Filed under: design
Thank you all so much for your kind words on last week’s post! We’re excited about the changes ahead and prepping our house for another little one!
I meant to put together this post in January, to share how we managed to fit Avery’s Christmas bounty into our already cozy home. Since our last nursery post back in August, I’ve also been meaning to show what’s changed and how we’ve had to childproof our house. But y’know – there were two things I needed to hang in the nursery so the post got delayed for months. Last weekend I finally got around to hanging them and it took me all of seven and a half minutes.
So, now that we’ve got procrastination out of the way…
We haven’t changed the nursery too drastically since last summer. When I was nursing Avery I liked the idea of the glider facing into the room and feeling a bit more cozy, but a few months ago we decided to flip it to the other side as we’re mostly using it for reading before bedtime. Her storage boxes then moved to the other side of the wall. We’ve played with a half-dozen or so configurations but this more compact stacking seems to work well for our current needs. Although we envisioned it being used more for toys, it is almost all book storage now. I love that Avery loves books and have, rather eagerly, added quite a bit to her collection in the past six months. (We also regularly visit our local library branch and usually have 10-12 loaners in the rotation.)
Because Avery loves to read (err…look at the pictures), I bought her the Land of Nod chair (against my more rational, space-conscious side) for Christmas. Turns out she’d still rather sit on the floor and flip through books but maybe that will change as she gets older? Or maybe I’ll just put it in the basement for a while and free up some space in her room?
Also, have I mentioned that this girl is obsessed with trash trucks? In Seattle we have three different trucks that roll by each Monday and it’s pretty much the highlight of her day.
I’m keeping things real by keeping the Disney princess car in this shot. She’s more into pulling it out and re-parking it, so maybe it will live outside once summer comes. By the way, the rug is going bye-bye. We have some ideas for a replacement and ordered samples last week. (For the record, it’s Bailey who trashed it. Dirty paws and claws that get caught in the loops of wool are to blame. Besides, we’d like something with a more level surface for playing on.)
As another Christmas gift, I ordered Avery this custom growth chart from Etsy shop, PaperRamma. Tracking growth is just one part really, it’s more of a modern infographics baby book and as you can see I haven’t actually filled any of it out yet. (In hindsight, it would be been better to get before or right after she was born since we’ve already passed many of the milestones.) I do love the colors and overall design though.
Not much has changed with the wardrobe organization either. We keep surplus books and art supplies at the back of the laundry basket shelf and use the bottom three drawers for toys, blankets, sheets and extra diapers and wipes.
Hey, I also finally hung the “Z” that had been sitting on her dresser for the last 20 months.
The big addition to the main living area is the IKEA play kitchen that Santa brought. This chunk of wall was literally our last free space so it was fortunate that the kitchen just barely fit. I researched a few kitchens and came back to this one for the price, design and size. Many of the others were quite small and I liked that this one comes with plastic extenders that go on the legs as the child gets taller.
We’re still using the under-bench space for additional toy storage. The bench is at a good play height for Avery right now, so we took the cushion off and stored it under the couch.
Avery is also really into blocks and building right now so this is typically her construction area. (I totally gave Kyle a hard time for buying her the girlie Duplos but she loves them. Although, I think she’d love them if they were primary colors too.)
She also rediscovered her Grimm’s rainbow recently and its endless configuration options. Take note, rainbow cuffs are the hot new toddler trend for Spring!
Now, onto childproofing. The good news – we really haven’t had to do much. The fauxdenza has had the most attention and primarily because it is parallel to a main path of toddler travel. Although we haven’t had any issues with our fancy, architect-designed pulls in the kitchen, Avery has had a couple run-ins with the ones here. So a few months ago we bought some foam padding, cut pieces to size and adhered them with some double-stick tape. (We put up the foam corner guards last fall when she was less steady on her feet.) She’s at the point where they could probably be removed, but it will only be a matter of time before we’ll need them again and yeah…who likes removing double-stick tape?
The downside to installing the foam is that it made the cabinet doors easier to open. We had bought some door catches from IKEA six months or so ago but just couldn’t bring ourselves to install the fussy hardware. So instead of childproofing, we tried child-deterring instead. Yup, we used a good ol’ fashioned rubber band around each pair of door pulls. Surprisingly, it worked. She fussed with them for a couple of days and then eventually gave up. In the kitchen, we have mostly drawers within her reach and she doesn’t really open them. I credit this to the drawer dampers that we installed, making them just a tiny bit harder to pull open if you have the strength of a toddler. (I should mention of course that we don’t keep anything dangerous in any drawer or cabinet within her reach. If she got into them, it would be a nuisance more than anything.)
Sadly, we do not have a wonderfully creative solution for stroller storage. We keep the full-size one here in the mudroom and the smaller umbrella one in the back of the car. I know that with #2 our stroller situation is only going to get bigger, but that’s a topic for another post. (Our mudroom was limited in size because it’s in our front yard setback so we had to work with the existing footprint – had this not been the case we definitely would have gone bigger and incorporated more storage.)
The only other childproofing measure we’ve taken is to put corner guards on our table. These started out at the corners of the fauxdenza but as she’s grown they’ve migrated to the table. I know it will only be a matter of time before they move to the island, especially since she’s already able to stand on her tip toes and swipe things from the edge (which has led to enforcement of the “12″ rule” where everything (like knives!) gets pushed in 12″ from the edge).
As for a quick update on high chairs – we’re still mostly using the Inglesina clip-on chair at the island (it’s more convenient), but she does sit at the Stokke a few times a week and we also use it for crafty activities like coloring. I know she will eventually outgrow the clip-on chair and it will be passed on to the next sibling so the Stokke still has a long future ahead of it.
So that’s our update. And if you didn’t notice – we have done nothing with the loft ladder! I know, we’re surprised too. I’d like to think we taught her not to climb it but really, that’s just her temperament. She’s a bit more reserved and quiet and that’s probably a big reason we haven’t had to do much to our house. I know it will change at some point (can’t keep a kiddo off a ladder forever!) but because Kyle’s office is up there and he uses the ladder multiple times a day, it’s been nice not to have a gate or contraption to deal with.
Of course, I probably just jinxed us and #2 will be the polar opposite and we’ll have padding all over our house.
Thank you all so much for you positive feedback on our last post. We weren’t expecting that, but it was much appreciated. Some of my favorite blogs are monetized and I respect the way they’ve navigated the changing times, I just don’t think it’s the right track for us. So with that, here’s to blogging randomly!
Last week we flew down to Palm Springs for a 3-day mini vacation! We’ve lived in Seattle for nearly ten years now and this is the first time we’ve taken a true winter vacation – it was just the dose of vitamin D we needed to make it through the next three months or so of rain and gray skies.
We stayed at the Ace Hotel (naturally). Going mid-week and for three nights got us a bit of a discount and less action at the hotel, which was nice. (Though look at Avery, obviously bummed to be hanging out at the Commune by herself.) We took an early flight from Seattle on Monday and arrived at the hotel in time for brunch, followed by an afternoon at the pool. That evening we went to the downtown area for dinner. Kyle and I were both surprised just how elated Avery seemed to be about everything. This is also the first time I’ve seen her walking around in shorts and sandals – poor Seattle kid must have felt so liberated!
On Tuesday morning we had breakfast at the hotel then drove out to Joshua Tree (we rented a car, which we realized after getting there was pretty essential, at least with a toddler) which is about an hour away. The park itself is fairly accessible and there are lots of short “nature trails” that were toddler-friendly. This area of southern California is so radically different from what we’re used to in Seattle and it was fun to introduce that to Avery. We got back to the hotel after lunch and spent the afternoon at the pool.
Avery picked out the coyote (which she calls “Kai”) at the visitor center and they have been BFFs since.
On Wednesday we went out to breakfast then headed to the north side of town to the Palm Springs visitors center, looking for info on the local architecture. We ended up buying a $5 map that listed all the significant homes/buildings/neighborhoods (there was also an iPhone app for the same price, but it took a while to download so we decided to skip it). Working our way south, we spent the next two hours driving through neighborhoods, stopping occasionally to snap a few photos and trying not to look like creepsters. We weren’t sure how Avery would do, but she ended up sleeping the whole time (and she hasn’t taken a morning nap in months). I’m sure she was just incredibly bored, but her architect parents were thrilled.
We didn’t take a ton of photos (and only used our phones), but it was fascinating to see first-hand this style of architecture and how it responded to its desert climate – particularly the use of layers, color and shade and shadow. Avery woke up just in time to walk through the downtown design district and grab lunch, then it was back to the hotel for afternoon pool time! It didn’t take long to realize that nap time interfered with pool time (i.e. – nap strike) so once she got fussy we just did a couple of laps around the hotel then let her snooze in her stroller.
On our last night she refused the hotel crib and because we had to get up super early anyway, we decided to let her co-sleep. This was a first for us and it was both adorable and comical. I’m not sure how well Kyle and I slept but she was still passed out after both our alarms went off and all the lights were turned on.
This is the only photo I took of the much-Instagrammed hotel lobby and it was from the car at 5:30 in the morning on the day we left. Oops.
And before we knew it we were back on a plane to Seattle, waving goodbye to the sun and warmth. It was a great mini vacation with just the right mix of activity and chill time. In fact, we’re already scheming about where we’ll go next year.
I didn’t really intend to take this little break from blogging, but these last few months have been busy. I know, that word is almost trite these days, but it’s true. Busy (really busy) with work, busy with life. Although we have a few post ideas in the hopper, the blog has been like that stack of magazines on my nightstand that I just can’t seem to get around to.
My thoughts on blogging have also changed a bit since I got back from the Alt conference and I’ve been trying to process what that means for chezerbey. Expecting to come back re-energized about the direction of the blog, I instead felt a bit underwhelmed and unmotivated. The conference itself was great – very well organized and orchestrated, especially considering how many people (I heard somewhere between 600-700) were there. I also finally got to meet Jaime, Nicole and Dana! Dana and I shared a room and stayed up way too late each night, mostly talking about things outside of our blogs.
That said, I was a little disappointed by the seminars and presentations. Perhaps it’s because ours is somewhat of a niche blog (in the greater “design blog” sphere at least) or because it’s one that isn’t monetized, but I felt like most of the topics didn’t really apply. It also made me realize how much blogging has changed in the last several years and maybe that wasn’t a direction I wanted to go. (I went to a seminar about how to monetize your Pinterest account and it left me so overwhelmed that I had a Pinterest nightmare a few days later and haven’t logged on since. Seriously, I had no idea what a juggernaut it had become for some people.)
So, here we are. Our blog has been personally and professionally valuable to us and we have no intention of stopping. But moving forward, we are going to reevaluate a few things. In the beginning, I mostly blogged about what I wanted to, when I wanted to. The last few years brought more of an agenda though, with intentions to blog twice a week, to do more quick posts, to go outside our normal focus…to do more. But here’s the thing, once a week is challenging as it is and even my “quick” posts take at least 2 hours to write. So I’m going to abandon my previous ideas of what I think I should be doing and instead focus on what I want to do (realizing that this is what got people reading in the first place). Without the pressure to make money off the blog (something I’d been considering off and on for a few years), I want to instead focus on the opportunities it can afford and the relationships we’ve made and can continue to make. Since we started our architectural firm, Studio Zerbey, almost every single remodel project (we do about 50% remodels, 50% new construction) or consultation has come to us through the blog. People have hired us not just for our design aesthetic but because we’ve gone through (and documented!) the experience first-hand. This has made us more relatable and approachable and guys, that feels pretty good. That’s where we want to be, the kind of architects we want to be.
So we’re going to keep pushing in that direction and maybe we won’t post as often as we’d like, but we hope each post is interesting and well-done. Also, we are still not done with this house! Although our DIY accomplishments this year have consisted of 1) fixing the bathtub drain, 2) lubing the door locks and 3) repairing the screen on our return grill, our to-do list is more ambitious. In fact, we have a few deadlines in the next several months (including a photo shoot and an expiring construction permit) that will mean some serious PROGRESS on the home front!
Finally, thank you to those who have stuck with us through the years, offering your continued support and encouragement. Even if the blogosphere feels a bit different these days, I continue to be inspired by so many of you – whether it’s the comments you leave or the posts you write.
One of my goals with this blog is to include more design-focused posts about products or materials – things that are original and interesting but don’t take hours to write and assemble. So, a few weeks ago when I came across some new lighting while flipping through the Crate&Barrel catalog I thought, “this would make a perfect short post!”. Well, a version of that post has sat on my laptop since then, routinely getting pushed to the “I’ll finish it tomorrow” list. But hey, it’s Saturday night and Kyle is slowly working his way through the entire X-Files series on Netflix so let’s do this, ok? (Ha! It’s Sunday now…see how that happens?)
As architects, we’re always on the lookout for new options in lighting. Historically, it’s one of those categories that has about five bazillion choices yet 97% of them are pretty bad. And the ones that are good – $$$$. So, I was pleasantly surprised to come across some well-designed and affordable fixtures from Crate&Barrel of all places. Which led me to check out what was new at a few other big retailers. And then I made these collages.
(Note: most of these are wall or ceiling mounted fixtures since those are typically the types we help select, but I threw in a few playful floor lamps for good measure. Also, this is not sponsored in any way and all opinions are my own.)
Has anyone had first-hand experience with these fixtures? It’s always difficult to get a feel for the quality of construction from an online photo, so I’d be interested in any feedback. I also noticed that most of the wall-mounted fixtures come with a cord and plug (vs. being hard-wired). Not ideal, but I suppose it provides more flexibility and ease of installation.
And hey, while we’re on the subject – bathroom lighting. Why is it all so bad? There are some good sconces out there, but I’ve found very few options for modern linear lights that can go above a mirror/vanity. Maybe you’ve found some? Maybe you’ll share?
Finally, I’m heading to the Alt Summit conference this week! It will be my first time to go and I’m excited. It will also be the longest time I’ve spent away from Avery since she was born. But I know she’ll be fine and I’ll be fine. In fact, I’m looking forward to stepping outside my normal routine (and comfort zone!) for a few days to fly to SLC (without a toddler on my lap!), meet awesome people, learn new things and hopefully come home with fresh ideas for the future of our blog and business. Now, time to start packing.
As the third post in our series celebrating Studio Zerbey’s first full year in business, we decided to talk more about the actual work. (See the first post here and second post here.) On our website and blog, we’ve featured a handful of the projects we’ve been working on, but the truth is we have so many more that we haven’t shown yet. Just like it’s hard to determine when a space is done “enough” to show the reveal, we find ourselves doing the same thing with Studio Zerbey projects – waiting for finished photos or taking the time to put together sexy graphics. So, consider this post a sampling of what we’ve been up to this past year, including some of the lesser known services we provide.
+ Consultations – although it’s not a very bloggable topic, we’ve been doing consultations from the very beginning. Simply put, consultations are on-site visits where we give off-the-cuff advice and suggestions (following up with a written summary). We charge a flat fee that varies depending on the scope of the job and due to travel constraints, they are mostly in the Seattle area. Sometimes it’s someone looking to buy a particular house and wondering about its remodel potential. Other times it’s a homeowner that’s interested in remodeling all or part of their home (whether they’ll be hiring a contractor or taking it on as a DIY). For many of the consultations, it also serves as an informal meet and greet where we can learn more about the owners and their home and they learn more about us and the way we work. Although this is a service that some architects offer for free in hopes of getting the job, we learned early on that in most cases that just wasn’t a feasible strategy for a two-person firm (it also helps filter out those who aren’t very serious in the first place). As a solution, we decided to credit the cost of the consultation for clients that end up hiring Studio Zerbey for their project.
+ Schematic Design – Over the last year we’ve taken on a number of small schematic-only projects, including everything from a condo remodel in DC and an Eichler house in Palo Alto to remodels in Seattle, San Francisco, Boulder and Vancouver, B.C. Essentially, “schematic-only” is a pared down design process where we put together sketches (or idea palettes, such as the one above) in lieu of a construction set that’s ready to be handed off to a contractor. Although it places more responsibility on the owner, it’s been an effective strategy for small remodel projects that are remote or where the budget or scope doesn’t warrant a site visit or technical drawings. We haven’t featured as many of these projects because either they aren’t finished yet (often times the homeowner is DIYing it) or the end product is a floor plan sketch and not a pretty 3D rendering. (We have plans to remedy this though, soon!) Nonetheless, these projects are just as important to us, especially since most of the clients are blog readers as well. And so we thought it was important to highlight this particular service, recognizing that not every design project ends with a thick drawing set (a common misconception about architects, perhaps).
Above, options for different kitchen layouts in a small row house (click to enlarge). And below, a schematic floor plan for a super tiny 1937 fishing cottage in Seattle.
+ Remodels and New Construction – This is the bulk of our work and includes projects that are taken from pre-design through permit and/or construction documents. It includes remodels to early 20th century homes (which make up a large part of Seattle’s housing stock), new single-family residences and a few commercial jobs. Although much of our work is in Washington state, we also have active projects in California, Montana and Alaska.
Above, schematic plan for a rooftop deck addition to a single-family house in Seattle.
Above, a new custom residence in the Hilltop neighborhood near Bellevue, WA. Below, a new custom residence in Pacific Grove, CA.
Above, a remodel of an existing Animal Hospital east of Seattle. Below, an extensive remodel of an old brick building into a commercial building in Missoula, Montana.
Above, a new custom residence (blogged about recently) east of Seattle. Below, a prefab residence on the Olympic Peninsula.
And there it is, a snapshot of what’s in the hopper at Studio Zerbey. 2013 has been a good year and 2014 is shaping up to be even better with a handful of new projects already, including at least four different remodels in Seattle and a new house in Alaska!
Originally, my post for this week was going to be about our bedroom progress, but we’ve been so swamped that there has been no progress (and we realize that’s not a bad problem to have). So we’re just going to pretend like those four paint swatches are artwork and live with it just a little bit longer (although we have decided on a color!). In the midst of this holiday season, we are feeling quite thankful. This little blog that started out as a glorified Flickr account for our family has transformed into a means for growing our firm and working with some pretty awesome people on a variety of interesting projects. And for that, we want to say a big thank YOU!
2014, bring it!