Filed under: design

this and that

Hello, Fall! Hello, blog!

For the past few months I’ve been meaning to finish a blog post about how we kept cool during the record-breaking summer we had. And well, I should have known better – anytime I go about a lengthy and somewhat technical post it always involves more time than I have to spare. But alas, now it’s October so maybe we’ll save that blog post for next spring? Ok? Cool. (If you want a little teaser I’ll leave you with some keywords: exterior solar shades, skylight shades, portable a/c and giant attic fan. And for the most part, it worked! And we didn’t have to shell out $$$$ to have a standard a/c unit installed! I give Kyle all the credit for masterminding this one!)

Moving on.

We actually have quite a few specific Studio Zerbey updates to share, but we thought it might be best to first dust off the cobwebs and share some quick general updates.

+ studio zerbey: our firm continues to keep us busy and 2015 has been exciting in that many of our first projects are now wrapping up construction. Although we’ve been making periodic updates to our Studio Zerbey website, we plan on also posting some photos of completed work (both new houses and remodels) on the blog in the weeks and months to come. We recently invested in a new digital camera set-up and Kyle spent some time earlier this month traveling to California, Alaska and the Olympic Peninsula to photograph projects and then to Montana to photograph our mixed-use project and help coordinate a photoshoot for our Montana Creekside Residence.

A few teaser shots…

Studio Zerbey - Alaska Surf Shack -2
Alaska Surf Shack – photo credit: Kyle Zerbey

Montana Creekside Residence (collaboration between Studio Zerbey and Balance Associates) – photo credit: Steve Keating

Montana Creekside Residence (collaboration between Studio Zerbey and Balance Associates) – photo credit: Steve Keating

Missoula Mixed-Use Remodel – photo credit: Kyle Zerbey

+ chezerbey remodel: remember in this post when I said someone needed to stage an intervention if we weren’t done with the basement by the time our permit expired (again) in November of 2015? Haha. Ha. Yeah, we’re still working on that. If we could wave our magic wand and hire a contractor to come in and finish it we probably would – but that seems unrealistic and a coordination headache since we’ve already purchased almost everything (Oh, you’re looking for what? It’s around here…somewhere.) We just need to get it done and honestly I think it seems more overwhelming than it really is. Although it will be great to have those spaces finished, the project just isn’t exciting as say…our backyard office/shop space.


Speaking of which, we haven’t done anything with that yet either. Kyle put together some preliminary pricing earlier this year and the cost of running new plumbing alone (plus a lovely usage surcharge that the city tacks on) made it cost prohibitive. It’s also pretty clear that we don’t have the time to DIY it like we could have before we had two kids and our own business so we’re trying to figure out a design solution where we could offer some sweat equity but afford to hire out a bulk of the work. So, we’re now looking at options that don’t include a second story. Although it would be amazing to have the studio apartment component we’re just not sure the payback period would make sense for us. What we do know is that we’re anxious to get our office out of the house in the not-too-distant future. Truth be told, it is starting to feel a wee bit cramped in here but that freeing up our two office spaces for other uses will give everyone a bit more breathing room. So, we’ll keep you updated on that.

+ birthdays and anniversaries: In our family, we like to cram all the celebrations into a two-month span. Avery and Kyle had birthdays in late July and early August and in the last few weeks we celebrated my 35th birthday, Lillian’s 1st birthday and our 10-year anniversary! I know, how did that happen?



lillian 1st birthday-3

I realize we don’t post much here about Lillian like we did with Avery (sorry, Lil!) but she really is such a sweet kid. And although she’s not the super sleeper that her sister was (and still is!), she’s so easy-going and happy 95% of the time that it’s hard to complain. These days, she’s close to walking and is getting into all of Avery’s toys. Watching those two together (and with Bailey) is a significant source of entertainment for us.

+ work-life balance: starting this month we have a new childcare/preschool schedule that has both girls out of the house four mornings a week. It’s only been a few weeks but we really like the new arrangement. We’ve had a series of nannies in the past and although I was often surprised how well we were able to all coexist in our small space, having a quiet house is reallllly nice. Getting out of the house to do pick-ups also provides a nice mid-day break and keeps us from getting too stir crazy. In the afternoons, we’re back in our offices during nap time but we try to keep our schedules a bit more flexible than so one parent can take over if someone (ahem, Lillian) wakes up early. She’s transitioning down to one nap and although it feels a bit early, I’m also looking forward to getting into a groove with our schedules that will stay consistent for the next year (years? I hope they both nap till kindergarten!).


And that, in a nutshell, is what we’ve been up to. Although we had a good (and LONG!) summer, we’re both looking forward to a new season and a new schedule. And I don’t want to jinx it, but maybe more blogging too? I don’t mind being an optimist.

small space living // the shared bedroom

Oh hi there! Well, it’s been nearly three months since we blogged about toddler bed options and we’re finally getting around to sharing. Behold, the shared bedroom.


Your comments made us feel confident in moving forward with a toddler sized bed and although it wasn’t included in our original lineup, we decided to buy the Perch toddler bed from Oeuf. Originally I was turned off by the price and for awhile we considered DIYing something similar (a plywood box on hairpin legs instead). But then a few weeks went by and we realized that it was never going to happen. Or at least in the next several months. For Kyle, the purchase was a no-brainer, but I needed to rationalize it a bit more in my head. I felt better knowing that Lillian could use it down the road and then we could convert it to a daybed/sofa and maybe even put it up in the loft (a space I’m sure the girls will take over at some point). Or y’know, Craigslist.


Overall, we’re very pleased with the quality. One of the side panels had a slight void in the plywood, which wouldn’t have been a big deal but it was on the top and I was worried that Avery would pick at it. I contacted Oeuf directly and they sent a replacement and were super easy to work with.

There isn’t a great solution to get both beds to fit in what is effectively a three-sided room. At first I was hesitant to have the bed overhang the door opening but now that we’ve lived with it for a month it’s really no big deal. Sometimes we just don’t open the doors all the way but most of the time it just doesn’t bother us.


After the new bed was constructed (a task Avery and I did together – she was so proud!) we converted the IKEA Gulliver back to a crib and purchased a second mattress. I haven’t put bumpers on the crib yet (we have simple IKEA ones that we retrofitted for the mini-crib), mostly because they make it a pain to change the sheets. For now, we put her in a lightweight cotton sleep sack and that keeps her from sticking arms and legs between the bars of the crib.


We also reconfigured the storage boxes to fit in front of the window. One of the boxes covers the heat register, so we’ll have to come up with something different (or figure out a way to elevate everything slightly) once the temps drop. Given the summer heat we’ve had, it’s hard to imagine when that will happen.

We also bought two new felt boxes from Land of Nod. One holds baby board books (I’m so over trying to line them up on a shelf) and the other holds Duplos.


I should note that I took these photos this morning. We tidied up a bit first but as you can see it does not take long for things to unravel. We’re keeping it real. Kids are messy, but limiting the amount of stuff and having “homes” for everything makes cleaning up pretty painless.


Lillian is close to crawling, so I’m trying to savor this fleeting time of happy immobility. I will also need to temporarily hide some of Avery’s smaller toys before then.


Not much has changed with the dresser and wardrobe since our update in January. In the living room, we have a bin of baby books, a bin of Avery’s toys (Playmobil and trains) and a basket of baby toys. We converted one of the cabinets in the fauxdenza to hold art supplies, puzzles and games. Other than that, everything fits in their room. (Besides outdoor stuff obviously, which is a whole other topic.) I also recently bought this coat rack from Crate&Barrel. It’s simple, functional and inexpensive. It’s ridiculously hot here now, but most of the year we’re in jackets so I needed something more than the squirrel hook (which will be relocated eventually).


As for the sleep situation – it’s been a little over a month since we moved both girls into the same room and it’s going better than we anticipated. Before, Lillian was still sleeping in the mini-crib, but with the long summer days (sunset after 10:00 and sunrise around 4:30) we had to move her back into our room where it’s much darker. And yeah, that wasn’t great either.

We’re not on a strict schedule, but Lillian generally goes to bed between 7:30-8:00 (it depends more on what time she wakes up in the morning which sets the nap schedule somewhat). Avery’s bedtime is usually 8:00 but that’s been pushed back a bit for summer. We’ve found that it’s easier to put Lillian down first, then read books on the couch (or in our bed) with Avery. Once Lillian is asleep, she rarely wakes up because of Avery. And Avery almost never wakes up because of Lillian (who is often the first one up in the morning), not even in the middle of the night. I’d heard this from other people and it seems to be true for us as well. Lillian also seems to be sleeping better in her new bed. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think she finally, finally might be sleeping through the night now (no night feedings). YAY!

The last few nights, Avery and I have laid in her bed together, opening the curtains just a hair and reading books while Lillian snoozes nearby. I don’t think I imagined that we’d be able to do this so to other parents in a similar situation – I’d say just go for it. You might be surprised what your kids are capable of. Try it for a few weeks and if it doesn’t work figure something else out. I’m sure we’ll hit some road blocks, but it feels good knowing that not only can they sleep in the same room but that they actually seem to enjoy it. I don’t know, they might even like each other. :)


The nap situation is getting better too. Both girls take afternoon naps around 2:00, so they nap together in their room. I was mostly concerned with how Lillian would take a morning nap on the weekends (without kicking Avery out of her room), but because that nap is usually only an hour or so it’s almost easier to plan an activity where she can nap on the go. We also still have the mini crib setup outside my office and can roll that in and shut the door in a pinch.


Tucking her animals in for a nap and then asking me to take a photo. (Avery’s toddler bedding is from Land of Nod. They have such cute stuff!)


The nursery (can we even call it that anymore?) has gotten a bit cozier since it’s original reveal – but for the better I think! I love that we’ve been able to modify the space as Avery got older and then adding Lillian. We also realize that it’s still very much a space of our design, but that that will evolve as the girls get older and start adding their own personal touches. Just as long as they’re approved by us first. :)

“Composition girls, COMPOSITION!”

small space living // the toddler bed dilemma

At the beginning of the year we wrote about living small with two kids and for the most part, not much has changed. Lillian in still sleeping in the mini crib (in the dining area!) but lately it’s been more evident that she’s ready to move to a regular crib. She now prefers to roll onto her tummy (and sleeps much better that way!) but is limited on space to do that in the smaller crib. (We also had issues awhile back with her legs getting stuck between the slats, but adding a bumper helped significantly with that.)


Moving Lillian to Avery’s crib (which has been converted to a toddler bed) is the easy part – the decision that has us stumped is what to transition Avery to. And yes, that brings up the toddler bed dilemma. It has always seemed silly and a waste of money to buy a separate toddler bed + mattress, but I now find myself leaning in that direction.

Here’s why:

+ Yes, it would be better for the long-term to get in her a twin bed but really we don’t have space. (If we did, I would definitely get her this one…sigh, maybe I’ll bookmark it for a future house.) When you’re used to a crib, a twin all of a sudden feels HUGE. We also need to keep both girls in the nursery until we can move our offices out of the house (and yeah, we’re at least 6-9 months out from that) which means space is limited as it is. For a few days I was excited about the possibility of doing our own hack on the IKEA Kura bed (you should really Google “IKEA Kura hack”, it’s ridiculous), thinking that some of the toys could go under the bed and that would free up space for the crib. But, after measuring it out we were worried that the bed would overwhelm the space (it pretty much has to go in the same spot as the crib) and that really, it would take longer than we think to implement our own modifications. (Which in my mind, involved painting the frame a blue-gray and adding maple plywood “rails” to the three exposed sides of the bed.)

twin options

+ I also considered just getting another IKEA Gulliver crib, but that seems like taking a step backward at this point.

+ So, toddler bed? A few weeks ago I came back around to the Gulliver toddler bed, which seemed perfect since it’s in-between a crib and twin mattress size and would match the crib. When I went to check the stock online, they were sold out of the birch version. So I checked again a few days later and same story. And that’s when I realized that every store was out of stock so maybe they’re not making it anymore? At any rate, after seeing the white version in person I was less excited and didn’t like being limited to IKEA sheets (although I suppose you could just use a twin sized duvet). ANYWAY. Back to the drawing board. Or rather, the internet.

toddler options2

There are a handful of modern toddler beds out there but I don’t know, nothing that I could get too excited about or justify spending a lot of money on. (For reference, I found other affordable options from KidKraft, P’kolino and Babyletto). And yes, I love right angles as much as the next modernist, but on a kid’s bed it seems a little silly (and potentially dangerous). I even considered the much-loved Jenny Lind toddler bed. It’s not exactly modern, but I could see pairing it with some fun bedding to balance out all those curves. Well, it’s a moot point now because Kyle completely and passionately vetoed it. (I can’t blame him, it would feel out of place in our house.) For the same price, I also like this bed from Land of Nod, but the in-store floor models I’ve seen haven’t taken abuse very well (chipped paint, etc.) and I’m concerned about long-term durability. Obviously some of these wouldn’t match the Gulliver crib but maybe it doesn’t matter that much (we could always tie the two together with complimentary bedding).

So why don’t we just build something ourselves? I know, that totally would have been our solution a few years ago but don’t forget we still have a half-finished bathroom and laundry room in our basement (going on three years now!). And really, I think if we did it ourselves it would be a very simple platform style bed and I’d prefer something with a bit of head board and foot board. I know, we could just do a mattress on the floor but I think it’s going to be a struggle giving up her crib as it is (especially if it’s going to Lillian) and want to do something she can be excited about, something that’s very “big girl”.

Eventually, we’ll probably go the bunk bed route (because who doesn’t have fond memories of their sibling kicking the top bunk mattress from below?) but we’re probably two years away from that. The long-term plan is to put both girls in the basement bedroom, but there isn’t enough space for two twin beds down there.

So here’s a question, how long can the average sized kiddo sleep in a toddler bed? I read 6 but that seems overly optimistic. I think I could justify the purchase if I knew she could use it for the next year or two (before passing it along to her sister). Has anyone else been in a similar situation and come up with a good solution? Are there other simple and well-made beds out there that I’ve missed? I’m crowdsourcing here.

studio zerbey / under construction

We currently have a number of projects finishing up or in the middle of construction so we thought it would be fun to do a few posts during the next several months that highlight that work.

+ Alaska Surf Shack

The Surf Shack just wrapped up construction and the owner moved in last week. We’re hoping to make it out this summer to see it in person and take photos (I’ve never been to Alaska!)



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Due to the remote location, we had more limited involvement during construction. Kyle only made it the site once (before design started) and therefore any coordination was handled via email and phone. The contractor, Harmon Construction, did a fantastic job and we’re so pleased how it turned out. More importantly, the homeowner loves it and that’s really the best compliment you can get.

+ Missoula Mixed-Use Remodel

The remodel of this existing brick building in Missoula, Montana is nearing completion, with work on the tenant improvements to begin soon. The building, located on the “hip strip” of Missoula will include a popcorn store, sandwich shop and a third tenant that has yet to be finalized.





The roof was replaced, a new lower roof was added, the brick was sandblasted, primed and painted, steel panel siding was added and all the windows and doors are new. We can’t wait to get out and take final “after” photos and compare with where things started! Another remote project for us, it makes a huge difference working with a skilled team (McMahon Construction) to get the job done.

+ Issaquah Highlands House

Framing for the Issaquah Highlands house (a new single-family residence east of Seattle) is almost complete and it’s so exciting to see the form take shape. The neighborhood is actually an eclectic mix of architectural styles and even though it’s in a development, we think this design does a good job of integrating with the site and respecting its neighbors.






It’s a little hard to tell in this photo but the view is spectacular, even from the lower levels. This project is being built in collaboration with YS BUILT and is slated to wrap up by December of this year.

Dwell + the Future of Architecture

Ok, I promise that the focus of this blog has not devolved into self-promotion, but (BUT!) we have another bit of exciting news to share and it’s that our house (our house!) is featured in the special issue of Dwell called Your Rooms We Love (on newsstands now!).


Since it’s a special issue, it’s not part of a regular subscription but there are so many great homes and spaces to drool over that it’s definitely worth making a special trip or ordering online. (Page 62, yo!)


Hey Bails, you’re looking a little scrappy here – your stylist is fired!

Second, Studio Zerbey is participating in the Future of Architecture showcase, sponsored by Houzz and the American Institute of Architects. The contest is open to students and emerging architects and includes categories such as Social Impact, Small Spaces, Innovation, Universal Design and Student Work. We’ve entered our house in the Small Spaces category and our proposed remodel of the garage in the Social Impact category. (Aside from work and the kids, the DADU project is taking up some of our attention right now as well – more on that soon!)

Here’s the interesting part – winners are selected based on how many Houzz users add the project to an ideabook. So, the more ideabooks our submissions get added to, the better our odds. If you’d like to check out the showcase and boost our chances of winning a cool $5k and a trip to this year’s AIA convention in Atlanta, click on the links below and add individual images to ideabooks. (Voting ends next Tuesday, April 7th!)

We’ll be back soon to share a handful of Studio Zerbey projects that are just wrapping up or under construction. Architecture is a profession of patience and it’s always so gratifying to see a project all the way from conceptual sketches to move-in day.