I used to write about architects and architecture fairly regularly when I covered land use and development issues for various pubs. (That was before I decided I wanted to kick our architect in the shins again and again and again ...) I'm still an architecture junkie though. I grew up in an architecturally significant city, we take vacations based on fabulous architecture ... hell, I even have the 800-plus piece Lego version of Fallingwater waiting to be built and red tagged.
Of the architects I've interviewed, my favorite was probably the late John Thodos, of Thodos AIA in Carmel-by-the-Sea. I wrote about the second home he designed and built in Carmel--the first was on the ocean and after he and his wife lived there for a time, they sold for it for an egregious amount of money and designed and built something smaller and a few blocks up from the water.
In any case, one of the best features about the Thodos' second home was the "wet room" that served as the master bath. Everything was tiled, there was no shower curtain, just a drain. "Cleaning up," John told me, "should be a pleasure. Bathing should be a pleasure." And when Chuck finishes tiling this room, and I never, ever have to see or speak to our contractor again (not that he ever responds to my emails) and the hot water heater is functional, I fully believe that cleaning up in this room will be a pleasure. (As an aside, Chuck says our contractor has really been quite fine in his dealings with us. I think Chuck is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, with a side of Tile Fatigue.)
During a break in the tiling action, when Chuck was slumped on the couch, he said to me, "You know, when we decided to do this, I asked the wrong question. I asked 'Can we do this?' I should have asked, 'How hard will it be to do this?'" As for me? I've come to the conclusion that the FHA 203K program is a program that can be gamed, only the home owners aren't the ones doing the gaming. And anyone who tries to do a major project in the city of Salinas more than once is an idiot. Call me "Exhibit A."
In the rest of the house, everything is painted. We went with Behr's "Frost" for the walls, and Behr's "Rocky Mountain Sky" for the master bath, the boy's bath, the half-bath downstairs, the studio apartment bath and the laundry room. (I'd link to the actual colors, but the Behr website is a pain in the ass.) We need to get the gas turned on in the main house, all of the outlets have to be wired and the floors are kind of a disaster, but we're planning on moving in to the top floor in the next two weeks or so. Our contractor will show up again when we are ready for the finish work to happen--and when I say finish, I mean, when he's ready to finish.
I've had a few people ask me, without really asking me, how we're affording this. I refer them to the economic collapse of 2008 that resulted in this house being completely gutted and never being finished, it reverting back to the bank in a foreclosure and the bank being desperate to get the loan off of their books. Chuck's also a geek and he paid attention in math class; between his full-time job and the house, he's also working his ass off, harder than any person I've seen.
More pictures here. And greetings to my readers from Raleigh, NC. That's kind of near Cary, isn't it?
Two words: proxy server.