Saturday, January 28, 2012

Let’s Get the Party Started!


We didn’t waste any time getting the house broken in. We started with a bluegrass hootenanny at the beginning of December.


It was a great test for the great room and kitchen. With a fire roaring in the fireplace, there was room enough for food, spectators, and musicians.


Then we turned it around and tidied up for garden club.


The speaker wanted to stand behind a counter height table and do arrangements, so we pulled out this cabinet and put a board on top.


That seemed to do the trick.


And look what a beautiful arrangement he made.


And he just kept going!


But all of those events were just the warm up for the big show:

Christmas Eve.

It was our turn to host the clan gathering. We do it every three years, so accommodating the crowd was one of our design criteria. Let’s see how we did.

65 for cocktails?





Not a problem!

48 for dinner?

Let’s see. How about 14 in the dining room…


That works!


We can fit 12 in the breakfast nook…




A smaller, quieter table in the library can seat 6.


You pay extra for the private room!


We can put 9 hardy college kids on the porch with the propane heaters…


Can do!


And the others can pull up around the fire and eat in their laps.


Now what about the pinata? Where should we do that?


We’ll hang that bad boy from the beams on the porch.


From the tiniest, to the soon to graduate,


they whack away.

The recent pinata graduates try to hold themselves back,


but once the candy hits the floor, all bets are off!


Now we’ll just tuck a keyboard into the corner of the living room,


and sing some carols before Santa’s sleigh gets too much closer ,


because somebody’s getting sleepy.


I think the house passed the Christmas Eve clan gathering test. What do you think?

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!