All original work © Jason W. Wong. Please ask for permission to reproduce any work.

All original work © Jason W. Wong. Please ask for permission to reproduce any work.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pride (A Deeper Love)

So in addition to having my (our) home featured in another blog, Alice In Designland, I had another reason to be proud this past weekend (which is also why I'm so late this week): LGBT Pride took place in San Francisco on Sunday AND the New York state senate voted for marriage equality on Friday. Needless to say, I was busy partying up a storm!

For those who haven't been, the LGBT Pride Parade is pretty big, and the floats are awesome. Living in the heart of it all, I heard snippets of conversation from such a diverse group of people: French, German, Spanish, and even some Nordic and Eastern European languages too. Of course the ones that hit home were from those who came from other parts of the Bay Area/region/state/country. Walking through the street fair and celebrations, I heard someone say, "Wow, look at all this! It's amazing!" It was a reminder that I take so much for granted.

Now back to design! Like production design (those hardworking folks who create realistic movie/TV/photo sets), float design is something I totally respect because it's not something I do. Here's one of my favorites from the parade, for foster parents and youth:

(Photos from

It really takes talent to design and build something so temporary that also needs to grab your attention. They did a great job. I know when I worked for a large sponsor of the parade, we were lucky enough to get a truck covered in some balloons...

Next week, I'm back to the interiors!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Change clothes and go!

This week--the magic of reupholstering!

The benefit of Ye Olde Dayjobbe is that I've got several trusted contacts for refinishing and reupholstering furniture that I can share with my Retrograde peeps. (In this business, if you're going to spend $10,000 on a sofa that works for your style and needs, you expect to keep it for at least a couple of generations by changing the upholstery!)

But sometimes it works the other way, too. I recently found a great upholsterer for one my Retrograde projects that I intend to use at Ye Olde Dayjobbe thanks to their kickass service, great attitude, affordable prices, and speedy turnaround. After pitching some prices to my client for reupholstering her two vintage lounge chairs, I had to look around for a more affordable option.

Enter Retrospect (another "retro"--it was meant to be!) I had passed by their workroom on Market Street for years, and always figured they were out of my league. But I called them and owner Cornelius Ross gave me a price I couldn't beat. AND he offered to pick up the chairs and deliver them back when he was done!

Check out the before:

And now here they are with a really unique Indian-printed fabric I found from M&K:

Cornelius's work is great--notice how he lined up the dots from the fabric. It was tough with the organically-spaced pattern, but he made it work!

What a difference a new fresh fabric can make--I love how summery they feel (perfect for this week's weather!) Granted, these weren't $10,000 chairs. In fact, they were hand-me-downs or thrift store finds. But for the price of a pair of new armchairs, my client now has something uniquely hers, and that is just priceless.

(I know some of you might think this pattern is crazy, but keep watching for the final before-and-after of this Alamo Square apartment. I swear it will all make sense in the end!)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pay no mind to what they say, doesn't matter anyway (our lips are sealed)

Last week I was thrilled to have Apartment Therapy feature the recent bathroom renovation I did for my friend--the attention always makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile with Retrograde. But of course the comments started rolling in. Many of them were in favor of the old bathroom and a lot of the comments were from readers weighing in with their own opinions and tastes (that's what comment/message boards are for, right?) Some of them just stung, like, "You killed the pretty bathroom."


I suddenly realized why so many people in the public eye don't read comments or articles about themselves. It can really affect you and throw you off, like some sort of emotional hit and run. I guess I've always been lucky--even as an actor, the worst review I've ever received was simply no mention at all in a so-so play. Talking it out with my partner, I realized that these folks didn't necessarily want to examine the design. Instead, they were posting their knee-jerk reaction to the end of a long process. Halfway through the comments, I tried to justify my process, but the "I hate it" comments buried my post. (To be fair, there were many commenters who realized that the renovated bathroom better served the person who actually lived there, and who could appreciate the design process.)

So for all the haters, here's what happened behind the scenes:
  • In interior design, there is the "Programming Phase" where the designer talks to the client and determines how to best meet his/her needs for the space. Once it's established, we try to stick with the Program.
  • A lot of people liked the original red and white bathroom floor, but my friend had lived with it for over a decade and was ready for a change. Plus, the tiles were worn and chipped in places.
  • Many readers disliked the vessel sink and new vanity, but what they didn't consider is that my friend is 6'-3" tall and the old sink was only 30" high--typical for older bathrooms that catered to families with children.
  • My friend does not have children. He never will.
  • We changed to a smaller mirror just over the sink so artwork could be placed on the wall space next to it. Both of us thought a large mirror spanning the entire wall looked a little cheap, so we went with a mirror that felt more like an accessory or framed art than a built-in feature.
  • Other readers didn't like the walk-in shower and wished I had kept the tub. Well, my 6'-3" friend didn't really fit in the old tub and rarely took baths, so a larger shower made more sense and made the space feel more spacious.
  • Female readers thought the dark blue walls would make make-up application difficult. My homeowner friend is a man and didn't need to consider that problem.
  • Another reader was glad my plan for the tonal stripe on the floor and walls got nixed. In fact, it's there and because it's so subtle, I've succeeded in adding an element that doesn't scream out in photographs.
The last two comments (at least when I stopped checking) were actually flattering and considered some of the points above (and also came to my defense against some of the other comments.)

deelw wrote, "I generally like dark wall colors in small spaces, but I didn't realize that this was actually navy and not black until I saw the pics on Jason's blog. I wonder how it reads in person. Love the walk-in shower. I would jump at the chance to convert my tub. I don't think the before was awful, but the style of the after is so different. If this fits well with the rest of the house, then the before must have really been out of place."

And mauishopgirl wrote, "If everyone only remodeled for resale value, it would be a very boring and bland world."
At the end of the day, you don't have to live there. I don't have to live there. My friend lives there and he's quite happy with his new bathroom, thankyouverymuch.
Regardless, I'm just glad my work got some attention. Like I wrote above, the worst review is no mention at all in a so-so play...

Monday, June 6, 2011

I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee...

Oboy, I've been away! I know that's no excuse, but last weekend (Memorial Day weekend) we went down to Palm Springs and hung out with friends. As many of you design enthusiasts know, Palm Springs is full of great midcentury architecture and design. Our hotel was right across the street from the row of shops in the local "design district" and I thought I might be able to find a yard or two of this fabric I desperately needed for Ye Olde Dayjobbe.

Alas, nothing. Most of the shops there specialized in either midcentury, modern, or really antique pieces. I did see this 4'H x 3'W lantern that might have worked on a colleague's project at House 849:

Yeah, the architecture was an interesting mish-mash of Spanish/Meditarranean Revival and midcentury, but  what really took the cake was seeing these crazy UFO-shaped clouds one evening!

Definitely going back soon. Especially with the sad, cloudy weather San Francisco is currently having...

(PS: Another interior designer and blogger came to the rescue with the fabric from above. Thanks, Annie!)