All posts tagged: renovation

And then there were walls

Oh, it’s been forever since I last wrote here (I say that almost every time I post, don’t I?) and so much has happened in our lives during these past four months. It was mostly due to the fact that I left my establishment job to go out on my own and start a boutique consulting firm, but my partner has also been traveling a ton for work, the kids are keeping us on our toes, the renovation is ongoing… you know, the list goes on. During it all, there has been an incredible amount of progress over at the house and I’ve decided it’s high time to share a little. So, we have plastered walls now, the kitchen is being installed, shelves are going in closets, and apparently tile will be installed next week! It’s not much to see in photos, but it’s really amazing to behold on site. I’ve had to pick lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, wallpaper, paint colors, the list goes on and on. It’s even time to pick the new furniture since …

Tearing Down and Building Up

I popped by the house the other day and was a little taken aback to see it as a shell (literally) of its former self. There it was, almost naked on a very cold, gray, New England winter day. The siding had been stripped away, revealing haphazardly placed darkened wood. Where there were once windows, there were now gaping holes that stared back at me like empty eye sockets. Partly because of the historic restrictions on changing the facade and partly because our contractor had suggested the windows would go in the previous week, I just hadn’t been expecting the bare bones that I came upon as I rounded the corner of our street and glanced the house for the first time in weeks. To give you a sense of the change, I quickly sent a photo of the house to my partner and it was so different that at first he didn’t even recognize it. And yet, as I wandered around the site, squelching through mud and trampling the small crunchy mounds of snow, …

Tile with Spark: 10 Sources for Bold and Modern Tile

A big hello from somewhere up in the sky over the middle of continental U.S.! I’m headed to California to visit two of my bestest friends and I can’t wait. Even though the reason for the trip is principally work-related, I’m taking a few days on each side of the work to spend time with my friends and to also do a little work on the house. I love a good renovation and I love all the creativity, I really do, but there seems to come a point in each renovation when I’m a bit worn out, when decisions don’t come as easily, and my to-do list just seems to spiral out of control. The chance to escape the cold (and craziness) of home/work in Boston and be productive in a warmer (and quieter) climate is something I’m really looking forward to. The big item on my house to-do list right now is the tile. I’ve been searching high and low for the “right” tile for weeks now and, due to an abundance of options and a little fear of …

A photographic rewind: before the demolition

So sometimes I like to do things backwards (read: life is too hectic to think far enough in advance to allow me to do things in the proper order). So today, by popular demand, I’m sharing some pictures of the house from before the demolition. Yeah, I know, the “before” pictures should really precede the demolition and construction pictures, but that’s just not how it happened here. So, in no particular order, here are some of the photos from the real estate listing. It’s worth noting that the house was in perfectly liveable condition, and it’s only because of our aesthetic priorities, our interest in energy efficiency, and a desire to create a space better suited to our family needs that we are gutting the house and building the interior from scratch. Starting at the property’s front door, above is the entry hall or foyer, which in many respects is quite beautiful. But since it’s definitely not my style, we’re saying goodbye to the dark wood and will see it replaced with simple painted plastered walls, modern casework (cabinetry), …

Exterior of federal style home under renovation

D is for Demolition

A couple of weeks ago they started demo on our house. All the talk, all the plans, all the contracting, but I don’t think anything ever prepares you for the magnitude of feeling that accompanies such a massive demolition. I’m part-thrilled and part-terrified, and these two emotions make rather strange bedfellows. I’m excited for everything this means in terms of the possibility of living in a house that I have such a strong hand in designing and also for what this means for our family to live in a new, larger, carefully crafted space. And yet, I’m absolutely frightened by the reality of it all: the timeline, the effort, and mostly, the expense. When you’re placing all your cards on a house in the way that we have (both in terms of hopes and dreams and pure financial resources), it’s pretty shocking to wake up one morning to pictures of a newly-skeletal interior. And that’s just what happened to me. I was in Oregon for work, woke up one morning and somewhere between getting out of bed and brushing …

On kitchens, cabinets, and the cost

In our home, the kitchen is the center of it all, the hub of energy around which everything else revolves. Sure, we have an open plan apartment with one large living space and the kitchen has a big physical presence, but it’s more than that. We spend the great majority of our time in the kitchen, cooking, snacking, hanging out, having meals, chatting. We’ve had evenings with friends when we never even left the kitchen area and, in fact, we had some friends over for brunch this past weekend who said, “you know, I don’t think we’ve ever sat at your dining room table or in your lounge area before!”. And they’re right, we’re just always hanging out in the kitchen or at the amazing counter bar we created for just that purpose. Because of all this, as I spend hours head-down in proposed layouts for the new house, I’m constantly coming back to the kitchen: it’s placement, it’s size, it’s organization, it’s aesthetic. And recently, while wandering the Internet for inspiration and guidance, I came across a pretty exciting …

Grand life changes

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? There have been just a few changes in our house these past two weeks: our twins were born, we made an offer on a new house (and it was accepted!), and we started showing our apartment in the hopes of a sale. Because apparently we like to take on a lot of change all in one fell swoop… Anyway, while the sweet babies sleep, I’ve been trying to figure out how we’d like our new house to take shape. We had originally thought we’d buy a piece of land or a tear-down house and have the chance to dream up our perfect property: open and airy single-level, L- or U-shaped, enclosing a courtyard and lawn with a pool…. Yet a confluence of circumstance led us to this home — a grand old Federal-style house built in 1895 — which we’ll renovate extensively. So now we need to begin to think in renovation terms, to reflect on how to use this particular space, and to conjure images of what we want our new home to look like. And despite …

Design with(out) kids in mind, Part 2

So now that we’ve talked about designing a beautifully curated home that is simultaneously right for the whole family, it’s high time to turn to some of the specific little things I learnt while designing our home. I’m talking about the juicy little tidbits that make up (the beginnings of) a list of things to keep in mind when designing a home for your family. I searched high and low for lists like this and didn’t find much so I hope this will be helpful to those of you in the throes of planning, designing, or renovating. The standard-height bathtub. I made a fly-by mention in the intro post about the bathtub issue. When we were renovating our home, I was (as I’m sure you might imagine) pretty focused on the details and left very little up to the professionals involved as far as fixtures, finishes, and furnishings were concerned. In an incredibly ironic twist of fate, the one thing I left up to someone else ended up being less than ideal. It was the bathtub for …

Design + Kids = ?

When I started dreaming up all the ways we would transform our apartment into an incredible living space, I spent a decent amount of time with my good friend Google, searching for “kid-friendly design” and “home design for small children”. I had a little debate going on in my head about whether we’d design the house for our future kids (I was heavily pregnant with our first at the time) or whether we’d design the house for us and help our children learn to live and play in it (safely). I was looking to The Internet for answers, for guidance, for help, and it just didn’t get me very far. I don’t know whether I was simply looking in all the wrong places, my Google skills weren’t up to par, or there just wasn’t all that much out there, but I really drew a blank in terms of finding the resources I was looking for. Specifically, I wanted someone to say, “hey, when you design your kitchen, don’t fret about explicitly choosing cabinet pulls that can be childproofed because …

When you’re constructing/renovating/moving at the WORST possible time

I was just sitting here in our living room on this dreary day in Boston thinking back to when we first moved in. It made me remember just how terrible the timing of our renovation and move was and how, surprisingly, that didn’t end up meaning the end of the world. If I have my dates correct, we bought our loft in April. I was pregnant at the time (but only about 8 weeks) and so we thought (incredibly naively) that we could get started on our dream renovation and move in just in time for the arrival of our baby. And if it wasn’t finished, we’d just live in our old apartment until we could move, right? Wrong. Firstly, no major renovation that turns your house into this sort of gorgeousness can be completed in 8-10 weeks (despite each of the four contractors quoting it as possible). Secondly, the real estate market is, well, pretty unpredictable. Who would have thought that our old apartment would go under contract the day after we put it …

A postcard from Seattle

A big hello from Seattle!  I’m here all week for a conference and darted out yesterday afternoon to take advantage of a few minutes of free time to explore the city and see what inspiration I could find on the design and architecture front. To be honest, I didn’t make it very far before succumbing to the magnetic pull of a good Sunday brunch, so my findings were limited.  So holed up in a hotel room later I thought I’d take a look at some Seattle architecture online. Firstly, a lot of the talk around local architecture here seems to focus on houseboats, who knew! There are some pretty fantastic living spaces on water to be explored; you can see a few examples here and one particularly creative houseboat here. Secondly, I wanted to share this artist’s loft with you.  The brainchild of Olson Kundig Architects, it is the conversion of an old shoe parts factory in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. There’s something about this space that I find fascinating. Those steel factory windows are a dream …

T is for Texture

Thinking about beginnings, and this new exploration of the internet as a place to share musings on design, I realized last night that I should probably delve a little into how design factors into my life and what are some of the things that I value in design.  The first of these that I want to touch on is texture. It is so tightlywoven into my aesthetic that I don’t think I’ve ever contemplated a project without all sorts of textural elements, both tactile and visual. I was interviewed recently for a publication about our apartment and the design process, and I was asked to describe my style. I remember being pretty stumped by the question, sitting there in silence for a minute or so and then glancing at the writer with a quizzical look and saying, “textured modern?”.  Right there in the middle of our apartment, she looked around, surveying all the architectural and design choices we had made, and nodded as if slowly seeing all the details that characterize this aesthetic. If you could walk through our …