modern architecture

Mod House Update – One Year Since Move-in

Hey there, Guys!  It’s been over 4 months since my last post, so there’s a good chance you may not remember me…  I am the Minnesota mom with the 60’s mod fixer, who naively thought it would be a quick and easy remodel… And then spent 11 long months with workmen parked out front.   Some of our set-backs had to do with bad luck (like the 3-day torrential rain last June when the roof was exposed), and some of them had to do with poor planning (like spending a week installing a vented soffit, and then determining the fin walls had to come off, losing that work). These set-backs were expensive and absolutely prolonged the project.  For sure, our home’s design made for challenging work for everyone involved, and I am happy we were able to find some brave souls to tackle it!  It has been an up and down journey, but as I sit here one year later, I think we may have made it through.  We toughed this one out, and feel (most days) that we made the right decision buying this home.  It’s all good, you don’t have to worry about us anymore!

Sooo, I bet you’re after a little “before and after”???  I really wish I could make that happen, but I am needing just a few more months for decorating and landscaping to present a more dramatic “after”.  Sorry!!!  But, I am going to include a few photos of the cedar on the exterior and some “in-progress” interior shots.  I know, a year should have been enough time to have it all perfect, but I am struggling a bit with the look I want inside.  Another excuse is:  We have a puppy.  Enough said!


Last November, the stained cedar screens were added to the house. Our carpenter built them off-site.


Here’s a close-up of one screen… I like how boards of varying widths were used.


Liking the warmth of the wood…


And the cedar is all on!


We got one coat of opaque stain on the deck before the temps dropped, but I am not digging the lighter color… Maybe we should change to a deeper gray-brown?


The green door.

Okay!  I gave you a little sneak-peak at how the exterior is shaping-up…  I really look forward to rethinking the landscaping, and getting the deck recoated and furnished.  Things that will have to wait a few more months, due to the crazy amount of snow and cold we still have!  Let’s move on to the situation inside, shall we?


Here’s our present-day kitchen.


DSCN0337 A few random furniture pieces are hanging out until sold on craigslist… Anyone need a glass table or a sweet pair of white counter stools?


Still looking for some new dining chairs to fall in love with… And my diy art has already changed 3 times!


This corner of the room is giving me the most trouble… I might try a comfy chair and ottoman. Of course, a rug would be nice too. At the moment, our puppy still likes to chew on textiles, so other than the little mats by the doors, we remain rug-free.


The living room is soooo blah. I think it has amazing potential, but we definitely have some work to do in the decorating department! Two thirds of the space is 3 steps down with a 2-story ceiling, and the other third has the loft overhead. Any ideas for this space? I need help!

DSCN0351 DSCN0348

That about does it for my “still in-progress” update.  I will try to check in again as changes are made…

Making a modern home with big volumes warm and inviting is so challenging!  But it’s not going to happen on its own, so I will keep experimenting.  It would be nice if our doggy would stop chewing on everything, so I can at least put a few pillows out…  Gee wiz!  Good thing he’s so cute!

House Love – Getting to the Heart of My Exterior Reno

It’s official.  The honeymoon phase of our relationship is over.  Sooo over!  I’m talking about my 49 year-old modernist house, of course.  (Because every minute with my husband of 18 years has been sublime, and exponentially honeymoony.  Ha!)

It’s nothing I didn’t see coming.  I knew this house needed a lot of work, and eventually the renovation would go from fun and games to a bit of a drag.  But as the saying goes “No pain, no gain”, I am hoping the “gain” manifests itself soon, or I may LOSE MY MARBLES!

Don’t get me wrong, I still love my house.

Our relationship is much too strong to throw in the proverbial towel.  I have seen it at its worst, looked beyond its rotting wood and peeling paint, and fell head-over-heels.  And , inside, it cleaned up really well.  So smitten with its new handsome maple floors and open-plan layout!  Who says they’ll never change?

Outside, the transformation has been slow, and things seem to be going in the wrong direction. What was supposed to take the month of June, start to finish, is now in its 3rd month, with no end in sight.  Why?  This bad-boy of a house has some serious problems, more than first understood.   Hint: That’s where this post is coming from.

And because no one likes a Negative Nelly, I want to assure you I have tons to be grateful for in terms of the house reno:  (45 minutes later…)  Well, I guess “tons” is a bit of a stretch, but I can say that I know in my heart that we will get the results we set out to achieve.  It just might take a lot more time than expected (and our first-born’s projected college tuition – Sorry Kiddo!).

Enough chattering….Here’s the photo scoop from the past couple of weeks:


Guys hard at work installing the soffit material.


You can see the soffit all closed up, with the continuous venting, cut around each and every of the 24 fin walls that enclose the window and door areas.

Just to be clear, the work shown above took about a week, and two of the days included a second “crew” on a second lift.

That Friday morning, there was an unfortunate (but not completely unexpected) discovery.  When starting to replace the worst siding panels, it was determined the wood underneath was rotten in the areas by the fin walls/windows and compounding the problem, the windows were improperly installed and flashed.  A meeting of the minds resulted in an entirely new plan.  The fin walls were to come off.  All of the siding was to come off.  The soffits and venting completed the previous week would have to be redone.  And when that got going, the observation of little/missing insulation in the walls led to upgrading the basic house wrap to a 1″ thick foam board.  Ultimately, this was good for the house.  But bad for the wallet.  Gulp.


Removing the fin walls was a big job. The method of choice involved cutting it and prying it loose, and finally pulling it off the main body of the house using a chain.


The lift supplied the power necessary.


Lowering the top half to the ground.


Temping where the fins are off.

Working in sections, the guys removed the fin walls and put up the insulation panels.


1″ foam board will insulate and bring the wall almost flush to the window framing.


The front of the house. Foam panels are on most of the house by the end of last week. The seams are still being taped today.


Where there once stood a fin wall, a concrete support must be removed to the ground.


Taking down one of 22 cement supports….


Deck boards coming up to get at the concrete supports.


The concrete needs to be taken below deck level.

I bet you may be wondering where we may be going with the design, now that we removed another original architectural element.  Our architect came out and drew up another rendering.  Here it is:


It’s kind of hard to see the details, but we plan to trim out the windows with larger vertical boards to create new, but less dramatic fin walls to contain the stained cedar accents. The decking on the balconies will be cedar, and the railings painted black.  The siding material is still getting figured out, but we like the idea of painting it a dark charcoal.

As much as it’s difficult to be changing things up so late in the game, we know we need to do it right.  In the meantime we will be practicing patience and hope the change-order monster stays away going forward!

Oh, and I wanted to share what we found when we returned from a 5-day vacation!




Sure it’s a broken window….And we still don’t know the cause, but can you see the glass shattered away leaving the shape of a heart? I am taking it as a sign that our house loves us back.