Master Suite Progress

The progress is s..l…o….w… For a number of reasons. In particular, my husband is doing most of the work. Much of it is learning as he goes and dealing with a less than plumb and level structure. He is doing this on weekends which means dragging out the tools and making multiple trips to Home Depot. He’s putting up the beadboard in the bath room –a two weekend process so it seems. Just the same, I am SO grateful that he is doing it and he is enjoying making stuff. I think especially because it’s different than what he does the rest of the time as a welder and fabricator for a custom door and window company.

 

In any case, we are still waiting on the parts of the shower that arrived damaged and missing from our order (clear back in April). We’re dealing with an East Coast vendor and the product is coming from Canada. Wondering if it’s worth the savings gained over having one made custom locally at this point. I’ve given them a deadline of this coming week. Then we will be negotiating a refund and starting over.

 

In the meantime, I’ve created some renderings for the master bedroom that adjoins the master bath. We decided to paint the walls instead of doing the beadboard in the bedroom and did something of a reverse color scheme. This will be the only room in our house with wall-to-wall carpet. The bedding I actually have. It’s Pottery Barn’s “Secret Garden” collection. It’s been discontinued, so I’ve been trying to search down some pillow shams on line to make the window valances out of.  So far, I could only find one available on ebay (I need two) and it’s pricey. The side chairs are currently used in the dining room and I am looking for some fabric similar to that used in the rendering to make slip covers out of. I really don’t need these chairs in the dining room, so it is perfect to use them in the bedroom and have them available when we have need for extra seating in the dining room. The rest of the furniture is similar to that which I already have. The highboy may get painted a white wash (as shown) though I haven’t decided yet.  And of course I’m going to be hanging some of the quilts on the wall that my mom made.

Pottery Barn "Secret Garden" bedding.

Pottery Barn “Secret Garden” bedding.

 

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 1

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 1

 

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 2

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 2

I’ve decided to change the color scheme a bit and cover the chairs in a solid linen fabric in a teal color that coordinates with the Pottery Barn print and I think will go well with the green carpet and wall color.  (I think there’s enough green). I actually found some decorator fabric on line for only $6/yard and no shipping or tax. It’s called Sea Foam Blue and has several shades of the color in it giving it a lovely texture. I’m getting enough to add a bed skirt as well. Still looking for some pieces online of the Pottery Barn Secret Garden collection to make the valances and accent pillows out of . I have faith they will show up eventually. If not, I had the idea that I could take apart the duvet cover and make a coverlet out of one side and use the rest of the fabric for the valances and accent pillows. Bedroom View 1B   Bedroom View 2B

3D rendering is a great way to make color choices. Though the furniture is not identical (but very similar in size, finish and scale), the fabrics and finishes are ‘real world’ . They are actually screen shots taken of online samples or photographs and applied to the models.

American Dream Disaster

Just watched the final episode of American Dream Builders and I am now very satisfied that I have retired. If design trends are to be lead by the likes of Nate Berkus’ posturing and ego maniacal ramblings, I’m glad to be out of it! He clearly ran the show and made me wonder why they even had the other judges who seemed there just to back up his opinions. I was disappointed in Monica Pederson and  frankly confounded by the very presence of Eddie George as a design judge at all. I’m not a football fan, so up until this show never heard of him before.  His lack of design knowledge and expertise was obvious as he acquiesced time and time again to Nate’s and Monica’s comments and opinions.American Dream Builders - Season 1 Design competition shows (like any other reality TV competition shows) are fraught with tension and drama. If they were just about design, the only people who would likely watch them would be other designers which is certainly not the direction a major network wants to go and it would probably only air at 6 a.m. on PBS. So, following the pattern as expected, this show was definitely high drama.. but not original by any means. The only thing different besides this show and HGTV’s Design Star was the lack of the “White Room Competition” and the network. I guess I should not overlook the infusion of  character borrowed from the Extreme Makeover Home Edition Show with the “Neighborhood Counsels” Blah, blah, blah… (Kept wondering when they were gonna yell at somebody to move a bus!)

 

Like many design shows that are on HGTV that I watch, I find myself watching the opening set up for the episode (first five or so minutes) and then fast forwarding to the end to see the results. However, the final episode for this show was the exception. I did skip through a lot of the process stuff in the middle which I found just obnoxious. I felt the approaches to the projects of the two very different finalists, Jay and Lukas, were worth taking in because they were so different. Jay is a builder and his approach was clearly ‘team’ based as would be expected by a home builder working with a team of talented people on a large, high-end project. It made sense to me that he would take advantage of the individual talents of his team and direct them.  I imagined it must have been a bit like herding cats at worst and conducting a orchestra at best. These are the attributes that one would expect of a design-build contractor. In the end, I felt the project reflected a culmination of many talented creative minds orchestrated in a single direction, but you could see the individual efforts on the team shine through. I felt this was intended, not by accident. This is what I would expect of a Dream Builder. American Dream Builders Based on the comments of Nate and Monica, Lukas should be considered a phenom in the world of design. His approach was to maintain total control of the project in a dictatorial fashion so that he could maintain a strict sense of continuity and project a single design aesthetic throughout the entirety of his project from the smallest detail to the ‘big picture’ idea. His design aesthetic appealed most to Nate and that is what won the competition for him… (Never mind that Eddie just kept his trap shut and Monica nearly collapsed when she saw the black painted box.) Not that it reflected anything to do with the family that owned the place or what they would want nor even the building vernacular of the location. This building would fit right in Chicago, Copenhagen or Milan. Not Ventura, CA, or in any other tropical or subtropical beach location in the US. A beach house it was not. Forward thinking? Not so much.  Wow factor? Certainly.  There were elements of the project I liked, but overall, I’m glad I didn’t own it, have to pay taxes on it and perhaps have to try to sell it in today’s marketplace in that location. American Dream Builders Ultimately, Nate Berkus lead the show in a direction that betrayed it’s title: American Dream Builder. It had little to do with building and everything to do with decorating and design. They are not one in the same. Just because you work on a whole bunch of building projects as a designer, that does not make you a builder. The three judges were not builders and one of them was a football player (HUH?????).   Nate commented that he didn’t think Jay should win because he didn’t think he was capable of doing the entire design of his project as it was on his own. To me that was the beauty of his project, that as a builder he was able to orchestrate the talents of a group of highly diverse designers which resulted in a project that superseded the abilities of any single team member.

 

As a trained and experienced designer myself, I have to look seriously at Lukas as a professional designer because he was (as he stated) self-taught. It shows that he does not understand nor respect the processes that professional designers go through to solve design problems.  He is clearly an artist, and when it comes to residential design I would call him a stylist or a decorator –a professional designer is a stretch. One of the key things a designer does is develop a program that includes the desires of the client. The format of the show did not allow for much of this. I would have loved to have been a mouse in the corner when the ‘black box’ beach house was revealed to the family. I’ll bet their jaws hit the ground in unison! Not in awe but in “Oh Hell, what have we got ourselves into!” I wonder how long after the taping of that episode will it be before they have a really big repainting party (if they haven’t already)?   While I can respect that a great deal of design has to do with art and creativity. there is much more involved. Marrying artistic expression and design problem solving is not an easy thing to do. But that is what is at the essence of good design. If the problems don’t get solved then the design is lacking.

 

Next I want to see a show called American Dream Decorator and the judges should be two builders and a tennis player.

Virtual Reality

top-10-best-free-online-cloud-storage-servicesLately my computer has been telling me I’ve nearly filled my hard drive. My hard drive is capable of holding nearly a terabyte of data and I was down to less than one gig.  One gig seems like a lot to me. I recall when hard drives went all the way up to three, we thought that was a lot. So what’s all this stuff on my computer now that has eaten up all that space that I thought (when I purchased this computer) couldn’t possibly be used up in a lifetime?

I realized that I’ve had a PC in my home for almost 20 years now and in that time I’ve been collecting music. I’ve had five computers and have lost at least half of that collection due to Windows crashing and having to replace the system (at least once).  (My back up system was a collection of CD’s -that has now long since vanished through various moves and garage sales.) Then I discovered thumb drives… and I lost them… and now I’m hoping I’ll discover them again… wherever they are!  That all changed with the advent of  iTunes. I have all types of music because there isn’t very much I don’t care for. It’s my weakness, my addiction and my indulgence. The only type I don’t care for is most hip-hop or rap. Though my son does, and he downloads it onto my computer as well. I like sharing my music library with him because he’s introduced me to some awesome (non-hip-hop) stuff. I love most of his surfer/skateboarder alternative stuff and he loves my oldies from the 60′s and 70′s.

I also have a lot of photos saved on my hard drive. These are mostly family photos from a collection that was my dad’s taken over much of his life as a professional photographer and salvaged by my youngest brother when Dad passed away a few years ago. He spent months digitizing film media and actual photos. There’s a lot!

So this past weekend I’ve finally invested heavily in “cloud” storage. Not financially — but in confidence and adjusting my faith in something that I cannot see nor touch. Kind of like belief in God, or that one has an actual brain— You can’t touch it, you can’t see it, but you know it’s there and you would have a hard time functioning if you believed it suddenly wasn’t there. I’m a skeptic for sure –about the existence of the Biblical God (not about my brain). In the same way, I’ve been skeptical about cloud storage –not that it exists, but that it would be a trustworthy place to store some of the things that I hold most valuable. I know that the “cloud” is actually a network of satellites orbiting around the earth. My “what if’s” range from atmospheric conditions causing my data to be lost mid transmission to a meteor shower knocking the satellite out of the sky that has my stuff on it! I’ve never heard of these things actually happen to anybody… but you never know.  But what the heck –can’t be any worse than Windows taking a dive or losing my teeny tiny thumb drives… right?!

cloud-storage-is-a-key-component-to-setting-up-valuable-big-data-analyti_311_505105_0_14076511_500-300x230

So I spent the better part of the weekend uploading the bulk of my precious photos and music library to Sugar Sync and deleting the files off of my hard drive. A huge leap of faith on my part. At first there was this terrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach with each deleted hard-drive file. It went easier after a time to the point of monotony. iTunes as expected had no difficulty finding my tunes in the cloud. A side bonus –Sugar Sync has a player too.

In the end, I was able to salvage only 13 gigs of storage. I’m keenly aware that most of the data on the drive is programs that mushroomed in size when I converted from 32 bit Windows to 64. I also have a lot of big programs like Chief Architect that is a downloaded program and takes up probably the most space because it does so much. I’m also estimating that a lot of space is taken up with systems backups and updates that happen automatically. I’m guessing that some of those occurred last night because half of my newly cultivated space was already gone. On the bright side, I’m happy to say the cloud still holds my cherished files.

 

The “Final” Final Design

I would have to say this is the design that I’ve ‘redone’ more than any –ever. This is the sixth (and final) rendition of my master bath design renderings. I think I just needed to convince myself it was the best solution for the space, our needs and our budget. In the end we incorporated products and aspects of the project that we could mostly install ourselves (my husband, youngest son and I). Leaving only the plumbing and electrical to the pros. I should also add that I’ve done way more kitchens than bath remodels and found this to be much more intense in terms of design and technical know how.

Opt 6 View 1

 

Opt 6 View 2

Opt 6 View 3

Opt 6 View 4

Much was driven by budget and making choices to get the most bang for the buck in the right places –like finding a prefab glass shower enclosure that was big enough. I think the Fleurco semi-frameless enclosure was the largest I could get for the space and is of excellent quality. We found the marble topped (and very heavy!)  dressing table on Craigslist. This inspired doing the shower walls in a coordinating marble subway tile. The other splurge was choosing the nickel finishes on the hardware throughout. This choice was made based on the shower head which was a gift from my friends at Brizo that I received when I visited their headquarters last July for the Blogger 19 Reunion. Who knew that polished nickel would be way less common than brushed or satin nickel? Not to mention pricey! I didn’t when I was so attracted to the ‘bling’ of the polished nickel so many months ago when I got to select the finish for my gift. So there is a mixture of finish types –most will be brushed nickel.

Brizo shower head

Brizo shower head

Where we saved money:

  • Light fixtures, square vessel sinks and faucets purchased on ebay.
  • Saving the existing cabinets, painting them inside and out, adding new crystal glass knobs (found on ebay and hoping the screws fit), adding toe valances we’ll make ourselves, and adding crown molding.
  • The mirrors over the sinks are basic wood framed plain mirrors that we will paint and add moldings to.
  • The countertop is a wood work bench top from Home Depot that we will finish with marine varnish.
  • We already have the round mirror that is over the vanity (used to be over the fireplace in our old house).
  • The fabric for the curtain and vanity stool cover I will sew from fabric I already have.
  • The flooring is vinyl ‘grip strip’ with the look of wood planks. This is the same stuff that we used in our kitchen but in a different style. It’s great for manufactured homes because it is fairly water proof and easy for homeowners to install. We are purchasing it from Home Depot. (They are getting to know me and Louie -my dog- on a first name basis.)
  • The white beadboard wainscot and moldings are also inexpensive and to be purchased from our friends at Home Depot.
  • The Brizo hand-held shower head was a gift and the toilet is a Delta that was purchased months ago from (you guessed it) The Home Depot.

collection I should add that vessel sinks in the master bath would not normally be my first choice, but we are keeping the existing vanity that is only 31″ tall including the counter top. So adding the vessel sink (shown above) should put the top right at 36″.

The overall cost of the remodel is expected to be about $6,000 plus any labor that we hire out (like the electrical and plumbing). When I first started this design process, my budget was looking closer to $14,000 plus labor –so I am pretty pleased with the savings and I don’t feel that I’ve sacrificed anything in terms of design. Perhaps one could argue the loss of a tub would ding the resale value.  However, there is plenty of room to add up to a six-foot freestanding tub in place of the dressing table if the need arose. Considering our community is restricted to 55+ residents, I’m banking most would appreciate an accessible large shower more than a flimsy mobile home “garden” tub and closet of a shower. Since I’m now retired, I expect this is a decision my heirs will have to make! =) How long this project will take is anyone’s guess since my husband will only be available to do this on weekends. I’m expecting months. Glad we have another bathroom!

Chief Architect Premier X4: master bath.layout

Santa Maria Home Show

My husband and I attended our local home show today at the fairgrounds in our hometown of Santa Maria, CA.  It has traditionally been held for one weekend annually. However, this might be considered something of a milestone as there hasn’t been one for the past couple of years here due to the tanking residential building industry. I was hoping to find some local services and vendors for the bathroom remodel I’m planning. Enough so that I could compare prices and products. I found only one bath remodeling company that is actually a national chain and I am leery of “systems shops”.

Unfortunately, our town wasn’t quite ready for this show. None of the major local building product vendors like Home Depot represented. Sears was there trying to sell roofing and heating systems. There were a couple of cabinet companies. There were proportionately less vendors that actually had anything to do with home improvement and the show was predominated by the local cable and satellite TV companies, people selling pots, pans and Tupperware, vacation timeshares, cosmetics… oh and some woman trying to hawk $60 jars of hand lotion! The company that puts on the show, Char-Go Productions of Santa Barbara, advertised that there would be more than 100 vendors but my estimate was more like 25 or 30. Of the three convention halls available at the fairgrounds, this show was in the smallest. The largest was empty, and the third building had an event for consignment sales of children’s clothing.  There were so few attendees that vendors were practically grabbing at us as we walked the isles. It felt like we were walking the gauntlet.

We are a town of over 100,000. I’ve gone to shows in much smaller venues that were much larger and well attended, so I’m perplexed at this show’s apparent poor marketing strategy. and wonder why they didn’t cancel it. I felt sorry for the vendors that showed up and invested their time and resources. In years past when I was selling cabinetry, I worked as a vendor at this very same show. I remember even then that vendors complained that it seemed like a waste of time and it was at least twice as large as this one was. I really felt embarrassed for the town and realize the show’s presenters don’t live here and are just in it for the money.  Notably, there were no admission or parking fees, so their “profit” from the show comes entirely from the vendors’ rental of their booths. Looks like they didn’t get much! The Char-Go folks will need to rethink their strategy to convince the local market place that this could be a successful venue for vendors and a worthwhile event to draw potential attendees. Clearly “free” is not going to do it.

I’m considering writing them a letter. I’d like to do more than just ‘rant’ in my blog. I don’t know what, if anything, I could add that would be helpful. I know that residential construction is starting to pick up in my area (a little) but I’m afraid this home show makes our local industry look more like proof that we are still in the grips of a recession rather than edging toward recovery.

Master Bath Remodel

I’ve finally settled on a design for our master bathroom that eliminates the tub completely. We’ve been living without one for six months and have decided we’d rather have the space and a larger shower that will be more accessible as we get older. In fact, was inspired by some recent health issues to make this adjustment. As we are living in a 55+ community, this is not a bad idea for resale purposes. We will continue to use the existing cabinetry to be painted white with new doors, drawer fronts and hardware added. The current counter is a bit low at 30″ (even for my husband and I who aren’t very tall). So we’ll be installing pedestal sinks without the pedestal set into the counter as semi-vessel sinks that will add about 4″ height.  I chose the pebble accent tile not just because I like the look of it, but because I love the way it will feel under foot as a finish for the shower pan. The rest of the tile is just a simple white, inexpensive subway tile that will make the space feel bright and spacious. The flooring is actually a strip vinyl product that looks like wood, that is easy to install, and is water resistant. The fabric for the window valance and the vanity skirt I actually purchased and never used for the same set up (only for the kitchen) in our last house. It actually coordinates very well with the bedding we have in the adjoining master bedroom. The plumbing fixtures and cabinet hardware look like brass but are actually going to be polished nickel.

View 1

View 1

View 2

View 2

View 3

View 3

Before and After Floor Plan

Before and After Floor Plan

Gadgets

Awhile ago I wrote about a thing called a Garlic Zoom that chops garlic. Now there’s a gadget that peels them for you too.

This morning on The Kitchen (Food Network) was one of my favorite periodic segments where they demonstrate gadgets vs. the old fashioned way (like using a paring knife). Today one of those gadgets was a simple silicon tube that is used to peel garlic. Checking them out on ebay, one can get one for as low as a buck and they come from China. garlic peeler

Now I’ve always done it the old fashioned way with the side of a wide chef’s knife that really is kind of messy, sticky peels stuck to your hands and you come away smelling like a clove of garlic. However, this new garlic peeling method works really slick and the smell is left on the gadget and not on your fingers.

I don’t actually have a garlic peeling tube, but I do have a couple of small silicone objects with which I decided to see if I could get the same results. One was a larger cupcake mold and the other was a silicone jar opening pad that was a give-away from my bank (several years ago). Both of these worked like a charm, though the jar opener worked better and I don’t like the idea that my cupcake mold might forever smell like garlic.cupcake mold

 

With the jar opener pad, I just folded it over like a taco shell and inserted a few garlic cloves inside. Then you roll it just firm enough not to crush the clove. And voile’ the peel comes off like magic sticking to the silicon in small shreds. My jar opener has a textured side that I used against the garlic and it seems to work better than the smooth side. I peeled a whole garlic (with 20 cloves) in less than two minutes. Clean up is a breeze and no more stinky garlic fingers! The jar opener pad can be rinsed under water or even go in the dishwasher if you are worried about garlicky smelling  jar lids. jar opener

I guess the take away from this post is there are lots of ingenious gadgets on the market that are inexpensive and don’t take up a lot of space (like the silicone jar opening pad, the garlic peeler or the garlic zoom). More importantly, you may find things you already have may do the trick nicely.