Google+ House Revivals: September 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A is for a Modern Designer

One of the most influential modern designers was a Finnish architect by the name of Alvar Aalto.  Often thought of as the "Father of Modernism", his media included architecture textiles, glassware, and furniture.
A brief bio of Alvar Aalto can be found at Famous Architects.

You are probably familiar with many of his furniture pieces, even if you don't consider yourself a modern design aficionado. Many of his pieces are classics, and still in production today.

Alvar Aalto Armchair, image source and additional info

 Lounge Chair 43 by Alvar Aalto is still in production by Artek.

 Aalto's Lounge Chair has proven to be a timeless classic of modern design.

A few more Alvar Aalto classics.

 The iconic Savoy vase -- it's not just for flowers anymore!

Aalto and his wife were very comfortable juxtaposing rustic pieces with streamlined, modern pieces.  Their home, shown above, courtesy Apartment Therapy.

I hope you've enjoyed this brief tour into the designs of Alvar Aalto!  This post is being linked to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thinking about the Garage

Well, I'm back.  Thanks for your patience as I took the time needed to throw the "wedding of the century" and close on the "most complicated real estate transaction in history".  I suppose I could say "the wedding went off without a hitch", but actually the "hitching" was the most important part!   I'll share more about the wedding later.  Today, the house is on my mind.  Or, more specifically, the garage....

We're in that "budget meets reality" phase of the planning, soooo,  the garage I really want is not the garage I'm really going to get.  I want this garage....
but, alas, our local wind load and earthquake codes require lots of long expanses of sheathed wall.  My engineer tells me this design just won't work -- unless we have very expensive steel supports custom fabricated for the wall with the garage doors....

My contractor, a really sweet guy with very little aesthetic sense, thinks the garage should look like this.
I think this option looks kind of sad and naked, and not very welcoming.  The contractor says I will save money by not putting in the new doors and deck above the garage door.  He also thinks I will regret having the maintenance of another deck.  True enough, but I think "curb appeal" adds value, and lack of "curb appeal" subtracts value.  Plus, this is a beach town, and there is a beautiful bay view from this side of the house.  Wouldn't it be nice for guests to just throw open the doors in the morning and enjoy the breeze, the sound of seagulls, and the spectacular view?

The structural engineer says this is the best option (well, actually, she didn't weigh in on the balcony issue).
She feels we need a straight expanse of wall next to the garage door, so the house won't blow over in a storm.  That wall expanse would be sheathed in 3/4 inch plywood, to keep the house square and rigid in the worst wind. It's hard to argue with reasoning like that.  But I just don't like this -- it looks top heavy and unbalanced.  I can't help it.  I'm a designer, and designers are always looking for a better solution.

So, the structural engineer suggested building a "dummy wall" under the cantilevered bump-out to address the "top-heavy" issue.
Much better -- not top-heavy anymore, but still unbalanced.  Plus, it just seemed sort of silly.  Essentially, the space between the rigid structural wall and the bumped out wall would just be dead space.  Kind of a waste. Then the solution came.  Not from the oh so creative designer.  Oh, no.  It came from a most unexpected source. The One who admits to having No Aesthetic.  The Software Engineer.  The love of my life.  My husband. He, being the practical guy that he is, suggested turning that dead space into a tool shed!  Accessible from outside.  A place for shovels and rakes and such.  Brilliant.
This solution addresses budget (no need for extra steel), safety (our house won't fall over in a storm because we will still have rigid wall sheathing), aesthetics (the tool shed doors help create a sense of balance), and it actually adds function with the creation of a tool shed!

Of course, all designers know that research is important, so I had my realtors weigh in on the subject.  My biggest concern was that the home would be devalued by not having a second garage door.  The realtors agreed that two garage doors would be ideal, but did not think we would see a return on investment if we added the second door, especially since the garage already parks two cars tandem, with lots of room to the side for "toys".

For those of you who are new to my blog, you can learn more about the beach house project here.