studio 804

Sometimes Ya Gotta Go. Modular 4 is For Sale.

Like the theme song to “Cheers” said, “sometimes ya gotta go”. This post really isn’t in the same context, but it is appropriate considering our house went on the market today. After 3 years, and 3 months were moving. Not because the house has issues, or the neighborhood has issues, not because of anything bad, just because… Sometimes you have to go. Maybe the sale can be chalked up to mid life trying to figure it all out syndrome or something. It’s hard to say, either way Modular 4 is going up for sale.

So what does this mean for my little blog experience? Nothing. The blog keeps on trucking. The house won’t be a part of it unless the new owner wants to be a guest writer, but the blog rolls on.

Look for a few posts about selling our house. I’ll try not to bore everyone to tears with commentary about the trials and tribulations of selling a modern home in traditional Kansas City.

UPDATE: If you want to see a video of the house click here.

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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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Prisma from Toncelli = Want.

One of the things that has always bugged me about our house are the Ikea cabinets that were used in the kitchen. There is nothing really wrong with them, I just want something with a better fit and finish. We haven’t pulled the trigger on a kitchen upgrade yet for a couple of reasons, one of them being finding the right look for the house and extremely open floor plan.

The current kitchen setup is a large white island with a black Paper Stone counter. It is void of hardware, and the glass cook-top disappears into the surface creating a large black area floating in the center of the room. There is a single wall of cabinets that run floor to ceiling behind it. The kitchen is minimalist, clean and utilitarian.

Today, while browsing through Toncelli’s website I came across the new kitchen designs for 2012 and saw something I really like. Something I would install in my house in a heartbeat. Toncelli’s new PRISMA line. This is a high-tech kitchen with a minimalist aesthetic, great geometric lines, high-grade surfaces and finishes, and remarkably similar to what already exists in my home.

PRISMA is simple, modern, and dynamic, with revolutionary technologies provided by Samsung (the funny thing is, that sure looks like an iPad in these photos not a Samsung tablet) . Prisma was designed in collaboration with user experience design firm Experientia from Turin. This partnership has resulted in a series of surfaces that create a “prismatic” composition that transmits an immediate sense of weightlessness, emphasised by the lights that illuminate the pieces from below. The invisible handles, which include a vertical version for the refrigerator help to minimize the look of Prisma giving it a sculptural quality.

The counter surfaces are an interactive workbench that features a Samsung touch-screen computer, with an internet connection for constant updates to content from a programmed menu.

The Ramp of Death.

Living at Modular 4 is actually a pretty amazing experience. I have very few complaints about the house, but there are a few things that just leave me baffled.

I don’t get how they designed the house with no overhang above a front door that sits on the North East side of the house. When there is weather of any kind you are standing in it as you try and unlock the door. I don’t get the recessed lighting above the sliding glass doors. You have to remove the siding to change the bulbs in them, and the fixtures used were cheap interior florescent under cabinet lights.

Then there is the ramp to the front of the house. This one I get and don’t get. I get that it look beautiful, and is an aesthetically pleasing entry into the house. I get that by not putting a railing on it, it looks cleaner and doesn’t detract from the house. I get that it meets code for wheel chair access, which was probably required since the home was partially state funded. I don’t get the fact that it is located on the North side of the house and never sees the sun. Because of this, it takes forever to dry after it rains. Frost never melts before the afternoon. And like this morning, it was covered in a thin coat of black ice that made for a morning in the ER.Yes Kristy slipped and fell, just like I did last year, and the previous owner did 3 years ago. Like the UPS guy did 2 years ago. I think you see where I am going with this.

Looks great, functions horridly. It is one of those things where design trumped function and the result is less than ideal. I don’t want to change the house. I like the way it looks, and I love the graceful line the ramp creates running to the front door. This means I am going to have to get creative.

Step one… buy a heated rubber mat that melts up to 2 inches of falling snow an hour. I’m talking about a HeatTrak mat that can be rolled out in bad weather and rolled up and put away in the Spring and Summer. We’re talking about a $1500.00 investment, but it beats a major law suit, or permanently crippling injury. It isn’t pretty, but it works, and according to the manufacturer, it costs around .60 cents a day to run.