Thursday, August 18, 2011

penny cloud finished

A reader came across my post on the penny clouds and asked for finished pictures. Here they are! I love the penny clouds, particularly the one on the floor in the shower. I wish I had a chance to design another one of these: once you start, the possibilities are endless.

Master Bath with penny cloud at upper right and on floor at left
We used the basic penny tile family from a Chicago tile showroom. We had to use colors from one tile family because different pennies are different dimensions and heights. Penny tile is an inexpensive way to get a tile with some color variation in the glaze. Color variation can be an expensive feature as you get into larger tile because it is usually glazed by hand. We used blue, white, and bronze tiles to achieve this penny cloud.

the wall cloud

the floor cloud
The tub is a basic 5 foot jacuzzi tub with a custom Caesarstone surround. This is a tiny master bath--but it feels spacious and peaceful inside the wet room. One of the things I love about the way the Caesarstone is finished is the tiny lip at the edges of the counters which keep water from dripping off the edge. This quartz material has a matte finish which is easy to maintain and very lovely.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

family house

orange makes a great ground
So we moved in in October 2010. As you can see from the nine month gap in postings, the house became a home and getting it liveable became the priority. We also ran into some serious problems with our builder which made the whole process of getting into the house strained and difficult. The joy and excitement of the blog was overshadowed by long complicated emails to the builder, the subs and finally to lawyers. However, we love the house and are settling in well to it. It is, as hoped, a wonderful family house.

ikea doors as white board

I have been taking process shots all along the way and will add them as chronologically as I can. We are about to embark on the landscaping (!) so I will also post some discussion of my inspirations and how that design process is going.

deep window frames make great dollhouses    
The pictures in this post all show the ways that the kids have modified the house to make it theirs.

The big fireplace makes an excellent backboard for wall ball
kid art makes art clock look less lonely

we finished the penthouse: and the kids moved in!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

the midcentury muse

There are so many satisfying things happening at the house! I am gloating about our re-use of the original light fixtures. Here is the post about all the things we harvested from the house to use again.

We could have replaced our original fixtures with something like this, at $225 a pop.
aloha, from rejuvenation
But we kept the old ones, and they are happily re-installed this week. With 19 fixtures in the ceiling, that means we saved roughly $4000. just re-using the perfectly good fixtures we have.

You'll see them throughout, and a few others that we re-used.

Here are the orange doors. You get a teaser of the cork floor, which is being installed. It does not have finish on it, so imagine it a few shades darker. It will feel, I think, like a lawn indoors.

The architects added a cove light above the fireplace, which ties the FP to walls and ceiling beautifully.  You can see the flooring extending onto the benches. I have been looking at Knoll wool remnants on ebay to buy for making cushions.

old meets new
Here are the old lights meeting the new kitchen, where the wood ceiling folds over the beam above. While our architects (hi guys!) have suffered multiple design phases on some elements in the house, this was one of many immediate YES, we love it elements.

the before view, with mahogany paneling removed.
reinstalling bedside lamps
Here we are deciding where to hang the old bedside lamps. We are also re-installing three alien lamps on the north wall. My friend Mark Butler took an Ikea version of one of these and played crazy man alien with it and ever since I cannot look at one without thinking of him. I toyed with going all Martha Stewart on these and getting them painted an autobody shop. I decided in the end that the brass on the bedside lamps would be lonely without them, and if we weren't changing the others, these would stay the same too.

alien lamps in the bedroom
Alien as they are, the are the perfect length in relation to the beam and the open space above it. You can see our Tom Dixon mirror ball kissing the ceiling in the dining room beyond. Once it gets hung above a table, I think it will feel right at home.

That's it for now! Move in is now scheduled just before Halloween.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

closing in

It has been a month again between blog posts, and I cannot believe it. Time is flying, school is in session, work has begun again for me, and I have a few shows I have been busy with. The house is rolling along and we will be moving in at the end of October. Cabinets, finishes and all are underway. Flooring comes soon.

fireplace wall, Sept. 24, 2010    

 This is the fireplace, with the new ceiling color (elmira white, benjamin moore) and the wall color (white dove, benjamin moore). The fireplace has new benches running along each side, which cover up some unsightly plumbing and give us some wonderful seating. The floor has a new layer of subfloor on it, getting ready for the cork floor, which goes on soon.
sunroom, Sept 24
This image shows the beginning of the mahogany wall. This wall reuses wood paneling from the original construction. This hardwood material surrounded the kitchen. Our carpenters took it down many months ago and stored it for reuse. The wall runs the length of the house:
master bath sink along corridor, Sept 24
 past three bedrooms (which will have orange doors: next post!), past the bathrooms and the new master bath, which is built right into the wall.
master sink area storage drawers, faced with reclaimed paneling
master bedroom, south wall

master bedroom, shelf detail, south wall
and then it continues right on into the bedroom. There was just enough to do this wall where the bed goes. We have two other woods we salvaged that we may hold off on using. This was by far the best material of the bunch.
kitchen Sept 24, looking east
This is our ikea kitchen, complete with brilliant ikea hack. The paneling on the ceiling is large panels that normally front a cabinet or are the side on an exterior face. The kitchen has a lower ceiling than the rest of the house as described in an earlier post. Strecket handles, brown cabinet faces. We are splurging on some caesarstone countertops. We were going to go budget with laminate but just couldn't find a surface pattern we liked. The stone will be the same in the kitchen and bath.

built in refrigerator installation
 Anton is the ikea mastermind in the group. So many tiny details, all worked out beautifully.

kitchen, west side, old maid's room
These cabinets are maybe the only Ikea giveaway in this kitchen. We were going to do dark grey cabinet faces here, but Ikea has changed their smoky grey to an almost black foil. So we went with translucent glass, which I think is going to look great when it is packed full of colors and boxes. We'll see!

dining room, Sept 24

Dig that natural light, in all its violet-y wonder. The skylights have been shedding their yellowing ancient skins and getting new interior cladding, and light is just pouring in in buckets. This room is fairly dark, but that art wall will get a lot of help from the skylight.

And now for the outside...

european hornbeam going in: new back hedge
our landscape architect drawing the lawn
We decided to go deeper into debt and do the planning and a chunk of the landscaping on the site. The Gutnayers mowed the lawn and kept the weeds at bay, but otherwise there wasn't much landscaping done on the site. With a lot of mature trees, there has been a ton of pruning, removal and cleanup to do this year. See an early post about the hollow cottonwood!

We hired Mariani Landscape to do the design and installation of the garden front and back, and love what they have come up with. I hope, ahem, to be able to maintain it, but it is a lot more yard than I have ever tackled before, and this is without my neighbor taking care of me and mowing our grass when it got too tall.

First chunk of work: new hedge at the back edge of the property, replacing some invasive species that were planted right underneath the powerlines, so they were regularly pruned by ComEd to about 10 feet. We planted European Hornbeams just in front of the powerlines so they can grow as tall as they can, which will be, well, tall. The soil is pretty remarkable on this part of the Lake, so we don't have to do much amending. The hornbeams pretty much blew our phase 1 budget. We are putting down sod for the rear lawn and then mulching the whole site. No plants this fall. It will all be covered in snow soon anyway!

More soon: paint colors, original lighting re-install, and other crazy progress.

Monday, August 30, 2010


August disappeared in a flurry of moving and vacation. After a couple weeks of packing, sorting, and tossing, we moved most of our stuff from our rental into storage and some of our stuff into new rental house for the final portion of construction. On our moving day, we did this in the morning:
and then our block party in the afternoon:
and then flew the next day to Seattle to give our architect a break:
and finally spent a week at the magical ranch in MT.

Before we left, the drywallers were busy getting all the walls in. The light and shapes are all pretty glorious, don't you think?
 The bedroom and the exposed beam

 the kitchen
We took the mini-clients through before we left to get their reaction. Here they are standing in the kitchen with the island cabinets in place. They love it! The kitchen ceiling is lower than the rest of the main room, which created a design opportunity when we integrated the kitchen into the main space. The architects designed a system using Ikea kitchen cabinetry panels to clad the ceiling. A great Ikea hack: it delineates the kitchen and makes what felt odd before feel intentional.
from the kitchen in to the living and dining area

A coat of primer and paint has gone on the walls now. The rooms are glowing.

Monday, August 2, 2010

penny tile cloud

We did a lot of thinking about what kind of tile to use in the bathrooms. We had a tiny budget for tile and I wanted something that felt handmade. Glass tile was going to be too contemporary for our house. Our master bathroom is small, only 6' across, so we wanted something that would make it feel spacious and modern. Penny tile comes with a dark clay base, which adds a nice depth to the tile. It also allows a variation in the tone of the glaze that you only get with more expensive hand glazed tile (think Heath, which we did, for a long time). I knew I wanted to do some kind of modern patterning with the pennies. After looking at some preliminary sketches mostly involving different colored lines of tile, our architect suggested we do a cloud of pennies. The cloud ended up being most elegant idea. Using Illustrator and Photoshop I did a whole bunch of studies:

And then we worked out a process with Paul, the tile artist on the WB dream team. He set the field tile,  I marked the tiles with stickers for each accent color and he would remove and replace with the accents. The color in the photos is pretty terrible: this work was done and photographed with one bright incandescent shop light. The color palette in the rendering above is closer to the actual tile color: sky blue field tile, light blue/white and bronze accents.

Doing the first half of the cloud, with dot stickers from the drug store.
the final wall cloud. It is about five feet across.
the floor cloud phase one

the floor cloud, halfway done.

The grout should be going in pretty soon. I had to buy three bags of grout and test the colors (just rub a bit of dry grout powder over the tiles and see what you think). It had to be just right! We ended up with pewter, a medium dark grey that will make all the tile pop but/and feel unified.

 I can't wait to see the clouds with all the final finishes in the bathroom in place.


I have been pretty remiss in my posting! I have been busy buying things like this:

and this:


and appliances and the sink. Money has been flying out the into the ether and big heavy boxes arrive at our house and get in the carpenters' way. In the meantime the house is getting all buttoned up and ready for finishes: last week was insulation.
We used foam insulation, which has a certain finality to it!

It is sprayed in to the walls and then carved away to produce the flat surface ready for drywall application. I am liking the way the window openings change as the walls get more solid. They make beautiful glowing green frames on the walls.

Friday, June 18, 2010

art institute

The Art Institute finished sorting through all the material that we donated to them a few months ago. Here it is in its new home in their temporary storage in South Chicago:
It will eventually make its way into flat files and more long term homes. The bulk of his archive is here and I was am pleased so much of it found a home together. I was surprised to see they kept a number of his art catalogs and publications. It turns out artists that he gathered catalogs from on his European trips were not represented in their collection.

I did need to sort through what was left and decide what to bring home.

In the center of this photo is what is coming home with us. I sorted the work in this warehouse space with the empty cases. The Lincolnwood houses (covered in an earlier post) are coming home with us, as well as a number of unbuilt designs for apartment buildings on trace, a couple renderings I did not see on my first run through, and some other houses I am not sure I caught in the inventory. Now I have two fat portfolios under our bed and a couple tubs of drawings...not bad. I definitely have some room for the Gute in my studio.

I had an epic drive home because of terrible traffic, so I took Chicago's westernmost  Boulevards north through six glorious parks. I am in love with this city. So much so that I persist in driving down there. Once I get my new bike, watch out: I'll be gone all day.