Friday, August 31, 2007

    You know you're (a) ______________ when...

    ...this gets your body temp up:

    From here, if you're really interested: "The DITRA mat combines the functions of waterproofing, uncoupling and vapour equalisation with good bonding performance and direct load transfer into the substrate. It is therefore an ideal installation aid on critical substrates both indoors and out."

    (It's a sub-layer for tile.)

    Help us fill in the blank.

    Tuesday, August 28, 2007


    There were a couple of lots that I spent a lot of time dreaming up a house for before we were really in a position to buy one. These are some sketches of a couple of designs I was playing around with.

    This was on a tiny lot zoned RMF-45 (warning: boring zoning link!), which allowed for a lot of height.

    This was on a tiny lot that was triangular (all the lots are going to be tiny).

    Monday, August 27, 2007

    A modern home for a modern time

    So what's so great about a modern house? Don't get us wrong — we find no offense with Tudors, Victorians, Cape Cods, cottages, bungalows or craftsman-style homes. In fact, many of the best examples of those styles are lovely homes. They're just not for us. (We do find offense with the mish-mash style so prevalent in the greater-Salt Lake area, but we'll save that rant for another day.)

    We are not the type to write a modernist's manifesto — check out or any number of architecture schools for better-articulated theories — but boyohboy are we ever opinionated folk. And we are very, very strongly of the opinion that modern design, building and living is the way to go.

    For us, the core of modern living (that phrase sounds so 1950s! in a sputnik-era way! with new electronic kitchen implements! and gleaming teeth! and automatic coffee makers!), breaks down to the emphasis of function in the home. We love the emphasis on easy construction methods — simplify the construction, the thinking goes, and thus reduce your costs and thus increase your potential impact and audience. We love well-placed windows and the natural light they provide. We love open floor plans and their inherent love for entertaining and family gatherings. We love a site plan that just makes sense. We love efficient use of space. We love multi-purpose rooms. We love site-appropriate construction. We love the energy efficiency that comes with all of these things. We love climate-appropriate landscaping. And, we love the way it looks.

    Just below Ensign Peak, Salt Lake City

    Moreover, we believe in building for our time. I know no one who wants a 1920s kitchen. I don't want room dimensions or ceiling heights from 1906, either. I also think that the exterior of my house shouldn't look like it's stuck in a decade from another century. Show it for what it is, instead of disguising your contemporary interior in a faux-historical facade.

    Top of F Street, Salt Lake City Avenues

    So, yes, we want to build a modern house that we believe will be more comfortable, more energy efficient, and more fitting for its eventual (and currently hypothetical) location than any pre-approved plans from a builder or pseudo-historical new construction.

    Any yays? Nays? Yawns?

    Friday, August 24, 2007


    The day after we went under contract on the Center Street condo, we took ourselves waaaaay south to the one and only tourist attraction in Draper, Utah:

    I felt like I was going to Costco — a gianter, bluer, particle-boarded Costco. Ah, but how could I not love Ikea? I furnished one-half of a very ghetto Manhattan Chinatown room entirely with the cheapest furnishings Ikea had to offer. (My design sensibility for that particular shopping trip, which was just before I started my second semester of grad school funded entirely by student loans, consisted of how much does it cost?, and, do they have it in stock?) I did a bit of work looking into the deal that Draper, Utah, set up with the retailer in order to lure it and all its sales-tax glory to within city limits. And I watched for months as the crews poured one impossibly large concrete slab after another, coated the exterior with what must have been millions of gallons of blue paint, and expanded the adjacent frontage road all in preparation for the onslaught of grateful, budget-minded clients.

    This particular trip was to scout Ikea's kitchen cabinets, the praises of which many, many other reviewers have sung before — here, here and here. In all, it was a pretty successful trip, minus the labyrinth of double-wide baby strollers, two brief power outages inside (no riot — good job, Utah!), and infant-themed bulk justification banners.

    Generally, I can't complain about Ikea's philosophy — decent design at ridiculously low prices — but some/most of their stuff ends up looking cheap. Our conclusion was to avoid any cabinet touted as an "effect" of one wood or another. The "effect" is a laminate surface with similarly colored plastic tape along the edges of the cabinets. Looks. Cheap. Really. Really. Cheap. But you know what? It is cheap, so I guess that's OK.
    I think that we're going to opt for something in the "abstrakt" line of cabinets — possibly a red, possibly a white. We might throw in some frosted glass with metal frames. We're not really sure because the kitchen in the condo is pretty tight. But we're not crazy about the idea of passing off something as wood that isn't wood, so we will studiously avoid all "effect" products.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2007


    In a former life, I labored at a certain Salt Lake newspaper. While I did not, as a whole, enjoy my experience there, I did meet some pretty amazing people both in and out of the paper. In the year since I quit that job, my friends there have been trickling off to do bigger and better things (I'm looking at you, Ellie's cheeks). One of those, Doug, is now moving to Washington, D.C., to join the U.S. Green Building Council, the friendly folks who came up with LEED certification.

    This is the man who trailed around the newsroom, scouting for notebooks in people's trash cans in a quixotic quest to be the 7th floor's collective environmental conscience. (He'd cut off the wire binding and recycled the otherwise-worthless pages.) I can't think of a better job for him than this new one, even if Salt Lake will miss him dearly.

    I am looking forward to exploiting his future expertise, though, since he will allegedly be developing a residential component to USGBC's already substantial commercial and office repertoire of green-building tips. Dupont Circle, Doug!

    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    The process

    Perhaps you've noticed a bit of recent buying and selling activity documented on this blog. We do have a plan to all this madness, moving, in-laws' houses and storage units.

    While we dearly loved the original slc202 condo, we wanted eventually to live in a house. Preferably a modern house of our own building. With land prices being what they are in these parts, we knew that we couldn't afford a lot without using the equity in our condo. We also didn't want to find the perfect lot and still have to sell our condo, perhaps for a lower price than we knew it could fetch with a little extra time. Thus, the logical first step to us was to sell the condo, then stash away the equity from the sale, and finally make our next move.

    In the interim, however, we didn't want to pay rent. That's where the Center Street condo comes into the picture. We're hoping to renovate and live in this new condo while we look around for a great lot and start the house building process. The Center Street condo appeals to us because it's in the neighborhood in which we hope to eventually build — west Capitol Hill, also rechristened the "Marmalade District" by Rick Howa's mixed-use development on 300 West and 500 North.

    Our immediate future holds a few months of renovation and snooping around for lots in that neighborhood, or any of the other great nooks Salt Lake City has to offer. We hope our long-term future will include a smallish, green, modern home near downtown. So buckle up and stay tuned.

    Monday, August 20, 2007


    In other purchasing news, we are under contract for a condo on Center Street in the West Capitol Hill neighborhood just north of Salt Lake's downtown. It's at approximately 480 North and 150 West. Wish us luck!


    ...only in the sense that we're now abusing the patience of relatives.

    We closed the slc202 deal on Aug. 10 and moved out Aug. 15. From the initial contract agreement to closing, it was a whopping three weeks — three weeks filled with no small amount of anxiety, packing, trips to a sketchy storage unit, praising of our Honda Element's utility, and disposable packing-tape dispensers.

    We got a bit teary-eyed the night of Aug. 15 as we stood at our living-room window for the last time. This was, after all, our first place together — we planned for it, he renovated it, we furnished it together, we moved in the night before our wedding (talk about stress...), and lived there for the first 2 1/2 years of our marriage. It was a wonderful house for us.


    It's time to move on. Thus, it is with great pleasure that we decided to keep the virtual slc202 to commemorate the original abode. We'll be updating this page regularly (no promises on frequency, you'll note) with news from our real estate adventures in a very unadventurous place.