Saturday, April 29, 2006

Inspiring Houses: Kessler Woods Development

Our former home base of Dallas doesn't boast a ton of exciting modern homes. That's why I'm excited to see Kessler Woods, a development in my former neighborhood of Oak Cliff, taking off and getting tons of press, press and more press.

In a city more famous for really awful McMansions, Kessler Woods offers 30 unique, architect-designed modern homes with exceptional design, construction and finish out.

Priced from $500,000 to $2 million, they aren't close to Austin's Agave development in affordability. But, they're designed by such architects as Frank Welch and are certainly more high-end.

The setting is beautiful, with thick trees, creeks and softly rolling hills. And, only minutes from downtown. The only negative thing I'll say is that, for this price point, the homes are jammed a bit too close together.

Some of the properties are already sold, but there are many left.

If you are visiting Dallas anytime soon and are remotely interested in modern development, you should seriously check it out.

Shopping: Modern Summer

It is practically here. Let's get equipped.

First off, I love this line of outdoor furniture from
Sprout Home. Made of steel and ipe wood, a sustainable tropical hardwood, they aren't dirt cheap but are built to last.

bench is nothing short of stunning:

And I really like the chaise:

For the tighter budget, Crate and Barrel has this set of outdoor furniture at closeout price right now. A great amount of bang for the buck at 799.00 for the entire set up, including 6 chairs:

And this barware, from CB2, Crate and Barrel's answer to West Elm, is in a knockout color.

Love. It.

These are probably the hottest outdoor planters I've seen in forever.

From Design Within Reach, they come in nickel, bronze or black finishes and are built to withstand outdoor use and abuse. The price tag reflects the quality, but heck, consider them an investment in good solid modern design.

I seriously might have to make that investment when we find our permanent modern home.

These little terracotta birdhouses from The Well Dressed Home have a nice natural modern look to them, and at only $15 a pop, buy a handful! I definitely prefer the white glazed one. It would also be more reflective, keeping the birdies from getting too hot during the summer months.

One would make a nice inexpensive housewarming gift.

Also from Sprout Home is this new Pebble planter, boasting a lovely organic shape that would look beautiful planted with a mass of trailing sedums.

Everyone needs a beach towel or two, but unless you're Donatella Versace, you really don't want to spend much on something that's going to get chlorine, sand and/or greasy sunscreen all over it regularly.

These Marimekko beach towels from Crate and Barrel are bright, fun, modern and very well priced at $21 each:

And as a bonus, here is an online listing of Garden Design Magazine's "Way Hot 100" plants for 2006.

Hip plants. Hmmmm. Do they come with little tattoos and a MySpace profile?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sites to Like: Apartment Therapy

I don't know if you follow Apartment Therapy...but you should.

Check out their smallest coolest apartments contest.

A ton of inspiration for urban spaces, no matter the size.

Also, check out the general blog.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

More Porn: Rick Black Site Schematic

Rick Black's schematic for the former Euclid project reads a bit different from MJ Neal's.

Our sense is that Rick approached the project with a very real concern for the budget we laid out for him. To me it almost seems like our budget guided his vision, as opposed to MJ, who seemed to build BIG (on paper) from the start, with the ability to scale down as needed once the budget gets set in stone.

Two very different approaches. Either are workable, depending on one's comfort levels.

Here's is Rick's schematic proposal, which includes a remodel of the existing bath, conversion of one bedroom into a dressing area, and the addition of a guest suite and utilities on the opposite side of the house. This would render the spaces on the left side of the drawing as a master suite with ample closet space (a big want of ours).

The schematic also includes a nice courtyard arrangement, future dip pool, and some hardscape that would tie the structure to the ground. You can see that the additions are in green and orange on the above drawing.

Rick also included a very rough estimate of the project, based on the budget and his experience, which was comforting.

At this point, we don't feel comfortable choosing our architect.

Because we are still looking at some varied properties, we'll wait until we decide on a site before we decide on an architect. However, we feel confident that, when we do find our new home (or home site) we'll know immediately who we should work with. That's the beauty of the little Euclid Avenue experiment.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Real Estate Find: 405 Post Road Drive

I had to pass this one on.

Our friend at
Modern Austin posted about this house a while back, and we finally decided to check it out today, just for grins.

For the right folks, this house is a find.

Built in 1960, it has nice modernist bones and hasn't been messed up too much. In fact, there seems to have been an amateur woodworker in residence at some point, which I'll talk more about.

It has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, and at a little over 1000 square feet, should be remodeled to 2 bedrooms and 1.5 baths, creating more living space. 3 bedrooms in 1000 square feet is silly for a first modernist house anyway.

And that's the deal. This house is perfect for a first modernist residence.

It was originally listed at $229K and has been reduced to $215. It has been on the market for a good while and might have a motivated seller at this point.

Try to buy the house for $200K, spend $50K on a remodel, and you have something pretty darn sharp in a neighborhood that will, no doubt, be picking up quickly in the next 5 years.

If we weren't interested in making a larger investment, we'd jump on it.

The living/dining area is more compact than it looks in the photo below, but it has vaulted ceilings and you could so easily knock down a wall and turn the master bedroom into more living space, along with turning the TINY master bath into a powder room (the other bedrooms are no smaller than the master anyway, so size isn't a concern).

Also, the strange white "bump outs" between the sliding glass door and high window doesn't seem to have any structural task or a/c vents, so you could rip it out easily.

The kitchen, seen in the following two photos, would need to be completely ripped out. Think IKEA cabinets.

Yes, that table above is "70's built in". Hence the amateur woodworker mention.

The guest bath is original and so damn blank you could live with it if you had to. Switch the faucets and hardware and be happy you don't have brown and gold 70's tile to deal with.

And the bedrooms are in pretty good shape, with refinished floors:

This third bedroom has more evidence of the woodworker:

The back yard needs work. The woodworker also built 4 (yes four) unattached storage and utility structures on the property. The main one, seen at right in the photo below, was built to align perfectly with the roof of the house, so she/he knew a little something.

For a $250K maximum total investment, you could have a great little modern house in a geographically excellent location that will begin increasing in value quite soon.

Another link to the website. Check it out.

Get Outside: Plant Tomatoes

Homegrown tomatoes: one of the true thrills of summer. If you have a patch of sunshine they are really easy to grow.

This year I planted 4 varieties: your everyday red, a yellow cocktail-sized pear tomato, and two heirloom varieties: a purple and a black.

The red variety looks very promising. I already have some nice sized fruit:

To grow your own, all you need is sunshine, compost or potting medium, and a regular dose of water. You can grow tomatoes very successfully in pots.

When they get to a certain height and begin to bend, you'll want to use metal or bamboo cages to keep them upright, because if your diabolical plan is successful, you'll have big juicy tomatoes that will try to weigh the branches down.

Try it this year. It isn't too late to plant them, but you should get right on it.

I see bruschetta in my future.

Cool Stuff: Sprout Home Had Me at Hello.

The good people at Sprout Home continue to bring in stuff that I covet.

This throw pillow is simply beautiful.

Love the "line drawing" stitching and the acid yellow color. Must back away very slowly.

A Little Porn: MJ Neal Schematic Ideas

MJ Neal submitted his schematic ideas for the now-defunct Euclid project, and graciously agreed to let me post them here.

I should point out that these images are the property of MJ Neal Architects and it would be a crime to appropriate or use these images without the written consent of the firm.

Here's the proposed layout, which might be difficult to decipher because the blog program automatically formats the pic size, whether I like it or not.

The original structure is in gray. You can see that he proposed an addition that would create our desired courtyard configuration, incorporating the existing garage in the layout.

The addition and renovation would consist of a master suite, kitchen and large screened porch, along with a nice dramatic entryway and indoor/outdoor fireplaces. Pretty cool.

The first sketch below shows the front of the house, with a new roof that would cover everything, including a parking spot/covered outdoor entertaining area/whateveryouwantittobe area.

Below is the entry to the home, with off street parking on the right of the entry walk and the new kitchen on the left of it. The kitchen would have a very open feel to the front yard, with panels that could slide to create privacy and glow at night. Nice.

Below, a sketch of the reworked living space, showing the kitchen area on the right, fireplace and built in seating, which would create a nice open feel to the space.

And here's a rendering of the master suite looking towards the screened porch/outdoor living area, showing our much-needed wall of bookshelves. Sigh. Those bookshelves alone make me want to jump through a wormhole to 3 weeks ago and exclaim "let's do it!"

Here's a cool one below. It shows the master bath with a great indoor/outdoor treatment. You're looking at the shower area, with rain heads and a reclining bench. Everyone needs a reclining bench near the shower. I know I do. Hell, I'd never leave the bathroom. Bring me a tuna melt! I'm not going anywhere.

His proposal definitely made good use of the "wow factor". We received it the day that we backed out of the contract for the property, which made it that much more difficult.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Technical Difficulties Suck.

So yeah. I haven't posted in a while, and I should be flogged.

Here's what happened.

We ended up backing out of the house contract because we didn't think the investment was solid. Once we spent $150K on improvements, we would be the proud owners of a house that was indeed fabulous (I'll post architectural renderings later) but would be about $350 per square foot....and NOT in a $350 per square foot neighborhood.

If we had absolutely, positively been confident that we would live out the rest of our days there, it would've been fabu.

But life pitches curve balls. We couldn't risk it.

So, I typed up a lovely post detailing the minutiae of our decision, then somehow had a techie glitch and lost the post. Aggravation.

And frankly, I didn't feel like writing it again, so suffice it to say that the deal just didn't make financial sense for us.

Done and moving on.

We're now leaning towards buying the most house we can afford in the best neighborhood we can afford, even if it means we have to sit on it before we undertake any major remodels.

We'd be able to do some tweaks here and there, but no knocking down of walls or anything else major for a while. But for the long haul and for sound investment purposes, it makes a whole lot of sense.

So that's where we are.

Hey, at least we've learned a few things and enjoyed some architectural porn, which I'll post tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Good or Bad?

Is this good? Or bad?

I'm leaning towards good.

In some kind of twisted and demented "kid of the 70's" way, I'm craving one.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Eye Candy: Jocelyn Warner Papers

From Design*Sponge, one of my favorite online design indulgences, comes Jocelyn Warner, a British wallpaper designer who also offers lamp shades in the same appealing patterns.

I'm not a big fan of wallpaper (or gold for that matter), but I could really go for a single dramatic wall covered in this:

And this oval pattern would look great in a midcentury home:

And the lamp shades are inspired as well.

Elegant stuff.