Archive for January, 2010

In search of appliances

It might be a bit premature, but we spent a couple hours at a local, large appliance store.  They have a wide range of manufacturers and it’s a great place to get a lot of information.

We found a series of Bosch appliances we very much liked.  Bosch dishwasher, oven and gas cooktop (we found out that there is gas in the neighborhood).  However, we didn’t really like their refrigerator.  The ‘frige needs to be built-in so the compressor cannot be on the back.  It needs to be on the top.  We have a Sub-Zero now and the compressor is on the top.  The Bosch has a compressor on the bottom.  And it’s not a side-by-side but the refrigerator is on top and the freezer is a drawer on the bottom.  But with the compressor on the bottom, the top shelf of the ‘frige is really high–almost too high for me (and I’m 5’9″).

We did find a GE Monogram refrigerator that we totally loved.  This has the compressor on top and baskets in the freezer.  I’ve never had a refrigerator/freezer like this but I really liked it.  And it doesn’t cost as much as the Sub-Zero.  Let’s face it:  the Sub-Zero is just a bit pricey this time around.

Sinks:  we found a Franke sink we liked.  It’s a double sink with one side slightly smaller than the other.  We will want a second sink in the island.  Did I tell you we want an island?  We do, and I’m envisioning a longer one that acts as a separation between the kitchen and the breakfast nook and possibly family room.  So I’ll want a sink in the island too.  I like the idea of a round one.

We did look at washers and dryers just briefly.  We would like stack-able front-loaders.  And a Eurocave.  We’ll need one of those too.  Check out the website–they are fun to look at.  About a 100 bottle Eurocave would be nice.

So, have you owned any of the appliances mentioned here?  What is your opinion?  What appliances do you like or prefer?  Let me know!


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Cat Friendly Home

If you haven’t checked out the “About Us” pages, we have two cats.  One, a cream-colored cat who looks remarkably like a creamsicle, is Hudson.  He was found with his siblings in an abandoned car in a junkyard.  They were about to crush the car when they found the litter of kittens.  The Mom-cat was dead.  And Hudson had a broken leg.  His foster family nursed him and we adopted him when he was 8 weeks old.  He has luxurious long hair and his tail has been described by my sister as a pompadour.  The other, Hathaway, is a tortoise-shell cat who is 9 months old now.  He didn’t have quite the traumatic beginning as Hudson, but still, he was born on a porch and when he was old enough, he and his siblings were rescued by the porch’s owner and we adopted him when he was 3 months old.  Both came by way of Second Chance Shelter for Cats in Boston.  The best shelter I’ve ever found.

We want to make our home as comfortable for them as it is for us.  So, what do our cats like and like to do?  Well, for one thing they sleep…a lot.  And I do mean a lot.  They can get comfortable in the darnedest places.  On a bed (preferably ours), on top of a dresser (as long as it has a comforter on it for comfy-ness) or in a lap.  They can sleep anywhere.  That’s a given.

They also play a lot.  We have several boxes of toys around the house.  Each Christmas, they receive a stocking of their own.  It’s only right; after all, it’s Christmas for them too.  I do spoil them, but they did have a rather rough beginning so I figure they are entitled to it.  It’s so much fun to watch them get into the box and pull out a toy, go running off to play with it, then forget what they did with it and come back to the box for another toy.  I just wish I could teach them to put the toys back.  It is possible.  Hudson is a polydactyl and can really use his paws like a human hand.  But, alas, he does not put his toys away.  It’s also rather fun to note that the toys always tend to end up in the lowest part of the house which happens to be our daughter’s old room.  All toys lead to Lesley’s room!

And they play.  They chase each other all over the house.  They love long stretches of floor where they can really open it up.  It doesn’t matter which is chasing which, they like to run.  They wrestle with each other constantly. Usually it’s OK, but sometimes, especially in the middle of the night or early in the morning when I’m trying to at least pretend to be asleep, they will wrestle on the bed.  They especially like to wrestle when Craig is not in the bed.  So when he is out of town it’s much more likely that they will be wrestling there.

What does all this mean for our house?  Well, they will need room to run.  So I’d like a nice long hallway or open spaces where they can really stretch their legs.  And we need space for all their toys.  That really shouldn’t be a problem, but I’m thinking built-in cabinets where we can store all their play things.  And we need space for 2, yes, that’s 2 litter boxes.  I won’t go into detail here WHY that is.  Just believe me.

If you really want some ideas of features for a cat-friendly home, check out this website.  This is out of Japan, and it has some really cool features for cats built into the home.  Pass-throughs cut into the walls.  Shelves arranged for cats to climb on.  Overhead walkways for cats to cross rooms or sit and survey their kingdom.  I love these ideas.  But, much as they would be really cool, I think I’ll just go with long hallways for them to run and boxes of toys.  They may be our spoiled cats, but there is a limit.  As long as they are loved and fed and have a safe haven to call home, they are happy.

What pets do you have and what would you do in a house for them?  I’d really like to hear from you.

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And the winner is…

Mountain Meadow Design!  We have contracted with Dave of Mountain Meadow Design to be our architect on this project and Theresa, also of Mountain Meadow Design, to be the landscape designer.  We were very impressed with their knowledge, their responsiveness to all our questions and emails and their general excitement for our project.

Dave is a licensed architect in Colorado which is a must (per HOA stipulations) and extensive architect experience.  Theresa has a wealth of knowledge of Colorado native plants and landscape design experience.  They both are very excited about the project and have lots of ideas for us to consider.  We spent an hour and a half on the phone with them discussing our desires for both the house and landscape.  We have sent them an extensive packet of information including plats of the property and development, floor plans and our comments on each plan, CD of pictures and HOA stipulations.  Dave has indicated that he will have some sketches for us soon to start looking at.

On the landscaping front, I have read the material Theresa sent about fire resistant landscaping.  I envision a bit of sculpture around the house, including a fountain that I own now.  I bought this fountain in AZ and just love it. This is the fountain on, what we fondly refer to as the fountain “alter.”  It looks so much better in real life with water running through it.  It is a 3-stem rose fountain from Lee Blackwell Studios in Tubac AZ.  This is it’s current home but we will relocate it when we move into our home.  It’s the only thing that Theresa will be required to work into the landscape.  I have every confidence that she will be able to work it in.  Anyone know how to make it shine like new copper?  I haven’t found a copper cleaner that works yet.

So, what’s up next?  We are now going to a couple of open houses each week to get ideas for the house.  We attended two close to our home this past weekend and those were time well spent.  We had an opportunity to speak with a local builder who gave us a number of tips.  I tell the Realtors up-front that we are building a home in CO and are looking for ideas.  They are very accommodating and offer a lot of helpful tips and advice without the sales pitch.

So, that’s our decision and we are looking forward to working with Dave and Theresa over the course of this project.  We’ll keep going to open houses, go to appliance stores to see what’s out there and decide on our floor plan.  Oh, and we’re planning a trip to CO at the end of April.  We already have our airline tickets so it’s a sure bet we’ll be there!

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We’ve been looking at lots of floor plans.  I bought 3 large books to help us get ideas and there is a bunch of information and floor plans on the internet.  We’ve pretty well decided to go with a 1-story house.  Our thinking is that by going with 1-story and making the doorways wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and/or walkers, we can live there until we die.  Then we’ll will the house to our daughter and she can live there until she dies, and so on and so on.  However, this does pose some questions and I’d love to hear your thoughts on these beginning with 1-story vs. 2-story–which do you prefer and why?

One thing is whether or not to split the bedrooms (i.e. the master suite on one side and the rest of the bedrooms on the other side of the house so you get a separation).  There are more plans than not for splitting the bedrooms.  I am not keen on this.  For the first 4 years of our daughter’s life, we had split bedrooms.  It’s more difficult to hear when children help if you are on a separate floor or across the house.  Now, I know what you are thinking–but Martha, your daughter is grown and out of the house.  I know, I know.  But there are lots of reasons to keep them on one side.  So, what is your opinion?  Do you prefer them split or together?  And why?  I really need a compelling argument to get me to change my mind.

Some other things to consider include arched vs. square room transitions, carpeting vs. tile vs. hardwood floors, wainscoting on walls and which rooms would you imagine that in, bay windows, french doors or floor to ceiling windows.  How about in the kitchen–1 or 2 dishwashers, Jenn-air, gas vs electric stove.  And what about a steam room shower in the bathroom?  Sigh, so many things to consider, so little time.

So, what are your thoughts on these?  Please let me know–I really want to hear them.

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I really wish I had better pictures of the vegetation on the property.  But right now, there is only slash and a lot of it.  Oh, there is a boulder, which I pointed out in a previous blog and one little pine tree.  The pine tree will be removed, most likely, but I do want to keep the boulder.  It will need to be relocated but it adds a bit of structure to the landscaping.

We would like to submit the landscape design for approval at the same time we submit the architectural plans.  Otherwise we would pay an additional fee.  I have been talking with Theresa at Mountain Meadow Designs about landscaping.  And she gave me a bit of reading homework which I was able to get through on a flight back from Orlando today.

So, here are my initial thoughts about the landscaping.

  1. If it isn’t native, I don’t want it
  2. I do not want to mow anything
  3. Aside from the initial maintenance to get the plants to take hold, I want minimal upkeep
  4. I have a fountain to incorporate into the design
  5. I like sculptures

Learning from what I read today, we need 15 feet of space, measured from the foundation, of little to no vegetation.  OK, we can put some plants, but they have to be resistant to fire (I’m still trying to work that one out and if there is anyone out there who can explain it [which has something to do with resins and water content] please comment!).  But what all this means is that we can put some interesting sculptures, rocks and landscape features that will make great focal points.  I’m looking forward to finding some local artists to work with and going through the rocks unearthed when we dig the foundation for the house.

Right now, that’s all I’ve got for thoughts on landscaping.  We really won’t be able to do much more until we finalize the house design.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences landscaping in the Rockies.

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We are not building the Taj Mahal.  We would like something that is 2700-2800 square feet of livable space.  The house cannot exceed 40% of the lot size but this square footage should fit in just fine.  Aside from the usual things, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, etc., there are a few specific things I’d like to have in a house.

  • Front porch–not just a stoop
  • Front foyer–I don’t want to open the front door right into the living room
  • Mud room
  • Wine room–now, this isn’t as big as you might think.  Just a little room (friends of ours added one in their home and it’s perfect)
  • Breakfast nook with a bay window seat
  • Vaulted ceilings
  • Bonus room–this is where we will build the gym (well, a treadmill, exercise bike and some weights)
  • Heated towel racks in the bathrooms (ok, this isn’t anything the architect would need to worry about, but this is non-negotiable)

I’ve been bugging my friends with questions about their homes.  I spent time with one friend measuring her bedroom and looking at the ceiling (it’s really quite lovely).  I’ve asked some people to send me pictures of rooms in their homes.  This will continue until we make some decisions.

We must find an architect licensed in Colorado to design our dream home.  And we also need to find a landscape designer.  We’ve not worked with an architect before and I’m not sure how to proceed.  But, as it turns out, my sister knows an architect and she sent me his name.  I have contacted him and we’ve had a great series of emails.  And his wife is a landscape designer to boot!  How lucky can I get?

Has anyone out there worked with an architect to design a home?  What things would you advise us to look for?  Any pitfalls you can caution us on?  Any advise is welcome.

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Lot 53

Let me tell you about our property.  It is located in The Shores of Shadow Mountain about 4 miles south of the village of Grand Lake, Colorado.  Grand Lake was settled in 1867, became a summer resort town in the 1880’s, and looks the part.  We, on three separate occasions–and never the two of us together–looked at many lots and several homes in several communities in Colorado.  Will O’Donnell of Mountain Lake Properties in Grand Lake, patiently showed us numerous properties and endured lots of emails with many questions before we finally settled on lot 53.

To be frank, it wasn’t my first choice.  On the day I was in Grand Lake, it was quite cloudy and rainy/snowy and the ceiling was very low.  In addition, the property was covered with slash (this means that the vegetation on the property was cut down, ground up and spewed back onto the property; it’s the cheapest way to get rid of the vegetation rather than hauling it away).  And, it was the smallest of the lots I saw in the subdivision.  I really wasn’t too keen on it.  However, when Craig went back the next weekend and looked at the 3 lots I had narrowed it down to, the weather was much nicer and, it turned out, the view of the continental divide from this lot was spectacular.  When he showed me the pictures, I was hooked.

So, the particulars about the lot include

  • Latitude = 40 degrees 12.471 minutes north
  • Longitude = 105 degrees 51.400 minutes west
  • 8445 feet above sea level
  • 0.37 acres
  • 16,500 square feet
  • 121 miles from Denver International Airport
  • 33 miles from Winter Park ski area
  • 13 miles from Granby, the commercial heart of the valley (also known as “middle park”)
Lot 53a

Lot 53

This is a view of our property from across the street.  All the gray stuff on the ground is the slash.  And isn’t that rock cute?  It’s all ours.  There’s a tree too–at the back of the property.

One big, i.e. HUGE advantage with buying property in this established (that doesn’t mean there are a lot of houses there; just that it’s been developed) subdivision is the water and sewer hook ups are at the lot line so we don’t have to drill a well or include a septic tank in the building of the house.

The lot backs up to a canal that flows uphill from Lake Granby to Shadow Mountain Lake.  Streams and lakes are all around our home site, and the most famous of these flows out of Shadow Mountain Lake; the Colorado River.  That’s right!  The headwaters of the Colorado River are within walking distance of our lot.  This is a picture looking east from our property.  Isn’t this view spectacular?  That is the continental divide and Mount Adams.  Imagine waking up and seeing this every morning.

Lot 53b

View of Continental Divide

Now you can see what we fell in love with.  The fence is our property line.  On the other side is an easement that is open to the public for walking, snowmobiling, cross country skiing.  Below that is the canal.  It, too, has walking paths on either side of the canal.  Follow that uphill and you arrive at Shadow Mountain Lake.

So, that’s our property.  Up next, finding an architect and deciding on a plan we will live with the rest of our lives.

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