Filed under: misc.

adding on!

Every now and then, Kyle and I think about the long-term livability of our home and the ability to someday do an addition off the back of the house. We still have a few projects to tackle before we get to that point, but it’s been helpful for us to think through the feasibility of what an addition could look like and how that might impact our plans for the garage.

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Last weekend, Kyle even staked out the potential footprint. We would definitely lose some of the backyard and deck, but it’s a part that we don’t really use much anyway. (And let’s be real, we’re never going to park a car in that garage.)

But this post isn’t really about adding on to our house

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Surprise!

That’s right, we’re expecting baby #2 this September! And yes, this is part of the reason I’d been quieter than usual on the blog and my reference to “busy with life” in this blog post. So far, this pregnancy has been very similar to my first with Avery – mostly some nausea (I’m still on my vomit-free streak though!), carb-loading and an aversion to coffee. This time around I’ve been a lot more tired though. So yeah, pair extreme fatigue with no coffee and I’m pretty much in bed by 9:00 most nights – which hasn’t left a lot of time for blogging.

But, I’m into the second trimester and feeling like a normal human again! We’re so excited to be adding to our family and you know we’ve already given a lot of thought to how we’ll shuffle things around to accommodate another little one (more on that to come – and no, probably not doing an addition to the house just yet).

This will be another impetus to tackle our unfinished projects though (oh hey, bedroom!) so get ready for some more DIY posts on this blog in the near future!

mini vacation

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

playing catch up

Hello!

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.

new lighting that caught my eye

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.)

floor and pendants

1 IKEA, 2 Crate&Barrel, 3 CB2, 4 Crate&Barrel, 5 Crate&Barrel, 6 Crate&Barrel

sconces

1 Crate&Barrel, 2 West Elm, 3 Crate&Barrel, 4 West Elm, 5 Crate&Barrel

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.

a new year’s resolution

I know we don’t often veer from the design/DIY related posts here, but I wanted to write this post because it is such a huge part of chezerbey and our first several years of homeownership.

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Deb was our neighbor from the day we bought our house till she moved in the summer of 2010. She was a vibrant and fun-loving person who did hair from the salon in her home. (That’s Deb on the left and Kyle’s mom on the right. Kyle’s mom is a stylist so they bonded instantly during her first trip to Seattle several years ago.) She was always the person that had time to stop and chat – in fact, you hoped to run into her because she just had a way of making you feel better about everything…that life was going to be ok and maybe you just needed to chill out a little bit?

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We actually met Deb for the first time when we came to look at the house. Days later, our offer was accepted and we guessed she might have had something to do with it (the seller lived out-of-state and we were competing against developers with cash who wanted to tear the house down). When we tackled the roof that first summer, she took photos from her second story window to document the process and provide encouragement. As we moved inside the house, she lent us her nail gun and compressor and generously refused to take them back when she moved. In 2009, as summer turned to fall and we still hadn’t painted our house, she actually came over (while we were at work!) and helped us out. (Like, literally climbed up on our porch roof with a brush and paint can.) We didn’t ask and she didn’t ask, she just wanted to help and so that’s what she did.

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Three and a half years ago Deb left Seattle for her native Austin but ended up in Florida instead to take care of her ailing mother. The photo above was taken the day she drove out of town. A group of 15-20 people gathered in the rain to see her off, which gives you an idea of the impact she had on those around her. Not long after she moved, she was diagnosed with breast cancer which ended up taking her life last week.

I didn’t think too much about New Year’s resolutions this year, but on the first day of January I sat down and started compiling a list that quickly grew to 6-7 rather broad goals. But in the back of my mind, I couldn’t stop thinking about Deb. I think it’s easy to become self-absorbed with making improvements to one’s own self/house/career, but maybe that doesn’t really matter as much. Maybe the real resolution is to be a better person, to take more time for other people and enjoy life to its fullest. To be more like Deb.

We are looking forward to this coming year; to growing and learning and connecting. Here’s to 2014!