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More home addition progress

Things are still happening here on the house. Most notably, our master bath is close to complete! I wanted to wait and do a big reveal, but I’m too excited not to share. Everything works – our new dual-flush toilet, rain shower, and sink faucets – but there are still a few finishing touches left, like putting up the wood trim/moulding around the door, window, and floor, priming and painting the pocket door and adjusting the drawers on the sink cabinet to open and close properly. We’re talking about painting the bathroom door a fun color, but that is still undecided. Right now we’re just using a shower curtain, but eventually I’d love to have a frameless glass shower door put in. Unfortunately it costs big $$$, and there is still so much left to do yet in the rest of the house. And see that curtain? I made it from some Ikea fabric I had on hand, and I’m quite proud of how it turned out (simple as it is).

Two other notable occurrences include the professional installation of our ultra-high efficiency heat pump and the installation of our new bamboo floor. Being extra sensitive to sounds, our new heating system is taking a little getting used to, especially that only-noticeable-to-me “newly-installed” smell. I understand it is very quiet compared to most systems. Previously we had baseboards, which were almost noiseless except for occasional ticking. We used Pyramid Heating and Cooling, so if you’re in the Portland area, we would highly recommend them.

The bamboo floor was purchased from Costco, and David installed it himself over a couple of weekends. It’s noisy and repetitive work with all the pounding and sawing.   I had to take Chloe and get out of the house several times to save our sanity. It looks awesome, though. Makes me think of a ballet studio, so smooth and satiny. The above photo also shows a new-to-us Crate & Barrel sofa. My in-laws got a new sectional and drove this one out with them (from Colorado!) when they came to visit in April. It’s SO much more comfortable and better looking than our old Pottery Barn Basic sofa..

Things are really shaping up around here. Today David painted and installed lighting in our his-and-her closets. He wants us to move into the master bedroom before the baby comes, but for some reason I want to wait. It’s such a big change. I think I want to keep some sense of familiarity, plus I want to stay close to Chloe during this transitional time. Maybe I’m just silly. 🙂


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Disaster

I guess I haven’t been much in a writing mood lately. Was my last post really a week ago? I guess I’ve been spending most of my spare time reading lately, plus now that I can check emails with my phone, I don’t really sit at my computer as much anymore. Not sure if that is a good or a bad thing.

Speaking of bad things reminds me of the house in the above photo. I’ve watched it being built over the summer, the beautiful wood and stone work, the flowing design. I particularly liked the way the multiple windows were set together, and wondered if it was something we could incorporate if we ever got around to doing our own addition. With that in mind, about a month ago, I took this photo with my new phone. I thought it would be nice to have a photo reminder, plus have the name of the contractor in case we had questions later.

Fast forward to yesterday. I drove by and saw this:

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. And it broke my heart, knowing that someone, maybe a family, was waiting with anticipation to inhabit their beautiful new custom home. Possibly their dream come true. Can you imagine?

David thinks it was likely faulty wiring, but maybe it was something else, something sinister. Although, how someone could do such a horrible thing is hard to imagine. I hope the builders were insured, and the owners decide to build again, but I can imagine that such a tragedy would be seared into the memory of the place, during what should have been only a happy and exciting time.

Another reminder to be grateful for what we have now, because you truly never know.


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2009 Solar Decathlon, Washington DC

This is the second time I’ve had the opportunity to check out the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, a competition between 20 colleges and universities to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house. Honestly, while it is interesting to learn about new and energy-efficient technology, mostly I go to admire the modern architecture.

This year, there were a lot more people turning out to tour the homes, so we only had time to tour three: Rice University’s , Penn State’s, and the University of Minnesota’s. Personally, I liked the design and layout of Penn State’s the best, except for the amount of plants inside (a little too messy). Our guide said that it was originally designed for “DINKS” which apparently stands for “double income no kids,” so I guess I won’t be living in one any time soon.

Event goes through October 18th, and I would highly recommend visiting it if you get a chance.


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Photographs from France

Looking back at our France photos (to find one for this post), I was reminded of how many good ones there were. Here are a few of my faves. But really, is there such thing as a bad photo of Paris?


Fountain at the Place du Concorde, Paris

Daily Menu, Au Vieux Châtelet, Paris

Château de Chenonceau

Mont Saint Michel, detail

Arc de Triomphe, Paris

From Marie Antoinette’s Hameau,Versailles

Skyline view, Paris

Eiffel Tower at night


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Living in a Tiny House

David and I love our little house, except that it is just so…little. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how we have an on-going conversation about building an addition. Recent events, however, are again pushing that idea onto the back burner. That is why I was so curious about this article which included the following video about Jay, a man who lives in a tiny house that is only 100 square feet (although that doesn’t include a sleeping loft). Can you imagine?! Also, check out the tiny dwellings at Tumbleweed Houses (shown above). To think, our house is just a hair bigger than the largest “small house” that they make!

Oh, and for all you modern house lovers like me, don’t miss the Z-house. It is so minimalist and cool, but what is with that rusty siding they chose?


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Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House for sale

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My husband noticed that Frank Lloyd Wright’s Los Angeles Ennis House was listed on the real estate market today for $15 million. I was surprised to read about some of its many big screen appearances – House on Haunted Hill, Grand Canyon, Blade Runner, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Twin Peaks, Black Rain, The Karate Kid III and 1975’s The Day of the Locust.

While I am a huge fan of FLW, this property is not among my favorites. However, I do hope someone decides to step up and responsibly take on the maintenance and restoration it needs.

My other Frank Lloyd Wright posts: Falling Water, Kentuck Knob, Pope-Leighey House


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Ben Rose home for sale


Photos from the Sotheby’s web site, photographed by Robert Harshman

Remember the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Well, it turns out the 5300 square foot home (with movie-famous detached garage) is for sale through Sotheby’s. The modern steel and glass structure, built in 1953 by architects A. James Speyer and David Haid, is named after photographer Ben Rose, who once owned it. Only $2,300,000. Wow.


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Old Town Alexandria with Baby

One of the places I visited quite often while growing up was Old Town Alexandria, very close to Washington, DC. It was a colonial port town, and cobblestone streets and period homes still exist, except now it is mostly known for its many shops and restaurants.

A recent post on Delicious Baby about Alexandria, VA with Kids reminded me that it would be a nice place to visit with the baby and her grandparents. We borrowed a stroller for the outing, which worked fine, although a baby carrier would have been nice, since many of the shops are up several stairs off the street. The day was sunny and beautiful and the tree-lined main thoroughfare, King Street, was shady and perfect for walking. We stopped in the children’s boutique stores Pink and Brown, Monday’s Child and Why Not? (where we picked up the cutest pair of baby sunglasses for Chloe!), plus other shops like Ten Thousand Villages and Paper-Source.


Historic Alexandria Plaque

A very interesting wig boutique

Boats on the waterfront near the Torpedo Factory and food pavilion

And being the architecture buff that I am, I couldn’t miss 527 Queen Street. I had read about this tiny house somewhere but had never seen it before this visit. I had to ask at the visitor center to find it. It measures a mere 7 feet wide (!) and 36 feet deep – 350 square feet altogether. According to an article I found in the Washington Post:

“In the 1830s, brick maker John Hollensbury built the tiny place — 7 feet by 36 feet — for his daughters, Julia and Harriett. The “lot” on which it was built actually was a narrow alley between Hollensbury’s house and his neighbor’s. Local lore has it that Hollensbury bought the spot for $45.65 and built the house because he wanted to keep his neighbor’s oversized carriage out of the alley, where it scraped the walls of Hollensbury’s house. Thus, the construction earned the nickname “Spitehouse.””


The narrowest house in town – only 7 feet wide!


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In Our Neighborhood

While on a walk with Barkley last night I noticed that one of our favorite houses in the neighborhood was going up for sale. The previous owner was walking to his car just as I approached, so I was able to introduce myself and ask a couple of questions. Sadly, the house is smaller than I’d hoped, only a bit larger than ours, with 2 bedrooms, one bath, and a one car garage. Plus they are asking one of the highest $ per sqft in the neighborhood. Sigh. I guess when you know your house is this cute, there is no need to start pricing at the bottom.

What I love about this house is its mid-century modern lines. To some people, this building is probably no better than a track house, but to me it is so elegant, with a charming simplicity. There is such potential with regard to our style of living and sense of aesthetics. I love its flat roof, high vaulted ceilings and huge picture windows facing the sunny, landscaped backyard. If only it was bigger (and if only we could afford it)! As it is, I only hope that the next owners appreciate it and care for it as well as the previous owner did. He said it was perfect for when he was a bachelor, but now that he’s married, they decided to find somewhere with more space. I can’t blame them. With our growing little family, I already wish for the same thing.

Photos taken from the rmls website.


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Holy Sh*#! – My Dream House is for Sale!

kaufmann House Richard Neutra

I just found out here that one of my dream houses is going up for auction. And OMG is it gorgeous! I’m talking about the Richard Neutra designed Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs, California. I’ve never seen it in person, but after touring the Kaufmann’s Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright this past summer I just know that it will be similarly superb in every way. Even more so, perhaps, because it’s closer to my personal ideal of modernism. How I would love to live in such beautifully open spaces, surrounded by breathtaking views, streaming sunlight, and modern simplicity.

With all my heart I hope it is purchased by a preservation group that will allow visitors to tour this magnificent piece of modern historical architecture. Or at least someone willing to give it the care, admiration and love it deserves.

Read the NY Times article here. Photos shown are from this slideshow.

kaufmann House Richard Neutra

kaufmann House Richard Neutra


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A Modern Gingerbread House

modern gingerbread house

This is the coolest gingerbread house, ever! Hard to believe that no one has thought of it before (at least that I’ve ever seen). I came across it here while perusing Redenvelope.com“Every bit as edible as the original, this isn’t your grandma’s gingerbread house. We gave the classic holiday treat a mid-century makeover, complete with garage and rock garden. A unique gift and sure-fire conversation piece, it comes assembled and ready to enjoy.”

It’s a little spendy at $78 (for an extra $10 you can add personalization, like in the photo above) and it makes me a little sad that you can’t assemble it yourself. Isn’t that the fun part? Seeing this makes me think about trying to re-create one of my favorite modern houses, maybe Michelle Kaufmann’s Sunset Breezehouse or maybe an iconic Portland-area Rummer home, complete with melted hard candy glass windows (see recipe here). Wouldn’t that be so awesome?!


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At Frank Lloyd Wright's Kentuck Knob

Kentuck Knob

Last week, while visiting my family on the east coast, I spent two lovely days in the Laural Highlands of Pennsylvania. My main goal was a visit to Fallingwater, but while perusing its website I found that there was another Frank Lloyd Wright home in the area, called Kentuck Knob.

Kentuck Knob, otherwise known as the I.N. Hagan House, is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed deluxe Usonian home. It was completed in 1956 and is located about 7 miles from the Kaufmann’s Fallingwater. The Hagans, who were friends of the Kaufmanns, asked then 86 year-old Wright to design their full-time residence on 80 acres of property which included the summit of Kentuck Knob. It is constructed of tidewater red cypress, local sandstone, glass, and topped with a copper roof. The Hagans lived here for 30 years, until 1986, when they sold the property to Lord Peter Palumbo of London, England, who still owns it today. It was opened to the public in 1996.

Photos from the front

View of the main entrance, from underneath the carport

FLW “cherokee red” signature tile (see right of entrance, above)
Left of the entrance – window cutouts and overhang view

Dedication Plaque, underneath carport

Storage area attached to the carport, opposite of main entrance

Detail of overhead lighting

Lamp post at the foot of the drive


Photos from the back

Water feature, back patio view

Water feature, detail

Back patio entrance, open hexagon skylights

View of the back of the house, through the trees

Flagstone patio, detail

View from the scenic overlook, near the house

I made reservations to Kentuck Knob for our first day. I knew pretty much nothing about it (unlike Fallingwater), and despite its smaller size I knew it was an opportunity not to be missed. It’s no surprise that it turned out to be a lovely home, thoughtfully designed and in perfect harmony with its surrounding. It’s shape and materials are somewhat discreet, but the scalloped edging, artful window cutouts and the unique hexagon openings over the rear terrace give it an abundance of charming character.

Photos from the grounds (sculpture garden and other curiosities)

The cutest little white caterpillar on a description plaque near the trail

Sculpture (detail): Red Army (1991), Ray Smith (1945- )

Sculpture (detail): Inside of an old fashioned British phone booth

Sculpture: Finial from One, Poultry, London EC4, 1870

According to a nearby plaque, the finial above was the upperemost element of a building known as Number One, Poultry in the heart of the city of London. It was designed by Victorian Architect John Belcher Jr. in the Venetian-Gothic Style. Apparently the building was replaced in 1998 and the finial was shipped to the United States, first for the grounds of the Farnsworth House (designed by Professor Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Plano, Illinois), but eventually transported to Kentuck Knob in 2003.

Sculpture: Berlin Wall Section (1961-1989) East German, Reinforced Concrete

Sculpture: Apple Core (1990) Claes Oldenburg (1929- )

Sculpture: Edwardian Post Box, circa 1902, London, England


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At Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

fallingwater

Earlier this summer I sat down and wrote a list in my journal titled Things I’ve been meaning to do, but still haven’t… which included 16 goals that I wanted to accomplish some time during my life. This list included entries like “learn to ride a motorcycle,” “take guitar lessons,” “start my own business” and “visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.”

Last week I toured Fallingwater for the first time. I can’t even describe how excited I was. All the reading and architecture classes cannot compare to the real thing. It’s simply magnificent.

fallingwater

The week before, after a possible visit from my mom fell through, I decided on a whim to purchase a ticket to go see her (and my dad and sister) in Virginia instead. Growing up minutes from Washington, DC, I’ve seen the museums and monuments there hundreds of times. Then I remembered Fallingwater, and thanks to Google Maps, found out it was only a 3 1/2 hour drive from DC. Perfect.

From the visitor’s area, we walked the short 1/4 mile gravel trail to the home (during which I shivered with anicipatory goose bumps). Because my mom and dad, who are not very into arts or architecture, were with me this trip, I only purchased regular tour tickets, $16 per person, instead of the in-depth tour, $55 per person, that I would have liked to take. The in-depth is 2 hours and allows you to take indoor photos, which I was dying to do, but couldn’t. I choose the opening 10am tour thinking there would be fewer people, but now I realize the closing 5pm tour would have been better. By the time our tour was done and I could take outdoor photos, the place was not only swarming with tourists, but also with workmen, because it just so happens they were painting that week.

fallingwater

A little history: Fallingwater was designed in 1935 for the family of Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar J. Kaufmann (who also commisioned the famous architect, Richard Neutra, to design his “Desert House” in Palm Springs). The retreat was to be built in Mill Run, Pennsylvania in view of a waterfall that was on the property. Instead of facing the house towards the falls, like one would expect, Wright decided to place the house daringly above the falls while also incorporating the natural surrounding directly into the design. Striking features include a boulder that was left in place near the hearth, windows (including frameless corners) that opened out into the surrounding forest, flagstone flooring, cantilevered terraces, and stairs that lead directly from the building into the stream below.

fallingwater

The house itself was smaller than I expected, but still incredible. The bedrooms were small with Wright’s tendency for low ceilings, with a large open living/dining room. Despite the many visitors, it was easy to feel how secluded and peaceful such a place would have been to the Kaufmann’s and their visitors, a stunning combination of visual, functional and structural harmony.

Our tour guide’s name was Emma, who knew quite a bit of information. Unfortunately she had the absolute worst sing-songy voice. It drove me so crazy that I had to quit listening after the first couple of stops. She also made the funny mistake of calling the Wright reproduction furniture in the film room “faux-pas” furniture (when I’m sure she simply meant “faux” furniture). And she said it with all seriousness, the same way she delivered the rest of the tour. I didn’t have the heart to correct her and I don’t think anyone else did either.

fallingwater

fallingwater

The other funny (and slightly embarrassing) moment came at the very end of the tour. Throughout both the Kentuck Knob (more about that later) and Fallingwater tours my Dad asked several thoughtful and interesting questions when the tour guides failed to cover something he was curious about, such as how much of the original acreage was still intact today (which turns out to be the complete original 5000 acres). Right as we were parting, my Dad turned to ask Emma, in all seriousness, “Do the employees get to hunt on the property after hours?” despite the fact that he knew the property was entrusted to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Um, sorry dad, no hunting allowed.


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Another Rummer for Sale

rummer home

One of my beloved Rummer homes just went on the market for the bargain price of $435,000. It is just so beautiful that my heart just aches to live in a place like that, so open and bright and spacious. Its funny how my heart beats a little faster everytime I see one.

Normally, I’m pretty happy in our little house. After three years we’ve built up some nice equity and done some comfortable remodeling. Its times like these though, with my thoughts filled with dreams and envy that I have to remind myself how lucky I am and not dwell on the “if onlys.” “If only I didn’t have a student loan that will take me another 10 years to pay off” – “If only I could win the lottery,” – “If only I chose a more lucrative career…”

I’m happy. Truly, I am. I like what I do, where I live, and my life in general. But just maybe I’d be a little happier living in a Rummer. 🙂

See more photos of this Rummer for sale on portlandmodern.com.