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.

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    Two steps forward, one step back

    Tai finished the work on the tile for the washer/dryer nook this week, and I spent some time looking for appliances. We have very specific requirements for what can go in there: 30" wide by 30" deep by less than 78" tall for a stacked washer and dryer. The dryer has to be electric because we purposely didn't run gas to the space, and both the washer and dryer have to be able to run on 120 V.

    It's the last condition that is proving the most difficult. Standard power for washers and electric dryers is 240 V. I went to a couple of different spots around town looking for something that would fit our criteria, and in each store, the salesmen showed me the same catalogue with the same, single option for a 120 V electric dryer. This type of dryer evidently also takes a really long time to dry because there's half as much juice running to the machine.

    Another option for us is to purchase a combination washer/dryer, which I've only ever seen in Europe. They're tiny — built to fit under a kitchen counter like a dishwasher, and the one I saw the other night was a condensation dryer (no, I don't know exactly what that means). And, about 150% as expensive as a typical stacked washer/dryer would be.

    But it's so cute, no?

    We're hoping our friend The Google Search comes through with some more options for us, one of which may be running a gas line right through some drywall to the space. TBD...

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    CaBOOM!!! Day 2

    Day two of CaBoom was not quite as inspiring as day 1, but it's still 1,000,000 times better than going to any Parade of Homes. All the homes were in West Los Angeles, which is an area that seems to have come of age in the late 40's to early 60's and has very much kept that vibe.

    Each day has 5 homes and here I'll post about 3 of them. One I just thought was silly and the other I will post about together with another house by the same architect that was on the tour on day three.

    House 1:

    The first home we toured was an extension of a modest mid century modern home that California is so great for. 
    The architect added probably 500 or 600 feet in the back, while maintaining the integrity of the original home. The materials used were concrete block and clear poly-carbonate panels. I am actually quite partial to concrete block and there was a home on the third day that used it to perfection.

    The added space is used as a large public area and all the walls were lined with custom fabricated steel shelves. Large glass doors  that open on the corner blur the lines between inside space and outside space. This is the great thing about architecture in California. The weather is so nice that you can really take advantage of indoor/outdoor space planning. This is unfortunately not quite as feasible in a 4 season environment like Utah.

    The use of the clear poly-carbonate panels on the outside walls and the large glass walls and windows brought an amazing amount of daylight into the space.

    Custom panels were created to divide the space from the rest of the house and they also served as a place to display the owners art collection.

    Overall I really liked this simple addition of square footage to an existing structure that was architecturally interesting in its own right. It would be good inspiration for someone looking to add square footage to some of the smaller bungalows in the downtown and Sugarhouse areas of Salt Lake.

    House 2:

    The second house on the tour was a new spec house that had some nice finishes and the ONLY basement I have ever seen in Southern California. Overall though, it was kind of boring and I really didn't like the use of the manufactured stone on the outside.

    The house was built with a pre-engineered steel frame that is more typically used for commercial buildings, so in that regard it was an interesting re-purposing of pre-fabricated commercially available products.

    I really liked the way that this house and almost all of the other two story houses on the tour made use of landing space at the top of the stairs for a study or office.

    The basement was cool, and would be a good entertainment area of a house, though it didn't seem to me to be extremely useful space.

    This was the other house the builder built at the same time. I snapped this picture through the screen on a window upstairs, so the quality isn't so great. I thought that the cladding on the exterior of this house was much nicer and worked better than the other.

    House 3:

    This was the fourth house the tour. I skipped the third because as more time passed, I just really didn't like it and the posts are getting ridiculously long as it is.

    When we pulled up to this house, I was a little confused. Just a little rambler, what's up with that?

    They had us walk around to the back of the house where we were greeted by something that is unlike anything I have seen outside of a science fiction movie.

    The architect, Neil M Denari is apparently a pretty big deal. He has designed some pretty impressive sky scraper type buildings in New York and Japan and other places.

    All in all, it was a little too Space Odyssey 2001 and clinical for my tastes, but the craftsmanship was like nothing I have ever seen before. 

    These are light tubes, which use mirrors to bring day light into the house where a skylight doesn't make sense. I thought that these were really cool.

    This is how we do things in Utah

    Re: pest control

    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    CaBOOM!! Day 1

    My christmas present last year from Kersten was a trip to the CaBoom Design Show in Santa Monica. It's a trade show for modern design products and in addition to the trade show there are tours of modern homes in the LA area where the architect and owners give tours of the homes. There is a tour on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and Kersten got me tickets to all three days.

    Getting to LA and making it to the first tour was an adventure in and of itself but I did finally make it here in time to tour the homes in the Pacific Palisades. We toured 5 homes and while they were all really cool, these 3 were my favorites.

    I really liked the warmth of the wood and plaster on this house. The inside had really great earth tones and earthy materials. The roof was a really cool interpretation of a butter-fly roof with a skylight in the middle over the stairway where the roof planes meet. Designed by Gray Matter Architecture.

    Inside the ceiling lines are skewed at odd angles, which according to the architect did something to the perspective when looking at the house from different angles.

    I really liked the window for a backsplash in the kitchen here.

    This is the steel stairway with the skylight above it. It was really great to have so much natural light flooding into the space.

    These are a few of the details that really stood out to me.
    I love this big front door that hinges off center.

    The doors and casings were all bamboo, which I had never seen before, but you know how I love bamboo. It looked really cool.

    This detailing for the base boards is called a shadow mold. I thought it looked really cool.

    House 2
    This was my second favorite house designed and built by Built, Inc.

    House 3

    This house was really much less traditional than the others. It breaks free of right angles and has really creative use of texture and materals. It was designed by and built foran architect from Kanner Architects.

    You can see the really interesting trowel work on the stucco that I really liked.

    This cat represents what I really like about cats. They are tough. It just sat there and stared at everyone who walked in, making it clear that this was his house.

    I also love how it stands in contrast to and defiance of the really inauthentic new building directly across the street.