Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pods be gone!

Major milestone! We came home and the pods were no longer there. (And yes, we meant to do that.) Slowly but surely, the last vestiges of remodeling are fading away. Next up: clean out the garage and move the remaining furniture back into the house. Maybe we'll try to move the piano back into the living room this week!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Reflections on Living in a New House

We've been "living" in the whole house for a little over a month now. We just finished unpacking the pods today. The library shelves are almost full, and somewhat organized. And we've even bought a few small pieces of furniture. The ripped Ingo Maurer shades have been replaced. We are still waiting for our remaining kitchen cabinet and trim pieces, for the buffet shelves to be fixed and for the undercabinet lighting, but otherwise we're "done". We've had seven "dinner parties" (more than we've had in the previous four years). We ordered a TV. And we've paid our final bills. So now it's time to take stock.

Did we achieve our objectives? Emphatically, yes. (I will have a lot more detail on what the objectives were in another post. Bet ya can't wait!) I love our new house! Although there were a few things that didn't turn out quite like I'd imagined (the inside railing and the fireplace front, for example), the overall house is really pretty incredible and we are using the house in ways we might not have anticipated. Even the aspects that didn't turn out as expected still turned out nice. And the basic objectives of the remodel (fix the floorplan and make the house more open and livable) were more than achieved.

The breakfast nook area is still my favorite area of the house. I thought I'd take use the dining room as the office, but the breakfast nook area serves the function even better. I can listen to the living room stereo and gaze out at the view from my perch in the kitchen, all the while keeping track of who (or what) is coming down the drive.
The dog, on the other hand, loves the downstairs server room the best. It's dark and cozy and she can get away from all the fuss and bother upstairs. It's like her own ten by ten kennel.

The wall of windows in the great room has really enhanced the view tremendously. I always thought we had a good view, but in the new house it's spectacular, primarly because we now have an uninterrupted 180 degree view of the bay and hills. It's the one aspect of the house that people comment on the most.

The floors and ceiling turned out beautifully. The rich tones of the rose river gum floor really compliment and warm up the neutral tones of the surrounding stainless and quartzite. The stone floor is great for sliding on in your stocking feet, and both floors are very easy to clean.

One thing I also really like about the house is that it's very unassuming from the outside. It looks like one of the many ranch-style houses that dot the landscape in Los Altos. But once you step onto the front porch you get an inkling that it isn't an ordinary rancher. The broken-glass front doors and the eerie blue doorbell help set the stage for what's to come.

All in all, the end result was a success in my book (except for perhaps the stress and the pricetag... but those quickly fade).

As we've been unpacking the pods we've been offloading a lot of our old stuff. Is there really a need to keep 30 mismatched coffee mugs? Or a set of 3 (because we broke one) champagne flutes when we don't even drink? We've taken this opportunity to pare things down to only what we really need and what fits with the design of the house. The temptation to chuck everything is strong, but we are trying to strike a balance so that we'll have something to sit on and plates to eat off of.

We will probably continue the slow process of re-furnishing the house over the next year, buying things slowly as we need them. Although we're a bit tapped from the remodel, we're less broke than I thought we would be. We have already bought stools, folding chairs, and an outside bench from DWR. The stools were originally supposed to be here in February, but we've already received two of the three so far! How's that for exceeding expectations? (Versus our kitchen, which likely won't be complete until February, over a year after we ordered it!) I also finally bought a dining room table (the Poliform Dolmen), which should be here in a couple of months -- our old one really is showing its age (we've had it since 1982!) and only seats four. We still have to settle on/purchase dining room chairs (we're thinking about the DWR Bottega chairs, to match the stools), and buy the sofa for upstairs (either the Flexform Groundpiece or Molteni & C Reversi, and an entertainment unit for downstairs. (If only the dollar were stronger right now!) But we'll continue to do this slowly over the coming year.

I still have dreams that I can get a company like DWR to do a catalog photo shoot in the house (and perhaps leave a spec of furniture or two behind while they're at it). I'd also really like to get the house featured in a magazine like Dwell. But I can't begin to pursue this until the kitchen is completely done, so I'll probably tackle this in the new year. In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy the new house and have dinner parties!