boxes. The boxes in themselves are all finished in natural birch plywood, while the rest of the pieces are mostly painted in colors.

The lower cabinets are deeper, heavier and have recessed feet. The upper cabinets are thinner and have angled supports that provide extra stability to the transition. Designing boxes is all about the details.

These long boxes are connected to each other by vertical pieces that are recessed from the edges of the cabinet. This design detail  provides a certain “floating” quality as it accentuates the lightness and the horizontal character of the piece. It also makes it easier for fabrication, transport and final assembly.

These projects were inspired by the sculpture of Donald Judd and the industrially produced furniture of Jean Prouve. Judd created beautiful, minimal boxes. Prouve did colorful bookshelves with staggered vertical partitions and overhanging shelves. My love for Mondrian is also present in these designs.

We design and build these pieces to order and it takes about 10 weeks to produce. Sizes and colors are customizable. Prices start at $2500 for a 60″ long cabinet. For more info please email rg@robertogil.com.

A LOFT BED WITH A VIEW

January 22, 2011

I recently completed a child’s room in a brand new apartment in Brooklyn. The room is quite small so we decided to raise the bed and create a play area under it. The loft bed sits on the window sill to gain a few precious inches in the length of the room.

The steps have drawers under them and a small closet right at the base provides hanging and shelf space for the child’s clothes.

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We created the fourth wall of the bedroom with cabinetry and a set of bi fold doors with translucent acrylic panels above.

A small room

FLOOR PLAN: BEFORE AND AFTER

We didn’t use sheetrock and it was a very clean and expeditious installation. Most pieces were pre assembled in the shop and it took just over a day to complete the installation. In the future, if the client decides to move, the cabinetry can be easily disassembled and re used in a different space.

The detachable night table hangs from the side of the bed and keeps a glass of water close to the hand. Penelope really likes her room and she enjoys going up and down the steps safely. The loft beds we do are not only are space saving solutions but also transform the space in a way that children relate to. Children enjoy spaces and furniture that has been designed for them and for their size. By the way, her mother can perfectly and safely snug with her daughter in this sturdy bed. I always make sure that our beds will hold kids and parents alike.

For other loft beds visit my web site www.casakids.com.