1.23.2010

Furnishing Frenzy

We've moved again. But this time we just moved from the first floor to the second. The hiatus on our own personal work continues, but that is not to say that nothing is going on around here! We have suddenly become spectators for the time being.
On Wednesday we began the process of having our concrete floors refinished. Guy from Gaetano Cement Contractors has taken on the incredibly difficult task of grinding through the dark brown top layer (which is called "color hardener") to reveal a "new" gray concrete surface and expose the aggregate. The concrete will then be sealed with a clear epoxy and given a durable, shiny coat of polyurethane.
So far it is looking good! It will require about a week to complete the whole process, so naturally we have been using our time off to shop for the house!
First was the hunt for a new media cabinet. Below is the LAX Series Entertainment Shelf by Mash Studios, which thoroughly impressed us with its immaculate design but affordable price tag ($960) unlike the Cube ($25,000) from our earlier post The Wish List.
We love the contrast of the white aluminum doors against the walnut. In fact, we like it so much that we decided we could do without the motorized lift that would hide the TV inside the cabinet. Just when we were about to make the purchase, we found the Colfax Media Console from Crate and Barrel. This unit was even cheaper than the LAX cabinet (regularly $479, but on sale for $199) and is fairly similar in design.
The design of the door is definitely not as brilliant as the LAX, but we can sacrifice to save $800. It's simple clean lines will be a great contrast against the stone wall where it will be placed.
Another longing was fulfilled when we ordered a new coffee table. This was a no-brainer. I have wanted a Noguchi table in walnut for a long time, and it only took me a few months to convince Matt that this classic piece would perfectly compliment the architecture and era of our house. Designed by sculptor Isamu Noguchi, it is more than just furniture; it is a work of art.
And we think both pieces will work great with some of our existing vintage furniture!
Matt had his eye on this 1956 Westinghouse stereo for months, even before we bought our house, and we decided to splurge on it for his birthday in August. We bought it from George at Akron Antique Audio. It is in exceptional condition and sounds great (although the turn table still needs some more work).
The bookshelf below is another mid-century modern treasure that we brought to the house. Matt's dad handed it down to him years ago, and when Matt and I started dating, he was using it as a shoe rack! I helped him to realize its true potential.
Once it is filled with books, all we need to do is finish the house so that we actually have time to read them!

1.14.2010

State of the Move-In Address

We've lost our minds.
This past Sunday we rented a UHAUL, filled it with everything we own and drove it to this shack that faintly resembles a house. But it is now our home.
We've accomplished much in the six weeks we have owned the house, some of which has been closely documented here on the blog, and some of which has been left out entirely. We still have a very long ways to go, but things are beginning to pull together. Our goal was to have all of the dusty-mess-making projects completed before we moved in, and we got pretty close. Some tasks we've completed but have not yet exposed here include hanging, finishing and priming all the drywall, converting the fireplace from gas to wood-burning (and removing the ugly doors), priming the master bedroom, and refinishing the maple floors upstairs (Thanks to Klassic Hardwood Flooring. They did an excellent job!).
Since moving in, we've been trying to catch up on rest & relaxation. Sticking with that theme, I'm going to keep the wordiness to a minimum and let the photos do the talking. Thanks to all who provided such excellent help before and during the move. And thank you as well to everyone who has encouraged us by reading and commenting on this blog. We really treasure your support!
The fireplace . . .



the drywall . . .



the bedroom . . .


the floors . . .


the built-in . . .


the bum . . .

and the view out back . . .




Peace.

1.12.2010

Atomic Ranch/Contemporist

This month we received our first issue of Atomic Ranch, an inspiring magazine celebrating mid-century houses. The magazine is packed full of inspiration--showcasing mid-century renovations, furniture and accessories. We are thinking that our house will be ready to be featured next winter-edition, fingers crossed.
Another great source of inspiration has been consuming much of my internet-browsing time lately. A friend of ours who is an architect introduced me to Contemporist, a website that features daily posts of contemporary architecture and design projects from around the globe. I subscribed to it so now I receive an email of inspiration every morning to start my day! I have not received a dull post yet and I highly recommend you join the band wagon on this one. You will not regret it (and if you do you can always unsubscribe).

1.06.2010

Foam 'N' Fabric

Last night we braved slick, slushy roads and drove to Cleveland Heights on a foam-finding excursion.  As we have thoroughly documented (perhaps ad nauseam), our living room features a built-in sofa unit consisting of several shelves and cabinets, complete with an end table on each side (see photo in our earlier post "Carpetbaggers"). It definitely needs some love, but we've got love to give.

The existing cushions have to go; they stink, they're stained, and they are way too firm for our boney butts. I can't imagine that anyone ever found them to be comfortable. Yet none of these factors prevented Hannah and I from sleeping on it during our first overnight stay at the house last weekend as part of our most recent marathon work session (I slept like a baby, but I can't say the same for my wife).

Apparently, the first step to making new cushions is finding the foam padding. After much searching, Hannah found an upholstery shop that was willing to sell us the foam directly. Other shops were more than happy to order the foam, assuming they would then manufacture the cushion covers as well.  But Hannah's mom agreed to help us save money by making the covers for us. So we were on the hunt strictly for foam.

Foam. Foam. Foam. That magical and mysterious substance. I'm actually a bit of a foam expert, but my specialty lies more in the realm of the foam that sticks to my upper lip when I'm gulping down a nice draft--you know, like Dortmunder Gold.  Well, we definitely struck gold when we found Bussey's Upholstery Foam 'N' Fabric. Mountains of gold.  Magical, mysterious mountains of gold foam.



So we plopped some foam down on the floor and tested all the different levels of firmness.  Regular firm, extra firm, medium firm, super extra firm, super medium firm, and extra mega super regular firm.  This is a key step, remember, because our butts are boney.  We ultimately decided upon regular firm for the seats and medium firm for the backs or "bolsters." We had fun. Then we drove home after a brief husband-wife planning session at Phoenix Coffee.

And the fabric we ordered for the cushions (directly from the manufacturer, not from Bussey's) is "Crush" by Maharam, in the color "Henna." It looks like this:


I can't believe I'm thinking/knowing/writing so much about foam and fabric. But I guess that's what happens when you marry an interior designer, buy a fixer-upper with a built-in couch, and you both obsess over the details. On to more manly topics . . .

A few weeks ago (with my SAWZALL!) I began to cut out the backs of the shelves behind the sofa to provide more open space through the unit. Again, we love the structure and style of it, but we felt that it divided the room too much. Rather than removing the whole thing, we decided to open it up through the middle, softening the barrier between the living and dining areas. I need to finish cutting out the backs of the shelves on the left, but that will happen later this week.  Much like our choice to remove two kitchen walls, we believe that this decision remains faithful to the overall function, feel and flow of the room.


The cabinet doors will eventually be stripped of paint and refinished with stain, while the rest of the unit will be repainted. We've also ordered new light fixtures for it, and I'll post more photos after we install them.
We're putting a lot of thought and effort (and probably money) into this structure because we feel that it is a vital component of the original design of the house and also will reflect greatly upon our ability to renovate faithfully and creatively. And we hope it will be a sign of the hospitality we and our home can provide. Perhaps you and I will plop down on the foam and enjoy a Dortmunder Gold together.

1.03.2010

Anachronism & Rotten Wood

Happy New Year, Folks!
Matt has been working to prepare the first floor for drywall. This entailed finishing various electrical projects, replacing rotten wood, and building the wall for the bar.
We are changing the location of the dining room, so we will have to run new electrical for a pendant that will hang over our table. (Our current choice, shown above, is the George Nelson Saucer Bubble Lamp.) Because there is a wood plank ceiling and no attic space above, we thought it would be rather difficult to run the new wiring from inside without using a visible conduit. Fortunately, we are replacing the roof in the spring, so Matt left enough wire in the wall to pull it up and through the joists to the new dining room location once we've removed the old roofing material and some of the decking.
Now that the wall for the bar is built, it is easier to visualize the new kitchen. In the picture below, the wall will separate the back of the base cabinets from the front of the bar. The bar top will be 6" above the countertops. We are also going to build a bookcase on the end that will face the living/dining area and fill in the extra space of flooring that you see at the end of the new wall.
You might remember that when we removed the old full-size wall we were surprised to find that the post shown above was built with 2x4's rather than the round steel posts that are found at the other two load-bearing points in the room. We had originally planned on replacing this one with steel, but after further consideration we decided the 2x4's offered an easier anchor for this wall, especially considering that we could not nail it to the concrete floor for fear of disrupting the radiant heat tubes (although, Matt did glue it to the floor as well).

The last task was replacing some rotten wood. One of our favorite details about the house is the stone wall in the living room that continues to the outside of the house and is separated only by a floor to ceiling glass window. This window is a single pane of glass that is actually mortared right into the wall with the stone.
(Sneak Preview: The photo below demonstrates that we're actually a little farther along than this post might lead you to believe!)
There are currently some issues with the roof and insulation above the window; as the snow on our roof melts (which shouldn't happen in the first place) water runs down through the wall. The stones along the window are constantly wet, and their discoloration tells us that this has been a long term point of neglect. The wood above the glass and the door was completely rotten.
We replaced the interior framing, but the exterior wood and window will not be replaced until spring.