Category Archives: architecture

So with my best, my very best, I set you free…*

*Lyrics from I Wish You Love as sung by Frank Sinatra (though the National Youth Jazz Orchestra performance is cheerful and delightful, and certainly worth watching on a day like today). I considered an alternate title – “I wish you shelter from the storm, a cozy fire to keep you warm” – especially because the entire Eastern portion of the US is being battered by yet another bracing, snow-filled, ice-capped, rained upon bit of winter goodness, but I thought the above excerpt was more fitting. I heard this song ages ago and jotted it down to use at the end of something. Today’s weather makes the timing even more apt. 

Le sigh. It’s over. This is the last installment of the Project W AFTER Tour (catch up here: master bedroom, kids’ rooms, main floor part one, and main floor part two). I am so proud and grateful that I got to have a hand in the complete transformation of this now gorgeous home. So, now, pictures! (Get ready, this is a long one…)

Bright, open, airy, efficient, classic. Hello, new kitchen.

Bright, open, airy, efficient, classic. Hello, new kitchen.

Boom. Project W kitchen. Do you remember it when it looked like this?

BEFORE: Dated is a kind way of putting what this kitchen looked like. AFTER: Better space planning really took this kitchen into a new world.

BEFORE: Dated is a kind way of putting what this kitchen looked like. AFTER: Better space planning really took this kitchen into a new world, and a new era.

Sort of major, right? When we toured the space, there was a giant spiral staircase – de rigueur in 1982 – that cut right through what I saw as perfectly usable kitchen real estate. When we first met, the clients – craving brightness, space, and fluidity – wanted to open up the wall between the kitchen and dining room, but I felt that they would lose too much storage space. The kitchen was a galley and, while efficient and completely appropriate to the home, it didn’t exactly ooze storage space. With a tween, a teen, and a big, hungry dog, I knew that losing those uppers would be a risk. read on…

Well I got no place to go, I got no other life I know…*

*Lyrics from Take It As It Comes by J Roddy Walston and The Business from their album Essential Tremors. I heard this song on Conan the other night, and I reluctantly liked it (I resist grasping at my youth in unflattering ways, like with music that is clearly meant for younger people). I have yet to check out their whole album. It borders on alt-pop for me, but I did enjoy the singer’s voice, and the overall vibe. Check it out, and let me know how you like it.

Using the Glaze App to distort a nighttime view of the Empire State Building, et al.

Using the Glaze App to distort a nighttime view of the Empire State Building, et al.

During a recent walk-and-talk with the husband, discussing all the ups, downs, and turn-me-all-arounds of our sluggish house hunt, I got to thinking about death. Not death, exactly, but more like the stages of grief, and how similar they are to our search. As we began our process by first leaving our too-big-for-us house in search of a just-right apartment, we had high hopes for finding just enough space to live comfortably in the neighborhood in which we had already gotten a foothold. Well, it’s becoming evident that that desire is impossible, and that we can hope for maybe more than we have in our Pied, but not even close to what we had hoped for initially. At least not here (in the ‘hood, and surrounding ‘hoods). So if not here, where?

One of my dream streets, one of my dream homes. Completely unattainable.

One of my dream streets, one of my dream homes. Completely unattainable.

read on…

And maybe after, when I return, I get what I miss…*

*Lyrics from I Miss Your Bones by Hospitality. This is a single, but they have a new album coming out in January. I think I’ll wait to order it (not pre-order it) until I can hear it all. I struggled to find a song for this post – sometimes finding these lyrical inspirations isn’t as easy as it should be – but this one felt just right (plus, their new album is called Trouble, which is fitting here). Especially since this part of the Project W house tour is all about good bones. House bones. Bones. If you say it too many times it starts to sound silly. Anyway, moving on.

Remember my beloved Project W? Want to see some more?

BEFORE: Flooring was in rough shape, original knotty pine panelling, pretty dated feel. AFTER: Brightened up paneling in Repose Gray, refinished flooring, new tile, updated entry.

BEFORE: Flooring was in rough shape, original knotty pine panelling, pretty dated feel. AFTER: Brightened up paneling in Repose Gray, refinished flooring, updated entry.

The next part of the Project W renovation (the AFTER tour) that I want to share with you is the main floor: specifically the library, sun room, and game room. (Now, a small disclaimer: it is virtually impossible to show you only portions of the main floor without sneaking peeks at other room/areas which I will share in greater depth at a later date. Otherwise this post would be 80+ pictures long, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Consider your interest piqued.) This is really where each family member got to carve out space for just themselves.

BEFORE: This was the first area you would see upon entering from the main entrance. AFTER: Durable tile (I'll get to that in a later post), original flooring refreshed, fresh color scheme. Welcome.

BEFORE: This was the first area you would see upon entering from the main entrance. AFTER: Durable tile (I’ll get to that in a later post), original flooring refreshed, fresh color scheme. Welcome. (Kitchen and mudroom/entry sneak peek!)

Mr W got half of the library as an office, and Mr and Mrs W will share a cozy seating area by the working fireplace.

This is the library, the area that Mr and Mrs W will use as a primarily adult space. It's handsome, yet bright and airy. I hope it gets cold enough for a fire soon.

This is the library, the area that Mr and Mrs W will use as a primarily adult space. It’s handsome, yet bright and airy. I hope it gets cold enough for a fire soon.

You see, when the house was originally built, before the giant addition in the early 80s, the library was the only living room (and we think the desk area was a 3-season porch), the sunroom was non-existent, and the game room was the former dining room. In fact, the powder room, and hallway connecting the (now tiled) side entry to the front entry (and beyond) was the original kitchen. All that is to say that the house pretty much doubled in size in 1982, and this family of four didn’t quite know what to do with so much glorious space.

BEFORE: This room was the formal living space once upon a time. AFTER: Now a cozy office and library, the Ws can tuck in with a fire, a sip of adult elixir, and enjoy the reinvented space.

BEFORE: This room was the formal living space once upon a time. AFTER: Now a cozy office and library, the Ws can tuck in with a fire, a sip of adult elixir, and enjoy the reinvented space. (Dining room sneak peek!)

The corner houses a bar, indicating fully that the kids should steer clear of this area. Adults only, please.

This corner houses a bar, indicating fully that the kids should steer clear of this area. Adults only, please.

With plenty of room to spread out, yet lots of zones for family interaction my clients got the best of both worlds: the connection of open plan living with the necessary privacy of homes that were planned with appropriate separations. I firmly believe that in the future, all of these Great-Room-styled homes will fall away, and there will be a return to separate rooms. Anyone who has ever lived with, or been a part of a large family knows that as much as you can love each other, getting away from each other is as equally precious. I think I was able to help the homeowners delineate spaces for specific family activities so that there is plenty of togetherness as well as comfortable, and much required, distance.

Mr W's former office was dark and cut off from the rest of the house. In the new home, he can enjoy a great view, while being centrally located. Now he can be properly distracted by all the lovely things and people around him. Wall color: Comfort Gray.

Mr W’s former office was dark and cut off from the rest of the house. In the new home, he can enjoy a great view, while being centrally located. Now he can be properly distracted by all the lovely things and people around him. Wall color: Comfort Gray. Trim color: Repose Gray.

Mrs W got the sunroom – a media-free zone – for reading, entertaining and relaxing, while the kids got a section of the same room for homework, and quiet projects.

BEFORE: You can see the lights that inspired the master bathroom design hanging here. Waste not, want not, as we New Englanders say. AFTER: This room is for quiet studying, reading, entertaining sans electronics, and just generally enjoying three walls of windows with dappled sunlight streaming through. It's pretty great.

BEFORE: You can see the lights that inspired the master bathroom design hanging here. Waste not, want not, as we New Englanders say. AFTER: This room is for quiet studying, reading, entertaining sans electronics, and just generally enjoying three walls of windows with dappled sunlight streaming through. It’s pretty great.

I mean, just look at the sunlight. And the actual light hanging above the kids' study table. Wall color: Sea Salt.

I mean, just look at the sunlight. And the actual light hanging above the kids’ study table. Wall color: Sea Salt.

The kids also got an entire room just for their video game console, but in fairness it is the smallest room in the house, and has no doors, which means lots of parental supervision (much to their chagrin).

BEFORE: The not original (and not wood) panelling hid what was once an exterior wall. The accordion doors were also not original and were pretty gross. AFTER: By narrowing the entry way between the kids' game room (former dining room) and the sun room (former exterior) we left room for future addition of French doors. Then this sun room can double as a guest room when the kids are grown and visit with their own offspring (don't cry Mrs W, they'll always be your babies).

BEFORE: The not original (and not wood) panelling hid what was once an exterior wall. The accordion doors were also not original and were pretty gross. AFTER: By narrowing the entry way between the kids’ game room (former dining room) and the sun room (former exterior) we left room for future addition of French doors. Then this sun room can double as a guest room when the kids are grown and visit with their own offspring (don’t cry Mrs W, they’ll always be your babies).

BEFORE: This room was the original dining room of the house, and even still had the built-in china hutch. AFTER: We kept the hutch (duh) but painted out the vertical strapping on the walls to make the room feel a bit more modern. The four doorways/passageways in this room a perfect spot for the kids' gaming system. Parental supervision ensured.

BEFORE: This room was the original dining room of the house, and even still had the built-in china hutch. AFTER: We kept the hutch (duh) but painted out the vertical strapping on the walls to make the room feel a bit more modern. The four doorways/passageways in this room a perfect spot for the kids’ gaming system. Parental supervision ensured. (Mud room/side entry sneak peek!)

BEFORE: A view to the sunroom through the former dining room. AFTER: Now a sunlit and welcoming spot for homework, and a welcoming spot for playing video games for the kids. After the homework is done, naturally.

BEFORE: A view to the sunroom through the former dining room. AFTER: Now a sunlit and welcoming spot for homework, and a welcoming spot for playing video games for the kids. After the homework is done, naturally.

BEFORE: You can see a better angle of the accordion door and cheap paneling (added in the 80s with the addition). AFTER: Now the room has more of a room-like proportion, and is just big enough to seat some gaming teens and tweens.

BEFORE: You can see a better angle of the accordion door and cheap paneling (added in the 80s with the addition). AFTER: By reducing the opening, the space has more of a room-like proportion, and is just big enough to seat some gaming teens and tweens. Wall color: Repose Gray.

This home really had a great set of bones. All I had to do was help the clients choose colors, fixtures, plan out how to place their furnishings and lay out their zones, and they did the rest, injecting so much home into this house that it felt inviting from day one. Eventually they’ll get to the window dressing part (which we all know costs a small fortune), but for now they get uninterrupted views of a gorgeous neighborhood, dappled sunlight from hundred year-old trees, and lots of space to call home.

BEFORE: This room was in rough shape, with a leak that had dripped through the ceiling, and some not so thoughtful decor decisions. AFTER: Now this is the room to beat, bright, welcoming, and soothing. I just know there will be love, life and laughter in here for years to come.

BEFORE: This room was in rough shape, with a leak that had dripped through the ceiling, and some not so thoughtful decor decisions. AFTER: Now this is the room to beat, bright, welcoming, and soothing. I just know there will be love, life and laughter in here for years to come.

xoxo

You’ve got to give it what you got now…*

*Lyrics from Mean Streets by Tennis from their new EP Small Sounds. It’s no secret that I love this band, but this mini album is excellent. I dare you not to get this song in your head for several happy days.

I know you’re all still geeking out over the amazing, awesome, inspiring transformations from the One Room Challenge, but do you remember me teasing that I’d soon have pictures to share from my clients’ Project W house? Well, first room, here you go. This is a major BEFORE & AFTER post. Get ready.

BEFORE: Some serious alterations needed to be made. AFTER: A more architecturally appropriate bathroom emerged.

BEFORE: Some serious alterations needed to be made. AFTER: A more architecturally appropriate bathroom emerged.

It seems like so long ago that I first met with my clients on Project W, and first glimpsed at their terrible, wonderful, overwhelmingly dated raw material of a house that was to become their dream home. It seems like another life ago, not only because so much time has passed (and so much has happened), but because their home has completely transformed. You know those makeover shows where people don’t recognize a loved one, or think they’re in someone else’s home? Yeah, their house is kind of like that.

BEFORE: You had to walk underneath that eave to get into the master bathroom. AFTER: We repositioned the entrance to the bathroom, converted the awkward former entry into a large closet, while maintaining a period-appropriate vibe.

BEFORE: You had to walk underneath that eave to get into the master bathroom. AFTER: We repositioned the entrance to the bathroom, converted the awkward former entry into a large closet, while maintaining a period-appropriate vibe.

read on…

No need to hide, come on inside…*

*Lyrics from I Am An Ape from the collaboration album Love This Giant by David Byrne and St. Vincent. I think this album is challenging, but interesting, and quirky, and catchy, and absolutely worth a serious listen. I don’t always need music to be easy, and when I respect the artists involved, well, it’s kind of like music, to my ears at least. Hope you give it a try, and let me know how you like it.

House Tour: Living Quarters

The foyer, or entryway, is both grand and homey. It connects virtually every space in the house, especially when you take into account that the two-story entrance snakes continues on through the hall that connects all the bedrooms upstairs.

Despite our choice to now live a bi-polar dual-homed existence, our home is still actually for sale. And, though my focus is on making the new spot as homey as possible, I thought you might like to see a re-cap of our living space – or, living quarters as I’m calling them. The architecture of this home, built in 1920, provides for a connected-ness that most modern families crave, while at the same time allowing for some privacy, and some division of activities. For example, many people love the look/feel of a so-called ‘open plan’ space, where the kitchen, dining and living rooms are one Great Room. Not me, and apparently not builders in the 1920s. I prefer the kitchen to be its own space – after all, sharp, hot, and time-sensitive duties (i.e., people rushing around with sharp and hot things) are performed there, which can make a mess, which can be unsightly to guests and other family members alike. But, even though I treat the kitchen as a work-zone (which, if you’re like me, it most certainly is), the living room and dining room feel like fluid extensions of one another. The builders in 1920 agreed with me there, too.

read on…

You make it so good, you turn a woman around…*

*Lyrics from Aretha Franklin’s version of Something He Can Feel. I am in need of a little soul, and who better to sing it for me than Aretha. We’re on a first-name basis, have been since I was a child. Though, I suppose, every woman is (or should be). Sing it, Aretha. Ladies, let me see your hips swaying to the music. 

AFTER: The latest view from my kitchen. Vast improvement.

Well, first, I had planned on updating you with the status of the basement. But, well, the basement has more transformations to come, and the exterior, well, that’s pretty much complete. Of course there are more stages of finish to complete – filling holes, more staining, sealing, painting, caulking, etc. – but the overall effect is one of completion. Which is thrilling.

read on…

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