Wednesday, December 31, 2008

    Washer and Dryer

    It finally happened. After countless rolls of quarters and relying our relatives' generosity with their appliances, we finally, finally have our own washer and dryer:

    That's a stackable (duh) Asko set. We had never dreamed of getting this high-end Swedish brand, but we have a designer friend who got us a hook up with a deal. We paid less than one-third of this set's retail price. The washer and dryer actually cost us about the same as a much, much lower end set would have, so we are pleased as punch.

    One of the things that we absolutely love about this set is that they are super water- and energy-efficient. The washer spins clothes up to 2000 rpm at the end of the wash cycle (roughly the same rpm that you car's engine will have on a mellow road), and things come out nearly dry. That means much shorter dryer cycles. The washer uses about one-quarter of the water that a traditional top-loading washer would use, even with optional extra rinse cycles. It requires very little detergent and still comes in as an energy star appliance!

    So, laundry is our new hobby for the new year. Happy New Year to everyone out there, and all the best in your 2009 endeavors!

    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    Christmas came early...

    That beautiful sight is a 220-volt plug for the dryer that will shortly be ours. I could have kissed the electricians who put this in for us.

    (I am more excited about this than I have been about anything in a long, long time. So stay tuned for the VERY EXCITING pictures of our new washer/dryer set!)

    Thursday, December 4, 2008

    Oh, hi Internet...

    Hello again, friends (if you're still reading — and really, I wouldn't be reading after six months of silence).

    I wanted to offer a quick accounting of our last several months:

    June: work
    July: work
    August: work
    November: WORK
    December (so far): WORK

    As you can see, it's really been a blast.

    We haven't moved on anything house-wise during this time either, but that has less to do with the work schedule and a lot more to do with the general state of the world economy and all that frightening business. (We'd prefer to not jump in too soon or rashly — I'd like to avoid becoming a cautionary tale.)

    I will say that we have been stalking a particular lot basically since July, and by stalking, yes, I mean it all: imagining what we would look like together at parties, signing my last name with its address in my diary, picking out outfits for it, driving past at all hours of the day and night, stopping by all the shops in the neighborhood, and so on.

    We actually went through a round of negotiations with the owner of this lot about two months ago but we couldn't reach a comfortable price for everyone. In the meantime, Tai has designed about eight iterations of the "outfit" we could put on that lot, and we have watched the price slowly — so slowly — edge downward. We'll keep stalking it through the next couple of months, and who knows? Maybe we'll be able to report on some action sooner rather than later. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    NY Times: Bragging rights for LEED

    I'm doing that irritating thing where a blogger doesn't come up with original content but just refers you to something really obvious on the internet. So, here you go.

    This caught my eye for several reasons. The first is that LEED Platinum would be insanely difficult to reach on any reasonable budget, so I'm a bit jealous of their $2.5 million selling price.

    The second is that the article really gets into some of the biggest complaints with LEED, some of which I've aired here in the past. As you go up the LEED ladder (certified to bronze to silver to gold, etc.) certification quickly becomes cost prohibitive to most people and a huge pain in the neck to all people. It's also become the evaluation tool of choice in the industry, inaugurated as such because there simply aren't any others: "Frances Anderton, a KCRW radio host and Los Angeles editor of Dwell magazine, longs for the day when LEED recognition is irrelevant. 'Architects should be offering a green building service,' Ms. Anderton said, 'without needing a badge of pride.'"

    The third is this line from the article: "Today, dinner-party bragging rights are likely to include: 'Let me tell you about my tankless hot water heater.' Or 'what’s the R value of your insulation?'" I attended such a dinner party last night where the topic of discussion organically came to both tankless water heaters and rooftop solar arrays!

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008


    With all this great weather lately, we have some serious yard envy.

    We are currently looking at two lots, both in the general 9th-and-9th/Liberty Park areas. We're hopeful that we'll be able to get something soon, but in the meantime the posting will be light because we're just enjoying the completed condo and looking around for land.

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    After: office

    Here's the "before" on the office:

    And here are the "after" photos:

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    After: bedroom

    We were reminded the other night that we haven't posted "after" pictures of the bedroom or office.

    Here's the "before" in the bedroom:

    And, the former wallpaper:

    That carpet's pink, that fan is what it looks like, and the doors are 70s wood.

    Here are the "after" pictures:

    The paint is Benjamin Moore, maybe meadow green? (This is what we get for waiting six months to show the after!) The ceiling fan is the one clean-ish design from Lowe's, and the other stuff we've had for a while.

    Sunday, June 8, 2008

    Many thanks

    We really enjoyed seeing you all last night — thank you for stopping by and sharing our place with us!

    Above, some flowers from a guest...thanks!

    Saturday, June 7, 2008

    House Warmth

    Tonight's the night for the little open house/house warming/party.

    Tonight from 6-9.


    The great thing about Tai telling my grandfather about his design for our mantle is that my grandpa said, "well, what are you going to cover the plywood with?"...about three times.

    I think we confused the poor guy.

    Tai worked out a plan for the mantle/floating shelf by gluing together four 3/4"-thick pieces of plywood. He notched out the back of the shelf to acommodate a back support recycled from discarded 2"x4". He drilled the back support piece into the wall, slid the mantle onto the support, pounded in some finishing nails to connect the mantle to the support piece, then patched and sealed the mantle.

    We've had a few people come by recently who said something like, "hey, you guys are finally finishing things up!" when the only difference between visits was the fireplace and mantle. It feels good to have the face on.

    Here are some process photos:

    Wednesday, June 4, 2008


    It. is. finally. done.

    It's a green-black granite tile surround, with plywood edging.

    What's that you say, my friends? Different from the "before" only in materials and color?


    We couldn't do an all-wood surround like I wanted because of that pesky fire code, and we were limited by budget, will power and ability in any other fancy designs. Plus, we had been living in this place for more than five months by the time this baby went up. I just wanted it done.

    Renovation geeks will attest to the fact that the longer you live in a place, the less willpower you have to complete renovation tasks, no matter the ugliness of the unfinished item, the inconvenience of incompleteness, or the sheer shame at not having finished months (or years) later. This fireplace cover proved to be that final task — the one that didn't really affect how we lived in the place, had no impact on our daily lives, but still stared back at us every time we sat on the couch. And now it's done — hallelujah!

    Tuesday, June 3, 2008

    The sad nook (and sadder checkbook)

    No washer and dryer. In the meantime, I sadly shake my head to the kind inquiries of neighbors to whom we bragged about adding the W/D combo months ago...

    We're stymied on a couple of things, both of which ultimately come back to the sad checkbook. Our power to this corner is a mere 110V, and the vast majority of washers and dryers require a minimum of 220V. The second is that we just don't have the wherewithal to purchase the W/D combo at the moment, so it's going to cost us in quarters instead.

    In the meantime, it remains a junk nook:

    Sunday, June 1, 2008

    Hey Internet!

    We're finally having that house-warming party I promised back in February.

    Saturday, June 7
    6 to 9 p.m.

    It's an open house, so come by whenever you like, for however long you like, and check out the "after" in person. We'll provide treats; you provide the conversation.

    Email me if you're interested in an address or directions.

    Saturday, May 24, 2008


    It's been a while since we've updated. Sadly, the silence is mostly an indication of us not doing much on the home front. We've been insanely busy with work, but occasionally we have a moment to ponder how little we want to stay in this current condo long term!

    With that in mind, we've made a bit of a decision. We're no longer eyeing lots in any type of historic preservation district, which includes our current neighborhood. It hit me one afternoon that I didn't want a board of strangers telling us what we could or could not do with a particular piece of property.* There are fewer things that make me grumpier faster than thinking about the Historic Landmarks Commission.

    * And yes, I know that this grouchy libertarian rant doesn't take into account all the good things that zoning has brought this world, nor the positive achievements of cities — and Salt Lake City, in particular — such as the roads I drive, the power lines I use, the water lines that slake my thirst, et cetera, et cetera.

    That's the short story.

    The medium story is that I called a SLC planning employee to ask about a particular, reasonably-priced property in our neighborhood. This piece of property has a nearly condemned home on it, making it — so I thought — a ripe candidate for a tear-down. The planner stated in no uncertain terms that she would never try to tear down a building in a historic preservation district. She almost laughed when I pointed out that the building wasn't a contributing structure, that it was in really bad shape, hadn't been occupied, was nearing the point when you can call the city to request that it board up the home, etc. Evidently, even the planners in the city recognize that the HLC doesn't play that way.

    The HLC has absolute power over tear-downs in historic preservation districts. In order to tear down anything in that district, you must prove economic hardship, which is a subjective term with jurisdiction for that decision residing solely with the HLC. In short, the HLC does not want you to tear down anything in a preservation district.

    With the rest of what we've heard about the HLC, the variances that they would have to approve in order for us to build on any lot in this area, and the grumpiness I feel about these guys in general, something clicked. I just didn't want to deal with it any more. I didn't want to have to pep talk myself into the fight it would take to build modern in this area. I love this neighborhood, love has its limits.

    So, wherever you are, nameless planner in the depths of the City-County building, this post goes out to you. Thanks for setting me right. We're now looking at neighborhoods near Liberty Park, just south of downtown, safely outside Salt Lake's historic preservation zones and near a couple of streets where a few other modern homes have popped up in the last year or so.

    Oh, and I promise to hound Tai to show you all what he's done with the fireplace, book shelf, and mantle.

    Monday, April 7, 2008


    “Imagine having it all, while preserving the environment.”


    Here's a little more information about size and LEED certification from the 100k House gentlemen, as well as a pretty decent explanation about why that quote up there isn't much of a mantra.

    Update: Apparently the Internet reads the NYTimes. ReNest tackles the same topic.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Fireplace non-update

    I had two local wood-working companies come to bid on our fireplace; I heard back from one of them. The bid came in at more than $1,600 with a five-week lead time; we're going to pass on it.

    We're also now talking about plan B, which might include a nice tile around the mouth of the fireplace and another round of bidding for a wood frame to that tile.

    We always love hearing suggestions from the internet, though...consider this your palate:

    Friday, March 21, 2008

    CaBOOM! Day 3 Part 1

    The best house of the whole 3 days was the first house on the tour on Sunday. The architect, Robert Thibodeau of DesignUniversal, had this home on the tour 2 years ago that I really liked.

    Here is the home from this year's tour.

    When I talked to the architect, I told him how I loved the warmth that the materials he chooses bring to his building.  He said that his design philosophy is "regional modern" where he uses locally sourced materials to give it the flavor of California. In the case of this home, that means using lots of redwood from the region for the outside decking, ceiling and floors.

    The home essentially consists of two rectangular forms placed side by side. One form contains the public areas - kitchen, dining, living, while the other contains the private areas such as the bedrooms, den and bathrooms.

    What I thought was particularly striking was the use of custom shelves to separate to the two areas of the house. It provides separation without closing off the space. Plus all the walnut they used is just gorgeous.

    Who knew that 15th century religious art could look so good in a modern home?

    As I said in my post on Day 2 of the tour, I'm really partial to the use of concrete block, which I think was used to perfection for the fireplace.

    I also loved how he continued this theme into the backyard.

    Corridor for the private areas.

    The floor in the public space was a highly polished concrete that looked really pretty.
    I absolutely loved the flooring in the private areas. I had never seen an end-grain floor before. The architect explained that it is a commercially available product that used to be used for factory floors quite frequently. This product is a redwood that comes in panels to make installation a little easier.

    The brightly colored exterior doors were a nice touch.

    Finally, a renewable source of fresh eggs out in the backyard.