April 14, 2010
Concrete is so, well, concrete and enduring—and yet pouring the stuff takes almost no time at all. The crew arrived at 10:30 am and was gone without a trace by noon. So what happened during that time? Loud, loud noises. A huge cement truck churning concrete funneled through pipes and tubes up our driveway that spit out masses of the stuff into the garage caused quite the stir with passersby. The crew was fast and furious, screeding and smoothing in the blink of an eye. When they’d finished, the slab looked like glassy water on a perfectly still day.
April 7, 2010
What you’re looking at is beautiful chaos that is our garage floor. Today the demolition derby arrived armed with sledgehammers to tear up the concrete foundation in our garage, which, after nine decades of earthquakes and such, was ready to give up the good fight. Next up? At the end of the week we’re pouring a new concrete slab, which will double as the floor in my office conversion. According to our contractor, concrete will crack no matter what. And the best way to minimize catastrophic cracking is to cut grooves in the concrete to encourage the slab to crack in these control joints. Aesthetically I was resisting the idea—I had envisioned one smooth, seamless slab—until I stumbled upon these shots of Pierre Frey’s apartment in New York. How chic is this floor?
March 1, 2010
Not much to look at, is it? That’s where imagination comes in. Like getting rid of that awful, concrete splattered rickety door and replacing it with new carriage doors. Painting them blue. Adding French doors to the side. Letting in more light. Until now it’s all been theory. But after several months delay, our extended houseguest has vacated the guestroom so we can finally break ground on our remodel. This weekend we emptied the contents of the garage into said guestroom and our contractor will tear up the concrete floor and pour a new slab. Having lived through a major remodel when we bought the house two and a half years ago, I’m bracing myself for the rocky road ahead…
1. Farrow & Ball Stone Blue – for the carriage door; 2. Farrow & Ball French Gray – for the stucco exterior; 3. Farrow & Ball Cream – for the wood trim.
February 12, 2010
I’m writing from our kitchen table for a few more weeks, as our office reno has been put on hold by a houseguest. This morning it’s noteworthy to add that at 8:30 a.m. I’m dressed and ready to seize the day. After three months of working from home, I think I’ve maxed out on hearing my fellow telecommuters brag about being able to work in a bathrobe. Call me old fashioned, but there’s something to the idea of dressing the part. I’ve discovered that I’m far more productive when I shower and dress first thing in the morning versus lingering too long in a favorite Liberty of London bathrobe…kind of the same concept of school uniforms promoting discipline, unless of course you’re Britney Spears.
[Photo via philippemalouin.com]
January 28, 2010
One of the greatest perils and perks of working from home is the potential for procrastination. It’s an issue I battle with from time to time—but sometimes I’m all too happy to admit defeat. Like during the Australian Open when one can wake up in the morning, brew a pot of coffee with Mexico Santa Cruz beans from Ristretto Roasters, and settle in for few prerecorded hours of fierce volleying between Nadal and Murray. The net result, if you will, was getting a creative charge not only from the intensity of the first two sets before injury ended the match, but Nadal’s natty color scheme of Aster Pink, Orange Blaze and White.
January 12, 2010
The other day Cerentha blogged about architect Roger Sherman’s home, and I was immediately taken with the contrast between polished concrete floors and birch walls. I’ve been thinking along the same—albeit far more crude—lines for our home office. We are hoping to finish the back A-frame wall of the garage in some sort of wood paneling, which would include doors to storage behind. We haven’t decided on material yet, and I’m sure budget will make the ultimate selection for us, but in the meantime, here are some spaces that inspire.
Residential space by architect Barbara Bestor.
Oxbow Wine Merchant, Napa Valley.
Home of Dan Martensen and Shannan Click via The Selby.
January 5, 2010
“Type A” is the polite term people use to describe me. (I’ll leave the less flattering alternatives to your imagination.) I like to think of myself as organized, and so the first piece of furniture I purchased for my new home office is this fantastic file cabinet from Muji. This Japanese company has built its reputation on using earth-friendly, innovative materials. The file cabinet is made from powder-coated steel (a virtually pollution-free process resulting in a super durable product), and gets top marks for simplicity of design. I love that it fits under most desks, including the walnut veneer work table by George Nelson that I have my eye on.
December 23, 2009
I have now taken the first concrete steps toward home office renovation and showed my crude sketches to a contractor, who is putting together a bid for us to renovate our A-frame garage into a work space. Billy, the contractor, asked if I wanted to recessed lighting but I’m envisioning something more industrial involving Edison light bulbs. I’m crazy about the chandelier (pic below) at Gjelina restaurant in Venice, CA which is fashioned out of an old pot rack with hanging bare filament light bulbs. Dreamy, but perhaps a little much for my modest space. In a similar vein, I’m thinking vintage cage lights. Maybe three or four hanging from the rafters? I’ve started sourcing and Ebay has a decent selection of vintage cages, or there are any number of antique reproduction hardware sites that sell pieces to build my own.
December 20, 2009
Heather John returns from a trip to the stationery store…
Whenever I have writer’s block, chances are you’ll find me alphabetizing my spices, color coordinating my closet or reorganizing kitchen drawers. There is something highly cathartic about imposing order on chaos. A clean desk, clear mind, etc. Which is why I found myself roaming the aisles at Staples this weekend for office supplies to mentally prepare for a week of heavy research and interviews for a story I’m writing. Inspiration comes in all forms—and to me these tactile brown folders made from 100% postconsumer recycled paper are totally gorgeous in their simplicity and uniformity. I also grabbed a pack of Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils made from reforested California cedar—my writing tool of choice to unblock writer’s block and a favorite example of form + function.