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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Security Gates on Fire Escape Windows Can Be Pretty!

I don't know if this is a problem for many people living in the suburbs, but for those of us who dwell in urban areas, securing your fire escape windows is serious business. 

So why on earth is this the standard choice?

People spend thousands of dollars renovating their New York apartments and endless hours on DIY projects to make them look beautiful, so why would anyone put bars on the windows? And it's unfathomable to me that any realtor will "show" an apartment with bars on the windows! But they do. Our home had both security gates and child gates. Every window was literally covered in some kind of metal bar when I first viewed it.

How inviting! (Not.)

The bars were the first things to go during the renovation. And I spent days poring over typical ironworks catalogs searching for some kind of aesthetically pleasing fire escape gate.

There are NONE out there!

Luckily, I am in a book club with five resourceful New York women who all own homes in historic Brooklyn - no strangers to renovation projects. So, I turned to my go-to's for advice and Sharon hooked me up with iron works artist Vallessa Monk.

This is what Vallessa designed for me:

Isn't it beautiful!

She met me on location at the new place - "the job site" - to get a sense of my style and what I was looking for. I had looked at her website and admired her "nature" line. So on the spot she sketched a rough draft of iris and roses, not even knowing that iris are my favorite flower!

I paid her a deposit of 50% of the project cost that day, and she got to work. A few days later she emailed me the "plasmas":

Already, I could tell I was going to love it.

I couldn't believe how she could achieve such delicacy with metal:

The day it was ready, Vallessa emailed me a photo of the finished gate and said that she was on her way over from her studio in Williamsburg.

The installation was no different than for any other type of security gate:

And here is the final piece, blending right into my interior design - a work of art. I love the way it filters the light coming through the window when I wake up in the morning. 

Form and function.

Security gates on fire escape windows do not have to look like prison bars!