May The Fourth Be With You

Hopefully this digest of our process is helpful if you’re looking to undertake such an effort – and if so, May The Fourth Be With You!

In order to undertake a ceiling installation that takes inspiration from arguably the most popular film franchise in history, one must get in the proper spirit of the project. Just as the theme of hope runs rampant in the Star Wars movie saga, it was our own hope of achieving a convincing result that drove us during this meticulous albeit fun process. Our clients’ requested a room tailored to their young Star Wars fan, and so we conjured a star field ceiling in coordination with the design of the overall bedroom.


Our initial steps for the installation involved identifying the materials of the backdrop for the star field as well as the stars themselves. We started with a sea of optical fibers or fiber optic “fibers” (that’s how the Department of the Redundancy Department refers to them) to represent the stars.

Fiber optics lit and ready to roll

After debating heavy materials and cans of paint, we settled on a lighter touch. The black backdrop of “space” is made of two ¾” thick Gator Boards custom cut and carefully placed side by side.

Looks sparse, but wait…

We proceeded to divide up the boards into 28 panels each, in order to properly spread the optical fibers. Using a silver Sharpie, we clustered the stars to provide a more authentic-looking night sky – gravity does exist in space after all.


Once the star locations were marked, we proceeded to drill a tiny hole in each mark to accommodate the fibers. In total there were close to 280 optical fibers (or “stars” – though some are probably actually planets in truth) that we had to individually feed through the boards. That takes some patience. Once we had all fibers in place, the assembly was ready to be hung.

We need to take care to ensure the cables were not tangled and that the thicker and thinner fibers were spaced naturally. We also had to be extremely careful during installation as Gator Board, while rigid, is still easily damaged.  The boards needed to be drilled onto wood members in order to allow space for the sea of optic cables to run to and from their source.

Once the boards were in place, the fiber optic cables were then trimmed flush with the boards.

The final step of the installation came with the addition of the custom designed and CNC milled white frame that completed the appearance of looking out the window of a Star Wars spacecraft.

Custom frame in 2 pieces before installation

It was our hope that the ceiling installation would tie together the Star Wars theme of the bedroom and transport the young Jedi out of this world. Happy to report that he was indeed thrilled!

Hopefully this digest of our process is helpful if you’re looking to undertake such an effort – and if so, May The Fourth Be With You!

May the Fourth Be With You!

The Tales Buildings Tell

Renovation and Additions afford the opportunity to fill-in the missing chapters that have been torn out of a building’s monograph, but ya never know what’s behind a given wall…

Buildings tell stories…all kinds of anecdotes, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” if you will (to repackage Sergio Leone’s famous Spaghetti Western).

Renovation and Addition projects afford the opportunity to fill-in the missing chapters that have been torn out of a building’s monograph, but ya never know what’s behind a given wall. The following are a selection of images we have collected from projects over the years – for example one half of an intact double-hung window buried inside a wall, and even used by the electrician!

The demolition process judiciously reveals a building’s past, and the following are some (profound!) words of advice/observations/thoughts to consider should you be contemplating a renovation or addition:

  1. Basement and crawl space floors comprised of compacted soil are common in buildings of a certain era. If warranted or desired, a vapor barrier can be installed and (in addition to) a screed slab which can help regulate humidity issues in addition to several other benefits. However, a building does need a continuous foundation if there is a basement. Believe it or not (please note sarcasm), soil should not be visible between the top of the basement floor to the bottom of the building’s exterior wall. Concrete, concrete block, stone, even wood are acceptable materials – NOT soil!
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Basement demo!
  1. If interior sheathing (e.g. drywall) is removed from an exterior wall, there are few exceptions that warrant being able to see the neighboring building. We’re advocates for natural light and ventilation, but not via this method in particular…
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Look – you can see the sky through the wall!
  1. It’s not uncommon for older buildings to show signs of “settlement” issues (e.g. cracks in walls, doors that don’t close/open properly, etc.). Key to addressing such structural “character” is to determine whether or not the building is actively experiencing this issue as greater problems may be forthcoming (a topic we’ll address in separate blog posts!). As it relates to rectifying uneven subfloors (the stuff under carpet, wood, tile, etc.), Crate and Barrel cardboard boxes are not an acceptable material for addressing such an issue, hopefully for obvious reasons. No matter how rigid it may be, paper is not a structurally sound material! And fastening it with nails does not justify such an undertaking!
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Inventive but incorrect use of Crate & Barrel boxes!

While the above is intended to be a comical jab at poor construction and quasi-educational, we recommend consulting with a qualified professional for any concerns you may have with your own building!