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and the winner is…

October 9th, 2014 by

Fred!

OMG!!!!! We don’t really know what to say! We’d like to thank the academy, and all the little people behind the scenes that made this possible…

OK, enough. What the heck am I talking about? Well, this:

2014 AIA North Carolina Residential Awards

Fred officially has his first architecture award. Hopefully it won’t go to his head, although come to think of it, he has been a little more demanding ever since he found out. Hmmm.

Here are some of the pictures that won Fred his award. (click on any image to get a full-size gallery)

All kidding aside, we are truly flattered, and all the honors rest squarely on the shoulders of our architects (insitu studio), builder (L.E.Meyers), and designer (nBaxter Design). We are very proud to live in Fred, and living here is everything we had hoped it would be. Not a day goes by without one of us remarking—in either english or cat—about how much we love living here.

We’re glad the judges of architectural goodness saw it just like we do: Fred is the best! (Be sure to click on the pictures to see Fred in all his jumbo-sized glory…)

the grand conspiracy

March 12th, 2013 by

OK, so it’s been awhile since I posted.

The astute reader will know that I am not dead, as I show up in a random house picture now and then, but I will admit that my contributions to the blog have diminished appreciably as my time has become occupied with building, as opposed to journal-ing.

Nevertheless, I thought it important to expose the seamy underbelly of the architect-builder conspiracy. Namely, they get you all excited with beautiful renderings and images of what your house can look like, and only very late in the process do you see the actual reality of their work.

For example, here is the rendering that we have shared previously:

Lovely rendering of a house named Fred

 

And what did we end up with?!?

This!

Fred-Rendering-actual-photo

See? It’s complet…, well, I mean there’s a huge differ…, uh, well, hmmm.

I got it! They left out a tree!

I tell you, you can’t trust anyone nowadays.

Let’s be careful out there.

strategy in design

February 20th, 2013 by

Spent the afternoon being part of the process of tiling yesterday (though, as the afternoon wore on, your flu-stricken reporter became less and less a part of anything).

An interesting process to watch, and be part of: the carefully asymmetrical layout of kitchen backsplash tile, starring Nicole Baxter and Nathaniel. It’s going to be quirky and beautiful, like its designer.

tile and snow

February 19th, 2013 by

Weird juxtaposition, but the two things came up on the same day.  Two days after my birthday (we’re no longer counting years, so don’t ask), I went to see Fred and take some new pictures.  It also happened to be the day of the first serious snow of this North Carolina winter, which is also usually the last serious snow of the winter.  (I know there’s a month-old post here that says “snow,” but that one didn’t compare to this one, with flurries all day long that didn’t stick but made the air pretty.)

Fred is getting down to the final stages now, with most of the exterior done (except for zinc and fine details) and the majority of the work happening inside.

Herewith, pictures.

house exterior in snowThe requisite exterior shot, showing plastic over the now-concrete driveway and paint on the Hardie panels and stucco.  The silvery portions that are not covered yet are where the zinc will go.

 

Tile wall in master showerThe master bath tile is just about finished, now, with the cool accent tile (“Palm”) grouted in a lighter color so as to really show it off.  I was worried all that grey would be dark and forboding, even though I liked the tile, but with the big window over where my tub goes it isn’t dark at all.  Even on a grey and snowy day.

 

kitchen interior with cabinetsThe kitchen cabinets look beautiful with the nearly-matching floor.  Countertops go in today and/or tomorrow, and the black accents will set off the light wood nicely, don’t you think?

Fred in the snow (inside and out)

January 18th, 2013 by

When I woke up this morning and saw the snow on the ground, I did something that would not normally happen: got dressed before I’d finished my coffee (!!!!), got in my little red Miata, and drove on icy roads–fishtailing every once in the while on the way there–to take pictures of Fred with his fresh white topping of snow.  The unexpected benefit was that there’s now heat inside, so when I opened the door to take a few interior shots my glasses steamed up and I said “ahhhhh.”  The morning sunlight is just beautiful out on our land, and it streams through the windows and skylights with utter abandon.

merry holiday celebrating from Fred

December 23rd, 2012 by

Hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?  In retrospect, I wish I’d hung a wreath from someplace on our rapidly-growing home–there is no front door, as yet, to hook it onto, but someplace…ah well.

It’s been a while since I posted exterior shots, so herewith: what ahnF is resembling these days.  He’s got a nice face, don’t you think?  And if anyone doubted this house would be Modern, with a capital M…or is that Contemporary with a capital C?…these shots of the garage wall and my lovely tall L-shaped kitchen window trio should put those doubts to bed like a little kid on Christmas Eve.Garage wall, from the west.

The kitchen "L" window

From the inside, it’s my first initial.

Fred exterior as of December 23, 2012

Looking more and more house-like, eh?

steel, meet wood…at oblique angles

December 10th, 2012 by

So this photo deserves its own single post.  I took this shot just to show how very much is going on in our framing; you see two steel girders here, meeting at the low point of our cantilevered shed roof.  There’s also metal holding the multiple layers of wood framing when the dropped roof continues out onto the deck (where one wall is tapered) and, in the lower right, the corner of a window.

No, we couldn’t do your basic square-shapes-right-angles house.  In the first place, neither of us does anything in a standard way; I mean, an AARP-card-carrying grad student?  A NASCAR-loving Mensa-qualified technogeek woodworker?  You see what I mean.  We’re not normal.  So our house isn’t going to be one of your basic boxes.

And you won’t see this stuff in a couple weeks, when the drywall goes in, so I thought I’d share this now.

joint with steel girder and wood framing

Steel meets wood and gets into a detailed discussion

from the inside out

November 19th, 2012 by

It’s taking shape…to the point that now I find myself taking photos of the inside more than the outside.  Yesterday we stopped by Fred’s site and saw windows; real windows, not the Microsoft kind–JeldWen, to be specific, all packaged up and ready to go into the holes in the walls that are already up.  Very coolest thing was that there’s one in already, where my lovely European bathtub will go, so you can see the view from my tub.

Window view from the inside outWe’re still waiting for the last couple pieces of steel that will hold up Fred’s “bend,” the area in the middle of my sweet husband’s office that has an angle to it where the house goes off in another direction.  (Kind of like our conversations often do.)  So there’s an unintentional atrium where his office will be, the last spot of the house that has no roof now.

Picking door handles and outside materials is still on our agenda; we’re settling on zinc to cover a section of the garage face and the bump-out/extrusion at the entry door.  Our wonderful builder comes up with new ideas, entirely unlike most builders from what I understand, and when we kept waffling on what wood to use there–because neither of us is keen on the idea that we’d have to treat it every year or so or have rotten-looking cedar or some other material at the front of the house, the part everyone sees right away–he said “what about zinc?”  Both of us had thought it was pricey stuff, out of our budget (which is growing every day, unfortunately), but it turns out the cost is about the same as the wood would have been and we both like the look.  Thank you, Leon, for liking new stuff and coming up with ideas that settle our indecisiveness.

So…here are a few more photos of how Fred’s looking these days, from the inside out.KittoLivRmNov18LauraOfficeNov18

 

more structure–and detail

October 28th, 2012 by

Two topics in today’s post: the incredible pace (or so it feels) of the structure of AHNF, as I like to call a house named Fred–though that should be ahnF, I guess.  Also, what it’s like to deal with the details, the picking out of lights/plumbing fixtures/finishes and the surprises and stumbles that come with all that.

First, the growth of ahnF.  Here’s how it looks as of yesterday, with the roof framing becoming more and more complete:

Wide shot of a house named Fred as of October 27 2012

The two sections of roof you see in this photo will join as the framing gets further along, for a continuous if bent line from garage to the main part of the house.

You can see the piano bump-out to the far right; a little triangular projection that will house my late mother-in-law’s Steinway and frame it from the inside with windows and a lowered roof.

In fact, that piano bump-out gives me a nice segué into the next topic, because the beautiful light fixture we’d always pictured hanging over it exemplifies some of my own frustrations with this whole home-building process.  More than a year ago, when we started the whole work-with-an-architect home design process, the two of us went through the catalogs and websites of all kinds of companies that make light fixtures, and plumbing fixtures, and other necessary details that go into a house (see earlier posts here and here).  We found, after careful research, what things got the best reviews and recommendations (thank you, Consumer Reports) and narrowed down our choices for such stuff.

This lighting fixture was one of those things with which I just fell in love, and pictured hanging over the piano–over the seat, maybe, but at least over the body of the lovely grand with its shining ebony surface.  Fancy chandelier looking like sailboats floating in airIt’s called a “Crescendo,” which seems especially perfect for a part of the house where music may happen.

But what nobody tells you, especially if your home-building process takes a while and goes through fits and starts at its start, is that things change.

The lowered ceiling over the piano, for instance, means this beautiful light hangs too low to go over the piano; if we leave the lid open–as is the usual practice with grand pianos–the light will hit it, so it has to go back in the bump-out, not where I’d always pictured it.

The other thing that happens is that as time goes by, the companies that make the oven, for instance, that you’d carefully researched, compared with similar models, decided was the best deal with the features you wanted (a popcorn setting on the microwave is absolutely necessary) stops being made.  The company (KitchenAid, thanks a lot) discontinues that oven, and replaces it–maybe, it’s hard to tell–with a couple other similar models, then publishes only a little information on its website so you can’t really tell if the new one that’s similar priced still has a popcorn setting or if you’ll now have to pay $1000 more to get that stupid button.

Do I sound frustrated?  That would be because I am.

One other thing that happens as the process gets into final deadlines of decision-making is that you find out one of the folks you work with put a line item from your budget in a category different from the category the subcontractor or vendor put it into, so that you assume you’re well within your allowance for, say, cabinets, only to find out the allowance in one budget didn’t include that item and you’re now $10,000 over budget.

SO….building a custom house is wonderful as you watch it become real.  And it’s sheer torture as you watch it become real and watch the budget expand.

Fred’s growing up

October 15th, 2012 by

Now it’s getting exciting.  We went out to see our boy/house, Fred, this weekend.  It’s starting to feel like the house we’ve been imagining, with walls that show how the slanted/shed roof will give us a wonderful tall entryway…the outlines of the rooms laid out on the now-framed floor…and a general physical representation of the house that will, pretty soon now (next Spring), become our home.

 

Fred from his NE corner

The view from the woods 

Fred’s dad showing how high the ceiling will be in the entry hallway.

The outlines of Fred’s room layout

Beginning to see Fred’s bone structure