Monday, November 10, 2008

Grassroots Affordable Modern Kitchen Contest

Kitchen Contest

I hope that you haven't lost that voting mood...
One of our fav local blogs, Grassroots Modern, is hosting a kitchen contest. We entered our kitchen and it made the 10 and is now eligible to be voted for. The voting starts today! Obviously, we'd like it if you all voted for ours, but as long as you vote for one, that'd be cool with us.
Go to this site,
Or here for the direct voting page,

Our kitchen, obviously, is the Mid Century Mod-ification.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Here's another view of the couch in response to the comment the other day. Most of the furniture we have in the house, that is not from Ikea, came from Copenhagen West. We've been happy with the quality, service, and price of what we've bought from there. It seems that you can't go wrong with Scandinavian design. (see Aalto, Sarrinen, Volvo, Jacobsen, Stelton,to name a few.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

no more remodeling

So, we're done remodeling. So I'm more or less done with this blog. I intended to post cool products and projects, but as you can tell, I don't really have the time. Plus, if you want to know about that stuff you should just hire me. That what I do.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

After the hiatus...

Sorry for the long time between posts. Been busy and just taking some time to actually enjoy the house. My dad flew into town to lend his help with the house (and spend some time with his grandkid). We had a small list of things to do on the house, nothing too serious, some cleaning, installing small items, fixing the doorbell... However, the way my dad works, he had most of those done within the first morning he was in town and had added some larger more involved and significant projects to the list.
One of those projects was to replace some rotted boards on the deck. This also involved reinforcing and refurbishing the support joists with extra joists, dry rot epoxy resin, bondo, and new flashing. The existing railing on the deck doesn't even come close to meeting code. My plan is to build a new guardrail at some point, but we don't have the funds to do it at the moment and I haven't quite gotten around to designing it yet. So we put up a temporary rail in the mean time.

I also got around to making the return-air grill that's in the front hallway. Usually these things are pretty ugly, just a bunch of horizontal louvers which are nothing special. I did find a company that makes some really cool grilles custom ordered to whatever dimension you want in a variety of materials. That company is called Architectural Grille. However, a grill that was 12"x24" would have cost around $185 including shipping. That seemed a little steep.
So, I decided to make one myself and went to a metal shop and had a piece of perforated Aluminum cut to size. I then bent over the edge myself to create a little lip and bought some 1/4" aluminum spacers for the screws so it wouldn't crush when screwed tight. you may have noticed that I did a similar screen for the exhaust fan over the kitchen stove.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Support a fantastic program!

Design Build Bluff ( is a program I participated in while working on my Master's degree at the University of Utah. It's an unbelievable experience where a group of students travels to southeastern Utah to design and build a home for a family in need on the Navajo Indian reservation. Here are the last three years projects, starting with the house I worked on. This last year, instead of building a home on the Reservation, they actually built some projects on the property the program has down there in Bluff. There are a couple of reasons for this, 1: the program is expanding and they needed more space for a shop, bedrooms, and shower facilities, and 2: I don't think they had the funding to do a project on the Reservation. That is why this fund raiser is so important. If you're in the area of Utah next week, seriously think about helping out the program by attending the fund raising BBQ and auction. You have no idea how grateful the families we build for down there can be.

DesignBuildBLUFF board of trustees
cordially invites you to a cool evening outside in the mountains



a casual fund-raising BBQ,
in which proceeds will help support
and the
Jane Barrett Memorial Scholarship Fund

Libations and Refreshments, BBQ Buffet,
Live Bluegrass Band, Silent and Live Auction



One Hundred Dollars Per Person

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Posted a new post about the kitchen, it's below the post about countertops.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Countertop ideas

Here are two countertop materials we had been looking at...
"So why, on a post about countertops am I showing buildings?", you might ask. Well, both of these images use materials commonly used for countertops. The upper image is a building called "Seekoo"(more info here) and uses a skin of Corian. Corian is a composite of crushed stone and resin.
This is an image taken from the Paperstone website. Paper stone is pretty fantastic. It's a composite material available with a 100% recycled paper content.

It would seem that there is a push for materials that can serve multiple purposes. As a designer, that's commonly something I look for. I find it interesting to use a material in a unexpected way, however, if you do it enough it becomes standard and you have to look for another new use for a material.
I've also noticed that there are a number of newer products out there that are manufactured using composite materials and resins. Both Corian, Paperstone, Zodiaq, CaesarStone and countless others are made using some sort of natural material (stone, or paper) and are combined with a resin. This manufacturing process allows for a range of shapes and sizes. Do an image search for Corian and you'll find products ranging from countertops, to furniture, to sinks and tubs.
It's hard to tell from company's websites how quality of a product it really is. All claim to be the best. Dupont, who makes Corian and Zodiaq and other surface materials, has a countertop selector on their website that lets you choose what matters most to you in a counter and recommends one of their products.
I've know people who have Corian and they were surprised by how easily it scratches. I've seen Paperstone and Richlite and seen how easily water spots show up on it (at least in a horizontal application). I've made concrete counters and have friends who have them in their kitchen and bathrooms. When done correctly, so they don't crack, they seem to do pretty well, but they require some maintenene for sealing and such, as well as being labor intensive and hyper trendy at the moment. These were some of the concerns that we had as we were looking into counters.
Anybody out there have a prefered countertop material? Why do you like it? Do you have one that you really don't like?

Almost complete kitchen

Well, here it is, the kitchen. What was the bane of my existence for about a week. At this point there are a few little details left to complete in the kitchen, but you probably can't notice them in the photos.
I've put together a few IKEA products in my time. I don't find it hard to see why Ingvar Kamprad is #7 on the world's billionaire list. He's put quite the efficient system together. I know that there are differing opinions about IKEA, but you'd be hard pressed to refute the genius of the production line they've got going on. Take for instance that the majority of their products relay on a limited catalog of fastners and parts, engineered wood products with a set number of different veneers, and in the case of kitchen cabinets, the same bases fit all the different styles of drawers, doors and layouts. Also look at the way they have their stores set-up, limited staff, products in-stock at the store, vignettes of rooms throughout the storeroom to show what the things look like. Then you have to put it all together yourself so they don't have to pay others to do it. They are famous for their flat-pack packagings so that 1. you can take most of the products home yourself, but probably more important to them 2. shipping is more efficient and they can fit more packages into shipping containers resulting in cheaper shipping costs for them. So, boom, just like that and you're a billionaire.
Of all the IKEA products I've put together the kitchen was by far the most difficult. This wasn't so much the assembly of all the cabinets, they go together like most other IKEA products, it was more about fitting their standard sizes into a room that wasn't sized based on their cabinet sizes. I planned out as much as I could ahead of time, but not knowing exactly how the cabinets were put together and what the dimensions they listed on their specs were actually measured to and the added complexity of trying to maximize the amount of cabinet space and not knowing the actual dimensions of appliances made the process harder put together than any other IKEA product. I think I did pretty well, I only had to move a few of the cabinets around to allow for clearances between the stove, dishwasher, and cabinets.
The countertops were the most difficult part of the kitchen. You need to have some serious tools and know-how to do the countertops. Again, what makes Ingvar a billionaire is what makes doing the countertops difficult. IKEA only sells the counter we bought in 2 widths and a few different lengths. Because of the pass through into the living room, and the breakfast bar facing the dining room, neither of the two widths would work for us. The only piece that I didn't and to modify the width was the counter that the stove fit into.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Counter tops were a big decision for us. One that we couldn't make. So, we went with an inexpensive IKEA countertop until we decide on something else. I'll try to post some of the other options we've been looking at soon.

sound panels

I was trying to find some cool architectural project from some Scandinavian country to show everyone, but instead I came across this. It's called Soundwave Skyline from OFFECCT. I find it interesting because we have these old acoustical panels in our house called Tectum. The panels we have, while they might not be the most attractive thing, do a fantastic job of dampening the sound. When we put down the new hardwood floors there was some concern that the house would be pretty echoy. However, most everyone that's been over to the house has commented on how quiet the place is. Still, it's nice to know that there are other options out there.

Appliances and Cabinets

Big day of deliveries this day. Our kitchen appliances and new furniture arrived. It was quite the task getting the kitchen cabinets in ready to recieve the new fridge, dishwasher, and stove. We went with Electrolux equipment. So far we've been pretty pleased with the quality and design. We're not used to an electric range, but we're getting the hang of it. We also chose to go with a built-in range and I have to say that it looks much better than a free standing range (those photos will be coming soon.)

We bought our furniture from Copenhagen West, here in Salt Lake. We've bought furniture from them in the past and have been happy with the style and quality of their products. On top of that, we seem to lean towards a Danish/Scandinavian design asthetic. Ikea (Sweeden), Electrolux (Sweeden), Danish furniture, a Sweedish car. They must be doing something right. Plus, I've been to Copenhagen and it is by far one of my favorite cities.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kitchen progress

I'm trying to get this blog caught up to the point we are actually at on the house. However, working on the house still leaves little time to make posts. At this point in the photos you can see the Ikea kitchen coming together. I think I might elaborate on my thoughts about Ikea kitchens in another post, but for now I just wanted to put in a quick update.

Painted living room. It felt really nice to pull the plastic off the furniture and actually see how the things we already had are going to look in the space.

You can see in this photo the detail we did for storage in the living room. Instead of using corner cabinets in the kitchen, we took those two corners and turned the cabinets to face the living room. We figured that there would be enough storage in the kitchen with all the other cabinets and pantry cabinets that we wouldn't need corner units. Plus, a corner unit would have probably lost us space and made the layout in the kitchen more difficult. So, this way we have two storage cabinets that we can use for extra blankets and DVD's and such for the living room.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Future kitchen

The wonderful world of Ikea kitchens. And the not so wonderful world of Ikea kitchen delivery. Our order included something like 126 boxes and weighed in around 1 ton. That was a little too much for my little truck to take, so we opted for their delivery service, plus they would bring it up all the stairs into the house. They were supposed to deliver when work was still being done on the walls and floor (before this photo was taken). I had to clean and ready a space for this big delivery in the middle of all the drywall dust (see previous posts to read about that mess). So, we're waiting and waiting on the day of the scheduled delivery and...nothing. No call, no delivery. I call Ikea, "it says it's in transit". Nothing shows up. Wait all day and nothing. Go to Ikea the next day, and reschedule. They said that was bizzare and refund our delivery fee. That's appropriate. The next delivery day comes, this photo shows what they deliver. Not nearly 126 boxes. In fact, it's only about 20 boxes. Somehow they mis-placed a significant portion of our order. I go through and figure our what's missing. Not an easy task since the cabinets all come in seperate pieces and boxes. One piece for one cabinet, most the pieces for another cabinet, one door front for this one, a door hinge for that one, but none of the other pieces. At that point I didn't realize that you need to look at the item number description to figure it out as the name description is a trick to deduce. So, another trip to Ikea. "We've never had this happen before." They're all stumped. They were able to track down all but about 6 items in stock at the store. A free lunch, a gift certificate, and about 10 hours spent at Ikea waiting, and we have most of our kitchen. "Do you want us to deliver it? Free of charge." No, I think I'll take it home myself.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

First coat of paint

The first coat of paint is complete. Man, what a change that makes. We've been using Sherwin Williams Harmony line of paint. It has their "greensure" seal and is a no-VOC paint. We had used it in our previous house and were very happy with the results. I was working in the house the whole time it was being painted and never once noticed any smell. I guess it wouldn't be very friendly to those people who are prone to brushing up to wet paint as you'd have no idea the whole house was being painted.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The plan

Here's what we're going for. You can look back at previous posts to see where we're coming/starting from, and now you can see where we are heading. Some things have changed from these renderings that I did, the the basic ideas are in here.

taking shape

It felt really great to finally pull up all the paper protecting the floors and pull off the plastic covering the furniture. We can finally see the transformation that took place in just about 2 weeks worth of work. It hasn't been easy that much I can say.
The work never ends though. These photos were taken on a Wednesday morning, after I had spent most the night cleaning up the paper and plastic and vacuuming the drywall dust off the floors. That involved multiple passes with the shop-vac. If you ever plan on something similar, let me recommend getting the appropriate filter for your shop-vac. I had the general use filter and had to clean out the filter multiple times. The fine dust of the gypsum board would quickly clog the filter and I'd lose suction quickly.
I was up so late cleaning because we had our flooring guy coming back to do some touch-up work on the floor (filling gaps, cracks, nail holes, cleaning off glue), as well as our painter coming. Like I said, the work never ends. I have to hand it to my wife though, keeping things on track and making sure that there is minimal time lost between trades. Again, it hasn't been easy.
I can't really recommend others trying this amount of work when: you are living in the place that is being worked on, you have another full-time job and don't hire a general contractor to keep things in order, you have a new 4 month old baby, you have a significant other who is short on patience and just wants house that they can live in without construction debris everywhere everyday.
If you do try this under those circumstances, I hope you have a strong foundation to your relationship.