Friday, July 27, 2012

Small Changes, Big Results

A project doesn't have to be worthy of a spread in Architectural Digest to be rewarding to a designer.  Sometimes, a handful of small changes can make a whole lot of difference...and sometimes that handful turns into a couple of handfuls!

We were recently hired by a client who had seen our articles in the Tampa Bay Times.  We were asked to make recommendations on how we might change this fireplace wall.

The home is a charming little Mediterranean, where the small scale living area blends right into the central dining area.  In contemplating a design solution for the fireplace wall, it was almost impossible for the imagination not to spill over into the rest of the room.  So I decided to take the approach of, "Here is what I would do if you went away for two weeks, gave me the keys to your house and said I could change anything and everything in the room that I wanted."  Well, with just a couple of slight changes along the way, they got on board and we transformed their living space.

Here's what the fireplace wall ended up like.

The vintage photograph contains a family member, so it retained it's prominent position above the fireplace (with a new, more substantial frame), flanked by a pair of transitional sconces.  We painted the fireplace in a tone that blends it with the travertine mantel that was installed prior to our involvement.  We also removed the dated, glass fireplace doors (tore them out in the first hour I was there!), and replaced it with a new screen.  The wall surrounding the fireplace was painted with a Martha Stewart potter's clay finish to add some texture, and the color adds an accent and picks up tones from the new area rug.  We also painted the hearth in the same color as the cabinetry flanking the fireplace to unify these built-in units.  And by mounting the TV on the wall, we open up additional space that could be used for overflow seating.

Moving around the room....

We changed out the wood coffee table for one made of Travertine with a dark metal base, replaced the dark leather sofas with lighter pieces covered in a micro-fiber.  We also added curtain panels in a subtly striped pattern to add depth and texture, and bring more attention to the window wall.  A pair of new floor lamps and a new table lamp better distribute soft light around the room.

On a couple of walls in the room, we removed a grouping of small art pieces and replaced them with a single piece with more generous proportions.  Some of these were new, and some were scavenged from other rooms in the house!

The table pictured had been the coffee table (see previous photo), and the client had recently had this made to match the built-ins they had done for each side of the fireplace.  We repurposed it by having legs made to bring it up to entry table height.  The mirror greatly simplifies this space, and again the lamp brings light to this dark interior corner.

Again, trading the art grouping for one single piece makes much more of a statement.  Here are a couple of other details.
This subtle, tropical-themed rug replaces the original dark one.  The leaf pattern adds a lot of texture to the room, and the colors in the rug provided inspiration for other design elements.

Looking around the house for accessories was fun, and allowed us to bring disparate elements together and get them out into the light of day again!

It was a lot of fun working on this project, and the clients are really enjoying their brighter, more open space.  Now, they're ready to start on the dining room.  Ideas are on the design table right now!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blowing in the Gunite

At our pool project, as promised last week, the re-bar caging was finished and inspected, and the project was ready for the pool shell to be formed.  This was my first up-close view of this part of the process, and it was fascinating!

The shell is created from Gunite, which is actually dry gunned concrete.  A mixture of cement and sand is mixed and transported to the site dry, then water and this concrete-sand material are mixed at the point of delivery, and blown under pressure onto the rebar frame.  As quickly as the forms are covered, workers come behind to "carve" the shape of the pool with trowels and other large bladed tools.  Take a look at the process.

You can see how quickly the former has to work before the Gunite material sets up.

This video shows the two processes happening simultaneously.  The "shaper" has string guides to outline the exact pool shape, and a level in his pocket which he uses frequently to insure that the pool walls aren't moving out of plumb.

Here are some views of the finished shell the next day.  You can see that we were lucky to get the shell done between rain showers.

I am loving the way this pool is shaping up!  Oh, and other good news...the rear wall is now good as new!

This has been a good news week.  I can't wait to see the surface of the pool start to take shape!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dried Out

Once the major hurdle was cleared, our pool project has managed to pick up steam!  A good deal of site excavation was done to get the surrounding yard to an appropriate grade, then the pool shape is roughed in with 2x4 framing.

The next step is to do an entire pool frame of re-bar.  As you can imagine from these photos, this is a lot of hard work, but necessary to insure that the pool shell is stable.

This framing represents where the spa will be.  It will have a small, stone-clad spillway into the pool!

While I was making a site visit this morning, the city inspector was there to approve the framing.  This will mean that we're ready to pour!  We should have an actual pool shape this time next week.  We'll have the family swimming this summer yet!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Can You Dig It?

After a major stumble, our pool project is pretty much on track.  Once the old underground pool was broken up and carried away, and most of the water was pumped out,

the Bobcat could come back in and start clearing out the rest of the area to allow the pool to be formed.

Here's what it looks like once the big equipment leaves the site least for the time being.

I know it doesn't look like much so far, but in another week that should all change!

Meanwhile, we're busy collecting bids from landscaping, fencing and lighting contractors...and oh yes, the neighbor's fence-wall is being re-built even as I write this.  Smiles all-around today!