It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention; intern architect Adam McGaughey ran with that idea for the design of his own Tulsa apartment.
When he made the move from Stillwater to Tulsa to join the architectural team at Cyntergy AEC, he came across apartments converted from a 1924 newspaper warehouse.
“I was drawn to the north-facing windows that gave indirect light, and how open it was. Everything opens onto itself,” McGaughey says.
“I tried to work with that. A smaller place means that practicality was a major issue, and you have to create a modular design with things that could have multiple uses.”
McGaughey used a blend of creativity and ingenuity to make the most of every inch of the 989 square-foot residence. Using a blend of stock cabinetry from big box retail stores and his own ideas, he’s modified, if not altogether created, many of the pieces in his apartment.
For example, the unit in the living area which houses his television system and extra storage is a blend of linear cabinets from an office supply retailer that were hung on the wall with standard handmade wood boxes covered with Masonite board and painted a shade of orange.
“It creates a built-in look without it actually being permanent,” he explains, adding that the television can be covered with a painting, his own to be exact, with a track system he devised.
Another one of his creations is the coffee table in the sitting area, which features a fire-pit.
“It’s mortar that was poured into forms, then placed on cabinet legs that were originally meant for the cabinets that are under the windows,” he explains.
“The fireplace itself is a modified version of an ethanol fireplace that is found at many high-end modern furniture stores. It’s a thick glass vase found at Target with a metal container placed in the middle.”
Along with his own creations, McGaughey’s furniture selection features many mid-century designs mixed with either vintage or vintage-designed pieces. McGaughey is particularly drawn to Mid-Century style.
“The dining table is a ‘50s Craft & Associates piece I found at a vintage store in Tulsa, and the chairs around the table are new, but based on a vintage design from Charles Eames,” he says.
The concrete flooring flows throughout the apartment, but in order to create a sense of space in the living, dining and sitting areas, McGaughey used a pattern of recycled carpet pieces from Flor to complement the overall color palette of neutral tones with pops of bright color.
The main area is a large, open room, so McGaughey employed the use of strategic lighting, such as the three flat-pack flower-like fixtures that define each of those spaces. With the overall lighting, his approach was to create a warmth and light in all areas. To achieve this, he used a found antique chandelier featured on the floor in the living area as well as other unique lamps.
The entryway and kitchen feature chalkboard paint that McGaughey makes use of regularly.
“I write grocery lists, ideas, everything on the wall. It’s constantly evolving and changing,” he says. “I can even do a pattern that looks a lot like wallpaper.”
Ever the artist, many of McGaughey’s paintings are featured throughout the rooms. The patterned wall treatment in the bedroom is yet another facet of McGaughey’s artistic talents.
“You can’t follow trends,” he says about designing for a smaller space. “In a large space, a lot of times you can try something out, and it can blend with other stuff, but in a small space you really have to edit yourself.”
It’s that element of pressure, to make everything count, that McGaughey finds invigorating.
“You’re constantly editing yourself. It pushes you to be creative. I think that’s why I like it so much.”