Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Progress on FaceLift of 1930's Bungalow

Jeanette's house renovation is going much faster with a larger team - an architect, a landscape designer, a goldminer wintering south in Seattle (no kidding!), and a few more friends are stopping by to lend a hand - we are focused on getting the house on the market before Christmas.

The living room and dining room have the finish coat painted completely twice - second time by the excitable dance paint and joke team of Sara and Jay - there are small corrections on the trim here and there. The laundry room needs the eggshell white trim to be done, but the walls are done (I took the racks down over the washer and dryer and spackled prodigiously). Plain looks good - wouldnt it be wonderful if we could live like this in a plain uncluttered manner?

Eggshell trim and flat wallpaint are the perfect combination for an older house that has had a lot of use. Then there is also the perfect $10 armchair I purchased on a whim at the secondhand donation place for temporary seating at the house because all the furniture was removed; it is so popular someone is always in it, including the fat gray cat, Nermal. We plan to recover it for "Day of Show".

On the bathroom I started yesterday by mixing up a grey slightly purplish trim paint and light brown wall paint to match the putty - gray colored tiles - covering more of that pasty orange tooth-fairy colored paint. I removed the small mirrored medicine cabinet from above the sink and placed it over the toilet, replacing it with a 1930's style lightly engraved mirror instead. The rings for the shower curtains are matching mirror pieces in the same engraved style - time to find a shower pole thingie of the correct width and length.

Renovation: wallpaper texture on ceiling with handblown lamp

Then someone (perhaps moi?) will sand the bathroom door frame, fill it and paint it the gray color which matches the bathtub grout - both sides of the door will be white semi-gloss. I am using matchstick blinds for the window next to the sink but am not sold on them - the shower curtain warms up and livens up the bathroom with a relaxed Italian ornamental look with tone on tone grays and browns, and a little simplicity of the Japanese hot tub feel. Sort of unusual for a small bathroom but the huge Jacuzzi tub and large gray tiles dominates the room so it works best to emphasize it.

Next up is to complete the south bedroom painting with the wonderful golden yellow color and white trim - the new lighting fixures couldn't be better. Then the closets at the top of the hallway are to be painted pure white semi-gloss. The walls in the hallway that our architect friend David spackled extensively will be painted with wallpaper prepping paint and size, and I hope this week to have the wallpaper installed by Liz our professional - we'd all feel better about getting one story of the house completely finished. After the trim in the bedroom and the stairwell are painted white then the rugged off-white carpet can be laid.

The other team is moving towards getting the reading room complete which means hanging the new door - I'll stain that to match the upstairs doors. They will paint the reading room the same as the living dining laundry with the Home Depot Behr yellow (not much of it left now). I love their fine paint - it goes on like butter on hot bread.

The old dryed up paint drops are being removed with GoofOff where ever there is wood floor. Then wood putty will go on the holes and a bit of stain applied. Goof Off strips the varnish too - so I will oil it when complete and then gently talk the main team into letting me varnish lightly with something to restore the wood's glow.

I am glad I stuck to my gut feelings on the choices I made - remain with the 1930's feel when the house was built - keeping everything in proportion, somewhat small but bright, with fine details like the mirrors, and toile curtains makes it all look very put together. The light golden yellow in the kitchen is going to calm that room down quite a bit. I am still amazed by what even a little old fashioned style chandelier can do for an old house to give it personality and gentle sparkle.

I have my seamstress making curtains for upstairs bedrooms and they are about 1/2 done. I replaced that square mirror tile in the small upstairs toilet with a finished round white mirror, and combined with the round white light fixture Jerry installed, it is looking much more normal, and discrete.

I was looking at this month's copy of House Beautiful magazine and was not too surprised to see that my golden tone on tone color choices, shapes and styles, such as hanging curtains up against the low ceilings to generate a feeling of height, well placed mirrors, right down to Jeanette's grandmother's old French tapestry were in an article about how to transform small rooms into larger looking ones. I guess I have learned the designer's tricks well.

That place is beginning to glow and when we are finished someone will have a bright, artful, fun, easy to live in place with a fishpond in front and an enclosed hot tub off the back deck. I always feel better when I end the day with a good soak with some of Jeanette's custom made bath salts, like "Jazz", and when I am done I can go inside and watch the paint dry.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Lex's Pet Stork, Buster's Pygmy Hippo Impressions, and the invisible friend

So my friend John Forbes is traveling while writing and photo documenting a beautiful trip -- driving to Florida the long way, through Mexico, on his way home to Costa Rica. http://www.costaricajournal.com/Travel%20Journal.htm

John phoned to say Lex, who directs some grand Zoo in Florida, was out looking for his pet stork with a flash light, and Buster, John's dog, was very impressed with meeting Lex's pygmy hippos. i bet -

More bird trouble! as I had decided that Petra the Parrot was too lonely here in Wallingford in my grand old turn of the century, classic Mission style house all by herself without her flock. So after we said bye over the phone to the traveling one!, I took Petra home to Crown Hill, where she was so happy!

Kitchen packing was achieved today with massive boxing of many nice things to be given away.

Like no one wants me to move because they will all miss my house, but my wanderlust has returned, and it is time to overturn my boat and set sail on the winds of fortune again. If anything promotes peace in this world it is commerce and communication.

Torches lit, I sail into the fresh cold night air slowly approaching the dawn.

Notice I too said nothing about the invisible friend.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Chandeliers In, New Finds

Jeanette’s house, which we are renovating and putting on the market, is looking wonderful - we put in the new lamps - chandelier in the dining room, new fixtures in just about all rooms in a 1930's inspired theme, we have doubled the light in the house and softened it.

Renovation: small chandelier with toile curtains

This is about combining styles so the house brings out its cuteness. I actually found flatware that had both French and Tibetan designs worked into the same pattern so I can tie Jeanette’s French style to her Tibetan carpets she had custom made by Tibetan exile friends in the Himalayan foothills of India when visiting there.

For the dining room I am using blue and cream toile in the curtains and a tall white curio corner cabinet that Sara Storm is painting and wallpapering with the matching toile paper which we will use to display Jeanette’s handpainted blue and cream French dishes. The chandelier is gold and clear glass beads in a French style I picked up at Lowe’s for $88.00 and we have a turn of the century handmade French embroidery framed depicting couples at a party for the wall. Under the chandelier we’ll be using the round wooden table I picked up for $15 and Ken Vititus, the painter, refinished for fun when he visiting Seattle from New York in 2003.

I actually got so excited about the design of the kitchen window treatments I could not sleep last night - we are making it look cute and sweet and wonderful; friendly. Dai, playing the part of an electrician dropped in and installed all the lights, what a surprise! Especially sweet is the African Trading Bead inspired hand blown glass lamp in the upstairs hallway. For some reason everyone is wild about the kitchen light fixture. It makes the uneven quality of the kitchen look normal, cozy, and as if this is the kind of kitchen where everything just seems to pop magically perfect out of the oven!

I am staining and varnishing the brand new doors we had installed, with a three step process that gives them real depth – starting with a honey oak, and then varnish, then a pinkie red stain then varnish. In this way I can control the levels of color and reflectivity. Of course I am a fine artist so doing doors with energy is important to me. Hey they look like a French Hobbit cottage and that was my goal.

I think I would love doing this fulltime.

A former owner taped the walls to the trim and Julie, Sara, and Jeanette are striping that all off and back filling it and patching and sanding it. I got to get back to packing.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Some family and grown up history

Flown outside to be born in Seattle because Alaska was yet not a state, so I could be president of the United States if I wanted, I am daughter of 3 generation Alaskan Architect Roland "Chic" Lane, and 2nd generation Alaskan Land and Energy Regional Planner Darlene "Dee" Lane. Our family likes to plan, design, and build things.

Some of my earliest memories are of looking at Mt. McKinley (Denali) reflect on the waters of Cook Inlet, and playing in the snow on boxes we used as sleds.

I remember the first street light Anchorage had installed when I was about 5 years old. I recall the big bonfire we threw wood into when Alaska gained Statehood, with the newspaper reading “We’re In!”

As the world’s climate changed the snow gradually became less frequent and lasted shorter periods of time until the yearly snows stopped almost altogether by the time I left home. So basically I am a female techno-artist geek hick from the North Country.

I grew up on the very last corner in Anchorage, the place where people from all over the country having driven the ALCAN (Alaskan Canadian Highway) would finally stop and stumble out of their cars, and trucks, exhausted, and ask us kids if this was the end of the road. If they drove any further, it was over a cliff. We tried to always remember to say “welcome” and always answered any questions we could.

My neighbors and best friends were a federal court judge and his wife, a noted designer, and their kids.

One of my first friends as an infant was the then 40 year Alaskan State Senator Yule Kilcher, who with other friends of the family wrote the Alaska State Constitution.

Yule spoke 47 languages and dialects and traveled the world speaking about his efforts to build a homestead in Alaska. His granddaughter is the singer “Jewel”, his namesake.

The first time I went Outside was right after the Great Alaskan Quake, when my mom shipped me off with my brother and sister to live in Malibu with my auntie Marilyn Story, and my two cousins. The air of Los Angeles made us kids very sick and we lay on the floor of her car retching as we had never breathed polluted air before.

California c.1964 came as a big shock and I fell in love with the West Coast of the United States – from Aunt Marilyn’s house overlooking the Pacific Ocean you could see up and down the coast until the earth’s curve hid it from view (she was a stewardess with Alaska Airlines and Bernie Story, her husband was a pilot with Alaska). And it was always warm in Malibu, and the water was blue, not like the mud grey of Cook Inlet, and Turnagain Arm.

Meanwhile back in Alaska as part of disaster recovery my Mother and her friends worked for 72 hour sessions, until they dropped off to sleep from exhaustion to bring the fires and damage under control and estimate and propose emergency funds to then President Johnson, after Jack Kennedy was assassinated.

Interestingly when I visited Washington DC, many years later I was hosted by Alaskan US Senator Ted Stevens' office, even though I was there to watch Jimmy Carter be inaugurated President. Alaskans can be very close in surprising ways. It was a surprise and delight to walk down the street with Ted in D.C.

Fairbanks in high school was an eye opener.

Eventually I moved outside because I felt to be a big fish in a small pond and the traditional ideas of what a young woman should do in Alaska did not fit my need in life to explore; I craved to know every thing.

The Upstairs in French Country Hobbit and Petra the Parrot

The two doors are installed upstairs, and Dai, a friend and former electrician, has begun installing the new lighting fixtures, which although they are modern and inexpensive are in the style one would expect in a 1930’s bungalow.

We discussed painting the doors pure white, but the wood was so pleasant looking I went with a water based English Oak stain which a bit more on the yellow side, away from red. Since the colors upstairs focus on light yellows to enhance their sunny quality and secure feeling I feel this is a good match.

upstairs hallway

After I used the orbital sander to sand the surfaces of the doors, I directly applied the stain, and it went on evenly and looks great. Next step is to varnish the completed doors, and their new frames, as Warren the carpenter now has all his tools and can complete the outer frames and soon move downstairs to do the last two doors, one is a French style enclosure for a small closet.

I shot the "before" photos on Friday - better late than never!

I am finding I really like working on interior design to increase the value of a house and stage it for sale. The estimated increase in value is approximately $31,000. just by cleaning, painting, updating, and completing existing rooms, with curtains and appropriate furniture. Pretty impressive for a little more than a month’s work! The reason I believe this is because a friend of the carpenter has decided he and his wife would like to purchase the house! We will see if they get their funding.

Everyone is saying that it would have been nice to do this work and design prior to moving in, because all these wonderful changes would have been fun to enjoy. But enjoyment is not the same as money at stake and let's face it money is a real motivating factor to getting something accomplished.

What is surprising to me is that many people, even in business, do not understand that the grace of presentation can enhance and add value to just about any experience - a diner can be a lot more fun to eat at when the decor is fun and the place is simply really clean. A house is more fun to live in when it looks good and functions. Lighting is absolutely essential for livability and being able to control the amount of light is a component of that. Kids have to be able to see their materials to study and learn.

We have decided to locate another twin bed and give away the sleigh bed that is there because of the amount of work required to sand and paint it (kids marked it up and carved into it). No one has to actually sleep on the staged twin bed, it just needs to hold body weight and resemble a bed enough to show how it will look. A basic hollywood frame with some kind of handmade and painted headboard will work fine.

Painting and reworking an existing old pine chest of drawers is half complete, in a pure white paint, it is requiring filling from where kids knocked holes in it and sanding and 3 complete coats of semi-gloss, but it will wind up looking like a million dollars. I’ll be using the ol' soap on the wooden runners trick to get the drawers to slide easily.

We have the pillows, pillow covers, sheets with a delicate bouquet floral print, quilts, and modern fabrics and I can hardly wait to get the sanding and painting, and new fixtures installed, and wallpaper hung so the staging can begin.

I have found that goggles that do not allow particles in to my eyes work best for sanding as there is so much to be accomplished. I had corrective eye surgery and the small particles are too much!

Meanwhile I am still caring for Jeanette's Parrot, Petra, at my place. Petra misses the activity of Jeanette's place mightily so I will be returning her until painting in the dining and living room starts. I had no idea Parrots could "speak" so loudly.

When I was advising someone over the phone about web development she started "speaking" so loudly I had to remove her to the far bedroom and close the door. All she wants is some attention. I am so quiet, and love peace so much that I am a poor companion for a parrot of her outgoing nature.

Most of Jeanette’s stuff has gone into the transfer units sitting out front, so the house is becoming emptier on a daily basis. She has decided to visit Costa Rica and visit my old friend from Fairbanks, John Forbes who is planning on subdividing a property he purchased down there. His site is Costricajournal.com.

If Jeanette likes it she will move there – a vacation is a great reward for selling a house!

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Contract Worker Project and Skills Based Resume

Today my friend and confidant Virginia Johnson came by to advise me on how to reorganize and rewrite my resume to make it communicate better for consultant based projects, or as a permanent employee.

We used the Contract Workers Handbook located at: http://www.cehandbook.com/ for the outline for my new resume. In the past I tried to combine a curriculum vitae style with a functional resume and it has became too long to be useful. No one wants to read the whole thing - not even moi!
Here is the basic format:


Answer the following questions:

Who am I?
What do I do?
How well can I do it?

These are the Section Titles:
Name and Skillset Title
Personal Contact Info
Summary of Experience
Skills and Tools
Selected Project Titles
Project Summaries
Education, Training, and Certificates
References and Supporting Materials
Compliance Notice

In exchange I am covering web logging with her and how to pick a great domain name and build a professional website.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

10 Things - Paranormal or Luxury?

1. The mute button
2. Pink Fog
3. "Supernatural", Carlos Santana's hit CD
4. Japan's Hotel Seiyo Ginza with a personal butler for each guest and a single Hedonist meal at $13K
5. Beaming up
6. Virgin Galactic Space Tours
7. Belief Systems, for example Aliens
8. Blue Hair
9. The Mountain being Out
10. Cats seeing stuff you can't

10 Wonderful Things

1.The view of Seattle driving south down Wallingford.
2. Tea, and the steep green hills of Darjeeling where it grows.
3. How ice slightly frozen on ponds and mud puddles forms thin webs of clear crystals.
4. The sound of breaking through slightly frozen ice in mud puddles, and the feeling of resistance right before it gives.
5. Cotton in all its forms; sheets, Levis, white nightgowns, crisp new button down shirts, napkins...
6. Photography; imaging of space phenomena using math
7. Color; especially blue, and maroon.
8. The Clear Light to be found on Vulture Peak, India.
9. The line of Volcanoes on the West coast including Rainier.
10. Chocolate.

Doors Arrive, Wallpaperer, Lights and Ira Suess

Work on Jeanette’s house continues, I plan to have some photos of the progress up for your viewing pleasure soon!

Our eager carpenter, Warren, delivered beautiful new discounted doors yesterday and removed the old frames – I insisted he wear goggles for smashing out the fragile dried up wood of the old frames. The fresh new wood paneled doors are a designer’s delight and only cost $50 each!!!

He is hanging them so they open out to the hallway instead of in to the small rooms thus maximizing the floor space in the rooms.

With each of the tradespeople Jeanette hires I take them around and discuss how their contribution is going to fit into the greater whole on the project; often as a result they make suggestions for improvements or small changes that will make a difference in the final outcome.

Some may wonder if it is just for profit that we are updating the entire house including hanging new light fixtures in most of it. But we all have a philosophy that a place should be better when you leave than when you arrive there, and this careful attention to cleaning, painting and adding charm to the house is an aspect of that. It’s just healthier all the way around.

The wallpaperer Liz dropped by on Sunday afternoon and agreed that the textured turn of the century wallpaper will work to enhance the upstairs hallway and add value to the house.

I’ll be contacting an electrician friend to install the light fixtures which include this beautiful hand blown fixture from Home Depot, it resembles African Trading beads, but blown in a simple bowl shape with brushed aluminum details.

My eyes are pretty shot from sanding, even with goggles on, but I will rest them up for a day and use more precautions to complete the final layer before painting the larger southern facing room.

I’m glad to have my blog up, and am researching the various feed technologies to add value to marketing.

Last night, while looking for a new place to live, I met Ira Suess, an architect and expert contractor on house foundations. He was very complimentary of my site, and creative abilities, and asked if I would consider redesigning his logo and his Web site. This is the work I love helping companies promote themselves. Building just about anything is fun for me!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Renovating Jeanette's House for Sale, the designs

Today we are working on getting our friend Jeanette's house up for sale. This means prepping old walls, sanding, painting, and wallcovering, buying and installing new light fixtures, sewing new curtains, installing carpet, and hauling old stuff to the dump.

The design style I decided to go for is Hobbit French Country with a touch of sparkle, which is perfect for the Crown Hill section of Seattle.

It is a challenge to do a renovation with the family living there, but it is possible. This is a moving experience. As we complete one room we move someone into it and out of another. Then do that room and so on.

There are two small bedrooms about 6 ft tall connected via a short walkway framed by a long handmade closet and a recently installed bathroom. The feel is Cape Cod cottage, but the look isn’t - so that is where we are going!

I started with the north room and completed painting it a warm yellow cream, with ultra white trim, moving her son from his into that completed room, having him store his stuff under the eves in a small closet. The doors to both rooms will be replaced and all new lighting fixtures will be installed, as the walls are being painted.

The old wallpaper currently on the walls is cracked, overpainted several times, and badly patched, so we are installing a highly textured wallpaper that resembles turn of the century tin ceilings.

The paperhanger called the afternoon and made an appointment to see the hallway to be papered to make an estimate. She tells me she doesn't need my help but she hasn't seen it yet! Julie is madly packing everything away in boxes, holding out one suitcase for Jeanette's clothes.

We spackled so much that we used an entire bucket of the stuff - note to self - get more!

In exchange for the use of a truck I drove my neighbor to the Court for his DWI ticket. I reminded him from my heart that my sister died as a result of a drunk driver. He said he was taking responsibility for his actions, always a good place to begin.

Right now I am waiting for my friends from Mexico to arrive in their "new to them" Range Rover, so we can take a few things over for staging the house to sell. We are also attempting to give them some beautiful tables, including a cherry wood table with a traditional Italian balustrade style support and an extra leaf, chests of drawers, clothes, corner curio cabinets, and children's toys.

Much of these things would be useful and beautiful in the proper setting but just about any thing is too much in the house when you are trying to remodel.

The upstairs bedrooms each have a twin bed each and a chest of drawers. The small room has matching very modern arts and crafts solid honey oak bed frame and chest, set off with "Down East" distressed white trimmed mirror, trash bin, and Lane furniture brand bedroom side table (painted off white for the Shabby Chic style, and lightly distressed).

The fabric style is modern, clean, bright yellow small checks and patchwork with transparent chiffon overlay on the patchwork comforter and quilt. Jeanette is going to be hand sewing the curtains for the room, a lovely yellow and orange transparent floral embroidery with a cream backing, of fabric that just seems to float with the light.

We will add a small cream colored frame in the same downeast style for that room, with the art yet to be determined. The light fixture will be a two bulb glass and frosted glass cast with small curves over a brass ring support, nestled right at the top of the ceiling. The turn of the century "tin ceiling" wallpaper we are using to conceal the old cracked wallpaper is the thing I am most enthusiastic about, coupled with the small ornate chandelier, it is a French Country style with lots of white and gold glass crystals, and some sweet glass balls.

One of my bestest friends told me she hated some of the decorations I used on her house when I staged it, but she had to admit - the decorations immediately sold the place! So now there are no complaints when I say take out the old overhead ceiling fan and replace it with a hand blown light fixture.

They know the decisions I making will elicit the best impression possible, so that the visual matches the feeling of the house, and thus they will make her money!!!

Ariel is here - time to pack up a lamp and a tall plain wood storage container for the kitchen.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

Paul Gauguin's question from the title of his painting "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" remains a fundamental question for humanity. After many years I have come to take this more personally as, "Where did I come from? Who am I? Where am I going?" because I have come to realize that I can not change others, but only work on changing myself and realizing what perfections I have to offer.