Filed under: house
Earlier this year, Kyle and I were contacted by a production company (teamed up with HGTV Networks) about filming chezerbey for a new webisode series called Home Diaries – a show about different homes and the stories behind them.
We liked the concept and signed on…then promptly scrambled to finish up some projects around the house! A month later a production crew from Knoxville flew out and spent a full day filming our home and interviewing us (it’s amazing how much work goes into something like this…and is everyone from TN just super nice and cool?). Bailey went nuts not only because there were a dozen new people to meet, but also because all the camera gear had tennis balls attached to the legs (to protect the floors). It was a fun and crazy day and we also owe a big thank you to our friend Robynn for hanging out in our basement and watching Avery.
The webisodes are part of a new website called ulive and were just released last week. Since then, Kyle and I have watched it a few times…ok, enough times to over analyze ourselves (yes, this was our first remodel as homeowners but not as architects!)(…and even though we opted out of grad school we still have a combined 10 years of architecture school under our belts!). Ok, just had to get that out there.
To see our segment, click on the image link below… [Update: if you're outside the U.S., reader JC uploaded the video here!]
Eek, it’s so crazy to see yourself on video (is that how I really sound?) but we love the way it turned out and the “feel good” aspect of all the homes featured in the series.
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.
It’s been nearly a year since we finished the loft. Ahh, such minimal beginnings…things sure have changed!
The loft is now Studio Zerbey headquarters and where Kyle spends his days (and sometimes, nights). (In this post, I talked about the importance of having our own spaces.) Although I usually work from the dining room table, we try to keep all of our shared resources in the loft. And by resources, I mean stuff. Over the past few months we’ve accumulated office supplies, code books and building up our material samples library. The space was quickly becoming overcrowded and needed some serious organization.
So, even though I probably bad-mouthed the IKEA Expedits in an earlier post, we desperately needed some low shelving to hold books, building codes and our backlog of magazines. Of course, the Expedit was the perfect size and so I caved, overcoming my beef with its chunky proportions.
With the magazines relocated from the white IKEA Stolmen units, we freed up enough space for our material sample library. We’ve tried to go digital as much as possible, which primarily means forgoing physical product binders that are clunky and have to be updated frequently by product reps. But, there is something about being able to look at a physical sample of a tile or piece of wood siding that you just can’t get from a website or photograph. We often do mock-ups to try out different stains or paint colors and so having a collection of physical samples to share with clients is critical.
Besides, it looks pretty. (And boy, oh boy am I glad the loft is not Avery accessible! Samples go boom!)
Here’s a snapshot of Kyle’s workstation on any given day. We buy a metal paper tray for each new project – it’s getting a little Tower of Pisa, but I suppose that’s a good thing.
Ok, now let’s move downstairs.
Here’s a photo of our stair cabinet (aka fauxdenza) from two years ago. At the time, we used it as a bookshelf, mail holder and collector of random things. It has pretty much stayed in this configuration until a few months ago, when my “office” began to take over.
Here’s a typical Instagram snapshot of my work zone. (Yes, I’m rocking two laptops. As much as I wanted to fully switch to a Mac, I’m using our old Dell for Autocad. It’s not ideal, but I’m convinced switching back and forth between the two will help stave off dementia in my later years.)
During the process of organizing the loft, we moved most of our architecture resource books upstairs and did some major purging. Now all of our books fit in the fauxdenza. I have mixed feelings about this because I generally like to have books on display and am convinced that hidden behind closed doors, they will not get read. (A theory that has been proven mostly true so far.) Moving the books also freed up space for more work clutter, which wasn’t ideal either.
So, more purging and reorganizing. As part of our babyproofing efforts, we decided that it was probably not a good idea not to store our liquor in the fauxdenza. So I did some kitchen shuffling and carved out enough space for the booze in the cabinet above the pantry. (Having recently watched the last season of Mad Men, we also joked about how now that we’re self-employed we should totally have our own bar cart by the couch. But again, the idea didn’t seem to really mesh with creating a safe environment for our daughter. Avery, make me a gin and tonic!)
With the alcohol relocated, this allowed me to dedicate one shelf for my own office supplies, leaving only a few random items on the counter. Admittedly, it now feels too sparse. Functionally, the fauxdenza is a perfect catchall or temporary holder. Stuff to go up to the loft gets stacked by the ladder and items to go to the basement on the other end. The ceramic bowl serves as Kyle’s catchall for, well…everything that would typically go in a purse. Aesthetically though, the counter space is hard to style. The low height limits displaying anything too large, but it’s not quite tall or deep enough for records or larger books. (Looking back, it’s amusing to think that we thought we’d mostly use it for a buffet for dinner parties – a scenario that has yet to happen and probably won’t since it’s easier to just use the island.)
So, maybe I’ll move some of our design books back up and I’m on the lookout for something to replace Kyle’s bowl (preferably something with a lid!). I know it’s only a matter of time before Avery will be yanking things back off so maybe I don’t get too invested?
Organization! I took four boxes of books to a consignment store to get to this point. It was hard to let them go, but as we’ve been in a pattern of acquiring stuff these last several months I’ve been trying hard to also get rid of the things that were just taking up space.
So here’s my mini office cabinet. For now I’m sharing the space with my cookbook surplus (I’ve relocated my favorites or more frequently used ones to the open shelving in the kitchen). The two binders on the bottom left are filled with recipes torn from magazines that I’ve collected over the past ten years. Every once in a while I try to think of some genius system for organizing it all but that has yet to happen. (In my idealized fantasy world I would cook my way through every recipe, typing up a card (with beautifully shot images) for the ones that pass the test.)
Finally, I can’t leave you without an obligatory dog/baby photobomb. I took most of these photos yesterday afternoon and had to work around my little helpers.
We finished the media bench and it’s not even April yet! Actually, we were 90% done a week and a half ago, but we kept on tweaking. You know how it goes.
The bench itself is made of two fir 2×10′s. Kyle took them down to OB Williams one afternoon where they ran them through the jointer and sander so they could be fit together without any wonkiness. (Our process photos are sparse, but it was a similar (although much simpler) to the office desk.)
Once the boards were back home in the shop, Kyle biscuited them together and applied a few coats of SatinThane. (He also added a radius to the outboard edge to make it a bit more baby-friendly.)
Once the bench was ready, it was go time. We put Avery to bed then emptied out the space (and did a celebratory high-five that we were finally, finally getting rid of the last of our college furniture).
(Sorry for these crappy iPhone photos.)
The media unit is an IKEA Besta box.
In lieu of legs, Kyle used the cutoffs from the 2×10′s to create a solid wood plinth. (We actually ended up moving the plinth closer to the face of the cabinet and adding blocking behind for extra stability.) The bench sits on the Besta unit on one end and on two IKEA Godmorgon legs on the other (the legs have metal cuffs that hide the plastic adjuster). The span is only 4′-6″, so the 1 1/2″ thickness of the wood is adequate. Our original design was to do a wall-mounted unit but we realized that it would be better to be able to pull the unit out in order to access cords, etc.
We went with glass doors for the Besta unit, but did our own window film to downplay the components (yet still allow our remotes to work). We used this film, which is the same thing we used at our back door.
Bam! (I now realize I should have taken some “action” shots but Avery was napping and Kyle and Bailey were at the hardware store when I took these. Next time.)
Although Avery wasn’t crawling when we wrote the last post, your comments about keeping the records out of reach convinced us to go ahead and make it happen and to use the space for toy storage instead. (Good thing too, as she is now all over the place.)
The subwoofer sits under the bench and we put the protective cover back on (even though it doesn’t look as cool). We still need to add a cushion and although I’m sure we could have easily had a custom one made, in a moment of lets-just-get-it-done we ordered this one from West Elm. It’s meant for outdoors but the color and size was right so we’ll see.
Ahh…new bench, new storage, new TV.
Yeah, we’ll get to that.
We also decided to go ahead and move the turntable to the cabinet as well. We bought this pull-out frame (with shelf insert) which works perfectly. (We intentionally left the handles off the doors and have catches that we’ll install once Avery figures that one out.)
The next dilemma was that we couldn’t fit all of the media components on one side to allow record storage on the other. Our stupid cable box was gigantic and taking up too much room so Kyle spent one morning haggling his way to a newer (and significantly smaller) version. “It’s for our child’s safety”, was the tagline of the day. Our xbox is on the other side still and we use it primarily as a DVD player. We’ll probably eventually swap it out for a small blu-ray player. (The small black box on the left is our all-in-one receiver that we use to watch TV, stream music and listen to the radio.) We also left the masonite backing off of the Besta unit for cord management purposes and to allow better ventilation.
We also removed the clunky plastic cover on the turntable. Good riddance, I say! We have noticed that it’s easy for the turntable pull-out tray to catch on the door if it’s not opened all the way so we’ll probably add a tiny bumper to protect the window film from getting scratched.
I looked high and low for modern/fun/affordable toy storage options and finally landed on these felt bins from Land of Nod. These are 11″ cubes – they had 18″ versions that I preferred but they were slightly too tall. Now that the smaller ones are in place, I think they work fine. (We have to preserve a bit of space between the toy storage and subwoofer for an existing heat vent.) The bins come in other colors but we liked the yellow the best (I originally got aqua but it was much greener in real life than on the website).
So, the TV. Somewhere in the process Kyle bought a new TV. (My mom was in town visiting and I must have been distracted.) Ok, really I just like to give Kyle a hard time about it for being such a guy. We bought our old TV 4 years ago off Craigslist so the acquisition wasn’t terribly unreasonable. For those of you that have been following us for a while, you may recall that the original plan was to make the downstairs bedroom a media room and avoid a TV upstairs altogether. Maybe we’ll do that eventually, but we noticed that we’ve used the space a lot more since moving a TV in there (it used to be in the nursery when that was a flex room). We’re trying to keep the TV off around Avery, but most of our viewing time is after she goes to bed so it usually works out.
As part of our baby-proofing efforts, I had bought some anti-tip TV straps before we purchased the new TV. But they’re not all that attractive and the backside of the TV is actually somewhat visible so Kyle ordered this crazy wall mount that not only secured the TV but it has an adjustable arm so the TV can be rotated to an optimal viewing angle. Also, the base that came with the TV was an ugly chrome thing, so…win!
I also had concerns about Avery eventually being able to tip the speakers over so we installed these straps to the speakers and wall.
Done! Besides the cushion (which should arrive this week) we also would like to add some type of art piece above the TV. We’re thinking something organic or free-form so it’s not a rectangle sitting above another rectangle, you know? No idea what this piece of art would be, but we’ll keep an eye out.
All in all, we love it. It’s amazing how it changes the feel of the space and Avery has already logged some quality (supervised and supported) window seat time. This area of the house has always felt the least finished so it’s nice to finally remedy that.
Our bedroom was the first space to be gutted and remodeled nearly 4 1/2 years ago. The room is modest in size and we didn’t have a big budget so we opted to keep things simple. Sure, the finished space was a drastic improvement from the day we closed (ack!), but as we continued to remodel the rest of our home we came to like our bedroom less and less.
So, time for a redo!
If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember a teaser photo of an empty bedroom from several weeks ago. Maybe you thought we were repainting (a good guess and logical first step), but no…we got a new bed! Our old bed frame was IKEA and purchased when we moved to Seattle in 2004. The mattress itself was Kyle’s from college and our first DIY project. He wanted a TempurPedic, but we were young and had no money so the guy at the mattress store tipped him off to a little secret: buy the 3″ high-density foam topper (that’s meant to go over conventional mattresses) and then pick up an inexpensive foam mattress from the Army Surplus Store to go underneath. Bam! Instabed! The mattress served us well but after 10+ years it was time for an upgrade.
[We also took down the birds. It was time. The twine was held by some nails in the corners so Kyle quickly spackled over those areas (hence the darker spots you see in the photos). We're not sure what the new art will be just yet, but will likely let the rest of the room dictate.]
We did some shopping and tried out other mattress types but ultimately came back to the TempurPedic. They’re definitely an investment, but we were able to buy a floor model (looked new to us!) for 20% off. (Woo!) Our old mattress and bed frame were a queen, which fit nicely in the space. Although we dreamed of upgrading to a king, the room is too small so we settled on a California king (which is narrower but longer than a king). It’s still a whopping 12″ wider than a queen, which feels downright luxurious. You’ll see we also had to rotate our nightstands (Offi tv stands that have since been discontinued) 90 degrees – it works for now, but we have other plans.
One of our concerns with getting a wider bed was how Bailey would react. He’s used to sleeping on the floor between the side of the bed and the wall, with his head fully under the bed. The metal frame is now too low for his head and the space too narrow for his 95 lb. body. We were feeling a little guilty about the situation until we realized that Bailey actually preferred to just sleep in the new bed. So, problem solved? Guess that’s why we got a bigger bed.
We still love our IKEA Pax wardrobe system but the brown curtain and tension cable were a last-minute solution that has never really worked as we hoped it would.
So here’s a rundown of our game plan:
Paint: In 2008 we had not yet discovered Benjamin Moore’s “super white” and painted our bedroom and bathroom an off-the-shelf white from a home improvement store. Yeah, I don’t know what we were thinking either. It seemed ok until we found the perfect white for the rest of the house and now it seems really yellow. There was also an incident during our 2010 demo where a crow bar went through the bedroom wall. We had the drywallers patch the spot but when I went to repaint I grabbed the wrong sheen from the basement. UGH. So, we talked about painting the room a color but with only one window (that faces north) we need to make it as bright as possible.
Flooring: The fir floors in the bedroom are original to the house and during the first remodel Kyle sanded and refinished them. Well, fir is soft, Bailey has claws and the finish we used wasn’t durable enough. Seriously, there’s a divot where he sleeps. Even if we took the time to refinish them again, the wood isn’t all that nice to begin with so we’re planning to do Flor carpet tiles on top. To save a little money, we’ll omit the tiles that would go under the bed. (Our design ideas for a new bed frame will accommodate this.)
Bed frame and nightstands: We’re still working out the design details, but basically we need a new bed frame to accommodate a bigger bed and new nightstands since our previous ones no longer fit like they’re supposed to. (We’ll probably move the Offi’s down to the basement to use as side tables.) Ok, technically we have a simple metal frame already but we have plans for a DIY headboard and skirt of sorts.
Wardrobe: Kyle and I keep debating the best solution for the wardrobe. The storage itself is great, but we need a better option to conceal all of our clothes, as the current tension cable is too saggy and the curtains are too small to look good when closed. My vote is to do something similar to the nursery, where we buy a ceiling-mounted track and sew custom fit curtains. Kyle wants to make custom drawer fronts and cabinet doors (out of a cabinet-grade maple plywood) so it looks more like a built-in. (We vetoed the idea of just adding IKEA doors since it would be a two-step process to open the doors and then pull out drawers. Does this make us lazy?) I like the custom doors/drawers idea but am worried it will end up being a labor and time intensive project.
Window curtain: We still like the way the window curtain can slide back between the wardrobe and the wall when not in use, but it’s suffering from the same saggy issues as the wardrobe curtains. We have a translucent roller shade that provides privacy while letting in natural light, but for the part of the year when the sun rises early we need a way to make the room darker. And yeah, we’re over the brown. I’m feeling lots of warm gray (I know, I’m getting crazy and straying ever so slightly from blue-gray!), but I know we need some color too.
Ceiling fan: The ceiling fan and light combo is currently centered on the door and window but we’re wishing we would have located it more central in the room. So maybe we’ll move it over? (If we go with doors on the wardrobe it will have to move regardless.)
Bedding: Kyle bought some new sheets that are a pale blueish gray and match our existing duvet cover. We still like the duvet (which is king-sized), but I wouldn’t mind switching it up either. And then there is the question of whether we get new, larger pillows. We’re obviously not into making the bed so maybe we don’t fret about these things too much?
So, nothing too drastic but we think it’s going to bring the room up to the same level as the rest of the house. This will also be the first real room redo since Avery was a couple of weeks old so we’ll see how the juggling of tasks goes. Who wants to repaint? One, two, three…not it!