Tuesday, April 10, 2007

T+365: A Year of Living in Modern in MN

It's been a year today.
Hard to believe, really, and I find myself in this weird state of feeling like we've always been here and thinking it was just yesterday that we were dirty and sweaty and exhausted every day. The crazy part is I'm not sure which of those feelings I'd like to hang on to more.

I miss it. The construction process that is, so I guess it's a good thing that we'll have plenty of projects to keep us busy around here for years to come.

I've toiled away the winter with odds and ends, trying to wrap up a bunch of little but time consuming things that were put off in the scramble to get occupancy.

There's red paint in the north, on the foyer and bike room walls:

Oh yes, and that's our most chic accessory of all, our beloved greyhound Mast, aka PupCake who is the best most enjoyable addition to the house that I could ever imagine.

The range hood, with it's gigundo big 10" duct and external blower, the installation of which was the jackhammering adventure from hell, is functioning (and doing a great job), although the range wall still waits for me to decide on a backsplash of some sort:

I think I've decided that I like the look of the exposed duct, and my current inclination is to tile a vertical section from range top to ceiling that's the same width as the hood. With what you ask? Who knows.

After much playing around with arrangement, I think I've embraced the diagonal with the living room furniture:

For now, or until we decide on furniture and function for the other half of the room...
And do you notice I'm still on the fence about paint color for that huge east wall? I thought I was all ready to pull the trigger on that deep blue/green there in the corner and then a moment of hesitation brought me back to square one. Because the wall in question is shared between the living room and the media room, and these rooms are so different in terms of light and use and feeling it's a real challenge. But since I was so sure about the Naples Blue earlier that I even went and purchased the paint, I think I'll just have to go with it and re-evaluate next year :)

The guest room remains empty. The guest bath has been the focus of my attention most recently, although I'm stuck on a paint color hump in there too.

And in less interesting categories, the hydronic radiant heat system has been an absolute joy. Instead of feeling cold and shivery all winter like I have in the past, we were snug and cozy and had delightfully warm feet all winter. The decision to heat with radiant is one I'd make again a million times over. It's FABULOUS, and I can't imagine ever, ever going back to forced air. In fact, that alone may be what keeps us in this house for the long haul.
And speaking of winter, I can't say enough how the abundance of natural light in the house has helped get us through the doldrums of the north. While the energy efficiency of not having to depend on electric light at all during the day makes us feel good, it makes us feel even better to be able to soak up all the beautiful bright daylight we can during the winter and it makes spending a lot of time indoors so much more bearable than it used to be. Another point in the couldn't bear to ever leave or sell category.

As part of the whole process of living in something I was completely responsible for the design of, I spend a fair amount of time reflecting on what I would do differently, what works and what doesn't.
What comes to mind first is the concrete floors. This was a major factor that drove our design from the get go, and while I love them, their durability, looks and low effort, they also present a cleaning nightmare when compared with an all carpet environment. I realize that having four pets doesn't help, but it seems like I spend way too much time looking at dust and crud and even more time cleaning it up.
It's never ending.
On the other hand, at least I know what's there and CAN clean it up vs. carpet where one often wonders what nasties lurk year after year...
My hope is that the cleaning issues improve (or the dirt stays better hidden) with the addition of a few more area rugs for spaces like our bedroom and the media room.

Much like the concrete floors, I have a love-not love with the open floorplan kitchen layout. I can't say as I would do it any differently because I really love working in the space and not being stuffed away in a separate room, but it drives me crazy because I find we're looking at mess more often than I'd like. I think most of that issue comes from the fact that, to me at least, the kitchen is such a focal point and I really do enjoy it from a design perspective so I naturally want to always be looking at it in a pristinely clean and organized state. Tough to do when you're someone like me that's always got a cooking project going.

And of course I have projects galore up my sleeve for outdoors and in. As spring springs, we're starting to think about outside stuff, namely installing the decking material and railing on the lower roof deck and building an outdoor fireplace/wood burning oven somewhere in back. Also high on the list is getting our planned ductless AC system installed along with some kind of awning or shade sail system over the deck and patio areas.
And since we went the minimalist route with landscaping last season, we have plans to expand and improve that as soon as we nail down the hardscaping plans.
Sounds so fast and easy when I put it in writing, but I'll be happy if one or two of those projects gets done before the snow flies again...

Overall, it's been a fantastic year, and we've enjoyed every single minute of being here. We can't imagine NOT having gone through the whole crazy affair of building and we can't imagine being happy in any other house. And it's amazing what the crazy, hardcore work of building one's own house does for confidence with the day to day DIY projects that present themselves as a part of homeownership. Nothing fazes us, and our friends have been quick to learn that if they have questions or need a hand or just a confidence boost, we're the go to people...the down side of which is watching them make the same mistakes we made despite our warnings and attempts to educate.

So stay tuned, and rest assured there'll be bloggage aplenty as the Modern in MN saga enters year two (or should I call it year four?)