Saturday, December 10, 2011

T St Flats

Every time I do a renovation, I try to figure out a way to step my game up from the previous one. There is a lot of consideration that goes into the designs of these houses. It’s a great experience but can also be an agonizing one. Mainly because I don’t like repeating myself and the creative process can drive me a little insane. Everything just has to be RIGHT! And I don’t like to compromise on my vision. Here is the video of the finished urban modern renovation, “T St Flats”. ENJOY!

There is only so much information that can fit into a 9 min video on a project that is so large. But there are a few design details that I want to highlight and clarify beyond what I was able to show on screen. 

I take extra care when picking out lighting because I really think that it makes a room. My consultant Kat at Maurice Electric has the patience of a saint. I will go thru catalogue after catalogue to make sure I have just the right fixture for a space. The “Crescendo” light fixture in the master loft really is a show stopper, but it is on the more expensive end. I made some compromised to fit it into the budget.  As far as I am concerned, under-cabinet lights are a must! it adds a different life to your kitchen. As you may have seen from me before in my previous renovation video The Catalyst, I am a fan of putting two side wall sconces in bathrooms to really give an even light on your face. It’s more effective than just having a light above the vanity mirror.

Tile is also another one of my favorite mediums. But another one that drives me crazy! Too many choices spawn too many ideas and then when you mix in a budget... ARGH! It would not be unusual to see me meditating on the floor in the middle of a tile showroom. I spent about 3 hours in there making my final selections. It’s about 2.5 hours of stressing and playing with options, then 30 minutes of an exhilarating mad dash thru the store grabbing things because I had that “AHHA” moment. I loved my tile rep at Architectural Ceramics (she sends me homemade cookies and treats) but sadly she recently left the company. I could have shed a tear. It’s so important to have the right person who can pull together all of the craziness and competing ideas.  

I decided to use two different color countertops. A white for the main area and a dark taupe for the island. To  keep the kitchen visually appealing, I also varied the color of the cabinets to create more contrast. I used a medium brown with the white countertops and white cabinets for the dark countertop. The countertops are Caesarstone. This particular type has bits of recycled material throughout that makes it eco-friendly. Due to how it is manufactured, it is less porous than marble so it holds less bacterial. It is also harder and more heat resistant. I was able to hunt for deals and came out cheaper than I would with a comparable granite. Notice that I did not put the typical 4”backsplash of countertop material, but instead ran the backslash tile all the way down to the countertop. That’s new school, the other way is traditional. I am also a big fan of Slide-in ranges or cooktops. This eliminates the bulky control panel that usually on the back of your range and also makes the controls accessible for people in wheel chairs. Ever since my catalyst project I have become a big fan of built in microwaves also. 

Built in Surround Sound
This was a new feature for me to incorporate. Fortunately I have an amazing  audio subcontractor on my team who was able to educate me on the subject. I didn’t get a chance to go into detail on how it worked in the video. It’s in the top unit and broken into two zones. There is one for the main living area and another for the master bedroom loft. The two can play different or the same music. But can also play surround sound from the TV or your favorite radio stations. It also has speakers to the out door decks and patios.
Out door spaces
As an island boy, outdoor living spaces are a must for me. So we incorporated a semi-private garden area on the basement level to escape the city. I really love how the garden turned out, but I know I am going to really love it when the plants mature. I incorporated one of my favorite trees, the Japanese Maple, the will provide shade for the bench. 
 Shopping for these plants was an “experience” to say the least. Shopping with me in general is a trip. I know what I wanted without knowing what I wanted (I hope that makes sense). I know I wanted a shrub, that grows a certain height, blooms a certain color that can work in a certain kind of shade and sunlight. It doesn’t help that I shop like I think; like a madd man. Luckily the staff at Old City Green was patient, knowledgeable and accommodating. 
For more outdoor space we also incorporated back patios off of the master bedroom on the top two units. The master loft also is set up to accomidate a large sized rooftop deck that has amazing views since the house sits on an elevated lot.

Front Entrance
I wanted to create a feeling that was a mix of private but inviting as people approached the house. I decided to construct a half wall on the right side of the stairs and cover all the exterior surfaces with a Pennsylvania blue flagstone, capped with limestone. But to keep it from being an overpowering amount of hard surface,  I decided to have a horizontal open railing system on the left side of the stairs. I curved the railing around the front half wall to give the urban oasis garden a semi-private feel. Thanks to the staff at Ernest Maier for helping me pick the palette of stones that worked just right for the project.

I admittedly have some weird fetish for doors. I am sure I can come up with a deep underlying meaning stemming from it being the portals to your space and your appetizer for the interior, but I think I just like em. I am slowly building a collection of custom Designed doors that I use in my renovations. For T St Flats I created the “Full Tower” and “Slim Tower” door, constructed by Rollin Supply. And just like everything else, it was designed the way it is for a reason. I wanted to mimic the towering posture of the building that boast 4 tall floors on a relatively slim lot. The small rectangle on the bottom mimics the basement unit. The larger middle rectangle is for the main living spaces and another small rectangle on top for the loft top floor.

Sidenote: I really don’t like your basic 6-panel doors for interiors. It’s soooo builder’s standard and doesn’t set your space apart. On this project I used a slightly more expensive 2-panel door from Home Depot for all the interiors.
The “Show Stopper”- The Glass Wall
So everyone seems to be in love with the glass wall. When I say that  I dream about design, I mean that literally! I saw this glass wall in my dream one night, woke up and sketched it out, then designed everything else around it. At the time I didn’t know much about what the final design was going to be, but I knew this had to be a part of it. 

If you know of someone doing a urban modern renovation, be a friend and share this link. I hope this information was helpful, I look forward to your comments and questions. And SUBSCRIBE to this blog! Thanks!
Just tell them H. Alex Sanchez (please don’t forget the H.) sent you and they’ll treat you right.
General Contractor- Kofi Construction (240)-793-1207
Audio- Nerical-ask for Cristian
Cabinets- IKEA (College Park) - ask for Able or Esta
Glass, mirror and shower enclosure- Amalfi Glass-ask for Reed
landscaper- Mac- (202) 536-0085
Custom staircase- Integrated Design Solutions ask for Shawn
Stone- Ernest Maier
Countertops- Aguillar’s Marble and Granite- ask for Mr. Aguillar
Tile- Architectural Ceramics (Rockville)-ask for Shanda
Door Manufacturer- Rollin Supply- ask for Mike Tignal
Lighting- Maurice Electric (DC)- ask for Kat
Flooring- Lumber Liquidators (Beltsville, MD)
Videography- John Ledbetter
Video Graphics and Animation- Depi Depisoir
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Monday, December 5, 2011

The #42daychallenge

Many of us set goals at the beginning of the year. But too often we fall short of achieving them, only to set the same goals year after year. So the 42 day challenge was set up to end that cycle. It's where you dedicate the last 42 days of the year to really push to cross things off your list. It is easier to focus on staying disciplined for a short period of time (as we learned the first few weeks of January while we were still on task) than over a 365 day period. So beginning November 19th til 11:59pm December 31st, it's a serious grind. The grind will be easier if we have a community pushing each other to succeed. Why November 19th? Because it's my birthday of course! Hey, I made up the challenge, I make up the rules! It's a chance to start the new year feeling accomplished. 
Join the challenge on FB, on twitter (#42daychallenge) and on this blog (subscribe). Let's make moves!
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