Modern Landscape Design

For this project I decided on a modern style landscape design to tie in with my modern architecture attribute. The clean lines and open spaces of my concrete work will create a contemporary outdoor space. I came up with a flowing design of terraced geometrical shapes, grid patterns in the concrete flat work, and the extensive use of unfinished cmu block to give an urban feel. I’m trying to create more of an extension from the house and outdoor living spaces rather than a traditional lawn and garden.

When constructing my modern privacy screens I continued the cmu block wall as a base and used galvanized Postmaster steel posts which then support the Cedar 1 x 8 boards. These posts are great, they are pre-drilled and will last for years. I kept the spacing at around 5 feet to keep the boards straight and I’ll stain them after they dry out in a few days.

The finishing touch will be all native, drought tolerant plants which I have carefully selected. Of course I ran sprinklers for very moderate watering  but the whole design will be almost maintenance free and save water.

Modern Bungalow Framing

Huge progress this week in only 4 and a half days of framing, the Modern Bungalow is starting to take shape now with the whole first floor and garage framed up. I haven’t seen anyone doing this in San Diego, my architect is doing these in Austin, Texas and this is the hottest new construction style for the old metro neighborhoods. The house will still have the classic lines of a bungalow but mashed with modern construction and design features. Everyone loves bungalows but this twist is going to give you the best of both worlds with contemporary style being the most popular right now in the home design world.

The underground plumbing, floor system and insulation inspection went a little better the second time on Monday, my regular inspector said everything looked good and he wouldn’t have made me change the sanitee fitting to pass. 3 more signatures on the card and we were able to get the 3/4″ T&G CDX subfloor down.

We put up the North living room wall first and then the front, or East kitchen wall. Notice the 10 foot ceilings downstairs and the 8 foot door heights. We also made all the windows a little taller and lined them up at the 8 foot door height as well. The doors and windows are as high as most peoples ceilings, it makes the house feel so much more expansive. My framers thought I was crazy and never even do 8 foot doors, normally its reserved for McMansions and is popular in Phoenix and Texas so its probably safe to say this is a first for South Park. The coolest thing ever is walking in the front door and looking straight back at the green canyon through the custom 9 foot wide by 8 foot high patio slider doors.

The highlight of the week was lifting up the 19′ balloon wall. Its the exterior wall on the driveway side of the house that reaches all the way to the roof trusses because there is a stairway in this location. You can see the 3 headers that follow the staircase up. It took 9 guys to lift the wall in place it was so heavy with my over sized material. For this house I’m using 2×6 framing for all exterior walls instead of standard 2×4. Besides being structurally superior, this will give me room for a greater insulation barrier for huge energy savings and provide better sound proofing from the nearby flight pattern. Some builders move spacing on wall studs out to 24″ when they go to 2×6 but I left them at 16″ on center. A friend of mine who works for a large National home builder called it a energy saving fortress.

In order to do the wide open modern floorplan, I used Parallam beams to span the 22 foot living room and then hung the joists off the beams. You can see us here lifting the largest beam up which measures 7″x14″x22′

Upstairs I used engineered I joists from Trus Joist. These TJI joists are the highest quality available and resist warping, twisting and shrinking to prevent bouncy or squeaky floors. Besides allowing greater spans from the engineering, one nice thing is you don’t have to crown the wood, they are all perfectly straight and will give a perfectly flat floor upstairs. I’ll fir down each joist so the 14″ beam wont show when we drywall the ceiling in the living room.

In the shear wall locations I’m also using CDX instead of OSB. You can see how large the house is looking here with just the first floor up. It’s going to dwarf the 2-story bungalow next door. Seeing this huge 2-car attached garage and wide driveway is also very atypical for the neighborhood, of course I did a 8′ high garage door to accommodate my truck.  Notice also here how the 9′ high garage ceiling height is lower than the second floor, this is where steps lead down to the master suite from the secondary living space to provide a little more interest and privacy. I’m so happy with this cutting edge design, there’s going to be so many cool things going on when its complete to make this a real fun house to live in. We are ready to start the second floor framing this week, there are more cool design features that I cant wait to see take shape. I planned on 2 weeks for rough framing but it will probably stretch out a little longer with all the small pick up work to be done at the end.

Mid Century Modern Renovation

My 1962 Leonard Drogin MCM is coming together.

Since my last blog post we totally transformed the outside of our Atomic Ranch House/Mid Century Modern project. I built a modern horizontal wood fence for the first time, it was way more labor intensive because the boards were all custom cut and had to be pre-drilled and screwed rather than using a nail gun. I used 1″x8″ cedar for the fence boards and 2″x2″ ledgers on my posts to secure them. I didn’t use pressure treated posts because I wanted to stain them to match the boards so the ends had to be treated before we set them. When I set the posts I also kept the span under 7 feet so the span wasn’t too long which would let the boards warp out. I sprayed a Behr semi-transparent fence stain in Natural color to seal the wood. Its looks great, kind of a modern style privacy screen rather than a fence and because the yard isn’t that big it provides privacy while still not making you feel boxed in. The fence is classy and sleek, the horizontal lines totally compliment the architecture I feel. After building the fence I had the stucco guy come back and do the retaining wall along the driveway to match the house as it was sticking out like a sore thumb after everything else looked so great.

Out front I had to terrace the yard a little because of the challenging hill we had to deal with. My favorite look with modern house design is the river rock combo with the Horse Tail plants. These are the reed type that I planted along the front of the garage and house. I added just one obligatory Queen Palm on an island to give a tad of privacy between the street and the front door.  Here’s another sizzle feature, check out this cool satellite shower head I put in both bathrooms. The spacey design looks like it belongs in orbit with my other light fixtures and I felt totally goes well with the MCM design.

I’m down to this final punch list of items that actually fit on one page so we are getting there. I should be close to on track for a March 30 completion as we are in week 10 right now for this rehab. There are still more fun things I’m adding so stay tuned, a couple more weeks and you’ll see all the bells and whistles. See the final finished pictures here.

Victorian House Colors

Of course its not done yet but we’re 90% there on our Victorian paint job and its really looking good. The steps and front porch will be green and all the windows are still missing the plum color but if you look closely you can see we put it up on one of the porch windows to get a visual. I still have to figure out which color I’ll bring down to the front door, the decorative brackets as well as the two-toned porch railing I’m still going to make. The last 2 remaining big aluminum windows on the front of the house are also getting changed out this week which will complete the package. I’ve got a guy hand making 2 custom big wood frame plate glass windows with mullions on the top. I honestly thought this color scheme might be too crazy but once it went up it didn’t look that loud at all. They are all rich tones and together work perfectly. The missing plum on the windows is really going to give it the finishing accent it needs. I love the way the sunburst, scalloped shingles and gingerbread all contrast on the green body and trim colors and the light blue front porch ceiling looks great with the greens as well. All the little details I fixed are really standing out now. Here are the 6 colors I used, all from Sherwin Williams Victorian House palette:

1. Body: Renwick Olive SW2815

2. Trim: Rookwood Dark Green SW2816

3. Accent 1 (gable shingles, front door) Rookwood Amber SW2817

4. Accent 2 (sunburst, brackets, porch, rosettes, porch detail) Rookwood Terra Cotta SW 2803

5. Accent 3 (windows) Rookwood dark Red SW 2801

6. Accent 3 (porch ceiling) Bluebird

EDIT 11/2011 If you want to see how the finished house looks here’s a link     http://tomtarrant.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/painted-lady1-1024×751.jpg

I bought the floors this week as well, they will be delivered Thursday and we’ll start installing them. I’m doing something different this time and mixing it up. I went with a more modern 5″ wide hand-scraped and distressed hardwood, kinda Jeff Lewis style from Flipping Out, and on my wall color I’m going to keep it white and clean, just softened up enough to make the white trim contrast. With the smooth hand troweled wall texture its going to look really modern and high end. I think that with the size of the rooms and the abundance of light coming in that these floors are going to be killer even though normally they are reserved for Tuscan or Old World interior designs. Your typical Red Oak flooring with the expansiveness of the space just wouldn’t have given me what I’m looking for.  And, at $2.60 / s.f. its more budget friendly compared to unfinished Red Oak at $1.99 plus another $2.00 to finish it. After all, the name of the game is to keep the exterior historic but have the inside modern and up to date. What do you guys think of the colors?

Ultimate Craftsman 7-Color Paint Job

After all that hard work prepping the house we finally started putting some colors up this week. It’s really an honor to get to spray it after all those hours of sanding. We squeezed 117  tubes of Alex Plus 35-year caulk into every crack known to man, my finger tip might never recover. And of course I had paint samples visible, so the unsolicited comments from neighbors started flying.  It’s amazing how people aren’t shy to tell you they don’t like something.  On a previous house we did, my wife and I had about 10 samples up on the front trying to decide what looked good. This was back in the day before we used a professional to guide us. Upon arriving the next morning I found that all the neighbors had “voted” in chalk on the sidewalk. What the heck, I mean they are the ones who’ll have to live with it after I’m long gone but mind your own business people! I learned long ago when house flipping don’t piss off the neighbors so I try and bite my tongue now. You can see here we’ve got 5 of the 7 colors up already. I know it sounds like a lot of colors but really its only various shades of brown and green. These historic homes can handle a lot of color easily as well but most homeowners would be frightened by the thought of using that many. I think when you see the finished product you wont even realize there’s 7 colors. The last color is going to be the most dramatic so I’ll show you guys as soon as it’s done. It’s going on the knee braces, barge rafters and each individual rafter tail will also be hand painted. A lot of work but it’s going to be crazy when it’s done. I also have the original 1923 window screens that I’ll be painting and hanging back over my new windows, this always gives such a killer detail in the color blocking. In the pic here the columns and porch railings are still in primer. The ceiling for the porches on historic homes are always painted light blue. This keeps wasps from building nests and it really works!

I’ve switched helpers now, my last guy who helped with all the prep started to look  like he was going to pass out. After going home last week at lunch from being too tired I decided it was time for the second shift. My new guy is super pro, he’s been painting for 30 years and I’ve used him before.  After we are done with the outside this week we’ll roll straight inside and start catching the interior up. I’m still trying to pick granite and tile colors but for sure I’ll be going white shaker style on the cabinets.