It's official. We have a style name...

Scandinavian Minimalism meets Northern California

Image from Est Magazine #8 via Desire to Inspire

This entry is almost a perfect example - the baseboards and crown molding have too much detail but the feeling is spot on.

Basically we have created two styles and blended them into something that should appeal to most and be somewhat timeless.

For us...

Scandinavian Minimalism is:
- Practicality
- No frills, no fuss
- Everything has a purpose
- Light and bright
- Good space planning
- Simple

Northern California is:
- Comfortable
- Relaxed, in-formal
- Laid back
- Earthy
- Reused and recycled materials
- Nature

You could perhaps also call this style Modern Farmhouse, which may actually be a marriage of words that exists in the design world, but I still really just love ScanMinNoCal. Fits the bill. Right on.

Check out my ScanMinNoCal Pinterest Board for more inspiration!


Artist date: Visiting new West Elm store

I did some browsing at the new West Elm store yesterday. It's all Christmas and rustic and blingy. That's not a word but I think you get the idea.

Check out their holiday here.

I left with only a pair of king pillow shams (which were a planned purchase) but it was really hard to say no to bringing this white felt ball wreath home with me.

It's bad we are not into lighting yet on our house project, because at 20% there were some really great fixtures so even better prices. A few items that stood out included these Capiz Orb Pendants

And this ultra chunky Emerson dining table

And a really cute little chair that I actually can't find on their website...

And this clever coffee table that is available in rustic and white lacquer...I even got an unsolicited "Oh, I like that!" from my husband! Love it when it's that easy!


Curb appeal

I was a neighborhood stalker today.

That sounds kind of creepy but if any of the owners of these homes had looked out of their windows while I was parked in front of their homes with my iPhone aimed out of the window, I think they may be have concerned.

But there is no better way to see what other people are building and wanting and liking than to drive around and see what kind of new construction is appearing. And all around is construction. On every street, in every neighborhood. And it seems to be either shingles, a modern version of Craftsman, renovated Victorian, ultra modern or just plain ultra huge.  And amidst the redwoods of our Northern California town, all of these styles somehow coexist together.

And then there is this...

White house, white trim, wide siding, clean lines, simple trim, black garage doors, monochromatic landscaping.

A little bit Shaker, a little bit farmhouse, a little classic cottage.

No fuss. No frills.

And exactly what I (and now we) want.

More inspiring images on my CURB APPEAL Pinterest Board


Pencils and tracing paper

I am trying to remember what we talked about before we had kids and before we bought a house that needs updating.

Because right now, almost every conversation is about this house.

A few days ago somebody asked me how long we have been designing this house and I had to admit it that it has been over 2 years. You see the ideas started on that very first visit on a Sunday afternoon, before any inspections or contracts or down payments, and basically, they haven't stopped. Then we had a baby and then we did some work in the back yard and then there was a wedding in Kentucky. Then there was one architect and a contractor and another contractor and a proposal and code analysis.

Basically, we have been putzing around with ideas and architects and contractors for 2 years - trying to figure out how to solve the problems and issues of this house with the smallish amount of money that we have. In terms of money, its sizable. In terms of money for remodeling a house in Marin County, its chump change. What we are trying to figure out is how to make a castle out of our chump change. And by god, we will figure it out.

So now that there are no more babies and weddings and other distractions, we (but mostly I) have the bandwidth to get this show on the road.

For us, this past weekend, that meant devoting 6+ hours to deciphering and prioritizing the 5+ scenarios our new favorite architect gave us. With ruler in hand, some tracing paper and several sharpened pencils, we started to draw...

And draw. And draw.

And by Sunday night, we had it. A completed master plan.

Let me say that again, A COMPLETED MASTER PLAN! This is huge.

What is a master plan you ask? For some it may seem a frivolous extra expense but what I have learned is that it is an essential planning tool for any remodel. Building and supplies and labor are expensive - paper and pencils and ideas are not. 

Taking the extra time in the beginning to figure out how each design component affects the next can help to clarify what to do when and hopefully prevent you from doing work twice or even three times because you didn't realize that you actually wanted access to the backyard (once your deck is built) where instead you just put in a new countertop and pantry because you didn't think beyond the kitchen.  In our case, making a master plan was a crucial first step because it has taken us through countless iterations of ideas and options, some of which worked, others that didn't but all the while helping us to prioritize.

And when you have an old house and a small budget and you don't want to tear the whole thing down and start over, it is important to prioritize and gain complete transparency into the domino affect of making changes, hopefully preparing us for everything and leaving the unexpected (which is inevitable and unavailable) to a much smaller percentage.

As for our priorities, we narrowed then down to:

1. Fix the flow
2. Keep as many walls standing as possible
3. Create a central hallway/stair that leads from new entry stair to back of house
4. Create 2 functioning bedrooms upstairs
5. Create a defined sense of private space for downstairs bedrooms and bath

With these 5 priorities, we were able to look at each scenario and quantify how it stacked up to each component. Our favorite scenario that gutted the downstairs bathroom and made this really sexy and spacious corridor from the new entry to the back of the house did not address #2 and #5. And at 3am after our last meeting with Zac (the new favorite architect), I realized that #5 was actually way more important than an exact central hallway. So we went back to his sketches and started over. 

Now we need to verify and verify some more and then it might just be time to bring in a structural engineer and maybe even head to the planning department for a preliminary overview.

Stay tuned...