Filed under: design
We’ve been chipping away at our backyard since we bought the house nearly (gulp) 7 years ago! Although the space hasn’t seen a lot of love yet, it has been a very useful staging area for all of the other projects we’ve taken on. This year, we decided to bite the bullet and make the backyard our summer project. And yes, we’re going to hire the same company that did our front yard install last year. (Woohoo!)
But first, let’s rewind to 2006 and review what’s been tackled so far.
Mmmhmm, the infamous before photos. Although it needed a lot of help, we were actually thrilled to have such a big backyard in Seattle. The detached garage/carport was an added luxury.
In 2007, Kyle replaced the two gates that separate the front yard from the back. This was a project of necessity as the yard was not very dog-proof. Bailey’s not usually one to flee, but after a neighbor found him running (well, it’s more like a waddle run) down a somewhat busy street we knew we had to do something.
In 2008 we finished the job we started the previous year and replaced the fence on the east and south sides. (No more white pickets!) This involved completely ripping out the old fence and posts and starting from scratch, but oh what a difference it made!
In 2009 we focused on the exterior of the house, so once again the backyard was a staging area and spent most of the summer covered in painting tarps.
2010 was the biggest year for our house (it’s when we remodeled most of the main floor) so the backyard was woefully neglected.
In 2011 we started to get excited about the potential of the backyard. We jackhammered out most of the concrete, built a deck and Kyle welded up a steel planter box.
2012 brought our focus back to the front yard, but we did manage to build the side yard roof (which mostly keeps rain from coming under the basement door).
And this is what we’re looking at for May of 2013. Weed fest.
Kyle rolled out his welder a couple of weekends ago and got to work on the second steel planter box on the south side of the deck. The steel panels had been spread out on the driveway, developing a 2-year patina. Like a nice wine y’know.
We ended up using a lot of the “temporary” pea gravel that we put down around the driveway for the foundation drain project. So, that area is looking extra fantastic now. (And yeah, weed barrier is a joke.)
Ugh, that carport. That whole structure befuddles us. We can’t come up with a good temporary fix (that doesn’t involve a gigantic tarp) and are unsure what the long-term plan will be (we have about 4 different scenarios that we rotate between).
All that to say…well, we’ve made some good progress but the backyard still needs a lot of work. Here’s a glimpse at the current plan (we made some revisions and substitutions since our first go around last year).
The goal is to have everything complete before Avery’s first birthday. Can you say backyard party? BACKYARD PARTY!
Remember this post from a month ago where I showed you my clever solution for the fauxedenza “satellite” office? Well, I decided to change things up again.
Before Avery was mobile, it was easier to work at the dining room table while she was awake. Now, not so much and I decided that I needed my own space. Originally, we thought the basement room would be a guest/media space, but then we realized we actually liked having the TV on the main floor and built that fancy media bench. Although I plan on working from the basement for the foreseeable future, I don’t think it will be an office long-term. (We’d love to have our own commercial office space at some point.) Because of this, I didn’t want to do anything too permanent or spend too much money. So, a few hours and about $250 later…
The desk is from IKEA (Alex drawer unit, Linnmon top and two Borgfinn legs). I went in thinking I would get a longer Numerar kitchen counter (in a similar gray laminate finish) but they were out of stock of the size I needed and was concerned that I’d need an intermediate support to keep the counter from sagging. So, instead of claiming the entire wall I decided to focus on the corner of the room instead.
We also moved the sofa to the opposite wall. Even when it’s in the bed position, there’s still plenty of space to walk between. (I had a cute little assistant helping me out today.)
All of the pillows, linens and duvet fit inside the chaise lounge. We rolled up the foam topper and are storing it in the closet at the bottom of the stairs.
I also picked up the Kvissle paper tray. I’ve been impressed with this line’s design and quality (steel and cork) but this is the only piece I thought I’d actually use. (The “X” bookend is also IKEA; I realize it’s not doing anything functional right now but I still like it.)
Oh, the Raskog cart. I’ve been crushing on this cart since it came out but never had a good enough reason to get it. Ok, I still don’t have a great reason but it’s so lovely and I’m sure I’ll figure out something. (Maybe a mini bar cart? I mean, I do have a sofa in my office…) For now it’s holding a few random supplies and baby toys. (This room is also home to our surplus albums.)
The cork squares are from a local office supply store and I used those 3M Command strips to adhere them to the wall for easy removal. The photos are from Prinstagram and from a larger stack that I ordered before Christmas. (I love how they turned out and am thinking about making more for months 5-12 and using them as part of her first birthday party.)
We’re still planning on keeping all of our shared resources (like printers, office supplies, reference books, etc.) in the office loft which is nice because it will keep this “sometimes guest room” from getting too cluttered.
This room has never really had any “decor” to speak of (if you remember, this is the space that Kyle frantically finished the first week we were home from the hospital with Avery!). Not wanting to spend a lot of money or make difficult decisions about accessories I just relocated a few things from around the house. It works for now and I’m sure things will be added over time.
I’m still fussing with two separate laptops (I shamefully took the Dell out for these photos because it’s just so clunky and blah) but will likely transition to a docking station with a larger monitor and dedicated keyboard. I think the cork feels a little high now, but it should look more balanced once there’s a monitor on the desk. Also, I should mention that the Alex drawer unit is deep enough that it holds 11×17 paper – a major perk for storing half-size drawing sets!
Even though I’m in the basement, I can’t complain about the view. The landscaping that was installed last spring is filling in beautifully and Kyle just picked out and planted the Japanese Maple in the background. (We need to do a landscaping update, I know.)
So, a quick and relatively simple project but I’m really happy with how it turned out. Although Kyle and I probably have a more similar aesthetic than most couples, it was fun to put together a space that was just for me, without having to talk through every design decision.
Another impetus for getting this space together is that we decided to hire a part-time nanny. We love working from home and establishing our own work-life balance, but sometimes that means knowing when to bring in a little reinforcement. As Avery’s gotten older I’ve been feeling more pressure to juggle it all. I think extra help is going to make a big difference and will be a benefit to not only Kyle and me but to Avery as well.
Having someone here part-time will afford me a dedicated chunk of the day to focus on my projects without feeling like I’m missing out on time with Avery. Every parent is different and how you feel about your situation can change pre and post-baby. Nine months in, I know that I’m happiest when I’m a mom and an architect. Achieving that balance isn’t always easy and (as I’ve learned) it’s something that is constantly evolving. So, we’re trying to stay flexible while also doing what’s best for our family and our clients. Although we spend a lot of time and energy focusing on our daughter and our business, we are grateful to be where we’re at (something we remind ourselves of when we take a break at 4:00 to sit on the stoop and soak in the late afternoon sun). Maybe a perfect work-life balance is an elusive idea, but I feel like we’re getting closer.
Team Sayer has made it to the final challenge, the kitchen!
The two remaining families had double the money ($1000) for this challenge and also received a complete kitchen suite of energy-efficient appliances from Frigidaire.
At the Sayer’s home, the kitchen is the hub of the main living area, which presented some challenges with storage and how the space should “flow” into the surrounding areas. (Actually, this is something we had to think about early on during the office, dining and laundry challenges, all of which connect directly to the kitchen.) A few other issues and ideas:
+ Take advantage of the under stair space for storage and small appliances.
+ Provide upper storage without large, bulky cabinets.
+ Install a mirror to reflect light and make the space feel bigger.
+ Add better task lighting over the island and swap out the existing bulbs in the recessed can lights for more efficient options.
+ Figure out a way to visually tie the fridge to the rest of the space (there’s a small wing wall in between).
+ Install new base cabinets (especially essential since they repurposed them for the laundry room challenge!).
+ Install new counters at the main wall and add a functional backsplash.
+ Install a new sink and faucet.
+ Create a mobile storage unit between the range and wall.
Now, keep in mind that the two remaining families still only had 10 days to overhaul the most used room in the house. The results:
Scott and Nia brought in new base cabinets and countertop from IKEA and ditched the open shelves to visually de-clutter the space.
Upper storage was added back in the way of recessed shelves that Scott made and the back wall was painted a soft gray.
The never-really-finished stair landing was reworked to provide space for the microwave with storage below. They painted the island to give it a fresh look and DIYed the lighting above with a combination of salvaged theater lights and handmade fixtures.
The wing wall separating the fridge from the rest of the kitchen was trimmed out in steel to match the semi-steampunk aesthetic that Scott introduced in the adjacent rooms. The surface also provides a great spot for a chalkboard wall.
Even without appliances, $1000 is not a lot to work with in a kitchen but I think Scott and Nia did a great job! But what really matters of course is what the judges thought. The final challenge was divided into two webisodes; the first one focused on the design and process of the two kitchens:
And the final webisode reveals WHO WON!
Spoiler alert…keep scrolling…
Congratulations Sayer family!! Not only did you work really hard and come up with so many great ideas, but you proved that good design can be energy-efficient, affordable and attainable! Now, time to sit back and enjoy your home, your energy savings and that $5,000 prize money!
To learn more about the Re-Energized by Design challenge sponsored by Puget Sound Energy, check out the official website!
[Hey guys, Kyle and I have both been travelling and are also in the process of migrating our sites to a new host, so things have been a little slow on the blog front. Stay tuned though for another Studio Zerbey post as well as a few updates around the house. In the meantime, if anything looks wonky or links don't work, let me know!]
Now, are you ready for your weekly dose of re-energization? (Nope, that’s definitely not a word.) The Sayer family made the cut last week, advancing them to the next challenge – the laundry room!
Scott and Nia’s laundry room was really a tiny closet adjacent to a larger space that was being used mostly as a catchall for various items. Here are some of the things we discussed:
+ Stack the washer and dryer to free up space. (As part of this challenge, the family received a new, energy-efficient washer and dryer.)
+ Swap out the solid pocket door for a glass one.
+ Re-use the bathroom sink from the first challenge as a utility sink.
+ Re-use the kitchen cabinets for built-in storage (and cross our fingers that we make it to the final kitchen round!).
+ Replace the existing bulbs in the recessed cans with more efficient versions.
+ Add a counter for folding clothes with storage underneath for laundry and misc. house items.
+ Seal around the existing french doors to reduce any air leakage.
+ Since the space also serves as a mudroom of sorts, provide a place for shoes and coats next to the door.
+ Add a “window” to the opening between the kitchen and laundry area to provide acoustical and visual privacy.
In a mere ten days, they took the space from crazy clutter…
Didn’t they do a great job? I think this is my favorite space to date. Did you see the pendant they made over the sink? It’s a salvaged washing machine drum attached to a pendant fixture. And the artwork? A handmade sign with a washer door as the “frame”.
Scott and Nia also painted the laundry “nook” a bright aqua to give it some punch and added tons of storage and surface area by bringing in (and painting) some of their kitchen cabinets and installing a wood top over a steel frame that yep…they found at their local ReStore.
The existing nook was crowded and had barely enough room to actually do laundry. By stacking the new units, there is more elbow room and space for air drying clothes. The added storage in the larger space meant all the clutter could come out of the nook.
The divided lite “window” is a salvaged old window that fit the existing opening almost perfectly. It provides acoustical privacy while still allowing “borrowed” light into the kitchen. Although they can rely on natural light during the day, the existing light bulbs were replaced with efficient CFLs.
These bins? Just another awesome idea that the Sayers came up with. Salvaged? You know it! (Nia just gave them a fresh coat of paint and added the labels.)
Finally, they swapped out the solid pocket door for a salvaged glass door.
Once again, great work Sayer family! If you want to see what the judges thought and who the final two families are, check out the webisode here.
As you saw last week, the Sayer family made it to the third round!
This week’s challenge is the living room. I distinctly remember the Sayer’s submission video because they have a large, overhead glass door right in their living room. This element, plus the fact that the space is part of a larger living/dining/kitchen area meant that we had a few challenges to think through. Here are the ideas we discussed:
+ Come up with a way to minimize heat loss through the overhead door while taking advantage of all the great natural light (unfortunately, budget would not allow a replacement).
+ Rethink the existing overhead lighting and introduce better task lighting that would reduce the need for general lighting.
+ Clear the clutter and create a better transition between living and dining.
+ Finish out the stair landing and create a niche to mount the TV.
One week later, here’s what they came up with!
The S table and reclaimed wood table swapped places. Nia built a chaise out of pallet wood (and upholstered it herself!) to create a sectional out of their existing black sofa. A new rug and curtains were brought in and Scott installed rigid foam insulation over the opaque bottom portion of the overhead door to help mitigate heat loss. Scott also trimmed out the column at the wall to match the one in the office and bring more cohesiveness to the large, open space. Additionally, the inefficient track lighting was removed and the bulbs in the existing recessed lights were swapped out for more energy-efficient versions.
In addition to the chaise, the Sayers built a wing wall to help better define the living and dining zones.
The stair landing now doubles as a TV niche and Scott used scrap pieces of slate to finish it off.
The dining area window was trimmed out and a window seat was constructed (no big deal, right?) as a cozy place to read or to double as extra seating in a pinch.
And there you have it, great work guys!
So, do you think they made the cut this week? Head on over to the Re-Energized by Design website and find out!