Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Modern Retirement House Design........

I am getting older, and I guess that is a good thing. But being as I am getting older, I am starting to actively think about a day when I will not work every day. That day is still probably several years away, but I am starting to think about what kind of a home I want to live in. What my needs will be, how much space I will need, cost, maintenance, etc.

My wife and I love our current home! It is modern and beautiful, spacious, lots of windows overlooking our woods and our pond. I love the feeling it gives me everyday when I return home! It is everything I wanted and more!

I designed it to be the last home I would ever own. But now with the kids getting older, I am having other thoughts. It was the right size with 3 children living here. Now the house is getting too big, we don't need 10 acres, the steep lane......

I am thinking we can build a smaller home for our retirement years. Besides reducing the size, we would be reducing our investment, freeing up funds for other purposes. We love living in the country but I am thinking of flatter ground, something more manageable in inclement weather. A home that requires even less maintenance than our current home. Landscaping that is super easy to care for, something with a smallish lawn that is laid out so I can perform virtually all of the lawn maintenance from the seat of my tractor.

I need enough space for when my children and their families come to visit. So probably a partial walkout basement. This space will also serve as a safe haven in severe weather and a place for the mechanical systems.

I want a stone patio. No staining or replacing boards when they get old or warp. Just hose it off now and then and use some weed killer as needed.

It will also have commercial windows! Yes, they are a compromise on thermal efficiency, but you cannot beat the way they look and the views they provide.

I am thinking of a simple shed roof with standing seam metal roofing. And a simple carport. A simple and compact design overall, reducing space and materials.

It will be oriented to gather solar radiation in the winter and it will have at minimum an array of solar panels to help offset the energy that we use.

The shell will most likely be built from ICFs. Partially because I can easily construct the basement and exterior walls myself, but also because I think it is simply the best structural building material available with many advantages.

At this point, these are just ideas floating around in my head. But I hope to start doing a little design work later this winter.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

My New Modern Lounge Chair

So what does my new lounge chair have to do with modern architecture. Well, I think it has some relevance and thus deserves a blog post.

We built a pretty cool modern home a few years ago and for the most part, bought new furniture too. Most of the new furniture was of a modern style and fit nicely with the home. I feel that finding modern furniture of reasonable quality at a reasonable price to be somewhat difficult. There many knockoffs available on line, but I much prefer to experience the comfort and quality in person. This limits my choices mainly to large retailers that offer some modern furniture, specialty retailers and second hand dealers. All of these are fine if you can find what you are looking for.

However, I feel that most new modern furniture is priced somewhat out of reach of the average person. Maybe I am wrong, or maybe I am just too frugal. But when Dwell runs a section on modern bar stools and the average price is $1000 each, I just have to shake my head.

The exception to the new modern furniture in our home would be my old leather recliner. I had had my leather recliner for about 14 years. It had served me quite well with many, many naps for myself as well as a few where I was joined by my small children. Sure, my old recliner looked a little out of place, but hey, it was long paid for and it was really comfy!

But then one day, most likely due to extreme age and countless successful efforts of arresting the pull of gravity on my butt as I sat down, a spring in the seat broke. I guess it was just it's time. Or at least it's time to be relegated to the basement family room where the kids and their friends do things to furniture that we cannot discuss on a civilized blog!

And so began my quest for a new chair. My new chair required several qualities: clean modernish design, leather upholstery, reclinability, shoulder and head support to enable a medium tall person to take a good nap, and of course a reasonable price. While I was willing to spend many hundred dollars, I was not willing to go over a thousand. When discussing the expected cost of my replacement chair with my 15 year old son, he thought I was quite crazy to even consider spending so much money on a chair. Keep in mind that he is 15 and has no idea what things like furniture cost. But I did need to be pretty cost conscious just because there are always many other things more deserving of funds that a new chair for me.

I looked at lots and lots of chairs. Many on the internet and many in various stores in Kansas City. There are a couple local stores that have a number of modern chairs of some sort. Most were not the classic designs you might be familiar with, but those were out of my price range any way. The majority of the chairs I found were just not that comfortable. Finding that right balance of style, comfort and price was proving difficult. I did have the opportunity to tryout an Egg chair at a local second hand store. It is a cool looking chair, just not all that comfortable.

Like many, many guys, I have always lusted for an Eames lounge chair. They are so beautiful and sleek! They are the essence of modern lounge chairs. I thought I desperately wanted one! I had seen them many times, but had never had an opportunity to sit and relax in one. A real one was simply out of my price range. The knockoffs on Amazon look pretty nice, but your never know.

So I decided to first find the real thing, new or old, and try it out for size. Through a little searching, I did find one that I could try. To my dismay, it was no good (at least for my needs). It was too small or too short in the back. The top of the back hit me about mid shoulder, it did not come close to reaching my neck unless I slouched, a lot! Plus it had no type of head rest. If you have never done so, napping in a chair without a head rest is near impossible! I am sure the Eames lounge chair is fantastic for reading, etc, just not so much for relaxing and possibly napping.

I did finally find a chair that met my needs. I had actually found it fairly early in my quest, but had passed it by thinking it was not cool enough. I was holding out for the ideal chair and not being practical. It is made by Lane, part of their Leather Essentials Contemporary line. It is soft and comfy, reclines and has a tall back for support. And best of all it was a little under $500 including the ottoman.

It has worked out better than expected. When initially purchased, I felt that I was making a compromise in the name of practicality. I was not real psyched about the chair, but I had exhausted all other options. But as I got used t the chair, I came to realize that it worked really well. My wife and children have learned this too! If I am not sitting in my chair, there is a very good chance that my wife or one of my children is. So, I guess that is a solid vote of approval.

So, if you are looking for a nice modern reclining lounge chair at a reasonable price, check out the Lane ....

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My severely neglected blog........

OK, so maybe I should just kill this blog! It has only been 2 years since my last post, is that really a problem? Well, yes, yes it is! Sorry, not sure why I have neglected this for so long, but I just have. So after much thought and much angst, I have decided to make an effort to post to this blog more regularly.

That said, I plan to post about more subjects related to modern architecture, furnishings, construction, lifestyle, etc. Some topics you will see soon are about designing a retirement home and designing plans for a modern Usonian home.

I have been discussing designing and building a retirement home with a couple of my friends. My goals are a simple modern structure with a shed roof, lots of windows and a small footprint. One level, 1 bedroom, office (doubles as a 2nd bedroom), living, dining, kitchen and 2 baths. We live all have grown children and we live in tornado country, so a partial basement is part of the design. I plan to get started on this design over the winter and offer the plans for sale before too long.

My desire to offer a modern Usonian design has been rekindled by a message from a potential customer a month ago. I have long admired Wright's work, especially his Usonian designs. That said, it is probably considered a bit taboo to offer a design that mimics his Usonian works, but I believe there are people out there who deeply desire a home along those design lines, updated for modern living and who cannot afford to go to the Taliesin architects for a certified Usonian design. So, in the near future, I plan to offer a design that will be my take on the modern Usonian. Something with similar lines and look but designed for today and designed to use conventional materials.

Anyway, these are just a few thoughts on restarting my blog and some subjects of future posts. Please stay tuned.