November 10, 2013

at home in the curious city

In January of this year we shared our 2013 resolutions. One of my resolutions was to help my mom design and build her retirement house. As we approach the end of 2013 I thought it would be a good time to share my progress on this hefty task. The design phase is wrapping up and we will submit all drawings for permits in late December/early January. If all goes well, construction should begin early spring. Pictured above is the location of the new house, aka the overgrown backyard of my childhood home in Torrance.
The property is insanely long at 237 feet, oddly narrow at 42 feet, and the proposed second unit addition is limited to 1200 square feet by the city. These design challenges along with my mom's Feng Shui requests kept me pretty damn busy all year doing sketch after sketch. But the plan is finally finalized and I took a trip to city hall for a preliminary plan check with the planning department last week which went well. Although there are still a billion things to do, I have no life, and the dark circles underneath my eyes have officially spread to my cheeks, I love this experience.

I wanted to share a useful tool that I used while planning out my mom's kitchen. Ikea has a free Kitchen Planner which helps you visualize how the space will look three-dimensionally. It even schedules out all the items by price and size thereby making life that much easier.

I'll do another update on this project once construction begins. Wish me luck!


Recently, I made some relatively large investments for our place. I finally, finally reupholstered our 2 club chairs. They are the two comfiest chairs ever, but the fabric was fraying and I had always intended to reupholster them. After two or more years of stewing over the decision, I finally did it!

I was looking for a long time for the right fabric. I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted, but I knew I wanted a pattern as opposed to a solid. As you can see from the inspiration photos, I was drawn to larger scale patterns. I also was ready to experiment with florals, like this one, but in the end I couldn't do it.

Chairs - $50 each from Craig's List
Fabric - 8 yards at $16 per yard from
Reupholstering - $300 each
~$478 per chair
Big whoppin bucks!!! But, since I spread out the costs over a 2 year period, it ended up being manageable.

Although I was very excited about reupholstering the chairs, I had given myself a true dilemma. Our dusty blue rug completely clashed with the chairs, and I had no idea what kind of rug would work with such a bold pattern. Since the chairs are so bold, I figured I would search for a neutral rug.  I was thinking of binding off a rug remnant, but I was dissatisfied with everything they had at Home Depot. They just looked so boring and commercial. 

I started thinking in the completely opposite direction after my sister suggested getting a bold rug. A neutral rug would be akin to admitting defeat. Like, oh my chairs are too crazy, please ignore them!

I think mixing patterns in the home is a lot like mixing patterns in an outfit: vary the style and vary the scale. So, I knew I had to do a different type of style – floral, traditional, anything other than abstract. I first considered a floral rug, but that seemed too feminine for our place and frankly the floral rugs out there were too "old" for us.  Then, I was intensely interested in a Persian rug, but all the great ones were $1000+. When I saw the rug I bought, I knew in my gut that it would work. The colors complemented our sofa and new chairs, and the scale was much larger than the pattern of the fabric. I took a little bit of a gamble, because I didn't know if it was too bold. To me, it works perfectly, and I love it. BDF is a little hesitant. How do you all like it?

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