Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Early exterior concepts

We bought the house through the previous owner without the house actually being for sale. It had been off the market for quite a while just sitting. With the help of our neighbor and local modern realtor, Susan Rissover, we were able to catch the owner while in town and make an offer. He had left the house and moved to Las Vegas, leaving family to take care of the house. Nonetheless, initially I wasn't too interested in the house when we first looked at it, there was a lot of work to do. But really it came down to that this was the only modern in town we could afford. The school district is decent, the neighborhood is outstanding, and we are within City of Cincinnati limits.
The Beige & Forest green trim really puts off the curb appeal for me. The first thing I did in thinking about what it could be was the color scheme. These images were done by me cartooning it up in Photoshop in a quick exercise about a month before we bought the house. I came across them while going through old images for this blog and was amused. Wendy and I both like the maroon & grey. The house originally was that typical dark mid century maroon like the house next door before it was 'Gened up'.
The existing maroon painted wood facias have been overlayed by the beige aluminum trim. Good for the house and the underlying aging wood, but bad on aesthics. Was this beige and green thing something cool back in the late 80's and early 90's? The current intent as we start to work on painting this spring is for a dark warm grey color overall w/ light grey trim on the concrete facia and soffit. The concrete facia's and soffit were another attrubute typified in Dombar homes. Ours could use some patching before its painted for sure. Perhaps we'll go back to the maroon idea at some point. There's a lot of prepwork before we can begin priming.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Flat roof anyone?

Many of the local moderns here in Cincinnati have a flat roof. Abrom & Ben Dombar, local modern architects & brothers, designed several of the modern houses in our neighborhood. Their designs typified the flat roof as part of their signature style for these houses. Our Dombar roof has a combination of flat roof and a pitched section, the latter is what gives us the main living space we fell in love with.
The original roof was constructed out of built-up tar & gravel, over it a layer of EPDM had been glued. I don't know when the EPDM was put down, but when we looked at the house early on, I got up on a ladder to see this. Don't let the romantic serenity of the mirrored trees in the pond fool you, this was 3-4" of standing water across the entire flat portion of the roof. Add this to the fact that our house had sat empty for over a year before we bought it and I started to get concerned at the time. No one told me to bring a fishing pole? Hard to believe there could be an optimistic point in all this. One, the roof didn't leak, two, the roof could hold the dead load weight.
Turns out the 4 downspouts were super clogged and needed to be snaked out. The owner had someone clean the roof up and a few small areas of water were left, but the majority of it looked to be okay for now. The roof had been painted white, but much of it had rotted up and was floating in the algae that was left after the roof was drained. With its current condition, I have to get up there every couple of months and sweep the standing water off and clean the downspouts. The long term goal is to put tapered insulation over the existing roof and put down another layer of EPDM or TPO roofing. I want to ensure the roof drains completely with the new roof, yet also insulate the roof cavity. I know this endeavor is going to require financing for us, so for now it's my time and a broom.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Time to begin

I originally intended to start a blog about our house and modern life nearly 4 years ago when we bought our 1953 Ben Dombar designed Mid Century Modern house. Then I could document its condition and our intent on renovating and adding to it. Having found out we were pregnant a month after moving in, lots of things changed. I will attempt to start at the beginning and catch up to speed over the next months as we continue to renovate our house.

So after 4 years of living in a 500 sq. ft. attic apartment in Clifton while I went to college, we upgraded to a 3 bedroom, 1-1/2 bath 2,500 sq. ft.
mid century modern in Paddock Hills, a small suburb of Cincinnati. Granted this was the only modern in town we could afford at the time, we were lucky enough to land in a quiet unknown neighborhood, complete with 10+ other moderns staged in between very large tudor homes and one right next door to us.

Though the house is very simple (not much modern bling) the spaces inside captivated us, and the simplicity of the house would allow me to apply my design intervention. Unfortunately the house had suffered many setbacks along the course of its history, the worst of which was the 1980-izing it went through with the previous owner, Gene. These applications will further be deemed as "Gened up" in future posts. Our initial interventions became mostly an exercise in purging.

The house layout consists of main living / dining area upstairs adjacent to a gallery kitchen and powder room at one end of the house and a large studio off the front of the main space. Downstairs are the three bedrooms, full bathroom, laundry room, & utility room. The house also has a very white vinyl 2-story solarium attached to the back of the house. We have been told it originally was a screen porch upstairs and open downstairs. The house next door has an awesome
screened in porch that cantilevers off the back of their house.