Friday, February 4, 2011

Finding inspiration for the renovations

Track Lighting brochure

Don't fret. This isn't going to be renovation-only blog forever. And, actually, I'm going to be documenting some of the DIY projects I do for the house, so the "crafter" in Average Jane Crafter is not gone. I just want to share as much of the house stuff as possible, 'cause I always get a kick out of seeing other folks' befores and afters and because I'd like to have some kind of record for myself.

That said, as the renovation gets down to business, I've been compiling ideas, doing some online and in-person "browsing" and working my way through the seemingly endless list of decisions that need to be made. I never imagined how many things have to be picked out, how much stuff is out there to see and how hard it would be to decide on something as simple as bathroom faucets. My head is spinning.

Lighting booklet

I thought I'd share some of the resources I've found and am using to get inspired and save and organize what I've found.

Initially, I bought a giant stack of magazines, dogeared and tore out pages and put them in an accordion file. My main focus for inspiration and resources, though, has been online. I'm going to share a few web sites that are inspiring me and then a few online resources I'm using for gathering and organizing my ideas. Here we go:

Retro Renovation
When I started looking for inspiration for mid-century renovations, this was the first site that popped up. I instantly fell in love. Pam posts about pretty much everything related to mid-century design and aesthetic, with vast resources for finding anything you could hope to need in the renovation of a mid-century home. She's a prolific poster, and her readership is quite active, sharing their own renovation projects and resources. It's just my kind of community. And it's broken a habit of mine: aside from just subscribing in my RSS reader, I actually keep the site open in a tab in my browser so I can pop over and refresh and not miss anything. I don't want it to get lost in my bloated Reader. Be warned, when you pop over there, you may as well right off the next few hours, 'cause that's at least how long you'll want to spend there.

The Brick House
One of our designer friends pointed us to this blog, chronicling Morgan Satterfield's renovation of a mid-century cement brick house in California. She does things on a budge, so there's lots of great thrift-find inspiration and DIY projects, and loads of gorgeous pictures.

Aesthetic Outburst
I found Abbey's blog through a post on Houzz (more on that below) and feel in love with the look and feel of her place, especially since it's kid-friendly. I've fallen in love with the crafty side of her blog as well, so that makes it a bonus find!

So as I gather ideas for the house, I've got to put them somewhere, right? It's nice to be able to sort of bookmark things and go back and look at them all together. There are a couple of sites I've used to do this, and I owe my thanks to Diane for turning me on to both.

I admit, I haven't spent tons of time on Houzz, but it was a great place for me to start and see lots of pictures of interiors so I could start to hone in on how I wanted things to look in our new place. I've always kind of known what my style is, but it's hard to put it in to words. With Houzz, I can browse hundreds of pictures and add any I like to an Ideabook so I can go back to them later. It's like being able to tear pictures out of one hundred magazines in one go 'round.

Diane posted about Pinterest a while back, and I jumped on the opportunity to grab an invite. I wasn't doing much with it, because of our move, but now it has become my go-to place for bookmarking things I find while searching online. I feel like it's somewhere between Tumblr and Delicious, both of which I've used. I like that, rather than Tumblr, I can divide my posts up in to categories (boards) so I can have something for the house and something for crafty stuff and something for space, etc. And since I'm such a visual person, I love that I don't just have lists of links (like on Delicious) but instead have a big grid of pictures. I need that. It's come in handy as I've browsed literally hundreds (ack!) of bathroom fixtures and lighting. Right now, my "For the New House" board is a mess of crazy bathroom fixtures, because I just couldn't make up my mind. But I did. And I'll share those choices with you soon.
I've set up a temporary home "office" on our back deck by the pool, and can work under the 30-ft pine trees, watch the woodpeckers and be on hand if the contractor or subs need me. These first few days of demo have been kind of hectic, but I imagine things will smooth out more as time goes. Pretty much all decisions/purchases have been made. Almost all the demo is done (pictures soon!) and from here on out, it's just building things back up. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Awesome finds at the Dream House

Lighting booklet

We're in a bit of a holding pattern over here for getting going on the renovations. Of course, that leaves me in a bit of a panic, because time is money and we're tight on both. To help ease my nerves a little, I revisited some of the awesome things I've found at the Dream Home, and wanted to share them and the story of the family who lived in this house with you.

Rarely in real estate do you make such an emotional and personal connection with a house. Too often, it's all business, money, negotiating, frustration and any number of crazy-making details. When I walked into the house and knew it was The One, I didn't know that we were about to connect with a wonderful family, and the memory of an amazing artist and mother.

Looking in to the breakfast area.
You can see a few of her portraits here.

When we submitted our offer on the house, I included a letter that expressed our love of the home, and my intense connection with the art studio and intention to keep it and use it "as is." I'll spare you all the corny details, but let's just say there were way too many coincidences/signs/connections/kismet-kind of things going on with us and this house and this family. It was one of the nicest and most joyous real estate transactions I've ever experienced or heard of.

Color brochure

One afternoon, after we moved into our rent house, but before we closed on the new house, I took the kids by to drive past the house and visit the neighborhood (we didn't have a key to the house yet, and the kids had only seen pictures of the inside). We happened to pull up as Rosanne's son was loading some items in to his car. Without really thinking, I rolled down my window, called his name and quickly introduced myself and the kids (he and I had exchanged a couple of emails via our real estate agent). What happened next is a real estate rarity: he invited the kids and me in to meet his wife and father and to show the kids the house. We ended up spending almost an hour with them, hearing stories about the house and their family. They'd lived in the house for more than 42 years. Their son (the one who was there that day) was the same age our daughter is right now when they moved in. They bought the house, sight-unseen, from an acquaintance who drove all the way to Peoria, Illnois, to tell them about the place over the dinner table.

I ate these stories up.

Newspaper article from 1972 about closet design

Because we were able to get the flat file cabinets included in the sale of the house (I'm still swooning over them) the family decided to leave any in-good-condition supplies inside for me to use. WOW. There is every kind of paper imaginable, from vellum to mat board and more, as well as tons of vintage wrapping paper, cards and other supplies. It's dreamy. They also had several of her painted portraits that they left for me. I plan on hanging one in every room in the house if I can.

File folders of renovation notes from Roseanne

Probably my most treasured gift from them, though, was the collection of blueprints, flooplans and design research Rosanne created and gathered when she designed and built the studio addition to the house in 1977-78. Her floorplan drawings are amazingly detailed and so much fun to look at. As her husband of 52 years, Bill, said, "She really could have been an architect." Indeed.

I also came across a file folder case that was filled with file folders in which she collected magazine and newspaper clippings, brochures and booklets, notes and receipts for the addition of the studio. These items are priceless to me. On one level, I just love them for their vintage design and fabulous pictures. More than that, though, I love thinking of her going through the same kind of process I'm doing right now with the house. I'm collecting clippings, making notes, sketching cabinet designs, and it's almost eerie how similar our tastes seem to be.


I find myself simultaneously crushed that I was never able to know Rosanne, but also feeling overwhelmed with gratitude at the opportunity to get to know her through her art and this small collection of notes about the house. I also found many other treasures in the studio that I'll share here (with permission from her family) and as I've spent more time in the space and gone through these items time and time again, I almost feel like she's right here with me, guiding me in some way.

Why, yes, I have gone off the deep end! Thanks for asking!


But, really. Aren't these kinds of connections what life is all about? It is for me. I find great comfort and strength in getting to know this woman who shared so many of my life attributes (busy mom, husband going up into the big city every day for work, keeping art an important part of my life no matter what, creating a home that's comfortable for my family and inspiring to me...). This move was incredibly difficult for me ... until I "met" Rosanne. Thanks, Rosanne. I needed that.

I've posted some of the pics of the flooplans and brochures here. If you'd like to see more, hop on over to my Flickr set. :)