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.

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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.

Rearranging Space.

A few months back Kristy and I swapped out the Flor carpet that we had in our living room. We had brought it with us from the old house, and at 5 plus years old it was time to go. For almost 6 months we debated buying a new wool carpet, or just getting more of the Flor squares, and going with a new pattern and texture.

We settled on Flor for a number of reasons. First off it is a fairly green solution and Flor recycles your old tiles. Second it is durable and with two dogs that is a huge plus. Third, for the money what you get is a great option.

The old arrangement with the new carpet.

What we originally decided on was a change in texture by going with a Flor line that had a raked texture to it. When we got the carpet though we were a bit disappointed. The edges of some of the squares were frayed, and required trimming, some of the squares were off by about an eighth to a quarter of an inch in size. It’s not much but it was enough to drive me crazy. I went ahead and installed the carpet hoping that when it was all put together it would work, unfortunately it didn’t, and after 2 months we decided to see if we could return or replace it.

The new arrangement with the new carpet.

One call to the Flor customer service department and it was settled. They agreed to replace the carpet with the same style, or to let us replace it with a different texture/style all together. They were really wonderful about the whole process. They said they would ship the new carpet for free, and give us return labels to return and recycle the old ones. You have to love a company that is willing to work with you, and wants to keep you as a customer.

So, on Thursday the new carpet arrived, and on Friday the old carpet left. Thursday night I put down the new tiles, and with that… Kristy and I decided to rearrange the entire living room this morning. That led to re-hanging art. So in the course of two hours, we moved a bunch of furniture, re-hung some paintings, moved the wireless speaker connections, and reset the front half of the house. Now the room flows better, and seems to feels more open.

In the process I found a bunch of stuff I need to repaint and touch up now. As they say, One thing leads to another. At least I now have a list of things to work on over the winter months.

Buzz Cut.

Last week I called 311 to ask the city if I could get the remaining overgrown trees and bushes out by the street cut down. They sat on the city easement, so I figured the city should help me remove them since they had grown into the power lines and were taking over the street. Somehow the city misunderstood the request, and mowed my lovely field into a giant crusty, heat baked pile -o- brush.

I came home tonight to find all the grass gone. Cut to 10 inches high, with the remaining dead and dying grass left piled on top of what was left of the field. I’m not sure what to think of this. We still have almost 3 months of growing season, so it might come back if the heat breaks. On a positive note, it did give me a lovely vantage point for a view of my house.