Friday, February 21, 2014

Oh, Ross...Karina, Karina!*


As a follow-up to my last post, here's an example of a home I could move into immediately!** This is an example of a Ross Chapin Architects small home design, the Karina, designed by Karen DeLucas, former owner of the house shown. Please check out that last link, that blog will take you through the house timeline of construction, from insulation, interior/exterior paint colors, vendors used for lights and fixtures, flooring, and landscaping through text and loads of great photographs.


Yes, you do see stainless appliances and granite countertops in this kitchen. However, I feel the kitchen's small scale and practicality stand for more than those so-called HGTV "must-haves."


I love the wood tones and crisp calming colors of the interior design and truly adore the exterior house details.

Click to enlarge
The Karina home plan comes in at 1,606 square feet and is part of their collection of small homes over 1,000 sq ft. It's entire foot print is only 22' X 55'; however, the smallest of the three bedrooms is a healthy 11'-6" x 12', it still has 2 full and one 3/4 sized bathrooms and even a separate 2nd floor laundry room with space-saving pocket doors.

Brilliant, right?!


Now, the bath is a bit more swank than I would prefer with its attached-yet-separate tub and the glassed-in shower with "rain" head, but I wouldn't turn my nose up at the soft-close, low-flush toilets.

Lovely wrap-around back porch

* Loose adaptation of "Corinna, Corinna".
** IF I had the money and/or a job where I could afford the upkeep! ;)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Future HGTV House Hunting Episode


My unemployment has led me to watching a lot of HGTV. Shows such as Property Virgin, Love It or List It, Property Brothers, Househunters (domestic and intl' editions, etc.

One thing I've noticed is how I tend to judge the house hunters on how flexible they are in their searches. The majority expect to go out and find a house specifically designed for them; the 2nd largest group has eyes that are bigger than their budgets (everything must be highend and move-in ready), and a small minority can see the benefit of getting a house short of their ideals and then remaking it specifically for themselves.

Even when the house buyers have been thinking of their dream homes for months or years, they still come up with deal breakers that they didn't think of beforehand. After seeing realtor frustration show after show, I took some time to see just how difficult I might be when the time come.

I have separated the lists in this post into the following categories:

Deal Breakers - Do not even show me these things
• New build in a development
• Attached home - need natural light
• Flat roof - prone to snow and rain issues
• Dark rooms with no possibility of natural light, i.e. windows
• Low ceilings -less than 9', don't want the hassle of building up
• Tricked-out kitchen - would have to strip and sell to get what I want
• Small rooms - none smaller than 12' x 12'
• Too close to street - need some front yard, stoop

Negatives - Not happy but will look
• No overhead lighting setups - hassle and $$$$ to fix
• Small closets - " " carpeted rooms/floors


Must Haves
• Detached home, at least three sides
• Good neighborhood
• Lots of natural light wood floors - fair condition and above
• Porch - front, side, or back
• High ceilings 9’plus
• Modest fenced yard
• Paved driveway
• 2-3 bedrooms of decent size
• Decent sized closets throughout - walk-ins not necessary

Dream Details - If dreams do come true
• Craftsman style details
• 1920's built-ins
• Under-stair hidden storage
• Pocket door/barn door
• Screened/glassed-in porch
• Kitchen with character
• Garage/workshop

Images: Chapin Homes

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Shelter Magazine Review


Domino Magazine Relaunch

Color me blue and disappointed. In the relaunch issue, there was some great design. However, the old heart seemed to be missing. I am not sure if I can look objectively at the magazine now knowing that they are primarily a shopping site, because I could feel a catalog vibe and an emphasis on how you could replicate the look by buying this or that. What happened to championing individuality and one-of-a-kind looks?

The issue was similar to one of the original issues, it contained the same amount of content as before (page-wise), but it is now 3x the cost despite only publishing 4 times a year versus monthly. Mathematically, that means each issue should provide us with the content of three issues, right? No. However, they still make the same amount money in an ideal year on the newsstand.

There is one great and totally worth it thing gained from the web site; it seems that they will make some portions of the Domino article archives available again. I hope in time they will organize the access to them more efficiently. However, the magazine no longer seems as special to me. What a shame...

Fresh Style Magazine

Despite the lack of "shelter" magazines that appeal to me, I have found Fresh Style, out of Alabama. It is published 6 times a year, with a $6 retail price. It is a cool mix of the eclectic style that I love: a little country, old world, thrift, and vintage, with a dash of bright (but not basic) colors. But most of all it has an overall kitschy charm. The magazine consists of a variety of quick projects and great visual inspiration. In fact, its subtitle is 'simple ideas for creative living.'

I tend to read magazine mastheads* and did not recognize any of the editors or contributors from my former fave magazines such as ReadyMade, Blueprint, Budget Living or the like. Regardless, there is talent there.

*Likewise, movie and TV show credits. Test me!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review: Homeward Bound by Emily Matchar

A few months ago, I was contacted by Simon and Schuster to review their new book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar. It has taken me a long while to put this together (months!)  because well, I just could not finish the book. Have you ever continued to read a book even after it had started to feel like a chore and it was not a required school assignment? NO, right? You would just return it to the library or pass it on to a friend? Well, since I had said I would review the book, doing that did not feel like an option. I kept trying to reengage my interest in it. I brought it to work every day so I could read some at lunch. However, I just could not do it. The book is not badly written, I just did not agree with some of the premise and the conclusions inside.

The book chronicles the wave of young domestic DIY-ers and those returning to the love of land and family by stepping back from the corporate and somewhat impersonal digital world by becoming involved in growing their own food, raising livestock, baking bread, sewing their family's clothing, educating the children at home, and attachment parenting. I had a problem with the book talking about the benefits of the above, such as the growth of home schooling, without acknowledging that the practice is a privilege and not available to everyone. It is especially not available to families dependant on both parents working. This movement, Ms. Matchar describes is not inclusive, instead its members are limited in age, education, and financial background. It is quite ironic that this return to the "simple" life is more accessible to those who have the money to test out the lifestyle and then choose to take or leave it.

Ms. Matchar interviews highly educated men and women who had quit prestigious jobs to stay home with their children. Of course, every person has a right to do this if they choose; however, the author states repeatedly that their reason for why they did is that corporate culture was not appreciative or helpful to working parents. A lot of that corporate thinking stems from the belief that women will not be as productive or dedicated to their jobs when they have children at home, or that many will quit once they become pregnant. Opting out should not be the best solution. On page 178, I found a few pages on the media fairytale of opting out versus fighting the problems of the working woman but this was more than halfway through the book and only three pages long. I felt it was too little and too late to provide a balanced view of this important issue.

A problem with the growth of this movement (the way that Ms. Matchar describes it) is that women have not yet met all the goals toward parity with men. We should be posing that as the solution to the corporate problem. Feminism and workplace reform are where the emphasis needs to continue because that movement is not over. Women are still only making 75% of what a man makes for a similar job, have inadequate maternity leave, no job security when out on the leave they do receive, and there is still a bias towards working mothers. How will we improve these conditions if women in the professional arena do not champion for these changes before they personally need them. We should try to fix the problem instead of giving up on it. The goal should be for a future society where either path is an equal option with comparable benefits.

Of course, this is just my personal take on the book. Obviously, it affected me strongly. When initially contacted I expected to enjoy this book, I felt it might describe the things I am involved with and express how I thought about the return of the old arts and skills. Unfortunately, I did not feel this book represented me at all. Perhaps, it was because of my age, being a decade older than the people who were interviewed. Or maybe because during my childhood I had a mom who was gifted and involved in sewing, crafting, gardening, and cooking. She and I were always trying some new skill, appliqué, crewelwork, quilting, doll making, even once making fortune cookies. At the same time, my father was into woodworking, paper mache, macramé, and landscaping. Therefore, I have a hard time seeing this as "the new thing", as a fad to be marketed. I feel that cheapens it and believe that the most basic of these skills should be a given in the average person’s skills.

However, I suggest you read the book for yourself and form your own decision. Here is a link to her blog New Domesticity. Feel free to come back and let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

How Little Can I Live With?

Much more than I thought or want.  Really.

My thought was to purge a lot of unwanted stuff and start over this part of my life by living more simply but I still ended up with...say it again?  Much more than I wanted.  This is what was left after a packed-car trip to the new place!

Does not include the furniture that I will take! 


The biggest space hogs among my moving boxes are the six and a half boxes and plastic totes devoted to sewing books and fabric.  That is even more than the space devoted to my finished items of clothing!  That does not even include the two sewing machines, a table and a wardrobe dedicated to hold everything.  For sure, this is not a hobby suited for minimal living!

I guess I will never be able to live like this:

http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2011/12/26/ultra-compact-interior-designs-14-small-space-solutions/
All-in-one unit. Designer unknown.

let alone this apartment in 300 square feet.

The funny thing is that I really thought I had less sewing "stuff n' stash" than most  bloggers I read until I combined the stuff from my bedroom closet, under the bed, in the wardrobe/armoire, on my bookshelf, and next to and in the sewing table. Yes, in denial, was I.  So can anyone show me a seamster/sewist* that does live minimally?  I'm serious, I dare you!


*Of adult garments, not quilts, children clothing or stuffed animals.