Every home is a palace in its owner’s mind; but it takes an expert contracting team to make that vision a reality. The key is attention to details. By bringing out the best of those details and supporting that work with appropriate choices in color, materials and style, Mind Hand can find the beauty in the place you’ve always known was not a beast.
But it can take some work. And the path to completing that work may not always be evident to all concerned. For example, Elaine Crane likes to describe her association with Mind Hand, fondly, as beginning with a disagreement.
Crane was convinced that the renovation of hers and her husband Stephen’s Park Avenue apartment should keep as much as possible of their maple parquet floor, but Philip saw it differently. He felt a piece of the floor should be replaced with black tile in order to set off the kitchen.
Crane, a history professor is a hard person to convince, affirms Stephen, himself a state judge. But as she watched Philip and Dan work on the apartment, she says, she became convinced of their greater expertise.
“I would not hang a toothbrush holder without calling them.”
When the tile was installed, both she and her husband knew Phil had been right. “I would not hang a toothbrush holder without calling them,” she says now.
The interaction led to a second renovation, as successful as the first. The Cranes hired Mind Hand to renovate a large studio apartment in Brooklyn. “We bought it for the fireplace,” explains Elaine. “We had a few years before then sold a large 18th Century home in Bucks County. I really missed two things: our fireplace and the lilacs. Lilacs I can’t replicate in the city but the fireplace I could.”
The result was stunning, Stephen says. “The ceilings are 14 feet high with the most elaborate crown molding and shaped, curved, convex plasterwork. And they matched it. They matched the woodwork. They matched the mahogany mantelpiece to put in a vitrine — a glass cabinet. I think their imagination and ingenuity are incomparable.“
Marilyn and Michael Fedak agree. “Everything they’ve ever done for us is always the highest caliber — elegant, beautifully-fashioned design,” Marilyn says. “I know that when they’re doing something for us, a house or an apartment or a piece of furniture, that it’s not just a job, it’s part of them. They see themselves as artists. Not that they would say that, but they definitely are.”
Indeed, the only caveat she offers about signing on with Mind Hand is that they always start by suggesting the “best of the best.” But, she says, they are not wed to the priciest options. “We bought this house in Greenwich in the summer of 2007, and we wanted to be in by the summer of 2008,” she recounts. “It was a big project. While they always want to do things of the highest quality, they’re also mindful of budgets.” So when I said to Philip, ‘I’m not happy with all the existing hardware in the house, maybe we should think about replacing it,’ he said to me, ‘Marilyn, it’s going to be very expensive to do that. Maybe we can replace the ones that are the most bothersome to you or most evident.’ Philip’s guidance on this matter was perfect; we met my objective without spending a lot more money.”
“We consider ourselves to be perfectionists, but they outdo us.”
For Stephen and Elaine Crane an experience near the end of their first renovation with Mind Hand says it all. “The Park Avenue apartment is in an Art Deco style and the granite and the cabinets have curves to them,” Stephen explains. “And one of the cabinets was an open shelf that makes up for the corner where the cabinetry comes around into the dining area. And one day, Dan came in. He said, ‘I don’t like that.’ He had them take it down and he built another one with different wood that he liked much better. And he put that up. So I mean we consider ourselves to be perfectionists, but they outdo us.”
Some aspects of the renovation process seem endemic; contractors who cut corners and leave loose ends; estimates which invariably slide upwards. But these chestnuts are not part of the Mind Hand experience.
Instead, customers describe a total commitment to projects and to the success of the renovation. “I have visions of them being 100 years old tottering into their projects and still fixing stuff and looking after them,” says Ann Knight. “They’ll never leave a project.”