Flush Door Jambs and Hidden Hinges

Flush Door Jambs

Modern details like flush doors have been included in original Mid Century Modern construction, but have improved over the years. If you have the luxury of replacing the entire jamb and willing to refinish drywall, you can opt to use a new flush door jamb using hidden hinges. The not only provides for a sleek finish, but these modern assemblies can allow for complete 180 degree action.

EZYJamb is a split-type door jamb manufactured from cold rolled steel to produce a strong and secure assembly.

The EZYJamb Classic Adjust EZC, comes with perforated sides for flush finishing which produces a contemporary flush finish door jamb with clean lines and inconspicuous detail.

The completed jamb is flush finished and can be painted in with the whole wall area to fully conceal any fixing, achieving simple clean lines around the door face. 

The incorporation of reinforced edges overcomes the continual damage door jambs are subjected to by normal everyday use.

The unique design of EZYJamb combines visual appeal, strength and versatility.

The door, itself, will need concealed or hidden hinges, that will be mortised using a proprietary jig supplied by the hinge manufacturer, so it would be advised to have your carpenter source the plank door, hinge, jig, and door jamb products they are comfortable using.

This door allows for 180 degree action, which in this case was required to offer the hall bathroom an outswing, while folding out of the way for someone passing by. 

This door allows for 180 degree action, which in this case was required to offer the hall bathroom an outswing, while folding out of the way for someone passing by. 

 

Other options:

http://www.invisiframe.com/

The Quest for a New Rug

We used to have a lot more rugs in the house, but eventually they either got super grimy and/or didn't last very long and we have been without any rugs for quite some time. I also prefer the ease of sweeping dirt and dust away with a broom and dust pan, versus vacuuming. But our home is very "live" in terms of sound and we figured a new rug might help to dampen the sound a tiny bit. (Hard to do with two boys who run around with Nerf guns and Light Sabers all the time, but we thought we would try anyway). 

It was fun to see via a question we posted to Instagram, all the great suggestions on where folks like to buy their rugs. From Overstock, to Allmodern, and FLOR tiles to Ikea and Target, there is an endless supply of well-designed rugs. I contemplated bright and bold, to thick and fuzzy and everything in between, but also had budget and quality as my top priorities.

If you are a Bay Area local, you probably already know about it, but if not, Williams-Sonoma Brands has a huge warehouse in Alameda, CA, filled with merchandise from all their brands/stores: West Elm, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma. It's only open on the weekends and they receive new inventory each week, so you have to try your luck with each visit to see if there's anything there that catches your fancy. I scored this past weekend, finding this 9' x 12' Marquis Wool Rug from West Elm at waaay less than you can buy online or at the store. We rolled it up and threw it in the SUV. (You can pay extra for delivery, but worth it if you have a big car or truck to take your goodies home same day).

So here is our new Rug in our Family/Living Room; our youngest started rolling all over it the moment we laid it out in the room, so I guess that means it's been Kid-Approved!

I know it's really light in color, which is a scary thought, but we all love the nice, plush, thickness of the wool. We take shoes off in the house too, but it will most likely be me to be the first one to spill a big glass of Red Wine on it!

Until then, we're enjoying having something soft underfoot; and a nice place to sit down on too.

 

Dining Room and Fireplace Reveal

After a few very messy weeks (think smashed travertine tile, two failed soda blasting attempts, and living without glass panels during torrential rain storms), what started as a "Fireplace Project" turned into a bit of a bigger Dining Room overhaul. 

Let's remember what the Dining Room first looked like... now this is almost four years ago, but it was quite different:

For a recap on the Fireplace Restoration, check out our past post. We finally brought in the professionals to remove the thick primer that was on the original brick, which they used a technique called Soda Blasting to remove.

Replacing the glass panels

We then prepped the area to replace the non-original side glass panels back to clear glass. John replaced some of the wood stops with new pieces in preparation for the two new glass panels we ordered from a local glass shop. 

Glass will be inserted into the existing metal channel, located in between the inside and outside of the fireplace.

Glass will be inserted into the existing metal channel, located in between the inside and outside of the fireplace.

Using extra large suction cups, John carefully inserted the glass panel into the metal channel and installed new wood stops. Lots of caulk and additional outside wood stops were then installed for a secure fit. 

Then came some last minute walnut paneling work, to finish off the few feet left of the space before the transition to the Kitchen.

And here's our "new" more-original-in-style Dining Room!

The newly restored Fireplace in our Eichler 

The newly restored Fireplace in our Eichler 

The additional Walnut paneling we added to finish off the space really made a difference, and it felt like it would make a great lounging area with the Eames Chair.

We also rearranged the Dining Table to accommodate the added seating area. 

We still have a bunch of additional clean-up work to do (removing remaining bits of old tile mortar, some re-painting, etc...) but for now, we are thrilled (and relieved!) to have rid of the last of the former "updates" made to this room. It feels like the room and space can breathe again! 

Next up, we finally found a new Rug for the Living Room... and how we decide to add some greenery to the side area, which is in the view of those great new glass windows (currently an old fence and construction debris). Thanks for all the support through this project! It's been fun seeing everyone share in our same excitement to get back to an original fireplace! 

Stripping Down: Restoring a Fireplace

Our dining room went already went through an amazing transformation, but the fireplace remained one of the last things to tackle in the room. The original brick fireplace was tiled over with some beige stone that didn't fit the MCM theme.

The room went through extensive updating where we put back in a large sliding door, added Walnut wall paneling, replaced the carpet with VCT, and even added back in original pinstripe Eichler siding. 

Major work completed to allow access and light in through the atrium.

Major work completed to allow access and light in through the atrium.

Walnut paneling added.

Walnut paneling added.

Fireplace after tile removal.

Fireplace after tile removal.

There was a thin layer of who-knows-what that was applied to the brick. It was much more difficult to remove than regular paint. We tried paint remover, but it didn't make a dent. I then tried soda blasting with a Harbor Freight 15lb blaster with a rented 6.5cfm @ 90 psi compressor, and that resulted in removing about a course of brick every two hours - ugh!

Out first experiment took a few hours to prepare the area, assemble the blaster, fill the bottle, setup the compressor, and experiment with flow rate and spray tips. A few pounds of soda later, we only had a few bricks cleaned.

Out first experiment took a few hours to prepare the area, assemble the blaster, fill the bottle, setup the compressor, and experiment with flow rate and spray tips. A few pounds of soda later, we only had a few bricks cleaned.

Fireplace ZipWalled and John suited up for blasting. 

Fireplace ZipWalled and John suited up for blasting. 

It was time to bring in the professionals, something we're always reluctant to do, but in this case, reasonable options ran out for us. A used professional abrasive blasting rig ran about $15K, so instead we hired Steve Coe out of Wheatland, CA. His crew was awesome and very professional. They were courteous about keeping dust out of the house. He pulled up in a truck with a huge trailer consisting of a giant compressor and blasting equipment.

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They initially tested pure baking soda that didn't quite have the abrasion they wanted, so they also mixed in glass bead. It was loud and dusty, even with all the dust control mechanisms (a sealed area and a vacuum that pulled air out to the driveway). They were done in 4 hours and it was worth every penny!

Here is the completed job. A few remaining areas that require additional plaster removal.

Here is the completed job. A few remaining areas that require additional plaster removal.

Up Next - Replacing the glass panels on the side to get back to clear glass so we can see the entire chimney come through the room - can't wait!

How to Make Floating Concrete Steps

DIY Concrete Steps

Concrete steps are commonly used to create a walkway to a home, but floating concrete steps added a little extra feature while we were committing to pouring all this concrete.

Options for Front Walkway and Steps

You can create steps using a variety of materials:

  • Brick or Pavers - easier to DIY
  • Precast concrete - moderate to DIY, but heavy lifting

  • Pour in place concrete - lower DIY cost, but more labor

Pour In Place Concrete Walkways

We chose the more difficult DIY path and enjoyed learning a few things along the way as a first-time project. It turned out no where near the quality of a pro-grade job, but certainly suited the budget. We had previous experience casting our concrete countertops so this project was definitely easier, but still involved a lot of sweat and patience.

Steps to Pour a Concrete Walkway

  1. Excavate the ground for the walkway
  2. Build the wooden frames for each step
  3. Pour the concrete

Excavating the Ground for Concrete Steps

2x4 planks were laid out to help calculate how many steps and what size to make them. I measured a total rise of 18" from the sidewalk to the landing, and figured that each step would be about six inches. This left me with an option of three steps to get to the sidewalk level, where I would need to put two small pads even with the sidewalk.

Forms for Concrete Steps

Each step was 3.5" thick (standard 2x4 plank), so the first two steps could be simply formed using 2x4s. The three steps up would require 1x6 or 2x6 lumber, because the floating effect required a 2x4 to fill in under the step. Stakes were hammered in to keep the forms in place.

The floating effect is created by adding a 2x4 laid flat along the bottom-front of the form, so that it overlaps the step form below it.

Compacted gravel and mesh was added (which is optional) for the steps. Using the mesh has been debated where one school of thought is that is holds it together to prevent cracking, while the other school believes that a 3-4" thick slab is now weakened by rebar, now leaving less than 1.5" of concrete above and below the rebar.

Cutting mesh at night with an angle grinder.

Cutting mesh at night with an angle grinder.

Freshly poured step after troweling.

Freshly poured step after troweling.

When making the floating steps, the you need to pour from the bottom up because the forms overlap each other, so the forms above need to be removed. We did one step a day - removed the form before pouring the one above.

The form freshly removed the following day. Notice the knockout provided by the 2x4 to create the floating effect, which was also removed.

The form freshly removed the following day. Notice the knockout provided by the 2x4 to create the floating effect, which was also removed.

Finished Concrete Steps

Our troweling job wasn't the best, so a slurry mix was applied to smooth out some rough spots using a sponge.

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What We Learned From DIY Concrete Steps

  1. Each step was almost 4'x4' which took about 6-9 bags (60lb bags) per step. (Many trips to Lowes!)
  2. 1x6 fencing wood seemed more ideal than 2x6 lumber - it's cheaper and easier to remove the forms which became scrap wood.
  3. The form assembly was done using wood screws, but the catch was putting in the screws in locations the could be accessible after a pour, to make removal easy. We chipped a few corners of hacking away with a SawZall at hard to reach screws.
  4. We did this our our California winter break, so temps were 40-50, which slowed drying times. You could pour and trowel, then come back the next morning to apply the finish troweling/floating work.

Our Kitchen in a Commercial

Our kitchen is now on film! Well... not real film actually -- the video production company is named "Filmless," but nevertheless, it was exciting to watch the crew prep and shoot for three hours, to see our kitchen flash on screen for a few seconds.

I listened to the line "Hey Sweetie, do you have the e-mail with the updated Guest List?" over and over for hours, so I assumed the commercial was for a Wedding app, but looks like it's for sophisticated "data recall" software and app. Forward to 1:00 to see the house in action! 

Atlas Recall App Commercial. Kitchen featured at 1:00

Desert-Inspired Mid-Century Modern Landscape: Our Big Yard Reveal

Our front yard and house used to look like this:

The Before: Our non mid-century vinyl siding, pagoda mailbox, and shrubbery-filled front yard.

The Before: Our non mid-century vinyl siding, pagoda mailbox, and shrubbery-filled front yard.

Inspiration

Near the end of 2016, we gathered the needed energy and determination to tackle our front yard landscaping. To save money, we decided to go for it and do ALL the labor ourselves. Boy, was this a tiring and enduring project, but in the end, we're so happy we did it and are (fairly) happy with the results!

It was a gradual process (as all projects we've tackled so far) which started a few years ago with removing the exterior vinyl siding and having the original Eichler exterior siding painted. (One of the few things we didn't do ourselves and loved every minute!)

We have been gathering landscape design inspiration for a few years now, starting with one of our trips to Palm Springs, where we found loads of inspiration for drought-tolerant landscape designs, featuring cactus, rock, and agave plants. Here's one of our favorites and you will see where we got the inspiration for barrel cactus.

Colorful desert landscape in Palm Springs.

Colorful desert landscape in Palm Springs.

A visit to our local Ruth Bancroft Garden helped to solidify our final plant choices, knowing they could thrive in our both very warm and cool East Bay climate.

Gorgeous Agave and unusual succulents can be found at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA.

Gorgeous Agave and unusual succulents can be found at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA.

The Planning Process

Here are some initial drawings for dividing up the yard, which is a fairly decent size. I know we have some professional landscape architecture friends out there, so don't make fun of my terrible hand drawings! :) 

In theme with a Palm Springs inspired rock garden, we chose a combination of Black Mexican Pebbles, Salmon Bay Pebbles, and Black Mulch. We sourced almost all of the ground cover from American Soil and Stone, in Richmond, CA. I searched far and wide for rock and pebble sources in the Bay Area, and prices and offerings varied greatly. Just a heads up, each place sells ground cover differently; either by the ton and/or by the cubic yard... so we had to reach back to the depths of middle school math (or use some online tools) to figure out how all the pricing worked out. One visit to American Soil and Stone was super helpful, with the the ability to see and touch the different materials, and get pricing and delivery fees on the spot. If you are looking for a boulder, this is your place!

For plants, we have a dear and awesome design friend, Brooke, who works in landscaping, so she brought me to the amazing wholesale Devil Mountain Nursery in San Ramon, CA, where we purchased the Barrel Cacti, Blue Glow Agave, Kangaroo Paws, and our now still little, (but someday will be big and tall) Desert Museum Palo Verde Tree.

Eventually, I would like to build a concrete or Corten Steel planter somewhere, where the kids can tend to some veggies, but for now, we put a few of these beauties near the house and love the pop of color.

Ornamental Kale

Ornamental Kale

Some of you might want to skip all the lengthy details of this multi-month project, and skip to the fun "After" pictures posted at the end. For those of you who must really love us, here are the phases of our Landscape Project:

1. Removed (dead) grass, (dead) plants and ground cover.

Notice the theme with dead plants? Because of the Drought, we really had to let everything go over the years, as it didn't make sense to keep plants that required a lot of water to stay alive, knowing we would eventually re-do our front yard. We rented a sod cutter from The Home Depot after trying our hand with an axe pick. We also debated renting the less expensive option of the tiller, but we were very glad we opted for the sod cutter, which cut all the sod loose in under 20 mins after we figured out how to operate the machine. It's self-propelled on some rubber tracks and offers an depth adjustment for the blade. There was no manual, so there was a bit of careful experimenting required to get it just right.

* TIP - The biggest tip we can share is to not try to run it like a lawn mower and get to the end of a run, top it, turn it, and start again. Instead, while it's running, turn quickly into the next run and just cut in a continuous circle starting from the outside of the lawn. You'll need to come back to get the small corners you'll miss, but it'll get it done quicker and reduce all the heavy lifting at each turn. Also, this beast fit into the back of our Honda Pilot, but at the shop they helped move it into the back using a portable lift gate, so when we got it home, we needed to build a ramp by laying down 2x4s and plywood. The guy at the shop also had no clue how it worked. To apply the brake during transport, put it in gear so it doesn't move around.

3. Leveled the ground (slightly), after digging out old plants and roots. We had a compost truck pick up all the old plantings and sod. Someone else even came and bought the old brick from us! Craigslist is awesome.

4. Defined areas of yard, first using string, for our Steel Edging (also from American Soil and Stone) as dividers. We live on a curved street, so believe it or not, the white string represented lines perfectly parallel and perpendicular to the house, the basis we wanted to use for the groundscape layout - It's quite an optical illusion!

5. Dug holes for the new plants (thanks Dad for your help too!) and put down weed guard. All the new plants are drought-tolerant, though we did install new lines for a drip system. It was amazing how many old sprinkler heads we closed off, now that we didn't have to keep grass alive!

6. Accepted the pebble and mulch delivery and then eventually moved ALL of it from the driveway to the yard, with the help of some small people.

Putting the kids to work. Bucket by bucket.

Putting the kids to work. Bucket by bucket.

7. We dug a lot, then made wood forms that would become the new concrete steps. 

Concrete-Forms

8. Mixed and poured concrete, one step at a time. This was our "fun" activity that consumed most of our holiday "break." Since it was near freezing at night, we covered each step with tarps to help them stay warm to cure.

9. Removed forms as each step has set, then mixed and poured the next step.

10. We bought larger Mexican Rock to use as filler around the first pavers and in between steps. 

After

So now that we're done, we are really proud to drive up to our house versus recoil. There are still remaining items to tackle (someday!), such as new fence/gate on each side, a steel or concrete planter box and match the other front side yard to the new landscaping theme. Oh and someday, we'd like a fresh new concrete driveway, but definitely not mixing that one up ourselves! Some landscape lighting would also be fantastic (our neighbors put in some really great lighting, more on that next time), but for this project, we had to limit our scope.

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A few Aloe Striata plants and rocks from the old garden make for a small vignette. At the last minute, I decided to add these plants and rock, which is one of our favorites parts of the design. 

A few Aloe Striata plants and rocks from the old garden make for a small vignette. At the last minute, I decided to add these plants and rock, which is one of our favorites parts of the design. 

No more mowing lawns! But now we do have to rake our rock garden. 

No more mowing lawns! But now we do have to rake our rock garden. 

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The plants are mostly all very young, so there is plenty of yard for them to grow into. You can't even see the three Blue Glow Agaves in the third row from this view, but one day, they will make a statement.

If you have been thinking about tackling a yard project on your own, you can definitely do it! Just make sure to stock up on some pain relief for sore muscles, (or go to yoga and or your Chiropractor!) and it's worth it to invest in a good, solid wheelbarrow. But it can be done as a DIY project at a fraction of the cost of hiring professionals. Of course, our work is nowhere near perfect, but we will take it over our "Before" any day. 

What's next? Lighting, more plants, a new fence... and the work continues ;)

Mid-Century Modern Christmas Decor

Our mid-century modern white Christmas tree and the kids' growing Nutcracker collection.

Our mid-century modern white Christmas tree and the kids' growing Nutcracker collection.

The Holidays have very distinct memories for me. In my earlier lifetime, I was either dancing in the Nutcracker (hundreds of shows, literally) or then went to work in Retail, so the holiday season meant very long days and nights. I couldn't wait for them to be over. Now I'm grateful that I can actually enjoy the season a bit more, and help make new holiday memories for our family.

A few pops of color with some Target finds. 

A few pops of color with some Target finds. 

I purchased this white Christmas tree several years ago, pre house-renovation at a big box store. It's (kind of) holding up, but the hot summers here (it's stored in an outdoor shed) are starting to do a number on some of its white "branches." At least it's still fairly sparkly and looks (mostly) white when the lights are on. I do miss the smell of fresh pine and picking out a fresh tree, but nearly all of us in our family have some form of allergies or asthma and sadly the fresh trees don't fare too well with us!

As the kids are growing older (and past the toddler-touch-everything-age) it is great that they can now help unwrap and hang ornaments without too much wreckage (only three broken ornaments this time around!) Bring on the festive season! 

The new best spot in the house for enjoying a hot chocolate (or a cocktail!) and viewing the tree. 

The new best spot in the house for enjoying a hot chocolate (or a cocktail!) and viewing the tree. 

British-Inspired Industrial Kitchen

It's been a whirlwind few months, with several of our projects in the middle or nearing the end of construction. While we wait (in great anticipation!) for these projects to wrap up, it's been very inspiring to start work on several new projects. 

I am often asked if we design spaces that are not mid-century modern, and the answer is "Yes!" We have an interest and passion in the minute details that are special to older homes, whether it's the craftsmanship of an original built-in cabinet, an exposed brick wall, or gorgeous tongue and groove plank ceilings. One of my favorite aspects of working with clients who live in historic homes is helping them to continue to act as stewards of their homes, while bringing fresh modern touches to the space.  

I am excited to share some of the inspiration that has been driving this project. Our client has a background in fashion and it's been extremely fun to collaborate together during throughout the design process.

Here is a peek at the design concept, which we are calling "British Industrial."

DeVol Cabinetry, Rohl Farmhouse Sinks, Tom Dixon Black/Brass lighting, Perrin & Rowe faucets and Steel and Glass Doors have provided inspiration for this British-Industrial Kitchen Design. 

DeVol Cabinetry, Rohl Farmhouse Sinks, Tom Dixon Black/Brass lighting, Perrin & Rowe faucets and Steel and Glass Doors have provided inspiration for this British-Industrial Kitchen Design. 

Our client is well-versed in British design, so it has been great to discover new brands and talent. Check out some of these lighting options (not all British, but incredible eye candy nonetheless!) These designs would look incredible in any home, from a mid-century modern home to a loft space.

1. PH 5 and PH50, Louis Poulsen

2. Type 75 Maxi Pendant, Anglepoise

3. Rock Suspension Lamp, Diesel Foscarini

4. Revolve Rise & Fall Pendant, Bert Frank

What do you think? Which one is your favorite? Hope you enjoyed this peek into the design process! Stay tuned for the final reveal on this Berkeley Craftsman Home transformation! Till next time.