The Cool House: house
Showing posts with label house. Show all posts
Showing posts with label house. Show all posts

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The upside

Last week I was in mourning for the magnificent spruce tree that has been the focal point of the property since the lots were divided in the sixties. I couldn't imagine what the house would look like without the tree it was designed around. Being a glass half-full person so I knew there would be more light both inside the kitchen and the bedroom above as well as in the yard. What I hadn't understood was how the removal of the tree would allow us to see for the first time the design of the house from the north-west dining room to the southern garage side.

It's possible to stand on the far side of the front lawn and truly appreciate how the house nestles into its surroundings, a testament to Andrew Geller's unique architecture. At last we can fully compare this side with the backyard facing east side. Definitely the upside of losing the tree.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Snowstorm Winter 2012/2013

Pretty, no?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring: the western elevation

Normally by this time in the season the house is hidden behind foliage, this season it's been so cold we are way behind. That, and I think the star landscaper trimmed every shrub hard last year. He assures me they will grow back stronger. I hope so, meantime we get to enjoy the architecture.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Big, Bold & Blue

I would. Would you? Ghislaine Viñas, Benjamin Moore's Hue 2010 Residential Award Winner designed a townhouse in Tribeca that's full of bright color. See the entire townhouse here.
via Herman Miller

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


Sunshine and dark clouds. Sand and trees. Beach chalet and new construction. Huntington Bay 2010.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Six years and counting

The official date we bought The Cool House passed a little while ago but today marks the sixth moving-in anniversary. I can't believe that it's the second longest The Guy and I have lived anywhere together - and the most complete renovation we have undertaken. Most of the work, roof, windows, bathrooms, exterior maintenance, was completed 2004-2007 but the last six months have almost matched that in terms of the scope of the projects finished and money spent. Of course, it's almost time to redo some of the work we did when we first moved in, such as re-staining the siding and painting the exterior trim and the great room will need a refreshing coat of paint soon but for the moment let's not be daunted by the to-do list but rather celebrate what has been accomplished this past year:

January-June 2010
We finished the laundry - new floor, new cabinets, new countertops and a new paint color - Iced Cube Silver - on the smoothly sanded walls. From start to finish this took us four years but 90% was done in one month-long period in tandem with the Master Suite.
The domino effect of making our bedroom beautiful caused us me to take a long look at the guest bedroom - and it was found wanting. We made it more comfortable with new roman shades that enhance the geometric shapes of the windows.
The great room sectional got its pretty pillows and because the dining room was feeling left out I went ahead and ordered new drapes for it. We also decided the rug we'd originally chosen for Verity's room would be better suited to the dining room - if we removed the old stained carpet and laid hardwood floors - so that's what we did. What? Crazy? Well, we had already decided to put down hardwood in the kitchen so it seemed sensible to just go ahead and run it into the dining room, too. I know, that's not much justification for undertaking another project!

Which brings us to the major update, the renovation we'd been looking forward to since 2004, the ultimate undertaking: the Kitchen. It isn't completely finished yet, although the countertops will be installed in less than two weeks, but so far I love everything about it, including the new energy saving windows (a big bouquet to the new carpenter who spent two days on these fixing the previous guy's mistakes) and mud-room door.
And while we are in the kitchen, let's not forget the final touches we made to the powder room. It got its third makeover in as many years: new wallpaper - just two rolls (that's a double roll if you speak US design) - and a pint of black paint.

June-December 2009
Three outdoor projects were started... and finished:

the re-landscaped side yard

new fencing on the east and south sides

Belgian stone pavers laid in front of the garages

and one interior undertaking: the Great Room makeover including re-upholstering the twelve-piece sectional.

It's been a fun rwelve months but I'm impatient to get the last pieces in place and the furniture back in the first floor rooms so I can finally sit back and enjoy the house.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Less than four years after we replaced the almost new gutters with bigger, newer gutters we found the leaders had failed again. This time we only noticed it when the electrician was updating a switch box and found it rusted out. Then he found a wet patch on the wall - not damp, wet. Outside the siding behind the downspout was saturated. We don't know how long this had been going on but it's good to catch it before it got serious. The good news was that the downspout was split from top to bottom so they replaced it, plus one other that also had a problem, for free.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Racquet Club Estate Tour 2010

Palm Springs: Racquet club Estates Tour, part of Modernism Week 2010. Seven mid-century modern homes, five Palmer & Krisel designed Alexander homes - some with butterfly roofs, another with a flat roof; a Donald Wexler Steel House and a Meiselman post and beam. They have been restored, some keeping as faithful to the original as possible, others updated and expanded but all retaining the desert's mid-century tenets of clear lines, walls of glass, clerestory windows, airy rooflines and indoor/outdoor living.

The surrounding landscape is always part of the home - here mountains form a dramatic backdrop to the pool

Each of the homes is unique in its own fashion - here the breezeway wasn't part of the original Meiselman house but was added along with a master bath and guest suite during a year-long renovation. While other homeowners had updated with an eye to budget this home had it all- Bulthaup kitchen, LED color-changing lighting and infinite jacuzzi tub.

We signed up for the tour not only to get a closer look at Krisel's and Wexler's designs but to see if there were any renovations we could use in our own house. We brought back a couple. One was the ingenious hole cut through the frameless shower doors that enables you to turn the water on without hopping in and out of freezing spray. The other? To clear The Cool House of all clutter and tabletop "fluff"! We also confirmed how well-suited ikea is to mid-century kitchens and bathrooms - especially when paired with quartz counters. Catch the local news video of the tour here and spot The Guy chatting with designer Anne Breux about, what else, beds...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Great Taste

Apparently an upholstered bed will work in a modern, mostly wood room. Check out this gorgeous house for sale in Vancouver

The bathroom is pretty awesome, too

and I'm seriously in love with the kitchen.
Apparently the house was used as a location for a new film that has something to do with a popular TV series. Julia has the details...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Design Rules Winner

As all the design tips and comments, including the last, which was obviously born of a scarring design experience, seemed worthy of winning the book giveaway, I decided it would be fairest to randomly pick one winner.

Using an olive green card (great color for Fall) and a humble biro (groundbreaking design), I enlisted the help of The Guy to draw one name from the pile.

The winner of the Elaine Griffin's manual to successful stress-free decorating Design Rules: The Insider's Guide to Becoming Your Own Decorator is... drum roll, please...

Napoleon Woman. Congratulations! Email me at modernemama at modernemama dot com and I'll pass your details to the publishers Gotham Books/Avery | Penguin Group USA. And thanks to all who took part.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Book review: Design Rules with Bonus Giveaway

Challenged by scale? Always choosing paint colors that are too dark or too wishy-washy? Wonder why the chair that looked perfect in the store looks like children's furniture in your living room? Designer Elaine Griffin knows the theory and has tons of practical experience that she shares in her new handbook Design Rules: The Insider's Guide to Becoming Your Own Decorator. This easy to understand manual will become your go-to source for avoiding costly mistakes or wasting hours of your time. Elaine has you covered; she lets you in on the secrets of design professionals so you can redo every room in your house and get it right FIRST time.

Elaine is contributing editor of Elle Décor, she designed for Good Works Makeovers at Oprah’s O at Home magazine and is ranked as one of House Beautiful’s Top 100 American Designers. Her own style is warm and comfortable. On a more personal note her chic, intimate wedding earlier this year was featured in the style section of the New York Times. A Georgia peach who has her own design business in New York, Elaine retains a friendly, folksy, Southern voice in her writing - think Paula Deen with a tape measure and a roll of swatches. We quickly learn that it's all about proportion - and Elaine spells it out in feet and inches. Design Rules comprises chapters on every room in your house, including the basement, each full of notes, helpful tips and rules of thumb. My favorite tip: always take the lamp with you when you go to buy a new shade. As Elaine says "sugar, there are no exceptions to this rule" - that's a lesson I had to learn the hard way! My second favorite tip is one that I'll use very soon: a wall-mounted flat screen TV means you cannot change the layout of your bedroom, so go with a stand-mounted model on a dresser. If, like me, you change the layout of your room every season, you'll be glad you paid attention here!

And so to the bonus: The Cool House's very first giveaway. One lucky interweb reader will win a copy of Design Rules, courtesy of Gotham Books/Avery & Penguin Group USA. Just leave a comment detailing the most important thing you've learnt about design and the one that resonates the most will get their own copy of Design Rules: The Insider's Guide to Becoming Your Own Decorator. That's it... Go!

*Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Legal disclosure stuff: Gotham Books/Avery & Penguin Group USA asked me to review the book, I did it of my own free will and was not seduced into giving a favorable critique either by the copy they sent me or the knowledge that one of my blog visitors would be the lucky recipient of another copy. I have received neither bucket-loads of cash nor the promise of a lavish trip for my book review.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Book review: House and Home

You love your home, you've made eighteen years of memories there and now you are forced to sell it. How would you react? That's the scenario explored in House and Home, the first novel by writer and HGTV columnist Kathleen McCleary.
Although she seems to have been living the perfect life (she runs her own business, has two adorable children and is surrounded by loving and supportive friends), Ellen Flanagan suffers a crisis in her relationship with her husband Sam that, combined with an earlier tragedy, results in an obsession over the family home... a home that has already been sold.
Anyone who loves their home will relate to this novel, and we empathize with the frustration and resentment felt by Ellen when her husband's unsuccessful business venture leads the family into financial hardship resulting in the sale of Ellen's beloved cottage to the preppy Jordan Boyce and her husband Jeffrey. Not only does she have to leave her cottage but she is forced to listen to Jordan's plans to remodel all the things she loves about it - the colors, the moldings and even the picket fence.
By turns comic and poignant, the novel is a page-turner; we sense a crisis is coming but we're unsure what form it will take. How far will Ellen go to keep her home? Can she renege on the sale, will she ruin someone else's marriage or even burn down her cottage to ensure Jordan doesn't take possession of the house? Eventually priorities become clear, and Ellen realizes that she must hang on to the important things in life. The author leaves the reader to answer the ultimate question: What makes a house a home?

This book review is a stop on the House and Home TLC Book Tour.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

House Voyeur

Yesterday's voyeur tour was so popular I'm feeding your habit again. More Incorporated Village Housevoyeurism here:

Friday, May 08, 2009

Hooked on (Victorian Beach) Houses

Everyone knows I'm a modern girl, it's right there in the URL after all, but that's not to say I don't have flirtations with older architecture. I've even lived in a Victorian house - real Victorian that is, built during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), not Victorian-style - and I still love the elegance of the older ladies.

Within the Incorporated Village there are outstanding examples of late Victorian and early C20th architecture; so many that the Bay Crest area has earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places.

I love the shingle style "beach cottages"

their porches


and turrets

The windows,

 especially the windows

the beautiful original stucco gatehouses

and the glimpses of grandeur long past.

This post is part of Hooked on Houses Friday blog fest

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thermal Imaging Maps

This is the last hot day of the mini heatwave and, I thought, an appropriate time to post this neat interactive imaging map of heat loss from buildings in Brussels.

Search by locality and street to see how much energy literally disappears into thin air. The map allows residents to see how efficient (or not) a building is and links within the site (French or Dutch only) suggest improvements such as insulating the attic or turning down the thermostat; a separate section directs home owners to grants that help offset the costs of making the building more economic to heat and more environmentally friendly.
This type of mapping was also undertaken a couple of years ago in the UK but I haven't seen a similar US thermal map. I'd be very interested to see how much we are heating the neighborhood on a cold December night. What do you think: An invasion of privacy or a useful tool to fight climate change?

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Life with Cats

With two dogs and four cats it's a constant battle here to keep the animal fur at lower than ankle level. But occasionally, after the surfaces have been dusted, the floors swept or vacuumed and the beds changed, just for a little while it looks like a normal clean house. Yesterday was one of those days, fresh duvet on the bed, flowers in a vase, it looked pretty good. That lasted a few hours until I noticed that a cat (difficult to pin down just which one, but it wasn't Mr Cassis) had thrown up on the bedcover. I sighed, stripped off the cover, threw it in the machine and climbed into bed.
It wasn't until I got up this morning that I realised that the cat had also thrown up on the sheet. The one I'd been wrapped in all night. Luckily, it seemed pretty much contained on The Guy's side and he was away. But still. Yuk, yuk , bloody cats, yuk!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saturday Morning Quote

Today's prize for the most dumb and/or insensitive remark made in this economic climate goes to ex-"Top Chef" host and cookbook author Katie Lee Joel:

“I love real estate. To me, real estate is the ultimate tchotchke. We have five houses; we like our real estate.
New York Magazine

Most Americans just have to worry about one house, the roof over their heads, but for Katie Lee Joel houses are just collectibles. You can enable her to pick up another real estate ornament by dropping by her book signing tour (if you're quick you can catch her at the Book Revue in Huntington, NY tonight). And with 81,312 homes being repossessed by lenders in September I'm sure they will plenty for her to choose from.

You want to know what kind of tchotchke Katie owns?

Thanks to Domino Magazine you can view her Manhattan townhouse, where she arranges her smaller tchotchkes

Then changes them (and the chairs) out for something more soothing in brown.
And there's more about her Long Island houses over here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Award-winning Restoration

Saturday is for... total admiration and envy. This Frank Lloyd Wright home in Millstone, New Jersey has been rebuilt by architects Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino, who also own the house.

The restoration has been so sympathetic and striking that they won a Wright Spirit Award in the private category from The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, which “honors original or subsequent Wright homeowners who have rescued a building or have demonstrated outstanding stewardship in its conservation”. Read the story of the 20 year process that included being flooded twice, and their unique solutions addressing the problem, here.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

House porn in La Jolla

Totally. Love. This. House.

Stunning views of the ocean

married with seclusion in the subterranean living area
Via LA Times Home & Garden

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cook in Laura Bush's Oven

I thought it was a joke, what with the housing market being a mess but no, oh irony, the first home of George and Laura Bush is on the market. Insert joke here. The home has a lot of original features, including the sheer curtains, the cooktop, that oven and a few of her dead plants in the atrium, too. I kid you not.

The decor is 80s-sad, but at least there are some personal interest pieces, like these magazines tastefully arranged on the coffee table. You want more? Here you go. Enjoy!