Kohler

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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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.

Our Master Bathroom Overhaul Has Begun.

This morning I have spent a couple of hours looking at bath fixtures on-line. The planning for the bathroom upgrade is officially underway, with a construction date set for mid April to early May.

We love Modular 4. Seriously, living here is pretty amazing, and there are only a few small things that we would change, one of which is the bathrooms. There is nothing wrong with them in many ways. They are small but very functional. Our issues come down to finish. The fixtures while adequate, don’t compare to the rest of the finish on the home, and frankly they need an upgrade. The biggest gripe, the plastic shower surrounds in both baths.

So what is the plan?

Well the vanity stays. They are actually quite nice cabinets from Ikea, that have the same paper stone counters that are used in the kitchen. They look really nice, and they work. The sink, faucet, shelving, medicine cabinet, shower surround, shower fixtures all get replaced.

Starting this year with the master bath the plan is to remove the shower surround and replace it with a cast shower basin. Then a floor to ceiling glass wall will be installed with a sliding door to the shower. Multi-colored Heath ceramic tile will wrap the inside of the shower and extend across the main bathroom wall behind the vanity and medicine cabinet. The shower fixtures will be upgraded, as well as the faucet and sink. New glass shelving will be installed above the toilet and new towel racks will be installed across from the vanity.

The Heath Ceramic Tile we are looking at purchasing for the bathroom walls.

This isn’t a complete gut and rebuild, but instead a make over, since the bathroom is in great shape and just needs an upgrade.

Right now we are looking at fixtures from both Cosmic, and from Kohler. Yes Kohler. I keep checking out the higher end stuff they make and I am pretty impressed with the design, fit and finish on all of it. Plus I can purchase all of it from a place like faucets direct, and get everything at about three-fourths the cost of buying from a dealer or interior designer.

The Cosmic shower base and glass wall divider. Ours will have a sliding door and run wall to wall, and not be free standing.

update; as I was writing this Kristy was in the other room buying fixtures and hardware from faucet direct, so it’s official we have started the process.