Monday, November 21, 2011

Back on Bloomfield!

I can't believe it's been a year since my last post...and what a year it has been!  Last September we were knee deep in our own renovation, living in my sister-in-laws house... all 4 of us bunked in one room.  It was quite the bonding experience and we owe Karen the world!

Sister-in-law's spare bedroom

And we said what everyone says...     
"Let's shoot to be in by the school year."  

"We better be in before we need those coats that are in storage!"  

"Wouldn't it be nice to settle in before Thanksgiving?" 

Then (as our daughter said from the beginning).... 
"As long as we are in by Christmas, that's all that matters!"   

Well, she ended up being smarter than the rest of us and that worked out just fine.   Now that we are living in our new space, it was totally worth it.  It's kind of like giving birth... you eventually forget what it's like and maybe you'll renovate again someday ;)

Front Facade

So we moved back in after Thanksgiving and we began the new year with a fresh start.  With the extra space we gained from taking over the rental at the first floor we created a good sized office.  This allowed our next big development... my husband and I have joined forces!  Welcome Mowery Marsh Architects LLC.

So my tiny drafting table under the stairs just wasn't going to cut it any more. As soon as we moved in Brian built us a long work counter in about 3 hours. We each get precisely 64"... which is more than I can say for our situation back in 1991 when we first shared a desk at PSU.   Brian's parallel rule took up exactly 42" of our 60" do the math.  All I can say is we've come a long way!

Our new space is great with tons of light and a view through the mature trees in our backyard. I just read an article in Architectural Record that said looking at vegetation through large windows produces improved work performance!

That's me working in the office

I've always believed that one's environment can have a huge impact on how we live and feel but now I'm experiencing it first hand and it's even more profound than I imagined.  I'm not talking about fancy bells and whistles that you can get wrapped up in when building a house... it's the basics.  Spaces that work for you...  that are sized just right... but allow you to put everything in it's place... with lots of to breathe...  and it feels like you.   Kind of like the best pair of jeans you've ever had.

I'll just touch on some of the 'moments' of the house that I appreciate the most. Each of these categories could become a post down the road once things are completed.   We still have final painting to do and lots of projects planned to bring it all together.  But it's been fun living in the space and developing areas as we go...

1.  Let's start outside with the... BACKYARD!  

Who needs putt-putt?

Still some planting to do...

The outside space in now like another room of our house.  Its not very big but installing artificial turf has made it such a usable surface that it feels spacious.  So roomy you might see me out there doing my calisthenics on occasion! 

2. The long and skinny Kitchen Island

That's only the half of it 

It's 14' and it's amazing.  We worried that it was too long but it houses everything we need since our kitchen is one sided.  The sheer length is great for keeping the kids on their side and out of my work space! 

3. Windows... these babies are thermally, acoustically, and economically a great choice.  I will go in much greater detail on a later post. 

Rear Facade- trim needs to be  

But it's not just the windows, it's the LIGHT!  I can't say it enough... get it how ever you can.  It will make your life better.  Living in a row house has its day lighting limitations.  Our house isn't very deep so we still get a good bit of natural light into the center of the house.  Some would have put on an addition in the back for more square footage, we prefer the sunshine :)

Morning light 

4.  Separate Kid's rooms...

Lilly's partially closed rolling door

The kids are now on their own floor. Wonderful. We did full height doors to the ceiling that are usually open so it feels like they share the whole floor.  

Levi's Room

Don't you love that I didn't pick up my son's room for the photo?!   Keepin' it real.  Just like the plastic that's still on the window sashes... hope to remove that soon once we paint. Can't wait to see the black windows! Then we'll take some tidier 'staged' shots :) 

5.  Connections...and I'm not talking about our broadband.

View to backyard from 3rd Floor stair

Even though we live on three floors. I feel connected to all the spaces in the house no matter where I am.  It makes it feel bigger, which is important when you only have 14' of width to work with. The opening in the floor that you see in this photo allowed us to maximize the windows at the west wall. Yes, we lost a few square feet of floor space but the connection to the yard (that other room) makes it well worth it.  

Well that's it for now. I could go on for quite a while!   I hope to start posting more often now that Brian can free up some of my time.  We look forward to sharing one of the most meaningful moves we made in the renovation of our house. I've mentioned this's Passive.  That word doesn't sound very exciting but it really is quite remarkable.  I may have been skeptical at first, of the significance of this type of construction, but now I'm a believer.  I will leave you with this... it is the most thermally comfortable environment I have ever experienced in both the summer and winter with the cleanest air quality and virtually non-existent utility bills.  

Have I piqued your interest?  Hope so.  More on that to come...

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