Sunday, August 24, 2008


Last weekend, I went to the Ft. Mason Craft Faire with some friends of mine from work. This is a big exposition where artisans come to display their wares each year for wholesale and retail alike. Some of the people buying are local boutique stores that sell handmade items (like Earthworks in Los Altos, for example); others are members of the general public like myself.

Last year I'd gone to the faire, but because our house wasn't yet finished, I only went to get ideas. This year I went looking to buy, since we now have some big spaces to fill.

We did a tour of the biggest building, making note of the pieces/artisans that interested us. We then went to have lunch at Greens, a restaurant I've always wanted to go to (and it was good!). After lunch, we toured the second smaller building, and then it was time to decide.

In the first building, we'd seen some incredible stainless wall hangings by Bruce MacDonald, a Vermont artisan. (How he schlepped his art to SF is beyond me... the pieces are BIG!). "Spooky" was a 4' x 8' stainless etching (if you can call it that), which has incredible depth and changes depending upon the light. I thought it was perfect for above the mantelpiece, given that the light on that area changes throughout the day and night.

As I wasn't sure whether it would be big enough (or too big for that matter), I had Kurt do a mockup for me and send me a photo. He took some of the leftover cardboard from the sofa packing boxes and made a cardboard mockup that was a similar size. He sent me the photo and I saw it would work. I'd already sent him a picture of the artwork via phone to get approval to transact the purchase.

Our good friends who live in SF were coming to visit us that evening, and they graciously agreed to take Spooky home for us in their minivan, for which I'm very grateful. It barely fit.

But you can see that it fills the space well, and makes a stunning addition to the great room. And now Kurt doesn't have to look at that MOCA poster he was getting so sick of!

I still have a lot of art to hang, including some glass art I bought at the faire. Once I get it all hung I'll post pictures of a whole house tour!

New sofa -- Flexform Groundpiece!

We received our new Flexform Groundpiece sofa from on August 9th, the morning of my bday party -- what timing! It came packed in three large wooden crates, and in ten or so boxes within the crates.

Before we had the delivery guys unpack it, we had them move the Ligne-Roset Multy loveseat from the family room to the upstairs guest bedroom (where, believe it or not, was its originally-planned destination, even though it had done stints in the old living room, the scraper, and the family room, before arriving at its ultimate resting place), and move our old Roche-Bobois sofa from upstairs to the family room (again, where it was intended to go). Once that was done, we took crowbar to crate, and broke open the crate and ripped apart the boxes, and had them move the sofa inside to its destination.

Assembling the sofa was really easy. Looking at the sofa layout, each identified item was a piece that had to be assembled. The sofa had three "arms," two being leather bookshelves, and the other being a fabric arm. There were three seating areas, and a number of cushions. The entire sofa sits on a cylindrical bar of metal, and each individual piece attaches together by fitting the cylindrical pieces together with fittings supplied with the sofa.

The only problem I had was that I wound up scratching the hardwood floor when trying to fit two of the pieces together. But no matter, we just moved the sofa over the scratched area, and I later got some wood-filling wax to hide the scratch, so it looks just fine now.

We moved the Ligne-Roset Didier Gomez coffee table upstairs, since it goes better with the sofa than the old Peter Maly coffee table, which has gone downstairs with the other sofa. However, the new sofa is big enough that we'll probably have to buy a new coffee table at some point. The sofa also goes perfectly with the Minotti club chairs I purchased on So the great room is almost complete!

All in all, I've been extremely happy with my purchase. It's the perfect size for the space, it's unbelievably comfortable, and very beautiful, fitting in perfect with the decor. had great service, and the sofa arrived pretty much when they said it would. I saved a lot of money by buying it from them (versus buying locally, or even elsewhere in the US), and their service exceeded the service I've received at most local high-end furniture stores.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Window coverings

Do you think Kurt is trying to tell me something? The picture at the left shows the window covering Kurt has fashioned for the office window. It consists of some white paper, a "painting", and two Trader Joe's shopping bags. Quite creative and post modernist, really. A suburban collage.

I think he's trying to tell me something, but I'm not sure what. Maybe you know?

Okay, I guess it's really time to order some real window coverings for a few of the windows. The office gets morning light, and it is pretty annoying, esp. in the summer. The kitchen windows get the evening sun, and also need some covers. And I suppose we should get some window coverings for the downstairs guest room. Even though it's very private down there, it's still pretty sunny in the morning. No sleeping in for our guests!

I've gotten some samples from the Shade Store and will try to order this weekend. They carry a lot of really nice roller shades, as well as some panel systems which I will probably use for the downstairs guest room. Again, the decisions are overwhelming -- how much light blockage to choose? what color? what fabric? -- but I'll just have to buck up and decide! I was thinking of going with Chilewich fabrics, but it turns out that the ones I like don't really block enough light for my needs. Plus, the office window is too wide for what's available from Chilewich, so we'll probably choose something else.

It's really interesting how much you can buy on the Internet. The Shade Store will send you samples, and has a really helpful measurement guide for ordering the blinds. Their customer service over the phone has been really helpful. Having been to some local stores where they really didn't have many options for modern design, it's kind of frustrating to find these things locally. You either need to hire a designer (which I probably should do, but again, haven't been able to find someone local with the sensibilities I'm after), or go around to a number of stores and hopefully find someone somewhere who will have something you like that will do the job. OR, you could go on the Internet and search with Google, which is certainly a lot more time and energy efficient!

Form AND function!

Took most of today off work, so have a little bit of time to post. A couple of weeks ago our dryer went on the fritz. Well, it had shown signs of dying a while back. When we first hooked it back up, the temperature sensing part of the dryer stopped working. But timed dry still worked. A few weeks ago, the dryer just up and quit, right in the middle of a load. Didn't it understand that we had important laundry to do?

Laundry couldn't wait for the dryer to be fixed, and I didn't have much time to dry things as I had an upcoming trip to take, for which I needed clean clothing. To the rescue our outside cable rail! The cables work perfectly as clothes lines; the multiple rows of cables allow you to hang an entire laundry load pretty easily. Binder clips made good temporary clothes pins. The sun and the wind on the patio made for fast, effortless and cheap drying!

You'd think that we'd go completely euro and just dry things this way from now on, but truthfully, a dryer is a very handy gadget to have. We did a little bit of sleuthing, and found that in fact, the breaker had blown, and the wiring needed to be repaired. So we had to get both our electrician AND a dryer repair guy in to fix it.

It turns out that the same problem that stopped the time drying to work eventually stopped the dryer from working altogether. And it was a good thing that the electrical panel did its job with the breaker tripping or the house might have burned down, which would have been both sad and somehow strangely ironic, now that we're done with the construction.

The problem was that whomever initially installed the power cord onto our fairly new dryer (we'll just call him "installer guy" for now), didn't have the right screw for the job. So he used some random screw to affix one of the power-cord leads to the dryer. The act of moving the dryer out of the laundry room, and back to the laundry room once construction was done, must have jarred that ill-fitting screw loose. As a result, one of the power-cord leads was no longer securely attached to the terminal, and some sparking started to occur. At first, this affected the temperature drying circuitry, but eventually, it burned out the insulation on that lead and caused some sort of a short which resulted in the breaker tripping. Yes, they do make those fuses for a reason!

We now have a new power cord in place, and thanks to the appliance repair guy (Mr. Joe Chan, of Chan's Appliances), have the correct screw affixed so it won't happen again. And our dryer is once again capable of drying either through its timed drying facility or through its temperature-sensing abilities, depending on our mood. And although we still have this fabulous stainless steel outdoor drying rack, we've gone back to using it as a decorative railing. But it's nice to know we could hang laundry there again to dry if we ever wanted to.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Hey, it's Friday! Are we done yet?

The cabinet guy came last Friday and this Tuesday to finish up the install of the kitchen cabinet. We were able to slide the end cabinet over to the left, flush with the wall, and then put a filler strip in between the oven and the cabinet so that you can get to the handle. He also installed the filler strip on the end. He fixed the shelves in the buffet area temporarily by putting little ovankol strips around the ends of the shelves to hide the gaps. Although it looks nice if you consider the shelves on their own, it doesn't really fit with the look of the house, so we might have to go to a plan B. But it certainly looks much nicer than it did before! We have two little problems left (very small missing part of toe kick, which can only be seen (or not seen) if you are on the floor, and a drawer slide that doesn't work well). All in all, I'm very pleased that the kitchen is pretty much done!

The electricians came today and put a power outlet behind the TV so the cord won't show, and installed three-prong outlets in the upstairs guest room -- the one that never gets remodeled. (Last remodel we replaced the track lights with recessed lighting, but that was about it.) We also swapped out a test Lutron touch switch with a Lutron Maestro dimmer switch (that I already had) just to be consistent.

There are only a couple of things left for electrical: remove broken ballast from kitchen light so I can send it off for repair, install remaining undercabinet light, and install missing recessed fixtures in non-remodeled hallway (an oversight).

Sunday, April 27, 2008


We are slowly refurnishing the house. Prior to and during the remodel, we sold a lot of the furniture we didn't want to keep. So the house has been pretty empty, but slowly I'm filling in the missing pieces.

Back in October, I ordered bar stools from DWR which arrived over a period of several months. In November, I ordered a new Poliform dining room table from Europe-by-Net in a wood that matches the kitchen. It arrived in the beginning of April, in perfect shape. (It's also serving as my new desk!) Sadly, Europe by Net is not selling much to the US any more, most likely due to the weakness of the dollar (they did their sales in dollars, rather than in Euros or Pounds, and probably got burned badly on the currency fluctuations).

I was also able to pick up a couple of nice area rugs from a Roche-Bobois floor sample sale (so they were somewhat reasonably priced). You can see the one that Coda's perched on to the left. She certainly likes it!

I had to go to Italy in late March for a friend's wedding, and during that trip, I picked out the fabric for our sofa, having settled on the Flexform Groundpiece. Prior to the trip I had designed the layout for the sofa, so having picked out the fabric, I was able to get pricing from several stores in the US, Italy and the UK. (in the UK) was the winner by far, although there was a lovely store in Ferrara, Italy that was a close second. My only hesitation is that I had to buy it in Euros, so now I'm the one speculating on currency. Hopefully the Euro won't change much relative to the dollar between now and the time it arrives (when I have to make the last payment). The sofa should arrive some time this summer, at which point we'll do the furniture shuffle (sofabed downstairs comes upstairs to guest room, sofa upstairs goes downstairs, and new sofa goes in living room).

Having the major pieces in hand, I bought a lovely B & B Italia accent chair yesterday from someone on craigslist, which is a nice compliment to either the old sofa or the new one. I still need to purchase dining room chairs (trying to decide between Baleri Italia mari' and Zanotta Lia), and a real entertainment unit for downstairs (to replace the $69 Ikea piece I got a few months ago). As the weather's nice, I need to get a small outdoor patio set and a BBQ (will most likely get the small Fuego, since it has a very clean design). Eventually, I want to get a bedroom set for downstairs, but for that I'll continue to monitor craigslist for a bargain. There are so many great craigslist items for sale... you just have to be patient and wait for the right thing to come along.

At some point, I should put up some artwork too. But I'm still afraid to put holes in the wall!

Finishing touches (again?)

I haven't posted for a while, and you may think that the house is done, but of course those last little finishing details take the longest time to finish.

Our remaining end cabinet + filler strips for the kitchen finally arrived a couple of weeks ago while I was out of town. Unfortunately, the cabinet was slightly damaged (again), although it looks like this time the damage is repairable. One missing trim piece fit perfectly, but the filler strip for the end of the cabinets was too wide. But most importantly, there was no room between the end cabinet (a pull-out pantry) and the adjacent set of cabinets with the ovens in them. Since the drawer/door pulls are all recessed, what to do?

The most complex (but correct) thing to do would be to slide all the cabinets over a bit to the right (heck, we've got about 6 inches of space at the end). Unfortunately, that would require moving the electrical, redoing the small backsplash next to the ovens, and overall, be a big pain. Fortunately, there is about 3/4 of an inch to move the cabinet to the left so that it's flush with the wall, and that gives us enough space. Since the end filler strip was too wide, we think we can use what we had to cut off to fill the gaps between the oven and end unit. A new (different) cabinet guy came last week and will come again on Tuesday to finish off the install.

We still have to figure out what to do about the miscut shelves in the buffet, and the cabinet guy is ruminating over that, so hopefully by Tuesday we'll at least have an answer.

On another front, the electricians are coming on Friday to finish their remaining pieces. So by next Friday, I think, I hope, I pray that we will really be done with the remodel! And then it will be on to other things, like landscaping, and finishing the furnishing (see next post on that).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Woofer on subwoofer

We're completing our home theater system, and I finally got a subwoofer (you'll see from the picture, that we've had the woofer for a while). Ordered it from Amazon on Sunday, received it today with ordinary free shipping! How's that for speedy service?

One more component to complete the setup (a matching center speaker, rather than the random bookshelf speaker I have been using). The electricians are coming on Friday to move the power outlet behind the TV (which is hanging on the wall), so that all the unsightly cords will be hidden. Something we overlooked in setting everything up. Saturday, I should have more pics, as they'll also be putting in the undercabinet lights in the kitchen, and doing a few other electrical odds n' ends that were leftover from the remodel. It should be the last electrician visit. Then, all that's left is to get the replacement kitchen cabinet, and to get the shelves in the buffet area fixed.

BTW, just in case you're wondering, the border terrier did NOT win the terrier group at Westminster yesterday. A Beagle won BiS for the first time ever, tonight! And what a cute beagle it was. But I'll stick with my woofer, and subwoofer, for now.