Where one person sees a cabinet handle, Carl Martinez sees a work of art.
It's the philosophy that governs his work whether he's designing doorknobs or fixing up old buildings.
The 55-year-old New York man brought that philosophy with him to Easton, where he revamped the King's Cleaners building and is on his way to fixing up an old hospital clinic next to his home.
"This is an amazing town and it's only an hour-and-a-half from New York," Martinez said.
It took Martinez five years to restore the former cleaners' building at 225 Ferry St. Soon Hagai Feiner will buy it and make it the East Coast hub of Access Networks, a technology firm that integrates electronic components inside high-end homes. Feiner said he hopes to move his business in by June.
Restoring the building was more a process of peeling back layers than putting up walls.
Martinez pulled the roof off a storage area and made it an outdoor courtyard. He left some old electric sockets in the floor and incorporated an old steam press into the new design.
Now he has bare stone walls. He scratched his head when people asked him when the drywall would be delivered.
"I really just wanted to enjoy the building and work on it and enhance its beauty," he said.
Feiner shared his vision, one of urban, rustic minimalism. Before Martinez was ready to rent the building he lent it out to Anthropologie, J. Crew and West Elm for photo shoots for catalogues. Photographers loved the natural light through the windows and the masonry, Martinez said.
Martinez blends unique skill sets into his work. He has backgrounds in architecture, jewelry making, furniture restoration and art. His custom-made cabinet hardware sells for thousands.
He found his way to Easton about 15 years ago, when he bought and renovated 109 N. Fourth St. He does business in Boston and New York but keeps his home in Easton.
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When the former Easton Hospital clinic went up for sale next to his home, he snatched it up.
"That was always an eyesore, that clinic. It was very satisfying removing that," he said. He is converting it to two high-end loft apartments and wants to make North Fourth Street the scenic northern gateway to the city.
As he did at the King's Cleaners building, he removed asphalt to put in trees. He also envisions a rooftop garden at 111-113 N. Fourth St.
"I'm a firm believer in trees, trees, trees," Martinez said. "It's going to be a very lush property when it's all completed."
Rudy Miller may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RudyMillerLV. Find Easton area news on Facebook.
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