Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mid Century Modern Curb Appeal Part 2

The weather has been a bit abnormal of late here in the Nati. Barring this past week of coldness including two freezing evenings, it had repeatedly rained on our planned painting weekends two weeks in a row. Prior to this first photo of the street view of our house, pre-primed, most the windows had been reglazed & I sealed all the material connections with silicone. Additionally our fence on the right side of the house that screens the trash has been removed.

Speaking of the trash, we're going to build a new screen wall. The second photo is of my mini mock up of a couple different 4" concrete blocks. The old fence can be seen behind, definitely a 'Gene it up' special, and in much need of replacement. The new electric meter is now on the side of the house adjacent to the downspout. We are thinking to build the new screen wall with the lighter colored block that has two holes. Taking the wall up to the window sill will provide an adequate screen height and the block coursing would align with the brick evenly at that height. The block also matches the concrete color of our porch and soon to be landscape walls.

Finally, a couple weekends ago the rain broke and we got down to some priming. In a few hours one morning I was able to get about halfway across the front of the house moving right to left as can be seen in the third photo. If you look close you can see some of the many cracks that were silicone injected. I feel like we spent eternity on prep work, completed with taping off around all the glass. We were also lucky enough to break the painted seal holding our storm door glass insert so that could be painted separately.

Stepping back a bit in the fourth photo reveals another curb appeal project in progress being our concrete landscape walls. We went back and forth debating whether to do the walls out of the same block as the screen wall or to pour concrete. Having poured the porch myself I thought this was another good project for me to 'weekend warrior' it up. My logic soon proved wrong. Our neighbors across the street were having their entire driveway repoured. A quick quote from their contractor was very reasonable with materials & tool already onsite an advantage for him. Better yet, having asked for the quote on a Friday, they would start the following day and pour on Sunday.

The walls are intended to be extensions of the front porch and will provide us with a nice area to landscape and add some color and depth to replace the lack of any real landscaping up close to the house. The walls align with the ends of the house and the front porch steps. The walls are 6" wide and 18" deep continuously on both sides with wire mesh. The fifth photo is looking toward our driveway, almost a 30' run of concrete wall. We were priming while they were building the formwork.

The sixth photo shows the end of the concrete wall enclosure returning to the house and where the new screenwall will be. I had them pour a small stem wall for me to mortar the new screenwall onto. This wall is merely an extension of the other landscape walls which are all kept level with the porch finish elevation. I have to say I'm glad we went with concrete, the original idea in lieu of the economical block that would have felt forced.

The final photos are of the concrete pour, an hour of pure excitement was had. There's always energy in the air when the concrete truck pulls up to pour. Getting to sit back and watch someone else do some work for us was pure luxury. The concrete walls would have taken me into winter to do on my own and these guys were lightning fast. Next up will be some more progress of our curb appeal project.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thrift Store Scores - Flexsteel Sofa, Lane Credenza, Lane Side Table

This past weekend I went to drop off a huge computer monitor at the local thrift store, this meant a follow up walkthrough of the thrift store floor. I've had good luck at this place, previously this was where I found our white Polish vase we scored a few months back. Items scored this round include a super long 'Flexsteel sofa, tag intact, Lane Credenza, and a matching Lane side table. My other recent thrift score of two Lane end tables can be seen paired around the sofa in the first photo. They go quite well with the sofa.

I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of the upholstery color, but its neutral and overall way more comfortable than our current monster Mid Century sectional. Flexsteel offered a lifetime guarantee for their sofa construction and this one still is in great shape. The arms have a
nice reverse angle profile with the high back, a great overall Danish appeal. It's 7' long and can sit 4 people, perfect for our open MCM spaces. I think a nice slat bench or surfboard coffee table would also look nice with it.

The credenza might be considered a dresser, but the drawers are not that tall and I can't see using it for clothing, thus credenza to me. It's a perfect fit to our collection.
The detailing is really nice with dovetail inlays on each drawer face and a reveal between drawers as can be seen in the fourth photo. It has the quintessential Danish credenza profile, I really dig the box sitting on tapered leg frame, nice and simple. The drawers are solidly constructed, Lane made some nice stuff and this piece is in really good condition. Wendy is thinking to use it for her photography storage, I think it might be nice near the kitchen to house our growing MCM dish collection. If anyone knows the wood species from the photos, please let me know.

Last and I suppose least for this round is the little side table that matches the credenza. It has the same dovetail inlay on the top with and tapered legs are proud around the drawer box. Same pull and same wood, I couldn't seperate the step child from its mother. Of course all this furniture takes up space in the room that was mostly empty and under construction, but now is complete with its new furniture. We are now considering selling the sectional in the living space and moving all this into our main area as we've really been digging the solid wood Danish stuff of late.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

CF3 Coffee Chat - Niland Residence

I was privledged to attend the latest CF3 coffee chat this past week, a special soiree affair at the David Niland designed 'Mary's House'. A little preface before we begin. Niland was a University of Cincinnati Architecture professor at DAAP for many many years eventually acheiving emeritus stuatus. Have graduated from this program in 2002, I was a student of Niland's during my thesis for Architecture. Although it's called 'Mary's House', professor Niland and his very gacious wife reside here together.

Now on to the house, which is tucked away off a gravel road enclave of super private lots about 2 miles from the Ohio River. Approaching on foot one is greeted with the view in the first photo. A super white modernist architectural sculpture. A deceiving symmetrical compostion on approach gives way to a playful play of geometric depth that isn't perceived on intial approach.

Complete with white pumpkin, the entire skin of the house is completely white. I have to mention a funny story, in that I actually never went in the front door, instead I walked around the outside to the back area lost in amazement. Nonetheless you can see in the second photo the front door is framed by a typical Niland portal entry.

Coming around to the rear of the house in the third photo, a large subtractive terrace is recessed into the volume of the house. The rear composition is punctuated with another portal element connected to a curvlinear and open deck attached to the main rectilinear form. Still on the third photo the master bedroom with huge full height windows can be seen in the foreground. The same full height window proportions run vigourously around the periphery of the exterior

Inside a symmetrical ying yang floor plan is anchored to a large and open central living space. Stacks of magazines and books line the walls and front entry. Although we were there in the early evening, the sun peeked out occasionally and allowed us to see the quality of light the house offers. The fourth photo shows the central fireplace flanked by backlit cabinet banks. The collection of glass offers hints of color. The curvlinear hearth and reveal another running Niland detail.

The collection of furniture in the house is fantastic. Nelson, Eames, Saarinen, Aalto, there is something from many of the staple MCM furniture designers throughout. Turning around the living space in the fifth photo you can see the view back out to the rear terrace with our host beyond. Professor Niland coached the beverage station to assure meeting all the guests. I have to admit, he's a much nicer guy when not under his architectural critical thumb as a student.

During the course of the couple hours I browsed around the house among fellow CF3'ers, I heard a couple times "it's amazing to see Cincinnati has this caliber of modern house." There is no surface or element not completely though out and purposely placed. The white planes hover and screen a connected volume that serparates space but never disconnects it to the whole. The utilities in the house are all concealed, light switches and outlets are tough to find, often concealed. All the heat vents run flush with the floor. Cincinnati does have some nice moderns indeed.

The sixth photo is of a model of the home that sits on the living room floor, it's enormous. The lack of roof in the model offers a good view of the floor plan and spatial relationships of the design. It's funny I can't really say there are 'rooms' in the house. No space is completely enclosed. You can see the ying and yang arrangement of the spare bedroom and office. The chimney stack a steeple of modernism.

The seventh photo shows one of the enormous modern paintings in the large collection that gives the house a museum feel. Many pieces of brightly colored abstract geometric artwork fill the white house. This is my style of art and completely caused uncontrolled drooling. From glass to sculpture to paint on canvas, they have an impressive, if not the best I've seen in person, collection of artwork.

The final photo is a sample of a hallway that had pieces of colorful modernism lining the walls, not yet mounted. There are not that many built works of Niland, the completed ones carry an enriched sense of complexity and architectural wonder. We have a Niland project here in our neighborhood of Paddock Hills that I will have to try and feature in a future post. Speaking of our neighborhood, we've made more curb appeal progress, look for posts coming soon.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Modern House Numbers

Our new house numbers are in fresh from the metal fabricator! As a component of our 'Curb Appeal' project, we decided to abandon the surface applied 'italized font' brass numbers and do something more creative. My inspiration for our new numbers came from our local Porter Paints up the street. Their MCM showroom has some cool three dimensional numbers hanging off the edge of their flat roof facing Reading Road. We also love the DWR Neutra font house numbers. Unable to pair up our four numbers on the cheap at a DWR Warehouse sale, I looked to a couple of online resources.

Really 4" tall numbers don't do it for me, I wanted something a bit larger scale. Having our four numbers done 8" tall in neutra font from customhousenumbers.com was far to expensive for us. I decided to draw up what I wanted and see what it would cost to have it locally custom fabricated. Experimenting in AutoCAD with many scales and thicknesses along with full scale printouts really helped me visualize the proportions and size appropriate for our house. After a quick PDF sketch to my metal fabricator the quote came back very reasonable, when could they be done?

A week later they were done, made from solid hot rolled steel, they are hefty to say the least. Each numbers is connected to the top mounting plate with a 3/8" dowel rod. Each number is 8-1/4" tall, 1/2" thick, and 1" deep. The top plate is 1/4" thick and 3/4" wide and will be mounted to the bottom edge of the fascia of our flat roof. Most likely they will end up to the far left of the front door aligned with the brick wall. Close to the mail chute, they will cast a nice shadow on the brick at the end of the day. Next stop for the numbers is for a clear powder coating and then mounting, material ripe for another blog post, stay tuned.