Friday, December 16, 2011

Barbarians at the Gate

One of the final components of our house was the driveway gate. The old gate was bent (a little too much Christmas Eve one year or a wanton delivery truck?). It was considered by many to be unsightly. So, we removed it and prepared to replace it with something more suitable.


I stalked driveway gates in Buckhead, stopping to snap pictures with my camera.


It gives a whole new meaning to driveby shooting.


I thought this last one had just the right feel for the house.

IMG00105-20110804-1025 (7)

I felt a bit guilty when the neighborhood association website had a neighbor raising the alarm about strangers taking photos of houses. Turns out it was movie scouts scouting for movie locations, but I wondered if I should ‘fess up. I tend to carry my camera with me and stop when I see something nice.


Here it was the espaliered sasanqua that caught my lens.


Does anyone else do that?

Anyway, I really liked the last gate above and thought it would frame the house nicely. I knew we needed a pedestrian gate and saw a great English gate on Houzz that had the configuration in my sketch below. clip_image002 After I came up with the concept drawing, I started getting bids. One company took my concept and photoshopped the gate onto a photo of the house.

McClatchery A Pic Overlay (3)

They had the most experience and seemed the most professional so they got the job.


When their guys came out to install the posts, the posts looked great and the guys were very careful to get every detail right.


Well, almost every detail. There seems to be a concrete pad blocking the pedestrian gate.


Instead of putting the post mounted gate operators, the gate company apparently decided that with several households sharing the gate, we needed an industrial operator. Two industrial operators. One on each gate. So in order to place this operator the size of a suitcase, they poured the pads. The idea that the the operator would block the pedestrian gate didn’t bother them.


Oh, and did I mention that the posts were too tall? My model here is 6’2”. The gate posts should have maxed out at 5’8”.

I was not happy. Gary the Builder, ever the sage, tried to calm me. “We have our head in a lion’s mouth,” quoth he, “it wouldn’t be a good idea to kick him.” Indeed, the company had my deposit and my gate. What to do?

I began to get worried that the gates wouldn’t look anything like what I had commissioned, since some critical parts had been changed. Builder Gary had them email photos of what they had built.

The gates looked good. I was calmed. Builder Gary negotiated a path forward. The gate company would remove the concrete pads and go back to the operators originally specified. They would install the gates. I would pay them the balance and live with the extra foot of height.

I think Builder Gary could have a career in the State Department, but first he has to build another of Justeen and Denise’s houses.

I stayed safely inside when they removed the concrete pads.


It was partly because I was trying to give them what they wanted. I had been labeled a difficult customer. They didn’t want me “supervising.” It also made me nervous that they used a motor lift to lift out the concrete pads whole to use again. I wasn’t sure what they were going to use them for, but I didn’t want them sizing up my feet. Concrete shoes are not my thing. Just saying.

As fate would have it, I was in the hospital with one of my kids on the day the gate was installed, so the only way I could see the progress was from the security camera.


When I got back home, I was very pleased with the way the gate turned out. The operators don’t block the path and it is no problem to walk through the pedestrian gate now.


So, we decorated a bit,



and now we are ready to invite friends in,


or close things up should we have an encounter with barbarians at the gate…


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Getting in the Groove

The week before Thanksgiving, we had the big move.


The guys from Buckhead Movers backed down the driveway between the swing set and the basketball goal  and parked the truck just inside the 3 point circle (isn’t there a penalty for staying  in the lane too long?).


They carried out furniture, boxes, rugs and weren’t even bothered by strange people with cameras.


Goodbye old living room!


Hello, new house!


They backed right up to the front door and started unloading.  Before too long the new living room was starting to look familiar.


We started breaking in the house over the holiday weekend.  The band room got a gentle start with an acoustic rehearsal. 


After the soundproofing we had some serious acoustical issues inside the room, but the cork flooring really helped. No more echo chamber!


And the soundproofing worked so well, that while this was going on in the band room, a group of teens were enjoying a movie in the great room.


A day or two later, another band came in and amped things up a bit.


Bye bye bongos!  Here come the big boy drums.


Everyone seemed to like the way it worked.  I’d say I did a good job, but I wouldn’t want to…


…toot my own horn.

Meanwhile the teenagers felt inspired to use the newly landscaped backyard and stone terrace as a soundstage to make their own movie:

It is really fun to see everyone using the spaces I’ve planned and dreamed about.  We’re really getting in the groove!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Rest of the Story

When I took the photos of the main floors of the house, I held off on the basement, because we were waiting on floors.  I had chosen some cork flooring that needed to be installed last.  So, all touch ups had to go first and then


tile in the kitchenette. 

Builder Gary talked me into doing tile in the entry and kitchenette, so I had to find some tile that matched the cork.  It took some doing, but I think it came out pretty well.


The room beyond the kitchenette has an identity crisis.  We didn’t really have a name for it.  It was called a game room, a family room, an “I don’t know: we just ended up with a room below the living room.”  I finally started calling it the rumpus room.  When my kids were small, they all loved Where the Wild Things Are. Since this was sort of a video game/hangout room, a room in which one might, if one were so inclined, have a wild rumpus, I thought it was a fitting name.

Next time I build a house, I am going to spray paint the name of each room on the floor.  It took me forever to figure out that one of the carpenters was referring to the library when he said “den.”  Luckily we didn’t have any major mishaps with room name confusion, but having the rooms labeled would be a tremendous help.

Anyway, the rumpus room has a wonderful view of the back yard and the virtual pool.


And didn’t those cork floors turn out nicely?P1180415

Originally, I was just going to do the cork floors in the exercise room:


and in the band room:



but I ended up putting it through most of the downstairs.  I don’t think that my guests will mind having it in the guest room:


It is so soft underfoot and it absolutely eats the sound.  I can’t believe how much it reduced the echo in some of these rooms.


The guest room ended up with this funny little ledge where we went from a 12 inch poured concrete wall to a 6 inch framed wall.  We could have framed it out flush, but I liked having the ledge. 

I was worried that this room would feel too much like a basement room.  I had a friend growing up who lived in a split level ranch. Her bedroom windows were shoulder high and looked out at the underneath of the shrubbery.  I always thought it was kind of creepy.  I didn’t want this guest room to have that feel.


So far I think we’ve avoided it.  We'll just have to be careful of our plantings.

Besides, when they get a load of the bathroom, I don’t think our guests will mind cork floors or basement room status. 


This great old cabinet turned vanity still needs a mirror and a backsplash, but it is a neat piece.  The crystal knobs actually have the threading made into them.  The whole knob screws into the drawer.   I thought that was pretty cool.  It’s a little high end for a basement bath, but I’m kinda sweet on one of the guitar players in the band, and I want my guests to feel pampered, so there you have it:

the rest of the story.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Take a Tour!

The house is just about finished and moving day is coming.  I invited Justeen and Denise over to take pictures of their brain child now that it is all grown up.  I thought they might like to take pictures before the furniture went in. 

I thought I might like that, too, so I borrowed an iphone that has a wider field of vision than my trusty camera and headed over.


The foyer is a little tricky to photograph.  It is very cozy rather than grand and is more horizontal than vertical.  This view from the dining room through the foyer and into the library shows the front door and gives the best feel for the entry.

diing room 

Backing up into the dining room, you can still see the front door and get a sense of the wonderful space that is created by the bumpout on the front.


dining room to library

Now here’s the magazine shot.  I hope Justeen and Denise won’t mind that I messed up the symmetry and axis line by stopping the bookshelves short.

I probably shouldn’t have said that.  Now it will drive us all nuts.

library 2

This shot of the library is a little blurry and the shelves are quite dusty, but it gives a good sense of the room.


In fact the shelves are so dusty that my favorite rock star wrote me a message in the dust telling me that she likes the curved hedge in the back.

Living Room

And it does look good, doesn’t it?

living room window seat

How about the wonderful little window seat with a view to the garden space between the bedroom and living room?  I can’t wait to curl up with a mug of tea and a gardening book there.

Master Bedroom View

And if I want to stretch out a bit more, I can move over the to the master bedroom to the window seat in there.  It’s long enough to lie down on and do exercises.

If one were so inclined.

Master bath

I’m more inclined to recline in the tub. 


Apparently, so is Denise.  Now there’s an architect who really gets into her work.  She is soaking up every detail.

Actually, she was a very good sport.  I told her about how comfortable the tub is, and she accepted my invitation to climb right in and check it out.  It looks like something out of the Deluxe Barbie Playhouse, but it sure is comfy!

Master Bath Shower

No one tried out the shower, although Denise did send me a tip for removing a rust stain on the marble floor.  Isn’t it odd how pink the gray walls look in this photo?

photo 2 (14)

Turning slightly toward the left back to the  linen press, they look gray again.


Moving on to the kitchen, I was worried about the kitchen being very gray with all of those north facing windows, but with windows on three sides, it is very light and cheery.

keeping room to grilling deck

Between the family room and the kitchen is one of the most clever things in the house.  I was so worried about having the kitchen on the back of the house, because I couldn’t figure out where to put a grill or my beloved Big Green Egg.  I really didn’t want to carry pans of smoked meat up and down stairs.  So, Justeen and Denise bumped out the screen porch and made a little grilling deck.  You can slip out the door next to the freezer here or go through the screen door from the screen porch.  It’s just big enough for a grill, a smoker and a few pots of herbs.  That’s why the architects earn the big bucks!  Great ideas!


I broke in the kitchen last week.  Builder Gary was under the weather, so I brought over my soup kettle and my cast iron skillet and made lunch.


It’s starting to look like home.

breakfast nook

Now if only we had a table here in the breakfast nook to sit down and eat that soup!

Powder Room Vanity

Before we leave this floor, let’s check out the powder room. The funny little vanity that was made from a sideboard looks great with the puck lights in it. 

powder room chandy

And just to add to the fun, a chandelier that matches the etching on the mirror!


Let’s go upstairs.

entry to bed 1

This bedroom is essentially an attic bedroom and I was worried it would be too small.

Bedroom 1 desk

So, we stole space from under the eaves for a built in desk

Bedroom 1 built i

and then built an armoire into the wall just for good measure.

bath 1 vanity

The bathroom came out really cute.

Bathroom 1

Tucking a shower under the eave was a little challenging, but we made it work.

bedroom 1 closet

Just in case this room didn’t have enough fun stuff, there is a door in the back of the closet leading into an attic space that will serve as the art studio.

bedroom 2 view

Down the hall, this bedroom isn’t too shabby either.

bathroom 2 vanity

I like the funny little heart pine vanity.

bedroom 3

The last bedroom is so light filled and pretty.  It has the best view of all.

Bath 3 vanity

The bathroom is a bit more masculine

Bath 3

and has a great looking shower.

upstairs laundry

The upstairs laundry room is ready for action,

laundry room view

and who wouldn’t want to do laundry when you get a view like this?


This was my favorite view of the day, though.  The job johnny is finally gone!


Now it’s time for the rest of us to do like the beagle and settle in.