Christian Chernock believes people want to simplify their lives, and he’s doing his part to help them out.

Chernock, who owns Christian Chernock Properties and Cherntex Construction of Dallas, Texas, included an innovative peg system in a new apartment building that nearly eliminates the need for tenants to own furniture.

That desire for simplicity was among three primary ideas that drove Chernock to create the peg system. The other were that renters have a harder time customizing their living spaces compared to people who own their homes and that people love built-in storage.

“Those three ideas drove my main design question,” Chernock said in a recent interview. “How can I create a living space that includes built-in storage and furniture that can be moved around to suit any mood or living need–where all someone needs to have for a fully functioning living space is just a mattress and a couch? The answer was the peg furniture system.”

Chernock acknowledges that the idea was not entirely original. He first saw a system built by a West Coast cabinet manufacturer many years ago and saw versions of it later. So he decided to try his own applied to multifamily housing, and he installed the first peg system in his 28-unit Bardo Lofts apartment project in Dallas, which opened earlier this year.

Early reviews are glowing.

“It’s the most innovative solution for a home I’ve ever seen and used,” said Bardo Lofts tenant Ebonye Jones. “It’s super versatile for the minimalist or the décor fanatic because of the peg pieces created for the board.” (See related story on page XX.)

The system consists of slotted wall panels and components that attach to the walls through a hole and hook system. Among the components are a platform bed frame, a room divider, a series of cabinets with various drawer and door choices, shelving, bins, a bistro-style table, different desk configurations and a luggage rack for short-term guests. The components feature door slides from Häfele.

While Chernock had the concept, Panel Processing of Alpena, Michigan, played a big role in making it happen. Panel Processing, founded in 1971, is the largest panel fabricator in North America, with 11 facilities in six states.

As noted on its website, Panel Processing takes pride in adding value to its customers’ projects “by bringing together all your materials, coatings and fabrication needs.” That’s exactly what it did for Chernock and the peg system, thanks to the work of Project Manager Doug Winkleblack and engineer Wayne Belanger.

Winkleblack recommended UV-coated Baltic Birch plywood for the project because it has 13 plies and few core voids, making it strong and stable. The UV-cured clear finish provides a smooth surface, offers protection from spills and allows for easy cleaning, he said. Belanger spent considerable time working with Chernock to be sure all of the parts fit.

“We would submit drawings on the 67 different items that make up the current system, and Christian would approve or have Wayne modify as needed,” Winkleblack said.

Chernock couldn’t be more pleased with Panel Processing’s work and finished product.

“Executing the idea at scale had several challenges and would not have been possible without a great manufacturing partner,” he said. “When I pitched the idea to Panel Processing, I was very excited to hear it was something they were interested in collaborating on. They have been great to work with and went the extra mile to execute on the details.”

It took well over a year and several design iterations to get a functioning system, and Panel Processing worked hard to make sure the end product met all design goals, Chernock said.

The UV clear-coated Baltic Birch is a great material for the system for several reasons, he added. “First, it is extremely durable, dimensionally stable and can handle heavy loads. The material machines well, and there is minimal sanding required, which keeps cost of installation and assembly time down.”

Chernock believes the exposed-edge plywood and face-grain color add to the quality of the interior architecture and design. “Although plywood is a very utilitarian material, the finished product has a simplicity and elegance to it.”

Dan Shipley and Corey Reinaker of Shipley Architects in Dallas worked closely with Chernock and quickly grasped the peg concept. “They immediately got what I was wanting to create and really felt it connected well with the ethos of the project,” Chernock said. “They did an excellent job matching the exterior architecture with the interior spaces.”

The system truly simplifies life for tenants, who often struggle in small apartments because the tight peg configuration of doors, windows, balconies, appliances and closets dictates only one or two furniture layout options, Chernock said. Also, tenants are often forced to fit furniture pieces that were bought for their previous larger spaces into smaller layouts.

“The peg system is designed and laid out to work in conjunction with the small floor plan more like a jigsaw puzzle. It also allows better use of storage volume by being able to go vertical with storage options higher on a wall than what is typical,” he said.

“Lastly, tenants have the ability to swap out pieces as their needs and creativity change. We keep inventory onsite so they can easily return pieces they are not using for other pieces they want to try out. The flexibility of the system creates lots of options to fit the specific needs of the user.”

The room divider can be attached anywhere along the peg grid to partition off spaces. Most tenants put their bedrooms on one side and living space on the other. The divider allows tenants to make the living spaces any size they desire, Chernock said.

At this point, the peg system is featured only in the Bardo Lofts, but Chernock plans to put it in apartments that he builds in Dallas in coming years.

“The most rewarding part has been watching people use and get excited about their living space. I’m looking forward to getting more of my tenants’ feedback over the coming year to see how we can continue to improve and refine the idea.”  

What the tenants say

Bardo Lofts tenants are effusive in their praise for the peg system:

- “It’s the most innovative solution for a home I’ve ever seen and used! It’s super versatile for the minimalist or the decor fanatic because of the peg pieces created for the board. I’ve been able to store all of my books and craft supplies on the wall. I was also able to get rid of my old nightstands. And if I’m in a mood for a different setup, it’s super easy to reconfigure. I love it!”  - Ebonye Jones

- “The peg system has really helped me to reduce the amount of furniture I own. As a minimalist, the system is absolutely delightful and helps me to reduce the amount spent on organizing and cleaning my home. Everything just has its place, and I can focus on the things that are actually important to me.”  - Nate Essin

- “It saved me a lot of money and gives me the ability to add more space in my unit when I need it.” Daniel Broadous