Archive for the ‘tours’ Category

downstairs: before

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

So. I broke out the plan for downstairs not too long ago but I’ve never given you the tour. My dear, dear friend, invaluable running partner and talented interior photographer Ellen Connery dropped by to capture the mess downstairs before we started tearing it apart.

It’s somewhat embarrassing but why let that stop me from giving you showing you around, right? We tried to make this space somewhat livable knowing it was temporary. Biggify to see the full glory…

downstairs | the vintage file cabs

My vintage file cabs. These I am not embarrassed about. My first ever eBay purchase back in… ’98? Could I have bought something more complicated? I think not. Had to hire movers to get them to Providence but it was worth it. These came from DuPont offices in Delaware. Original paint. We had to stash most of our kitchen items inside and on top because the efficiency kitchen down here is so… inefficient.

We got rid of the goth paint and chose colors that would work with the crazy file cabs. Inches from the cabinets is the kitchen/dining room with David’s grandmother’s Tulip table. Thonet bent ply chairs from the ’50s. That partial wall’s coming down…

downstairs | the wallpaper wall

On the wall: Owl print  from Catherine’s Animals by Catherine Ledner. Black and white wood block (or linoleum, not sure which) prints from the Voices From the Mountains series by Katie Truskoski.

Opposite side of the room…

downstairs | sitting area

A hint of our hand-silkscreened Blackbird wallpaper by Cavern Home in kraft on the wall there. Wool Libre sectional from DWR (the smallest sectional I could find), covered in all-cotton moving blankets so the 6-year-old cannot destroy it. As much. Roost Aluminum Antler Lamp from Velocity Home. Walnut and maple credenza by David.

View down the hall from the couch…

downstairs | the hallway

That interrupting wall is coming out, thank goodness. The tiny 2′ stove is now in use upstairs for the moment. That first door with the paint scraped off it will be the wet bar. And down at the end of the hall…

downstairs | bath

The bathroom. Even Ellen can’t make that look good. Flesh-tone paint. Gross. Soon, this will gain a few more feet. It will still be small but much mo nicer when we’re done with it.

That’s it. Your 5 cent tour has come to an end. Now gimme my nickel and get out! heh heh. Stay tuned for destruction photos.

a plus-sized remod tour

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Our wants are large for this first round of the remodel. Yes, there will be other rounds. There’s not a room in this house that will go untouched. First round: the entryway to the living area. Interested in a tour?

remod wants | entryway

The entryway

It feels like you’ve stepped into a well when you come into the house. There are a few things that can help with that. First off, we’ll probably change out that solid door with something in glass. Seeing out will make it feel less vertical. It will also step up the first impression.

remod wants | entryway floor

Under foot, we can’t leave that plywood exposed. I already covered some of our tile options. This entry well gets cold in the winter, so we need to update the heat, too — we’re looking into removing the 40-year-old Singer heater and replacing it with in-floor heat.

Looking up from the doorway…

remod wants | railing on entry stairs

The solid railings don’t help with that I-fell-in-a-well feeling. Those need to be steel and glass or steel and cable, period. If you can see through the railing to the far windows (yes, that far back door will be replaced with glass for a view out to the yard), this space will feel less claustrophobic.

remod wants | railing on stairs again

Whether you’re headed up the stairs or down, even if the space isn’t actually bigger, it will feel bigger.

Overhead…

remod wants | fan removal

We have two of these ceiling fans that the previous owners put in just a few years ago. Those have to go. Anybody interested in like-new ceiling fans? We’ll remove the cobwebs.

Heading up the stairs

remod wants | stairs

Steps will need finishing in the cork flooring we’re going to use upstairs for a consistent flow.

remod wants | flooring

If you’ve been following, you’ve already seen what the floor looks like at the top of the stairs: particle board and prehistoric carpet. This will all be cork. One cohesive surface throughout the top floor to unify our fairly small space.

Stepping into the living area

remod wants | window wall

The window wall is the star of the house. We’d like to build in seating under the windows cuz everybody likes to sit by the window, and add a shallow shelf for the succulents I have to winterize. Would also be a handy place to set a glass of wine.

remod wants | leaky windows

Did I mention there’s water trapped inside the glass? Damn. This is something we’ve seen in a few of the larger windows, including the one by the front door. They have to be replaced. Since that’s the case, we’re looking at sexier, commercial aluminum windows and sliders with a thinner profile frame. It’ll look hot when we’re done.

remod wants | storage wall

Storage is an issue. On either side of the window wall, we want built-ins floor to ceiling, with room for books, music and art, as well as the stuff nobody wants to see.

remod wants | wall removal

There is a storage closet already. But it really interrupts the space.

remod wants | closet removal

Here it is from the other side. We want to knock that whole thing out and replace it with window/slider wall…

remod wants | view to patio

… so we can step right out onto our soon-to-be fabulous new patio. We’re envisioning the area that’s currently the storage closet as a sitting area that looks out to the yard, with a cozy built-in, high-efficiency woodstove.

Just across from the storage closet…

… is another wall that’s coming out. See ya, ’70s-style kitchen pass-thru.

remod wants | kitchen wall removal

Once that wall comes out, it’s open concept. The kitchen becomes part of the living space and dining area. We’re picturing an island with a cooktop and a few stools pulled up to it — more entertaining-centric. And we’d like to knock out a section of the far kitchen wall to create a window onto the entry well. Once again, longer views always make a small space feel bigger.

remod wants | kitchen expansion

Remember, the current kitchen is insanely small — it made sense in a home built for a single person, but not for us. The floor measures 3’10″ across at the widest point. Only 3′ where the fridge would have been directly across from the stove. It’s only 6′ from the doorway to the sink.

By knocking down the walls, we gain a little breathing room and hopefully a smidge more space. There are no appliances in this kitchen, so we need those. We already invested in an open-concept-worthy fridge — meaning we have to look at it from the living area so it has to be fab, as far as I’m concerned. It was the smallest footprint fridge I could find that still has enough space. Currently stashed downstairs next to our kitchenette. More on that another time.

remod wants | cabinet removal

We’ll need new cabinets as the space is being reconfigured. These we’ll save for either the garage or a future shed. We need to maximize storage in here so we’ll have to go vertical.

remod wants | kitchen ceiling heaters

We want to put in a big skylight, again to make this feel more spacious. But more than that, natural light and food just make for a sunnier mood. Those panels in the ceiling are heaters, which means we have to think about how to heat the kitchen as there’s no other source of heat in here.

remod wants | kitchen tile removal

Kitchen flooring will be a continuation of the cork. Looking forward to losing those cold, dark tiles.

Looking down the canyon between the kitchen and the storage closet…

remod wants | view to back

You can see how this space would be opened up by knocking down the walls. As much as I wish it weren’t the case, those are load-bearing, which means we’ll still need support. See how the stair railing completely interrupts the view to the back? I can’t wait for that to change.

This is a good time to address the ceiling… We want to cover it in the same material we’re using for the floor. One is aesthetic: to highlight the slope of the ceiling and the long view from the front to the back of the house. The other is yuck: popcorn ceilings installed prior to ’79 may have stuff in it that you don’t want in your house. We want to encase it and forget about it, just in case.

Let’s finish that spin around the living area…

remod wants | stove removal

A woodstove sits in what we want to be our dining area. A high-efficiency Jotul we brought with us from the loft as a temporary heating solution, but it obviously doesn’t suit the style of the house. We’ll be selling that. The wall behind it will be floor-to-ceiling built-ins just like the opposite side of the room. And speaking of walls, behind them we’ll be adding insulation.

remod wants | take that chandelier

Over the dining area, the last owners put in a chandelier that’s coming out. Anybody want a chandy?

remod wants | deck updating

Wait, we’re almost done! That deck we look out onto? We use it as an extension of the living space when the weather’s good — lovely dining spot with a view of downtown. Unfortunately, it needs replacing…

remod wants | deck rot

Here’s the view from below. You can see that soon, we may fall through.

remod wants | deck phone service!

While we’re out here, let me point out this space-age creature comfort on the deck: phone lines! Man, the architect thought of everything. Here it is 2010 and we literally have not had a land line in years — I gave up mine a decade ago. My how times have changed.

So what didn’t I cover?

remod wants | heaters

Heaters in the living area. We have to figure out how to not have them be hideous, how to do built-ins around them, etc. We’ll cover heating and our scads of research in another post.

remod wants | heat control

Obviously the heat control will change. I’m sure this was advanced in its day.

remod wants | light switches

Lighting controls will change, too. Basically, everything’s changing.

So that’s it. End of tour. You can go home now. You’re probably looking forward to a cozy, inviting place after seeing this mess. So are we.

conflicted in kid-dom

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Our friends are always asking if we’ve made progress in the kid’s room. No wonder. The move was two years ago, which means Bix has spent nearly half his life in a mess. So we tackled his room first, hoping to create a calm, fun place away from the remodeling storm. I like the result. But I’m also conflicted about it. Argh.

Starting with what we already had

Luckily, we moved in with most of the stuff we used, including mandatory KidKraft train table, some chairs, and the drawers and bookcases David built when Bix was a baby…

dresser

I see the drawers need a little readjusting but you get the idea. We used Sunflower Seed Board from Van Beek’s in Michigan. Here’s a closer look…

closeup of sunflower seed MDF

It’s an eco-friendly MDF made from pressed sunflower seed hulls. LEED-certified, no formaldehyde, no outgassing. Finished in a simple water-based poly. Makes us feel good.

David had made the drawer fronts using a laminate we thought was fun enough for a kid but easy to like as an adult…

Formica in matte finish Beluga (#3697)

We debated about the environmental friendliness of laminate and decided that because drawers see a lot of grimy little fingers and can take a beating that the sunflower board can’t (without getting chipped, that is), it made sense.

Attack of the madwoman with a paintbrush

Before we could hang the furniture on the wall above the heaters, I had to scrape off the babyish wallpaper border that went all around the room, prep the walls and paint.

early room view 3

To encourage drawing, I decided on kid-height chalkboard walls around the perimeter. I taped off the space…

chalk board prep 1

Used a dab of caulk along the bottom of the painter’s tape for a nice, clean edge. Then filled in my lines with four or five layers of chalkboard paint to make it extra durable.

chalk board prep 3

I was hoping to tie the chalkboard to artwork we commissioned our friend Ryan Lesser to make a few years ago (click to biggify if you care to)…

wide shot, finished chalkboard

creature

chalkboard finished

more artwork from Ryan Lesser

Those are a few more characters by Ryan.

I brought the tentacles around the corner and over onto the adjoining wall behind the door…

tentacles

I maybe went a little overboard carrying the “bubbles” look from the laminate onto the wall…

glossy bubbles on matte paint

I used high gloss paint in various tints of white (some bluish, some greyish, some super white, etc.) on top of a matte oatmealy white. The anal part: I used round container lids in three sizes, dipped them into the paint and then pressed them onto the wall. Looks good when the light hits it. David thinks it’s too busy. Just wait, it gets much busier.

Bunk bed in a closet

The dressers are more than adequate storage for the wardrobe of a 5-year-old — with plenty of room for toys, too. His closet was wasted space, so we decided it was a smart spot to fit a bunkbed with storage underneath. Great for sleepovers someday, or the occasional guest.

In order to be twin-bed length and last Bix well into his teens, we needed to make the space a little longer…

closet build-out

David extended the closet space by about 6″ and added some serious mass loaded vinyl sound-proofing to the walls. The occasional mid-construction reading break was called for…

demolition break

Then he put in new drywall and spots for lights for both bunks.

finishing the drywall

He drilled crazy long wood screws into the studs for extra support.

building bunk bed supports

Hang on a sec and I’ll show you the finished bed. Keep your pants on.

Paint overload

Building out the closet ruined  the edge of my paintjob. No biggie. Easily camouflaged with a little sanding and some paint in a contrasting pattern to trick the eye. I did a color study using various shades from around the room — Benjamin Moore zero-VOC Natura paint so I could feel reasonably okay about sticking to our eco-friendly principles…

paint swatches

First, I taped off a floor-to-ceiling strip for magnetic paint (not so eco-friendly, I’m sure). The Ben Mo’ semi-gloss can go right over the top to dress it up, so I taped off cubes to echo the Ikea paper lamp hanging in the opposite corner…

taping off the magnetic board

So the result?

bunk beds and magnetic board

I matched bunk bed walls to the aqua in the bookcases. The magnetic strip brings in all the colors of the room. Recovered the shade of the West Elm lamp I picked up for half price. I’m liking how circles vs. squares turned out.

closeup on lower bunk

Aqua pillowcases from Area we already had. Added the illustratey one and cushy flannel sheets from Garnet Hill. Organic blanket and a quilt picked up at West Elm. Roll pillow half price from Unison. Sales rawk.

full shot bunk bed

The underbed drawers we stole from one of the dismantled dressers David made for Bix’s baby room. As Bix gets older, we could decide to pull out the bottom bunk and put in a desk. Or add a clothing rod under the top bunk. It’s a very flexible space. And the whole thing could easily become a closet again if need be.

etsy pillows

Pillows from two great etsy sellers: Spruce Home who works in some great vintage fabrics and Alexandra Ferguson who uses 100% post-consumer recycled felt. A nice comfy back for a little storytime action.

Shins “monster” art from Tad Carpenter...

Shins monster

painted border around art

Such a paint addict — I thought it needed a border. As a side note, that’s not glass inside the frame. It’s plexi. Globe lights are also plastic and not glass. Just in case, ya know.

monsters in a barrel

Barrel found at PB Teen at a get-it-outta-here discount of 75% (years ago, sorry). So many uses but for now, all things stuffed.

On the way over to the book nook…

bookshelves viewed from bed

Trish Grantham painting

New painting by Trish Grantham and Frank Kozik figures from Kid Robot over the dresser.

nice grassy pillow for sitting and reading

A grassy knoll pillow for reading, repurposed from the living area.

looking up at bookshelves

We bridged the space between bookshelves with cheap Ikea corner shelves, which added even more storage.

vintage Fisher Price “little people” toy collection

Vintage Fisher Price “little people” toys collection. Thanks, eBay. I always wanted an A-frame.

mechagodzilla and godzilla

Mechagodzilla and Godzilla — gifts from Bix’s friends “the Godzilla girls.”

dinos on a shelf

Bix’s true love: his dino shelf.

vintage Fisher Price record player

Vintage Fisher Price record player came with six “records.” Priming him to be a DJ from a very young age. eBay.

vintage Fisher Price “radio”

Ancient Fisher Price “radio” still works. eBay. I’m getting repetitive, sorry.

the Seuss section

The Seuss section.

’zilla feet, licensed by Toho

Godzilla feet from Toho for stomping through the house.

Charles S. Anderson poster circa 1990

On the other dresser, a leaning Charles S. Anderson poster hides a hideous air conditioner. Dated ’89, although I picked it up at a paper show in Houston years after that. It’s a French Paper sample Bix insists he must have in his room because up above King Kong…

Godzilla on King Kong/C.S. Anderson poster

there’s a tiny Godzilla. I cannot deny him.

gremlins on the turntable

Gremlins on the crappy eBay turntable that came with about a zillion records to add to those we already had.

bix listening to records

And now we’re back to the corner where we started! Only now somebody’s appreciating the joys of vinyl. Good boy.

What’s left undone

Still to come: the ladder and top railing for the bunk bed, replacement baseboard and trim here and there…

need new trim around the window

a wood ceiling (to cover the popcorn ceiling) and wood floor. Can’t wait to get rid of that hideous toxic carpet, too.

Why I’m conflicted

Had really hoped this room would be super “green,” seeing as it’s our child’s room. Sustainable materials, great.  Completely thrilled with the organic mattresses — beautifully made and comfy. Eco-conscious paints, very good, but so much paint, right? And it amazes me the shizzload of plastic in this room! On the one hand, much of it’s vintage — we’re keeping plastic out of the landfill, yay. On the other hand, it’s still plastic. Oy.

So I give myself an 85% on achieving my goals for Bix’s room. Granted, I’m a harsh grader.

Valentine’s Day card from Orrin

Orrin made Bix a Valentine. So cute. Thanks, Orrin!

go ahead, gaze upon it and gloat…

Monday, February 1st, 2010

This is the home of a lapsed neatnik and her family. This is how it’s traversed…

By dodging boxes in the stairwell, boxes in the closet, boxes pressed to the ceiling in the garage. Stumbling over piles of things deemed worthy for sale.

By mashing your fingers between stacks of drawers that have no dresser to hold them, every time you need a t-shirt. Opening the file cabinet to hunt for the cheese grater.

painting in waiting

By trying to ignore the art languishing in the hallways and corners, waiting for a wall to be hung on. And a good dusting.

Sinatra's tired of waiting

By wondering how much longer ‘til Sinatra, New Order, Stereolab and his hundreds of other vinyl sidekicks get to come out of hiding.

How we got here is simple: we moved. From a place with nearly 3,600 sq ft to a place with 1,700 square feet.

master bedroom, more drawers

That’s about  2,000 sq ft of crap to eliminate, which we’ve been doing steadily. for. two. years. There were yard sales. A 20-yard dumpster filled with David’s woodshop scrap. So, so many trips to the dump.

more stuuuuf

Forcing things on friends… “no, really, TAKE it.” Storing larger items with family. Countless things sold on eBay and Craigslist or bagged up for Sal’s Army.

more in the livingroom

Until we can add shelving, cabinets and the like to a house with a dearth of storage, we have no convenient place to put what we’d actually like to keep.

headboard in kitchen with no appliances

A fully functioning kitchen would be nice, but I won’t get ahead of myself. For the moment I’ll stick to the steeplechase my daily path has become.

more stairway stuff

Virgos are supposed to be perfectionists. Honestly, I was never the white-glove type. I just want a home where I can put my hands on a clean pair of underwear or a thumbtack when I need one.

yes, more stairwell

With that as my goal, I share with you the remodel of a modern house by a modern family.  It’s a modern hot mess. Enter if you dare.

the entryway... come on in

Try not to trip over the headboard in the entryway, ’kay?