Deconstructing Home

I am sitting on the original parquet wood flooring, lightly coated in sheetrock dust, surrounded by canvas tarps in the skeleton of my former living room looking out into small expanse of our newly opened up house.  I feel both thrilled at the progress and consumed with pangs of horror for having destroyed the place we call home. A live-in remodel is not for the faint of heart, and doing it all with children is just bananas.  There's a reason why people move out.  After almost a year of planning, a month long battle with the city about a 13 sqft addition, and an eleventh hour refinance to restore our budget after having to bring on a structural engineer we have arrived, one week into a seven week renovation, making toast in our garage and doing dishes in a work sink. This is the ugly part, the deconstruction. Here is the past week in pictures...

Last Monday we cleared out the last of our belongings from the kitchen, living room and dining room. We are donating the original 1960's wall oven along with the remaining appliances to Habitat for Humanity.  The fridge found a new home in our garage, a makeshift kitchen/storage facility.

The morning routine is the trickiest. We stumble out to the garage, start the coffee, the boys squeeze around an old table and eat their cereal. We're dressed in robes and slippers, it's kind of cold, and really cramped, but it's also a little like camping which makes it fun for now, and we keep thinking about how great it will feel to move in to a more spacious home. 

The boys had a few friends over for a wall breaking party before the real demolition began. We opened up a section of the wall to make sure there was no electrical, and let them smash the drywall and eat cupcakes.

The remainder of the walls came down over the course of last week. The original layout was pinched, the light was blocked by the kitchen wall and the side wall created the dark hallway that separates our bedroom from the main space.  As it turns out, none of this was structurally necessary to support the roof.  The light now floods the open room and I when I walk out of my bedroom I see windows instead of wall...


Here's the 13 sqft addition. We are bumping the entry to the house 2ft to create more space when you open the front door, closing up the window so that we can have a little wall storage and getting a new front door with glass panels to let light in. It'll be time to say goodbye to the little lemon colored door...


The view from the street. We've got it all packed in there.  6 more weeks... six more weeks.

Days Go By

When I made the decision to finally begin my career in interior design, I had a choice, take a full time entry level position with a firm, or strike out on my own, slowly.  I went back and forth on this and finally decided that my favorite thing about the practice is in the details, the psychology and function of a space, and finding a way to marry those things with the people who live there. This isn't the technical part, it's the personality part.  I decided to go it my own to focus on what I love; creating inviting and relaxing family spaces.  I also went this way so that could continue to be my own boss, and work from home to be there for my boys.  Of course, skipping out on working for someone else, I've had to cultivate my own way of doing things, a unique style, a work flow, invoicing, marketing, all of which take me away from writing, and developing my upcoming classes.  If I'm being honest, I've been pretty stressed and uncharacteristically overwhelmed. I have a modest  client load and a major remodel in my own house beginning in the next couple of weeks which is delayed by permits and requires so much of my time, a kid with the lead role in the school play who is also juggling two different sports (too much) and a preschooler hot on his heels with places to be and things to do, and they would like a home cooked meal every night while we still have a kitchen.  I've backed off from blogging and social media a lot while we get ready to tear our house apart. I'm taking time to focus on the next steps for the business and the kids, and while I have about 20 unfinished posts in my head, I'm going to have to roll them all out very slowly.  I do hope you'll stick with me, because I'm sure it'll pick up soon.

I do have one for you today... 

When I decided to go for it with Make+Haus, the first thing I did was to reach out to my friends to see who might want to be a guinea pig.  I needed to practice the process, to figure out how much time it would take to complete a typical project, what to charge, build my vocabulary, resources, and to learn the dance - going into a home, taking photos, measuring, actively listening, asking the right questions, finding a rhythm.  One of my first projects was with Allison.  She had moved into this beautiful home in Oakland with both a both a living room and a family room.  The latter served the function of TV room, so the living room was left a little empty and unfinished, a room with some beautiful pieces, but incomplete and lacking in purpose.  We worked together to build a space that felt cozy and inviting, with a little formality. It is the largest room , and the first room you see when you enter their home. Here's a peek at what it looked like before...


There's great light and a lot of wall space.  They had already purchased the lounge chairs and the MCM Lane coffee tables, and needed to hold onto the sofa. I felt like the rug was too small for the room, so we moved that up into the kids shared bedroom while we looked for something that could float the furniture in the middle of the room. They needed end tables and cocktail tables, and that back wall needed something more substantial; the two framed pieces needed to be hung closer together to work.  

It was a room without a purpose, as is so often the case with formal living rooms. After we talked things through, it came out that she and her husband Terry really wanted this space to be retreat at the end of the day. They aren't big TV people, and their jobs are so demanding and they needed an inviting space and comfortable chair to collapse in with a glass of wine, to hang out and chat, a place to read with their kids, and a room to entertain when they have friends over. We talked style, Terry is more of a minimalist like a lot of guys, and I knew Allison to always go for a bit of glamor in her previous homes, so we needed to combine the two in happy,  family friendly way. I created their Pinterest board to bounce off ideas, and this is where we landed...

Keeping the same layout, we added a major focal point on the back wall.  Terry built the pipe and reclaimed wood shelf which houses their collection travel books, special photos, objects, plants and a new set of vintage children's books.  They really wanted an end table in the likeness of their coffee table set,  so I turned to Craigslist where I found the round Lane piece between the chairs. The smaller brass table(s) are from Target. Their youngest, Zachary, is almost two and spends his days removing things from shelves and table tops, so everything at his level is meant for him to explore.  Tabletop vignettes are a no-go for toddlers, so there are lots of empty surfaces.   

We put a little play tent with some Bright Lab lights behind the furniture where the kids can play with their toys, and look at books.  Eventually, Allison will bring in a flotaki rug and a wooden crate with casters to house some toys.  Everything is being rolled out in stages in order to make the project affordable. 

The accessories are coming in slowly too.  This is a vintage enamel pot that I picked up for her at the flea market, and we brought in a large sunburst antique brass mirror to give a little pop and glamor to the room.  Over time they'll add in more accessories, and they'll bring in an overhead chandelier, and get a floor outlet for a table lamp.  Until then, they have their retreat and a finished space to look at when they walk in their home at the end of the day.

All photos by Jennifer Daily.  


The Hawkins Haus

The Hawkins Haus

Here's a recently completed Make+Haus project! A few months ago I met with The Hawkins family to help them rethink their recently purchased 1950's rambler. They had this funny room, a sunken addition with oddly built-in cabinets, a brick fireplace with a wood burning stove, wall panelling, and a dated color pallete.  They use the room for tv watching, as a play space for their 4 year old son, and a spot to practice Capoeria, a Brazilian martial art that both Erin and Robert are very passionate about- a practice that involves beautiful, large wooden instruments and a dedicated floorspace.  I was tasked with a few things: creating a new floor plan, designing a new built-in system including a window seat, choosing all new furnishings, including a comfortable sofa bed for out-of-town guests, and styling all those new shelves.  Here's a look at the room before...

Read More

Dark As Night

Dark As Night

A few weeks ago we took the plunge and painted two of our four bedroom wall with Benjamin Moore's "Soot", a deep dark gray/black with a hint of blue to it. You might recall that it was one of our house colors when we were doing exterior paint over the summer.  When we moved in, the entire interior of the house was painted in flat "Swiss Coffee" white, even the woodwork, and the windows were covered in almond hued metal blinds. I left it that way for months while we contemplated the scope of the remodel and spent our energy on the outside of the house, landscaping, deck. Well, I'm almost ready to show you what is step one in getting our room together (truthfully, I'm waiting for our drapes to arrive).  Before I do, hopefully later this week, here's the inspiration.

Read More

The New Year

The New Year

As we prepare to knock down walls, and basically change our entire upstairs interior floor plan, I've been thinking more deeply about the direction I want to take with finishes, styling, and the overall vibe of our house.  I'm thinking about the next 15 years that we plan to spend in this house and how the boys (8,4) will grow older.  The toys will recede, the focus will shift from playdates and legos to practices, hanging out, and homework. Eventually they will be towering over me, and in what will seem like the blink of an eye, they will head off into the world, and Adam and I will begin our next chapter.  I bring all this up, because when I consider a space, I consider the people who live there, and how that will change over time. I consider their need for personal space or companionship, what they need in their home, and how they really live.

Read More