Saturday, October 31, 2009

the new low maintenance garden

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ photos by Jacqueline M. Koch ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have been looking forward to this book coming out. Valerie Easton is a local writer who I have enjoyed reading in the Seattle Times Pacific Magazine over the years. She writes mostly about gardening, but has done many of the Pacific Magazine's features on people's homes as well. This excerpt from the Times is the perfect teaser. She also has a blog, Plant Talk, that I have been recently following.

At our new house we have a front, back and 2 large sides just waiting to be planted. Our budget is tight, but there are some key areas that I want to first focus on. One is screening along the south property. Two is a focal tree out the south living room window and third is the front yard as one approaches the house.

Friday, October 30, 2009

our home

This is our living room. I was thinking I'll do a bunch of posts next week about our current home and how it was created. It has evolved since Neil and I were first dating 7 years ago. This picture was taken last week after a party we had...that's why it is as tidy as it is. Typically the coffee table/light table is filled with remotes, my magazines and work related stuff.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

backyard cottages

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On Monday, Seattle's City Council is scheduled to vote on allowing detached backyard cottages in all of Seattle. Currently they are allowed in South Seattle, including our current neighborhood Mt. Baker/Columbia City. I know this issue has been discussed, debated and studied in Seattle for as long as I have been here (14 years) and I heard Diane Sugimura, Director Dept. of Planning & Development, state it's 30 years in the making. I have always felt this is a no-brainer solution to slightly increasing the density in residential neighborhoods...but the truth is, it doesn't really increase the density, because attached accessory units are already allowed. This just gives people another option. Place Architects worked with DPD to put together a very helpful guide to building a backyard cottage. It's actually a handy primer for any residential project, because it talks about site design, privacy, neighborhood compatibility, green design, universal design, financing, and construction. I recommend checking it out. (full disclosure: a bunch of RCA photos were used throughout the booklet as good examples.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

mt. baker neighborhood - cottage

Here is another home I drive by every day that i just love. It's on a corner site facing East and because of how the road is at this location, it has a long view looking Northeast.
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The house just nestles in the surrounding garden and the paint colors are just perfect. Neil and I both love grey houses...even in "grey" Seattle. It needs to be a warm grey, though, like this one.
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One of the reasons I may be drawn to this so much, is that it reminds me of our Betty series of house plans that we sell at my office. This is one that was built at Wyers End in White Salmon, WA.
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Monday, October 26, 2009

appliance selection

One of the easiest decisions we have made to date was picking out the refrigerator on Saturday. I knew that I wanted french doors with bottom drawer freezer, stainless steel and Energy Star, but figured it would still be agonizing like other big purchases. We went to Albert Lee Appliances and within 15 minutes of talking with Aaron, a sales associate there, we had our fridge. KitchenAid KBFS25EVMS - 36" - 24.8 Cu. Ft. It's the first one on the right.
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The finish on it was a tad darker than the others and we liked the flat front and square edges instead of more rounded doors. Another thing I loved and had not seen before was the filtered water dispenser inside. It's on the left at the door hinge.
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We are waiting on the other appliances to see if we can purchase them at the BIG Albert Lee Warehouse sale in 2 weeks. Aaron was very helpful in helping us narrow down what we should be looking for to match the fridge.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Karina - main bedroom

Trim out has started. Most of the doors are hung and window trim is about finished. Upstairs in the main bedroom we have a shelf above the closet. This is a detail we have done often at Ross Chapin Architects. It allows for the ceiling to continue and makes the space feel a bit larger than if the wall continued straight up. It's also a place where we can put a rope light and have the light bounce off the ceiling.
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Typically in our RCA houses we run a 1/2"x2 1/2" ceiling trim at the wall & ceiling intersection. When I was out at the house on Wednesday, Neil and I were going over where all this would go and how we would do the bathroom and skylight locations...then we agreed to hold off...see what it would look like without. In our current home we have a vaulted ceiling and we left off the trim. It gives it a more modern look which is what we are going for. We will still have trim around the windows & doors and at the shelf, but just left off the ceiling trim upstairs. Of course Neil liked that idea!
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This is our his & her closet. A bit excessive with the 2 pocket doors, but I like it. The middle wall is wired for a flat screen.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Karina - tile progress

The tile is about half way done. It is exciting to see it come together. I'm really happy with our choices so far. In the 2 smaller bathrooms we went with a darker floor tile than original picked out. The lead time on the other was 3-4 weeks...we should have ordered it the day we first choose it...but we didn't, so we went with one that was readily available. We all (including the tile guy, Peter) love the 4x16 tile we are using in both showers. Downstairs we are stack setting it and upstairs we are brick laying it.
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The grout has not been applied yet, but we are going with a light grey grout, so it will be a very similar look to this. The accent tiles here are Carrara marble. (same marble used to carve Michelangelo's "David")
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We had one more tile to decide on, so at lunch yesterday I took the truck to Seattle Tile to pick up our floor tile and choose the white tile for our main bathroom. These are 18x18 and I hopefully they are starting on them today, because I can't wait to see how they look. In the main and lower bathroom we went with a diagonal layout and the upstairs little bathroom, we kept it square.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

mt. baker neighborhood - flower boxes

I went for a walk in my neighborhood the other evening. Only 3 blocks north of us, the house prices quickly triple and quadruple. Everything was just popping with fall colors. When I returned home and was reviewing my photos, it was interesting to see some patterns. Many of the houses I photographed had flower boxes on the houses below the windows. Not all of them were filled, but they all gave some depth to the elevation with their shadows.
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Mt. Baker Hse detail
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At Ross Chapin Architects, our standard front porch rail incorporates flower boxes. They add a nice accent to the house and tend to be easier to maintain. We will be using this detail on the Karina as well and I can't wait to fill it with bright red flowers.
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Saturday, October 17, 2009

resource - fine homebuilding

One of the many perks to marrying a builder, is my access to his collection of Fine Homebuilding magazines that dates back to 1992. I used to buy the occasional one and always the yearly Homes issue and the yearly Kitchen & Baths issue, but now they pleasantly surprise me by showing up in our mailbox. I am just perusing the just arrived Kitchen & Baths issue now. For any homeowner thinking about remodeling their kitchen or bath, this is the issue for you. As a designer, it is a great resource to show clients to help them visualize their likes and dislikes and to see how different materials work together. It also has reviews on new products and the current article "Shower-Door Sampler". Click on the photo for a teaser of the articles in the current thing about Fine Homebuilding is you need to buy the magazine or pay for online articles.

Friday, October 16, 2009

mt. baker house

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I purposely take a side street home sometimes, just to pass this house. The landscaping is amazing, but I also like how the house colors all work together.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Karina - exterior color

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To be finished painting before the rains began this week, I was out there with the guys on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the final push. It's so nice to see it without the scaffolding up. I must say, I am very happy with the way the colors turned out. When we first started, Neil and I went through the color wheel choosing about a dozen that we liked. We then went to Seattle Paint, which is a Benjamin Moore dealer, and picked up 8x10 sheets of those colors. Holding them up next to the building in the shadows as well as the bright light, helped narrow it down and we chose one. But, when they started to paint, it was just a bit too army green (BenMoore HC-106 crownsville gray) and I wanted something more bark like.
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We were so close...because we ended up with

body = Ben Moore HC-103 cromwell gray.
trim color = Ben Moore 1528 early morning mist
under the gable = Ben Moore HC-102 clarksville gray
red stripe = Ben Moore 1309 moroccan red

The red was also inspired by nature. Driving home from the site, I spotted a bright red bush, pulled over and picked a leaf and started from there. Choosing colors can be overwhelming, but there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Before choosing, Neil and I had been spotting and pointing out house colors we liked for weeks. Also just looking at how nature brings colors together is a great guide. Especially now as we are into fall.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Karina - main bathroom

Karina Main bathroom
This is our main bathroom on the second floor with the shower to the right and tub deck to the left. The red is the waterproofing the tile guy put on. I have been back and forth to the tile stores many days deciding on the floor tile that will run up the tub deck to the just above the window sill (as shown on the left). It will then change to a white - possibly - marble.
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The large tile in the background is the tile we are going with. It is a through body porcelain which means that the color on top runs through the entire tile. It runs about $6.80 sqft - retail - that is for the 18x18. Other porcelains are usually glazed on the top with a pattern or darker color. We did find a great tile like that for around $2.50 sqft, but we didn't like the edge detail. The tile guy will be finishing the edge himself on the tub deck and there just was too much contrast between the top coat and the body. See below:
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Friday, October 9, 2009

ross chapin architects - wyers end

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The firm, Ross Chapin Architects, that I have worked for the last 6.5 years excels at designing small homes that live large. We pack a lot into a small footprint - to me that is a main criteria for sustainable building. No matter how much green washing one does, 10,000 sqft for a single family house is not sustainable.
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My boss, Ross Chapin, has made a name for himself for creating "pocket neighborhoods" - clusters of small homes around garden courtyards that foster a sense of community. I have had the privilege to be the project manager on many of them. One of them finished up last year down in White Salmon, Washington, on the Columbia River. It is an infill project in a small town. Being able to save many of the mature trees on the site, helps this project feel like it's been there for longer than just one year.
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All of these individual plans are sold through our plan division, GoodFit. When I first started I wasn't completely sold on the stock plan aspect, but hearing from past buyers over the years of how happy they are in their homes, and thanking us for making good design affordable and accessible, has changed my thinking.
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

bathroom inspiration - tubs & showers

In our main upstairs bathroom, we will have a similar tub/shower layout as this:
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In the smaller upstairs bathroom, we are doing something similar with building the bench. It's a simple way to add more room in a shower, and save money by using a standard size shower pan.
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This is a bathroom by my firm Ross Chapin the light filled bathing area.
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Now this is a soaking tub...
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We have been seeing these in more homes:
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