Posts Tagged ‘concrete’

pati o’leery

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Now that the cable railing is finito, we can move on to our next project: upper and lower patios. It does sound extravagant to have two, doesn’t it? But with a two-level house built into a hillside, we have two separate entries that need to step out onto something better than what we have now. Take a look…

UPPER PATIO Crushed stone in place since the Savages set it down in April awaits the concrete pads we have in mind. Once pads are poured, the patio will be level with the top of the retaining wall and we’ll have plenty of room for entertaining…

current upper patio

Wondering what the heck I mean by concrete pads? Remember this image that I showed you a few months back?

Waterfall House, Andrew Remy Arquitectos | archdaily.com

Waterfall House, Andrew Remy Arquitectos | archdaily.com

See how the concrete is cut into angles with grass in between? Yeah. Like that. Our first choice for patios is something akin to that only set into pea gravel. It would tie in nicely with the architecture of the house, which is very angular on the front face…

angle on house

LOWER PATIO This shot is from April before landscaping improvements began, but it still basically consists of completely inhospitable sharp-edged gravel. Yucky…

view of lower patio from side

We’re envisioning the patio coming out from beneath the deck and into the pathway. As you can see, privacy is an issue…

view out to lower patio

Thankfully, landscaping will continue to change that — more on that later. Suffice it to say that we come out this door a lot, as will our guests (assuming we ever have a house fit for guests), and we’re eager for it to change.

Months ago we created a patio plan so we could work the landscaping around it. Our buddy Shiva helped turn from scribble to jpg (click to biggify)…

original upper patio plan

You can see in the original plan that the lower patio extended the length of the deck. We decided to cut that to half, hoping it would save a little money. The long rectangle at the top of the upper patio is a very low, shallow reflecting pool with an 8″ concrete foundation. Minimal. Kind of like this…

contemporist.com

contemporist.com

I’ve shared this and other examples previously. Really, really want that to happen.

Our last meeting with Tom Zilian of MadStone Concrete sounded promising. We met again with him and it still sounded promising, so David whipped up exact measurements…

upper patio detail

Then we got the quote. And now we’re on the fence. Am sure the final product, after a laborious process of prepping the site, framing and pouring the pads, 10-day curing, sanding and sealing, would be exactly as we envisioned. Heck, probably better. The question is can we suck it up and just sink the money into patios when we have a whole house remod kicking off in the next few weeks? Argh.

going off the rails…

Monday, September 20th, 2010

… on a crazy train. Thanks, Ozzy. So after weeks of waiting, the galvanized stainless steel cable railing finally went in on the back retaining wall today. Rhode Island Welding pulled up at 7:20 ready to rail. Here’s how it went down.

They drilled the holes for the railing posts…

drilling the holes

The railing arrived completely fabricated. They set the posts in place…

set in place

They added concrete to the holes…

concrete added

Threaded the cable through the pre-drilled holes…

threading the cable

They attached machine swaged fittings to the ends of the cables and tensioned the entire assembly to prevent sagging…

cable ends tensioned

TA-DAAAAA!

railing as seen from below

Am mostly pleased. Wishing I had dictated squared posts so that we hadn’t ended up with round. Also wishing there were right angles and no curves…

a side view

Bah. Me being a cable railing snob I guess. What’s done is done. Moving on. The next project: patios!

modern benches at berkshire botanical

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Just spied on my recent getaway to the Berkshires: two drooltastic modern benches at Berkshire Botanical Garden

“baseball” bench at berkshire botanical garden

Designed by Douglas Thayer, “Baseball” (as this bench is curiously called) is made of reclaimed Greenheart, reclaimed Ipe and concrete. Looks like it could stand up to a New England Nor’easter. It’s a work of art you can sit on. Have I mentioned lately how much I love concrete?…

closeup on the concrete end piece

Underneath, there are two metal crosspieces… maybe steel?

view of the metal cross pieces underneath

Clearly seen through the wood planks…

view through the slats

No prices on his website. Dare I email him and find out how much such a piece might cost? I’m afraid.

Around the corner from Baseball sits this beauty…

another bench at berkshire botanical garden, same designer

Couldn’t locate a name or description for this one, but it’s obviously another creation by Thayer. Similar minimal aesthetic and concrete + wood design. The spots are raindrops, btw.

Here’s a closer look at the detail between the planks and on the concrete supports…

a look at the inset detail

detail closeup

There were lots of benches on display at Berkshire Botanical as part of their Garden Bench as Sculpture show, but those two were my favorites. Simple. Solid. Honest looking. According to their website, the show ends September 17:

info from Berkshire Botanical events calendar

august, undone

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

This month was a little disappointing. Lots of projects in the works but little actually finished. Or actually started. Let’s see…

THE BENCH, UNDONE

We left off with David taking a weekend welding class in July with the intention of creating a bench for our entryway. Here’s where it stands…

steel legs, welded up but not done

Still to come: the sanding down of the welds for a smooth leg…

closeup of the weld

Also to come: the powder-coated finish. the wooden bench seat. and the satisfaction of being able to sit down and take off your muck boots at the door.

THE RAILING, UNDONE

The railing for our retaining wall out back is still not a reality. We need to keep people from tumbling over that 7′ drop! Rhode Island Welding helped us with the galvanized steel raised veggie beds and stairs, so we talked to them about the railing….

cable railing discussion with Rhode Island Welding

Prior to measuring and drawing up what we wanted, there was much discussion about what kind of railing would work best here. David and I agree that we want something:

  • minimal to complement the simple lines of the house
  • you can see through, as we don’t want to block our view
  • that isn’t the star but fades into the background
  • that is obviously an accessory to the design of the house rather than something that looks like construction — meaning that if it’s solid wood, it begins to look like our wood siding and we don’t want to take away from the original envelope of the house
  • that we can use on our indoor stairway as well — both railings are within viewing distance of each other and should be similar

So several options were up for consideration…

glass | aluminumrailing.com

glass | aluminumrailing.com

Glass, my first choice. And ridiculously, prohibitively expensive. Damn. Definitely my top pick for indoors, as well. Not gonna happen.

cable | aluminumrailing.com

cable | aluminumrailing.com

Cable railing. Second choice. Much cheaper than glass but still pricey. A very clean look. Zoning regs are very clear on height, necessity of a top rail, distance between cables, etc., so there’s no budging on that. We looked at a lot of cable railing systems in order to find ways to cut costs. Basically comes down to quality and endurance, which is why we ultimately decided to have RI Welding make it right for us.

Also considered…

mesh | adesignandbuild.co.uk via flickr www.flickr.com/photos/db-gardendesign/3811605850

mesh | adesignandbuild.co.uk via flickr www.flickr.com/photos/db-gardendesign/3811605850

Galvanized steel mesh railing. Would still require the posts and top rail to be built by Rhode Island Welding (unless we went with wood supports and top rail) but the mesh would save us some cash — cable systems are pricey and cable system installation obviously takes longer. In the end, we decided the mesh grid just wasn’t something we wanted to repeat inside the house.

Wood. After looking at the cable railing price, we opened ourselves up to the possibilities of wood again… maybe slender, horizontal slats wouldn’t be too bad?  or even vertical?…

from apartment therapy | www.apartmenttherapy.com/sf/look/look-modern-fence-050175

from apartment therapy | www.apartmenttherapy.com/sf/look/look-modern-fence-050175

Something similar might be a good modern choice. But even a railing-height version would interrupt the view and force you to look at the fence. And it just wouldn’t work inside the house. So nix that. Cable railing it is!

Designs submitted to Rhode Island Welding. Fabrication in progress. Stay tuned.

THE STAIRS, UNDONE

So, the state of the stairs. The set in front, done except for the final addition of pea gravel…

front stairs need pea gravel to top off crushed stone

Back stairs? *sigh* Don’t ask.

When it’s all said and done, they’re supposed to look kinda like this…

gravel and steel steps by D-Crain | d-crain.com

gravel and steel steps by D-Crain | d-crain.com

THE STORAGE AREA, UNDONE

The doors may be done but the insides of the storage closets aren’t yet outfitted for storing things. This is our current latching solution…

storage area lacks closure, heh heh

I seek closure. Before winter, please.

THE PATHS, UNDONE

The paths are all dug…

one of our uphill paths

They pretty much look like that, with the dirt washing down the sides of the beds and into the paths every time it rains because none of the plants have grown in enough to hold the soil.

No point in adding pea gravel to the paths until I can solve the constant erosion issue that comes with having a slope. I’ll save the details for another post but suffice it to say that standard edging isn’t tall enough and gabions look like the right solution.

THE STRAIGHT-RUN EDGING, UNDONE

Close to the house, we still need to turn this…

buffer around house needs edging and beach pebbles

… into this — minus the concrete edging and fabulousness of an iconic modernist house, of course.

beach pebble buffer at Johnson House, Piere Koenig | eichlernetwork.com

beach pebble buffer at Johnson House, Piere Koenig | eichlernetwork.com

And make this…

path needs edging

… look a little more like this:

steel edging by Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

steel edging by Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

The 2′ buffer around the house needs edging and topping off with beach pebbles. In the past, we’ve gotten them through Stoneyard in Massachusetts. Their Mexican Beach Pebbles are dark, flat and the classic choice. Their New England pebbles, more irregular and frequently egg-shaped. Blech. In Rhody, Watson Mulch has a nice, small, tumbled pea gravel but their pebbles, not so much.

Have spent an embarrassing amount of time researching edging. Plastic and rubber, yuck. Stone, too pricey, too cottagey. Metal is by far the most minimal. Aluminum looks cheap and insubstantial to me — like it’ll crimp if you breathe on it wrong. Yes, have looked at all the brands out there at various price points and don’t like any of them. Decided since we have steel in the rest of our hardscape, maybe that’s the best choice. I’ll save details for another entry but the best contender so far is Border Guard — it even comes in galvanized steel so it would tie in with the rest of our hardscape. Sold.

THE PATIOS, UNDONE

I won’t waste your time repeating my patio wishes. Let’s just leave it at “it ain’t done yet.” We did, however, manage to meet with Tom Zilion of Madstone Concrete to discuss what all this vision might cost. He’s all about the nuances of finish and color…

overwhelmed by colors

Any color, including black. And yet we find ourselves drawn to the straight-forward grey…

you just can’t go wrong with classic grey

God, we’re boring. But it just makes the most sense when you want the house to be the hero, not the patio. Black would look amazing, but it gets hot in the sun. Not ideal for bare kiddie feet. We’re still discussing possibilities with Tom. He does beautiful work, so expect to hear more about it.

See what you missed while I was out? Nothing. Just project after project, and all of them Undone.

the last riser

Monday, July 12th, 2010

With grievous amounts of sweat and consternation…

shwetty

David got it on this weekend and bolted in the last of the hot dip galvanized steel risers for the stairs that lead up to the veggie garden…

the veggie garden steps are in!

front view

YES!! Still the stairs of death and completely impassable until we backfill them with pea gravel, but that should happen soon. Our wicked slope makes it look like the steps are crooked. Don’t worry, they’re squared up and it will all make sense when it’s done.

Easier to see how it starts to come together if you step back a little. See how the steps match the galvanized veggie beds?

view from across the street

Now picture it with the patchy grass filled in and a lovely espaliered asian pear across that long, empty concrete retaining wall surface. Perty.

baby steps

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

A very hot 4th of July weekend but David managed to make a little progress on our new steel steps out front and in back. Four of the six risers are now in by the back concrete retaining wall…

stair risers by back retaining wall

Still waiting for Rhode Island Welding and the hot dip galvanizer to remake the two that were too short.

As you can see from behind…

stair risers from behind

… we’ll have to do some regrading on that hillside so the stairs won’t be hanging there in space, a la Stairway to Heaven. Once the last two risers are in, we’ll take care of that. And order the pea gravel to fill the steps and the paths. So close!

Meanwhile, out front by the veggie garden there was much chipping away of concrete in order to make the wonky ends of the walls line up so that the top riser could be squared up and bolted in…

a peek at those veg garden stair riser bolts

Risers are now in top and bottom on the stairs of death…

stair progress in the veggie garden

Many more left for David to tackle. Now where did I put my whip? Hmm…

stair fixie update

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

In progress! Those concrete stairs of death that lead up to the veggie garden are finally getting their makeover. Steel risers added soon…

david on the stair fixie

reaching entry entropy

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Outside: moving. Inside: going nowhere until we settle on finishes. We finally agree on the flooring. Except that we’d both like to see something different than cork in the entryways. What we’re loving: concrete tile.

It’s gorgeous, ridiculously durable and generally an eco-friendly choice. Thus far, I’ve come across three styles of concrete tile:

  • something monolithic that resembles poured — these range from plain to colored to terrazzo
  • patterned
  • and dimensional or relief, meaning it has raised bits — doesn’t make sense in a high-traffic area

Whatever we choose, we’re not going to need much. The front entry is roughly 8′x5′. The back entry maybe 4′x2′. The tile has to go with the cork flooring we think we’re going to use…

edipo cork tile in bleach white | duro-design.com

edipo cork tile in bleach white | duro-design.com

So considering that, I’ve found a few options that catch my eye…

_________________________________

Monolithic

In a modern house, you can never go wrong with terrazzo. The drawback to polished terrazzo in an entryway, of course, is that when it gets wet it may get slippery. But it is a modern staple and who knew you could get it in tile?

marble mosaic in honey onyx | fritztile.com

marble mosaic in honey onyx | fritztile.com

custom marble in twilight white | fritztile.com

custom marble in twilight white | fritztile.com

Both of those from Fritz Tile and use marble in the aggregate. Pretty. We’d need an inside doormat no matter what kind of tile we choose, so maybe slippery won’t matter? Hmmm.

Fritz also offers two lines of LEED-certified recycled glass terrazzo tiles set in aggregate, but I’m not as fond of their look. For glass terrazzo, I prefer this…

recycled glass tile in riviera | wausautile.com

recycled glass tile in riviera | wausautile.com

or this…

recycled glass tile in swiss alps | wausautile.com

recycled glass tile in swiss alps | wausautile.com

from Wausau Tile, which also uses an aggregate base. Some recycled glass terrazzos are set in resin rather than aggregate (like countertop materials) — Enviroglas is a popular, environmentally friendly source. If we order samples, I’ll share.

Patterned

Here’s a tile from Ann Sacks that’s not only concrete with a pattern but terrazzo as well…

neoterrazo by andy fleishman | annsacks.com

neoterrazo by andy fleishman | annsacks.com

Less glossy than the all-terrazzo choices above. I’m not one to shy away from pattern but I’d have to see it next to the cork to know if it would work. Maybe too… traditional?

Just to funk things up, Angela Adams has a few subtle but very modern patterned concrete tiles at Ann Sacks…

argyle by angela adams | annsacks.com

argyle by angela adams | annsacks.com

manfred by angela adams | annsacks.com

manfred by angela adams | annsacks.com

Nice matte finish. A hint of the ’70s there, am I right? Might be good in a circa ’72 house. Anything by Angela is a class act.

In case my design aesthetic isn’t all over the place enough for you, how about these Paccha concrete tiles, also at Ann Sacks…

zigzag by paccha | annsacks.com

zigzag by paccha | annsacks.com

Would the pattern overwhelm the rest of the room? Maybe. Popham Design who makes Zigzag also makes lots of other styles not carried by Ann Sacks — some that might go better. Although Zigzag doesn’t have to look like a quilt. Their website shows you how you can change things up in layout…

zigzag, zigging | pophamdesign.com

zigzag, zigging | pophamdesign.com

zigzag, zagging | pophamdesign.com

zigzag, zagging | pophamdesign.com

Does crazy things to your eyes after a while, doesn’t it?

Here’s another Popham style completely covered in awesome sauce…

popham squarish | pophamdesign.com

popham squarish | pophamdesign.com

Called Squarish. Simple yet arty. Probably my favorite by Popham for our entryway. Just love that so much.

Another configuration of Squarish, more vintage looking…

squarish, yet againish | pophamdesign.com

squarish, yet againish | pophamdesign.com

I emailed back and forth with Popham not long after we moved in. At the time they were only in Morocco and had no U.S. dealer. Not sure if the ordering deets have changed since ’08 (may well have and if we decide to pursue, I’ll double-check), but this is what Popham shared with me about ordering through them at the time:

We sell the tiles for $15/square foot and can ship via air or sea. For air, which takes about a week once the tiles are dry, you’ll add about $12/square foot, for groupage (marine), which takes about a month, the cost is about $5/square foot. Or, if you want a container’s worth :), about 6,000 square feet, the shipping cost drops to about $1/square foot. Our production lead time is 2-3 weeks depending on the size of the orders.

So maybe $20 a square footish. Not cheap but also not out of the realm of possibility given the small footprint. Not very “green” ordering from Marrakech, I know. On the other hand, it does employ local artisans in a very low-tech process. Conundrum. Nice video, btw.

_________________________________

I dream of a statement-making entry floor but my gut tells me this house wants something sleek and simple. We’ll see. For me, tile is a must-touch, must-ogle item. This means a visit to Ann Sacks, for sure. And I located Fritz Tile’s terrazzo at a few shops in MA and RI. Field trip!

total yard-on for hardscape

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Name a category for our remodel, inside or out, and I’ll show you a stash of dreamy ideas dug up online or shot in my daily travels. Trying to show you all my inspiration for outside is ha! fuhgeddaboudit. Let’s just talk hardscape. I’ve culled some of the bazillion images I have so you can see how a few themes for the look of our future yard rise to the top. Ready to take a dive?

DRIVEWAY

Major theme here: Strips of concrete set into gravel or grass. These could be squares, rectangles, angles — all shapes Irving Haynes, the architect of our house, used again and again in his work and his art. Linear strips would complement the modern architecture of the house (more so than the stupid blacktop there now) and  reduce runoff into the street (and that slippery sheet of ice across our sloped driveway in winter).

The Black House, Andres Remy Arquitectos | archdaily.com

The Black House, Andres Remy Arquitectos | archdaily.com

Waterfall House, Andres Remy Arquitectos | archdaily.com

Waterfall House, Andres Remy Arquitectos | archdaily.com

Maas Architects | contemporist.com

Maas Architects | contemporist.com

Maas Architects | contemporist.com

Maas Architects | contemporist.com

Frick Residence, KRBD | contemporist.com

Frick Residence, KRBD | contemporist.com

Below, not exactly a driveway but definitely a style we could duplicate for a driveway…

Canyonhouse, X Ten Architecture | xtenarchitecture.com

Canyonhouse, X Ten Architecture | xtenarchitecture.com

PATIO

The look we settle on for the driveway we definitely want to carry into our two patio areas — to simplify, surfaces will be done at the same time. That likely means repeating strips or squares of concrete. Additional themes I see in the images I’m most drawn to: irregularity as a part of the pattern, grids and intersecting planes, plantings set into the patio surface, strong delineation of grass or moss/gravel/river rock areas, the interplay of different kinds of surface materials, softening of hard edges by plantings.

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

shot at The Farmer's Daughter, S.Kingstown, RI

shot at The Farmer's Daughter, S.Kingstown, RI

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

Marin Residence, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

Marin Residence, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

John Maniscalo Cole Street Residence | remodelista.com

John Maniscalo Cole Street Residence | remodelista.com

Summer House Vestfold 2, JVA | archdaily.com

Summer House Vestfold 2, JVA | archdaily.com

Bellevue City Hall, Phillips Farveaag Smallenberg | pfs.bc.ca

Bellevue City Hall, Phillips Farveaag Smallenberg | pfs.bc.ca

searching for attribution — will add asap! :(

searching for attribution — will add asap! :(

Rosen House | eichlernetwork.com

Rosen House | eichlernetwork.com

From the Ground Up | blogs2.startribune.com/blogs/newhouse

From the Ground Up | blogs2.startribune.com/blogs/newhouse

livingetc.com

livingetc.com

San Damian House, Daw | archdaily.com

San Damian House, Daw | archdaily.com

Seattle Dream Gardens | sunset.com

Seattle Dream Gardens | sunset.com

Brookvale Residence, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architects | acochran.com

Brookvale Residence, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architects | acochran.com

Adams Fleming House, Levitt Goodman Architects | levittgoodmanarchitects.com

Adams Fleming House, Levitt Goodman Architects | levittgoodmanarchitects.com

Johnson House, Pierre Koenig | eichlernetwork.com

Johnson House, Pierre Koenig | eichlernetwork.com

shot at Denver Botanic Gardens

shot at Denver Botanic Gardens

Tepper Residence, Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture | houzz.com

Tepper Residence, Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture | houzz.com

Adding the image below because we might consider a more textured surface…

latimes.com home tours

latimes.com home tours

PATIO COVER

We’re being very conscious about not adding structures that will detract from the original architecture of the house. The patio cover should be functional, not a focal point. Minimal but large enough to keep driving rain and snow from the north off the windows (plus we like to leave the windows open to let the air circulate in season). Preferably not light blocking as it’s on the shady side of the house. The overriding theme: simplicity.

Ridgeview (after) | designspongeonline.com

Ridgeview (after) | designspongeonline.com

Kidosaki Achitects | contemporist.com

Kidosaki Achitects | contemporist.com

POOL

Still debating whether we have fish or not, but we absolutely must have water — no room for a swimming pool, unfortunately. Major theme in these images: a long, rectangular water feature either raised or set into the ground, frequently set off by rectangles or squares of concrete, sometimes grass or gravel. Especially loving floating steps across a pool.

archdaily.com

archdaily.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

shot at Denver Botanic Gardens

shot at Denver Botanic Gardens

stylehive.com

stylehive.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

Fox Residence, Lutsko Associates | lutskoassociates.com

Fox Residence, Lutsko Associates | lutskoassociates.com

Alexander's Crown, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

Alexander's Crown, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

Blue Mountain, Phillips Farveaag Smallenberg | pfs.bc.ca

Blue Mountain, Phillips Farveaag Smallenberg | pfs.bc.ca

Singleton Residence, Richard Neutra | lacurbed.com

Singleton Residence, Richard Neutra | lacurbed.com

Ohara Residence, Richard Neutra | mcarch.wordpress.com

Ohara Residence, Richard Neutra | mcarch.wordpress.com

Stone Edge Farm, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

Stone Edge Farm, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture | acochran.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

contemporist.com

contemporist.com

GARDEN

I’m talking hardscape, not plants… Repetitive themes: corten steel steps backfilled with gravel, concrete (or granite) block steps, rogue plants interrupting the steps — there to make you linger, raised beds of corten, variety in the levels of plantings, plants no longer banished to a border but set apart in the landscape for drama, zones of grass amidst the plantings, the satisfying crunch of pea gravel.

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

Cow Hollow Garden, Veverka Architects | houzz.com

Cow Hollow Garden, Veverka Architects | houzz.com

Lake House, Hutchison & Maul Architecture | archdaily.com

Lake House, Hutchison & Maul Architecture | archdaily.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

I’ll get to lighting someday, but isn’t this shot of light canisters hanging from the oaks absolutely dreamy?

D-Crain | d-crain.com

D-Crain | d-crain.com

I want to go to there.

That brings an end to How Green Is My Brain Week. Except that I’m currently in the garden planning stage so my brain will likely be green for months to come. You’ve been warned.

*    *    *    *    *

Bookmarks for this post:

acochran.com The land and sustainability are key to her incredible modern gardens. Genius landscapes. Also worth noting that Andrea Cochran published an amazing book last October.

archdaily.com So many projects from around the world. Great, great stuff here.

contemporist.com I’m absolutely in awe of the architecture this site covers.

d-crain.com Austin, you’re so lucky to have such a progressive landscaping firm. *sigh*

designspongeonline.com My daily virtual commute must. Great inspiration for everything.

eichlernetwork.com A constant source of inspiration for an MCM remodel, even if you don’t live in an Eichler.

houzz.com Home design images from architects, designers and landscapers searchable by style and keyword. Consider it a gateway drug.

levittgoodmanarchitects.com Just really beautiful work, inside and out.

la.curbed.com For the inside scoop on LA’s drooliest real estate.

latimes.com Luuuuuurve their Homes of the Times section. Great style, lots of innovative use of materials and sustainability in action in L.A.

livingetc.com A modern mag with great ideas in their photo gallery.

lutskoassociates.com Landscapes that combine ecology and modernism. Gorgeous.

mcarch.wordpress.com An enviable collection of midcentury architecture photos.

pfs.bc.ca So happy to have stumbled across Vancouver’s Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg landscape architecture. Modern, thoughtful landscapes.

remodelista.com Who doesn’t use this as a style resource? Big fan from the beginning.

sunset.com I don’t live out West but I get the magazine like I do. Love all the home and garden ideas with a green focus.

xtenarchitecture.com Rad L.A. architecture firm. They know modern and sustainable.

garden bones: the big reveal

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Retaining wall construction wrapped about two weeks ago. Let’s get right to the final results… As always, click to biggify.

final front view

final back view

Very happy with how the walls look like they belong to the house — the mark of an architect. Irving would be thrilled. Thanks Markus Berger and Naomi Clare at Inside Out Design! Once the paint comes off the foundation, it should look even more seamless.  Doors still need to be built on the storage bays of the back wall. And when spring rolls around, plantings will soften the edges and add privacy.

The construction, chronicled

Want the nitty gritty? Read on…

The retaining wall plans got done in November. The next step was getting bids from cement contractors. And tick tick tick tick tick, suddenly it’s December. Impending winter. This is Rhode Island, after all. Is building now really a good idea?

The contractor we settled on seemed to think it was. “Adjust the concrete mix to deal with the cold,” they said confidently in their thick Rhody accents. We were dubious. But our engineer, Erik Anders Nelson, was down with that. The city inspector was, too. So fine, then.

To start, we had to take out two trees in back that happened to fall directly in line with the placement of the retaining wall…

backwall 1

Sorry trees. I know it’s not much consolation but digging would have killed you. You’ll be replaced by something exquisite, I assure you.

Digging started on December 15th. My Facebook friends weathered six weeks worth of almost daily posts on the progress. Highlights below. If you really want to get your geek on, you’re welcome to check out the full project from beginning to end, complete with angst and commentary.

Back wall:

back wall 2

back wall 3

back wall 4

back wall 6

back wall 7

back wall 8

back wall 9

back wall 10

back wall 11

back wall 12

back wall 13

back wall 14

Front wall:

front wall 1

front wall 2

front wall 4

front wall 6

front wall 7

front wall 8

front wall 9

front wall 10

front wall 11

front wall 12

front wall 13

front wall 14

front wall 15

front wall 16

front wall 18

front wall 19

Goodbye, rocky menace:

rocky menace

rocky menace gone

Four dumptruck’s worth of crappy stone, gone! Some of it…

rocky menace jr. in the neighbor's yard

ended up right across the street, in our neighbor’s yard! Glad someone can use it. We tried to give it away to any contractor who’d take it. No takers.

The ugly and unresolved:

front wall stairs

Drama with the stairs. The concrete crew couldn’t seem to make the detail consistent from step to step (5th photo down, after the jump). David had them rip it out… three times. Oy. Says he’ll be pouring the detail himself. Hallelujah.

There’s also some debate about the stucco-ish finish. David thought he’d prefer it over the patchwork look of the concrete that resulted from multiple pours. Now he hates it. I could have lived with the bare concrete. Oh well.

Consider yourself caught up. Next step: adding skin to the garden bones. Epic look at ideas tomorrow!