Friday, April 17, 2009

Entry Modification Phase 2

The next phase of our entry modification became more renovation as we discovered damaged plaster across the front wall. We came across this after we removed the slat blinds and hardware to give this front wall a more minimal aesthetic. The horizontal windows are recessed from the main wall plane about 1-1/2" that sets the windows in another frame of plaster. A simple peeling of some loose plaster turned into dry chunks falling from the wall. Before we knew it we had begun an unexpected project.

We have single pane metal casement windows througout our house, very typical of the Dombars and Mid Century Moderns. The front entry area of the house tends to get extremely cold and drafty which leads to lots of condensation. The plaster has suffered much of this weathering and needed a major overall. Although hard to see in the photo, there were several cracks and damaged outside corners of the windows heads. Much of the surface of the wall was wavering and in pretty rough shape.

The process involved taping, mudding, filling all the voids, and skim coating the whole wall. Plaster work was generally new to me having mostly drywall experience on simple flat walls. The inside corners and window jambs proved to be a challenge. We quarantined the entire stairwell in plastic to isolate the dust. It probably took me about two weeks to really get to the point of priming.

The third photo shows the final cleaned up plaster result. I think we had primed a couple coats at this point. Our 1/2 bath upstairs is adjacent to the entry and we also removed wallpaper and skim coated the 'wallpaper reveal' in that room as part of this project. Obviously, the AC in the window is an eyesore but was a necessary evil for us to have cooling. It's position in the stairwell really kept the house comfortable in the heat of the summer. Eventually it would go and be glazed, to be shown in a future post.

While subtle, I thought the recessed window condition could be expressed with a contrasting color. We decided on a dark grey for the inner color and a cool light grey for the outer. The light grey continues into the bathroom (after we removed all the wall paper) and into the downstairs. We kinda had a major painting spree at this point and painted our dining room wall a lime green. The three colors had a nice balance and added a dynamic to our space that helped us feel more at home. We had been in the house for 4 months at this point. The last photo is us 'settled in' post painting.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Entry Modification Phase 1

Considering the amount of money renovating an old house can gobble up, it was to our benefit most of our initial projects were purge based. Beige carpet lined the entry, office, stairs and the entire lower level. Victorian wallpaper lined the walls of the upstairs bathroom and office while metallic gold curtains lined the windows. Aqua colored Plexiglass detailed lights and ceiling fans paired with bronze hardware portrayed and interesting moment in time (1984 I think) where these things were actually considered 'style'. Gened mangled and half-assed most of his efforts here. Whether it be an electrically taped wire connection, a countertop just sitting on cabinetry by its own weight, or spray paint marblized wall paper, not much became a suprise after a few months.

One of our first interventions was to remove the carpet and part of the railing in the entry space. The glass block railing w/ carpet in the picture is how we first moved in. The entry area features a unique green stone (still unidentified formally) as seen in the pictures, the fireplace hearth also has the same stone. Peeling up the edge of the carpet revealed the hardwood floor to continue to the entry stone from the main space. The wood floor underneath has some damage and expanded joints that will need to be patched up when we redo the whole floor at some point. Obviously the glass block isn't original and tacky, it was gratifying to knock over the small portion with a swift kick. The railing for the lower level steps we believe to be original, a minimal black pipe ship rail style railing, very MCM.


I can't remember how many staples Wendy and I pulled up for hours, someone had gotten staple happy when they installed the carpet. Only three small hole had been drilled into the stone and we were able to clean up the leftover mortar to acheive the final photo. Although at the time we enjoyed the openess and lack of enclosure around the steps, we eventually would put

in a new railing (for a future post) that matched the lower
level. You can see a bit of it in the last photo.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

CF3 Coffee Chat - Alexander Residence

Last weekend we decided to get the whole family out of the house and went to check out the CF3 coffee chat event. The featured home was that of the late Jim Alexander, an architecture professor at UC's DAAP and a practitioner. The house was built in 1949 and is located on a unknown road in the outback of Wyoming. Several other moderns dot the street including one I spent two years working on. Most of the street includes very hill driven lots that offer great views of the outerlying valley. Wendy, Ava, and Ashton stand for their photo op in front of the carport.
On first approach the house seems much smaller than it actually is. It follows the terrain and linearly extends from the approach. One enters the house by descending into the entry courtyard, overhead a trellis structure connects the carport to the main house. The overall composition consists of several interlocking volumes, anchored by the larger two story 'original house'.
Over time this was added onto by subsequent kitchen, dining, and living space additions. The main foyer and hall has natural stone quarried from the site and generates the means to all levels. The bedrooms are upstairs with the public areas on the main level, utility & studio on the lower level. The arrangement of the spaces creates a simple yet intimate flow with each addition a reconizable block of time documenting the growth of the Alexander family. These spaces also testify to Alexanders development as an architect. The dining, kitchen, and living area exhibits the most quinessential post and beam MCM character with its flying roofline, all glass facade and fireplace as a centerpiece. The clindrical concrete flue seems to puncture the roof and anchors the ivy covered block to the glass facade.
Next door is another Alexander designed house, very similar in overall aesthetics, they almost pair up in their similarities. We also got to check out the Avril House by architect Cliff May a few doors down. The homeowners, fellow cf3 members opened their doors for a bit for us to take a tour. The house is unique in that the entire house is made out of concrete, from the foundation to the roof. All in all it was a great spring day as we got to see some other modern fanatics we hadn't seen in a awhile and the opportunity to see a couple modern homes.