Wednesday, September 28, 2011

big plans: the great room

hnj greatroom- ours is modeled after this space via Hugh Newell Jacobsen

i am finally ready to show off the entire first floor of our sweet little house.  it has gone through so many different phases and changes over the past two or so months.  from having a basement to not having a basement.  walk out great room versus no walk out.

we basically designed out house so that the great room and dining area is its own "house", one pure space with a great wall of windows looking toward the river and the sunset.  we were greatly inspired by Hugh Newell Jacobson spaces, but also by swedish architecture and classic barn architecture.  over the dining room end of the space we have suspended a loft not only to define the dining area but to add a bit of whimsy.  who doesn't like a loft space in which to curl up with a good book?!

since we are the designers the finishes of this space are changing constantly.  i have complied these photos as inspiration for when we get to the design of the interior.  i know i want it to be light and bright but beyond that there are so many choices to make!

First Floor Plan

the beams and high pitch of this roof is pretty fantasic via Tartan Scot Blog

sweet little loft space- the perfect reading nook via Chicago Home Magazine

i want this stove!  so scandinavian via Euro Heat

i like how they added the beams but kept everything white via Villa Anna

interesting space; furniture layout is good for our house via A Life's Design

this is more reminiscent of what our interior ceiling pitch will look like
via J. Banks Design

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

designers we heart: annie selke

we are working hard and i am sure i will have a lot to update later this week but for now enjoy a designer i really like! 

i am a huge fan of house beautiful magazine and all the stuff they do.  my inspiration folder is filled with pages pulled from this publication and one article that i followed in particular is annie selke's home makeover. she took a 1970's ranch house and transformed it into a space with tons of light and a contemporary feel, and she did a lot of it herself!

for those of you unfamiliar with annie selke she is the owner and designer of pinecone hill which started out as a fabric design and bedding store based in western massachusetts. her company has since grown to design furniture, rugs, fabric, bedding and sleepwear!

you can see the entire makeover at house beautiful's site but here are a few photos to get you started:

The Original 1970's House via House Beautiful

The New Facade via House Beautiful
Before Kitchen via House Beautiful

After Kitchen via House Beautiful

New Open Living Space via House Beautiful

Monday, September 26, 2011

progress report: my weekend project

while björn was working all weekend i was busy with a little project of my own.  our neighbor gave us her old mailbox which i spray painted a cheerful red and put up next to our property.  i spoke to our mailman but i need to make sure he knows that we are here!  now i just need some mail!   

playing around with Camera+ on the iphone!

if you want to mail something to us you may do so at: 

3211 East Third Ave
Durango, CO 81301

Saturday, September 24, 2011

happy weekend: my new toy

have I mentioned Durango has some good antique shopping? well they do and look what I brought home today!  have a happy weekend!

Sven, my painted Swedish horse!  Isn't he cute?!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

inspiring spaces: living in a van down by the river

for days now we have told all of the excavators, concrete workers and other contractors that come over to look at the site that we are living in a van down by the river... well Casper is not quite a van.  he is a 16' bambi edition airstream trailer.  it is camping but luxury camping, and we couldn't ask for a better spot!

björn's mom and step-dad bought the airstream a few years ago and lived in him full time in alaska, over a winter.  they have since used the airstream to travel around the country visting friends and going on some fun camping adventures.  

we have Casper set up on the north part of the property, we can see the river from our "bedroom" window and we have almost every amenity.  the airstream has a nice sized refrigerator, three burner gas stove, a microwave/convection over, surround sound stereo, tv and dvd player.  it also has a shower and a toilet, but björn and i have vowed not to use these features, it just means having to move Casper and dump him, plus there is something a little funny about using the bathroom 12" from your bed.

however, we are fully enjoying living in the airstream, it is acting as a combination home and construction trailer!  i have been adding my own little touches here and there and I plan to do a little more but here is Casper as he looks now!

Our little bed- I found the wool pillow from a thrift store here in town,
the Ralph Lauren plaid blanket is Björn's and the orange wool blanket is from our trip to Austria last year.

The dining area- horse blanket on bench is from the Basin Coop Feed Store in Durango,
the moose candle holder is Björn's.

The kitchen area.

Our bedroom view!

The refrigerator and flat screen tv! Another horse blanket as a rug!

My closet- smaller than even a NYC closet but it works!

The bathroom vanity!

Casper's floor plan!

I need to work on our outdoor patio space and to add more personal touches! as I make improvements i will add more photos, but for now Casper is home!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

products galore: SIPs built this house part II

today björn and i went to visit a house up the valley that is building with SIPs.  Mark Yerbic from Big Sky is also the rep for this home and he invited us up to come check out the process of installing SIPs.  We were there a total of maybe an hour and in that time the framing, insulation and sheathing of about 20 feet of wall went up, including a window header for a fairly large window.  this is possible because all of these processes are streamlined and built right into the panels.  seeing the product in action really made us both super excited and confident about building our house.

here are a few photos that i took today at the job site.  thanks to mark yerbic for inviting us and to keith olinger for letting us check out his house!

some of the SIP panels staged and ready to go

edge of a SIP with space for the spline
preparing the SIP spline with mastic and 2 x 6 
putting up a small SIP panel

adding the window header

me nailing the SIP in place

putting up a large wall section

making sure it is level- its in place!

Monday, September 19, 2011

big plans: soil, water, gas

one of the big things that björn & i realized over the last week was to expect the unexpected.  i had my worries about certain aspects of the project that i didn't fully understand, but i was confident that either björn & i could learn or at least find the person who knew the answer to our problems.  

after finding out that the soils on our piece of property are less than ideal we decided, in conjunction with our structural engineer, that the best approach would be to dig a very deep foundation.  and since we are doing that we might as well have a full basement instead of a partial basement & a crawl space.  no biggie, that just means a bigger hole, taller stem walls, more concrete & rebar for the foundation, which of course means more money but really how much more??  i mean after all its a hole & concrete right?  

my mind immediately jumped to thoughts of what to do with all of this new found space.  while most of the basement will be subterranean with no windows, a portion of the space will be able to have a walk out to the lower grade on the river front.  we are thinking this area would be a great place for a wood shop or an art studio space.   we also thought a room for dry storage & maybe a wine cellar would be in order!  other than that it will probably end up being a space for storage of skis, snowboards, canoes, camping equipment, everything you need to live in colorado!

wine cellar dreams!
our second surprise came when we discovered that the nearest water utility hook-up is way down the road at the main intersection.  the initial approach the city is recommending us to take is to pay for the installation of a 150' 8" water main!  what?!  do you have any idea how big an 8" water main is?!  or how expensive?  this is when i really started to worry.   on top of that come to find out that the closest natural gas line is quite far away as well which means more digging, & more money.
however, we are really hoping to avoid these high costs by using some more creative approaches than tearing up the street & laying an 8” water main.  because björn’s mother owns all of the properties along the proposed pathway of the main we are hoping to dig a trench through the “front yards” of the three properties & using a much smaller diameter pipe if allowable.  we are also rethinking the use of natural gas.  while it is a plentiful resource here in the southwest & an inexpensive option compared to electric or propane it doesn’t seem smart to spend a huge amount to install the gas line all the way to our property.  it seems a much better option to invest the money meant for natural gas into future solar energy resources.  our friend derek at solar works here in durango should be able to help us with any of our energy questions!

one of solar works installations here in colorado

last week was definitely a challenge & it really made us take a look at everything we are doing with a new perspective, but i think all of this will work out and in the mean time we are learning to be flexible and to roll with the punches!  im sure this week will bring more challenges.

Friday, September 16, 2011

progress report: rain rain go away

so much has happened that i haven't had time to post in the last few days so here is an update on most of what is going on:

it has been raining here off and on for days, it is seriously confusing to me.  i thought durango was technically a desert.  right now it feels more like juneau, alaska.  the rain, the cold & the fact that i can see mountains with fresh snow is a little unnerving however, I just read in the paper that this is the end of the rain & we should have a dry mild fall, perfect building weather!

the rain has made moving into our new home a little difficult & muddy, & it has made björn's job clearing the land not so super awesome.  however, he has had some great help the last few days.  we hired doc ricketts tree service to fell a large tree that was in danger of some day falling on our new house (that would not be cool) & to prune a few of the bigger limbs around the property.  then björn & our new friend, roger cleared the land of all the debris using our new trailer we pick up in farmington, nm on tuesday.

other news, we turned in the plans to the city & lucky for us they didn't seem too busy so we expect a quick turn around on a permit.  (as long as they don't have any problems with our plans)  we have moved into the airstream, but im not finished making it home.  i will definitely do an entire post dedicated to casper the friendly airstream!

here are photos of the land then & now:

filled with trees

lilac bushes along the south side of the property

Björn using a backhoe to move boulders and tree roots

our new trailer- kiwi

roger and björn loading up with branches

still a lot of big boulders but the excavators will take care of that

our river view- imagine some awesome landscaping

the narrow gauge train going by 

Monday, September 12, 2011

progress report: clearing the land

Björn's birthday present
björn bought himself a new chainsaw for his birthday and he really loves it.  it is a stihl brand 290 farm boss and compared to his old saw it is magical.   over the weekend we worked hard finishing up clearing the land of the small trees and shrubs that covered the property.  this was a huge job that we started in the spring and have slowly worked on but now we are ready for this part of the project to be finished!

Trautner Geotech and their cool drilling machine.
björn hired a geotechnical engineer about three weeks ago to do a soil test & report since our property is located on the river & the soil was fill from approximately 20 years ago.  Trautner Geotech preformed two test drills and analyzed our soil & came up with....slightly worse than good news.  our soil is less than ideal which means digging a really deep hole rather than a sort of deep hole.
Test boring by Trautner Geotech

we met with our engineer at Wilson Structural Engineering on friday to discuss this soil report and the options we have for the foundation.  after conferring with both the engineers and geo guys it was decided that we will have a full basement under the house.  this will accomodate the depth of the hole we have to dig without having to do a lot of back fill, etc.

  • call tree services to get estimate on brush removal / chipping
  • meet with several excavators on project bids for foundation
  • turn in building plans to city for approval and permitting
  • look into buying a utility tailer in farmington, nm
  • meet with more excavators for bids
  • whitney may be heading to the target in farmington to get some of the missoni line for target :)


Friday, September 9, 2011

happy weekend: birthday bash

this weekend is björn's birthday!  i hope he won't mind but turning 33 is a big deal and we both think 3 is a lucky number so double luck for him, and boy are we going to need it!  we are turning in the drawing set on monday to the building department in durango, so wish us luck that everything goes smoothly!

as for birthday celebrations- i ordered a cake from dairy queen.  now i didn't grow up with dairy queen but björn did and for four years now he has requested an ice cream cake for his birthday.  well, being the worst girl friend in the world i am just now fulfilling his wish, but each of the last three years there have been extenuating circumstances- i swear!  not that i didn't make the effort  just look at this cake i made two years ago and drove from washington dc all the way to nyc to meet björn for his b-day!  see....

i have forgotten what the cake actually was but i know it was yummy!
  bjorn doesn't really like sweet icing so the frosting is whipped cream topped with fresh strawberries!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

products galore: SIPS Built This House Part 1

mt. pleasant building from brian tomaino a friend and awesome photographer
people are constantly amazed when we explain to them that björn and i are building this house...ourselves.  we designed the house & we are building it, we aren't hiring a contractor or a bunch of construction workers, we are it.  and after we have explained all of that then the real questions start.  how are you building a house? you don't know how to build a house, do you? you mean you aren't hiring a contractor?  how do you know what you are doing?

bottom line is we don't know what we are doing!  we both have some preliminary knowledge about construction and home building..but really how hard can it be right?  people have been doing it for thousands of years.  and just because the majority of us don't even know how to hang a piece of art on the wall properly ( i apologize if that is you) doesn't mean that we don't have the ability to learn how!

however, there is one huge caveat that has made us much more confidant about building this house and that is SIPs!  we wouldn't be doing this project without the use of this very awesome construction method.

SIPs stands for Structurally Insulated Panels.  these little panels are super strong, super insulated, and super awesome.  SIPs are made up of rigid foam sandwiched between two pieces of osb (oriented strand board), and because they are manufactured under factory controlled conditions, the resulting walls are straighter, more energy efficient and produce very little waste.

our panels will be designed for us based on the plans that we give to the SIP manufacturer- Big Sky Insulations, Inc from Bozeman, Montana!  (woot woot)  after Mark Yerbic and his team at BSI have engineered and "panelized" our floor plan the house will arrive in durango on a couple of flat bed trucks as flat panels ready to become our walls and roof.

many of the people will use the word 'pre-fab' when referring to this way of building, and i don't know if that bothers me because of the stigma of 'prefab' housing in the suburbs and exurbs of many american cities or if i just don't like the idea of the way we are building being put in such simple terms.  yes- the house is pre-fabricated in a warehouse but that in no way means that it isn't our custom design or that we are limited in anyway by using SIPs.  besides, what is pre-fab?  as björn is constantly reminding me all construction materials are essentially "pre-fab"- lumber comes in specific sizes as does sheet rock etc. so most houses framed in the conventional manner are in fact influenced by these pre-fabricated building elements. and besides the days of sears houses and levitttown are long gone, today pre-fab can be awesome so maybe i shouldn't get so hung up on the use of that ugly term!

here are a few examples of how varied a SIP home can be, from traditional new england, mountain chalet to urban contemporary, SIPs can do it all.  i hope to interview mark yerbic at BSI soon and post some additional information on SIP construction and how awesome it is!

a traditional SIP built home via SIPA

interesting SIP built duplex via SIPA

mountain town SIP built home via Inhabitat

contemporary SIP built home with reclaimed barn wood and
 cor-ten steel siding via Mocoloco

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

big plans: we did it

over the long weekend we moved most of our stuff down to durango.  we are getting settled in, familiarizing ourselves with the town again & looking for companies we will need to work with once construction gets underway.  it feels great to finally be here, like the project is really happening!  

our temporary home is bjorn's mom, kathleen's house.  we will be here for a few days until she & her husband, jerry, get back from a trip with our awesome new digs...a 14' airstream trailer!  i can't wait until we get to move in & i can decorate!! 

sherman the land cruiser in front of the property


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