Seen at the house

Three Years and Counting.

Three years and two days ago, Kristy and I left the comfort of Union Hill and moved into our Studio 804 home in Rosedale Kansas. At the time this was a rather big step considering that we had been living in Union Hill for 10 years and had invested quite a bit of time and money in making our former home truly ours. So here we are, a third of the way through the time spent in Union Hill, and Modular 4 has transitioned in some capacity to reflect us.

Over the last three years we have replaced the failing Stabiligrid driveway with concrete. A move that didn’t sit well with the KU graduate students in the Studio 804 project. Part of me agrees with them. We did alter the original green driveway solution for something more traditional. Most of me says we did the right thing though. The Stabiligrid solution had failed after just two years. The heavy rain and snow that fell in the first year we were in the house caused the Stabiligrid to sink into the earth below it creating a 12 inch deep trench at the end of the drive by the street. Other sections of the drive sank as well, although not as much. The fact that Kristy and I both drove Mini Coopers says something. The total weight of our cars combined weighed less than a full sized SUV. I can’t imagine where things would be if we had been driving full sized cars.

This year, the master bathroom was remodeled to a much higher standard. The plastic shower surrounds, and hardware were replaced with a floor to ceiling tile shower, and glass wall. All the shower hardware was replaced with Kohler’s Oblo line of fixtures. The cheap IKEA maedicine cabinets were replaced with a recessed Roburn unit. Even though this wasn’t a full remodel, the end result was amazing and raised the value of the home considerably. Small upgrades were made to the kitchen as well with a replacement of the sink, and faucet.

Over the last three years we have been doing some landscaping. What I have discovered is this. When the former homes on the block were leveled to make way for the current houses, they were literally bulldozed into the ground. When I dig in the yard to plant a tree, I remove about 50 pounds of construction debris. I have to dig a hole three times larger than normal, and back fill around the root ball if I want the tree to live. Out of the 6 trees planted in the last two years, two have died primarily because their roots were cooked as the debris retained heat during the hottest part of the summer, or because the debris impeded the root ball from spreading and taking hold. The yard and landscaping has been the toughest work. Grass won’t grow in certain areas, and as it dies Bermuda grass moves in and takes over. Trees have been difficult to get started, and the flower beds have been only about 75% established. This fall the plan is to bring in 10 yards of soil and create a berm in the front yard above the section that is so filled with brick, stone, tile, wood, and other house remnants. I’m hoping that the berm will create a barrier and allow ornamental grass, flowers, and small shrubs to take hold.

On another note, three weeks ago we were burglarized. I know the neighborhood is a bit sketchy. It’s still not as bad as Union Hill was when we first moved in, but the burglary opened our eyes to a number of things. Our house sits on a dead end street, next to a three acre field that is half covered with trees. It’s easy to stake out the house, and it was easy for them to break in. Since we didn’t have an alarm, all they had to do was throw a hammer through the sliding glass doors facing the field and walk on in. With that said, a high-end alarm is now in place, and video surveillance is going up on the outside of our home. It might not stop a break in, but it will hopefully deter one. If nothing else maybe the video system will help catch the next person that breaks into my home or one my neighbors. The cameras see up to 90 feet in the dark, and record HD video 24 hours a day.

I’m still amazed at where we are. I can sit on my back deck and catch deer sneaking into the field at dusk, and at the same time I am a 5 minute walk from the 39th street corridor and a 5 minute drive from downtown Kansas City. Our house is in many ways located in an urban oasis. I can’t say how long we will stay here, but I know we have another year to look forward to. There is another bath remodel coming, an entry railing, and front door remodel, more landscaping, a deck extension and perhaps a basement addition; all of which is being done in a way that maintains the architectural integrity of the house, and the vision that Studio 804 had when they designed and built it.


I Was Robbed

One of things that sucks about having your house broken into, is that your computer gets stolen. When your computer gets stolen, it means you have to update WordPress on your iPad. When you update WordPress on your iPad it means you have to use the virtual keyboard. When you use the virtual keyboard, your hand cramps. When your hand cramps you feel victimized all over again. Then you get angry and want to kick something.

I was burglarized, so updates and posts might come a little slower these days. Now I’m off to buy a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad.

It’s Amazing What a Little Tile and Paint Can Do.

The headline of this post is deceiving. A ton of hard work went into remodeling our bathroom.

Starting about a year ago, we began planning the bathroom remodel here at Modular 4. Being a rather frugal guy, I sourced all of the fixtures, and then bought them online through Faucets Direct. That move saved me about 50% over the retail cost here in Kansas City. Really, I averaged a 50% savings on all the hardware, and tile that went into the bathroom.

The actual job has been done for about a month but I just haven’t gotten around to taking photos, and posting anything about it. The work was done by the same guy that put in our driveway, Mike Raimo of Universal Services Construction, here in Kansas City. I want to say straight out that Mike and his crew did an extraordinary on the bath remodel. His tile guy, also a Mike is unbelievable. The images shown below don’t really do justice to the work that was done. They do give you an idea, about the attention to detail, and quality of craftsmanship that went into the project.

The work we had done for the most part was pretty straight forward. The plastic shower and tub enclosure was pulled. The cheap IKEA medicine cabinets were replaced with a Robern unit, as well as the IKEA shelves being replaced with flush mount shelves from Smart Furniture. New lighting was installed on both sides of the cabinet. Kohler hardware was installed in the shower along with new tile.

Mike and his crew went above and beyond by repairing substandard framing they found in the walls after the shower was removed, and by repairing wiring that had been run on the outside of wall studs instead of through the centers. The most complex and time consuming part of the job was the tile work. The combination of subway tile, and the colored tile from Mod Walls required days of intricate cuts to get all of the pieces to fit and look so good. There are individual pieces of tile cut to a width of less than a quarter of an inch to make the fits even across the walls.

Spending my Money on Good Design.

A couple of days ago we got the final bids on the bath remodel, and this time it looks like we will really begin the bath overhaul. Seriously, all the parts and pieces are in and our contractor is ready to go as soon as we sign off.

One item that I want to replace but hadn’t found something I like yet was towel holders. This morning though, that changed. Actually I found a whole bunch of stuff that I want to buy, but is going to have to wait until we remodel bath number two. Anyway, what I found is the TP-H1 toilet paper + towel holder + shelf from DNA +. I’m not so much interested in using this as a toilet paper holder, but simply as a towel holder with a hook for something like a robe.

I love the minimalist look, the simple angular shape, and how the main structure of the shelf/holder is made from a white composite material in a single fluid piece.  The design function is equal to the overall form, and materials. Such an overall simple shape, but so interesting at the same time.

At $480.00 it isn’t cheap, but what I’ve found out is nothing for a bathroom remodel ever is.