Archive for April, 2010

Yes, indeed, we are westward bound.  Well, at least for the weekend.  We finally get to meet our architect, Dave, and our landscape designer, Teresa.  I have to admit, I’m a bit nervous.  I do hope they like us.  Will we make a good first impression?  I really hope so.  We also have a lot of meetings planned to interview builders and meet with a kitchen design crew.  We end the trip visiting with my family (did I mention my entire family lives in CO?) before heading home.

We arrive Thursday evening around 8:00 pm.  That’s 10:00 pm EDT so I’ll be very tired.  We’re staying close to the airport that night.  I’m sure I’ll be awake Friday morning at 3:00 or 4:00 am due to the time difference if not from sheer excitement!  We’ll head west on I-70 to get out of downtown Denver before rush hour hits.  We’ll grab some breakfast and head up to the valley.

We will start by meeting with the builders.  From there, we head up to Grand Lake.  If time permits, we’ll stop in Granby to check out a couple appliance stores.  If not, we’ll head straight to Grand Lake, check into the hotel, then grab some lunch.  I want to see our property.  I’m really hoping it’s a sunny day so I can see the view.  I have not seen it, although Craig, Dave and Teresa assure me it’s glorious.  Unfortunately, the weather report is not in our favor and I’m not sure I’m going to see much of the view.  Bummer.

We will then have dinner with Dave and Teresa.  I do want to stroll around the town.  My sister, Carol, and I walked a bit of the town when I was there in October but didn’t really have much time.  At this point I believe we will compare notes on the builders and see what the consensus is.

Saturday we’ll do what we didn’t do on Friday before heading to Fort Collins to my parents home.  My sister will join us for dinner.  We’ll need to get up pretty early on Sunday to make it to the airport in time for our flight.  As I said, a whirlwind tour, but I will be so happy to be there.

So, can anyone suggest some questions to ask the builders?  I’ve had some really good suggestions from friends.  What have been your experience with building your home?  What would you suggest we look for and watch out for?

Ooo, I cannot wait for Thursday!  I haven’t been out of town since the beginning of January and that’s just too long.  See you all on Friday!!!


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Audio Sound Systems

Today we have a guest blogger.  Yes, indeed, my dear, sweet life-partner/soul mate/spousal unit, Craig.  I asked him to write this (ok, nagged may be a better term) because this is something that he must make the decision on.  Not me.  So, I give you:

Multi Zone Audio Systems

That’s the topic of this entry.  And no, I’m not the regular author of this blog.  I’ve been asked by the regular author to step into the breach and write about a topic near and dear to my heart; a sound system for the house.  The pay is rubbish but the fringe benefits are fantastic.

I believe this is a critically important component of our new home.  This well-informed and obviously accurate opinion is based on our January 2009 visit to the Kroner’s new home in the bay area.  During the first afternoon of our visit Martha and Jennifer were out running errands, so I was left alone in the house.  Being an observant American male I noticed a control pad on the kitchen wall, and being an inquisitive and immature American male, I couldn’t resist checking out its purpose and capabilities.

It seems the control pad was an LCD screen, which was the gateway to Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound.”  The pad allowed the operator (me) to select a particular sound source, and then select the room(s) into which this sound source would play.   Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!  Those of you who know me well can imagine the fun I had with this thing.  And NO, I didn’t break it.  I have Sirius/XM satellite radio in my car, and I noticed Sirius/XM was a sound source option.  I also noticed it was possible to send this source into many individual zones in the house, or even the entire main floor.  Since I knew my Sirius/XM stations, a Grateful Dead concert quickly filled the main floor.  Then a Big Tracks concert, stuff like Deep Purple and Pink Floyd.  Soon I settled on my favorite, Radio Margaritaville, which I played loud while drinking good wine and munching good snacks.  Combine the concert, food, and wine with the open back doors bringing in the warm January California weather, and well, it simply doesn’t get any better.  Unfortunately, er, I mean happily, the women returned with a random collection of children and the concert ended.  No more grass skirts and coconut bras.  Bummer.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then thank you Ken and Jennifer.  I stole the idea for a multi zone audio system from you.  We’re also stealing the wine room off the dining room from you, but you already know that one.  When you and the kids visit we can compare and contrast.

So what I want, and I’m the sole decision maker here no matter what Martha says, is the following:

–       An LCD control pad mounted in a convenient place in the living area, possibly in the kitchen and possibly in the breakfast nook.  I suppose the kitchen would be more practical since it will get more traffic.

–       Possibly two sound sources; for sure an MP3/iPod dock, likely wireless, and possibly Sirius/XM satellite radio.  Ideally I’d also like the ability to use a MacBook as a source, along with the MP3/iPod.  To be able to just open up the MacBook and its iTunes would be very nice.  The good part about going iPod/MacBook only is it would be simpler and cost less up front, and it wouldn’t incur quarterly fees from Sirius/XM.  The good part of satellite radio is it would give us a huge menu of sound to choose from.  Like when our good friend Charlie comes to visit I could play the Dead all over the living space, which Charlie would love, and which would drive our dear friend Judy completely bats.

–       Four zones, that’s the multi zone part.  The zones would be the kitchen & family room, the breakfast nook, the living room, and the dining room.  There would be no music capability in the bedroom wing or in the bonus room/workout room/office.

–       Each zone would have a sufficient number and quality of speakers in the ceiling to play Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” softly, crisply, and sweetly, or Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” at 100 decibels.

–       OOPS, I almost forgot, I also need an outdoor zone for the back patio, with outdoor speakers.  The thought of sitting on the patio on summer late afternoons and evenings, with the grill grilling, the wine and beer chilling, and Jimmy Buffett’s guitar strumming, now hold that thought and sigh.

–       And I don’t think I need the capability to send different sources to different zones.  The living space is so open through the house I just don’t think it’s practical to pipe different sounds into different spaces.

And that’s what I want out of life.  If I were in the Mr. Universe competition (watch out Sean Connery), and they asked me what my greatest wish was, would I say “world peace?”  Heck no!  I’d say “a high quality multi zone audio system for our mountain home.”  That plus a couple more motorcycles and maybe a P-51 Mustang, thank you very much.

I’ve done some internet research and found two companies with products which meet these specs.  One is NuVo Technologies, whose NuVo Simplese appears to match well, and the other is Audioaccess, whose PX-700 system also is a good match.  NuVo is out of Hebron, Kentucky, and has many authorized dealers and installers along the Colorado Front Range.  I’m having trouble finding out more about Audioaccess, plus they have only 1 authorized dealer for the entire Rocky Mountain West, so maybe that tells me something.

So for those of you who remember the Bill Murray/Harold Ramis movie “Stripes” from 1981, you’ll recall at the end Private Winger tells us “everybody’s coming back to my place after.”  Once we get the house built and the audio system installed you all have to come back to our place after.

And that’s a fact, Jack.

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I’ve been crocheting something lately (I won’t say what as it’s a Christmas gift; yes, I start early) so I haven’t been blogging.  Until, that is, until our architect, God love him, sent an email today suggesting we talk to builders while we are in CO at the end of April.  I’d thought about blogging about sound systems, but since that’s really my husband’s realm, I’ll leave that to him.  Hmmm, I’m thinking a guest blogger, but that’s another story.

So, builders.  Let’s see, about 6 years ago, we renovated our kitchen and dining room.  We knocked down the wall between the two, worked with a designer to overhaul the kitchen and what resulted was a gorgeous new kitchen.  It’s really the focal point of our home now.  We worked with a great designer and she suggested a contractor.  They turned out to be great and I never regretted going with them.

However, that was just for a small renovation and the only experience I’ve had working with construction workers and builders.  This is an entire house we are building and I will be working daily with these people for 6-9 months.  So I must be very comfortable with these people and I have to be able to trust them.  So, how many of you out there have built your own home?  If you have, I’d love to hear your stories.  Just click the “leave a comment” link and do so!  I’d like to hear the good and the bad.

Anyhoo, as I said, our architect sent us recommendations based on discussions with the structural engineer (I REALLY should find out this person’s name; I feel a little silly saying “our structural engineer” rather than using his name; and, yes, I know I keep saying “our architect.”  I know he has a name–it’s Dave–but I also have a brother named Dave so I distinguish between the two….but I digress) along with websites.  We’ve been looking at the websites today and have narrowed down the choices to three.

1.  Terra Firma:  Brad Smith president–the man is from Amherst MA.  It sounds like he went to CO for college and didn’t return.  Smart man.  He’ll know what our lives have been like since we live in MA now.  The portfolio on their website looks like they’ve done quite a bit in the area.

2.  Boxwell construction:  Larry Steffan CEO–they’ve obviously done a lot of work in the valley so they have connections.  I’m wondering if they are too big.

3.  Mountain Top Builders:  Steve Jensen–I have to admit, the website wasn’t much and we weren’t overly impressed.  However, Dave (the architect, not brother) indicated that he was the highest recommended for our type of project.  So, we’ll talk.  I’m up for that.

We will be in CO April 29, 30 and May 1 returning (I don’t know why; I’d rather stay in CO) May 2.  We’re lining up a lot of people to meet and talk to.  Has anyone worked with any of these folks?  Please let me know if you have.

Now, I must return to my crocheting.  I’ve got a lot to do….and it’s only April!

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Isn’t this lovely?  Our architect found some stone patterns and he added it to our design.  It really adds a wonderful texture to the exterior.  We won’t have that much exterior stone, but it will add a great accent.

The middle portion, the one that will hopefully be the central point of the home, is the dining room.  The front door is a bit to the left and there will be a front porch.  I hope to have a couple pillars with stone work at the bottom of them with the front porch.  To the left, what you see in this drawing, is the front bedroom.  To the right, and at an angle, is the garage.

Notice how the peaks step down from the high over the main living space, to the garage and the front bedroom.  My husband likens this to the 10 mile range.  The main peak is like peak 8.  Oh yeah.

Let us revisit the floor plan (because we can).  First is the living space. (Note: I’m breaking it up because it is too big to fit in one screen.)  Family room, kitchen, breakfast nook, dining room living room, foyer.

The family room will be my husband’s man-cave.  It is his room to build as he wants (OK, I do get some say in some things, but not much).  I would like to have a central sound system, but I’m leaving all that up to him.

Why, you ask?  Because the “she-cave” is the kitchen and that is MY domain.  The space that is the family room and kitchen is as big as our entire main floor in our current house.  It will be the biggest kitchen I will have ever had.  Think of all the kitchen gadgets that i can have in this kitchen!

The wine room will include a Euro-cave and there is a butler’s pantry opposite that.  I’m thinkin’ hardwood floor in the dining room and living room along with the wine room/butler’s pantry area.  The kitchen, laundry room, mud room and breakfast nook will be tile.  I’m not sure what my husband will put in the family room although he is thinking about carpeting with a border of tile along the back wall.

OK, this is the wing that hasn’t changed much.  There are still 3 bedrooms.  The master bedroom has a sitting room.  However, with the recent changes, we are looking at a shift in the closet configuration and master bathroom.  I do like this very much.

Why am I showing you these?  TO MAKE YOU JEALOUS!!!  Shaaa–why else would I do this?  Is it working?

Wouldn’t you love to wake up to this wonderful design?  To see the continental divide outside your window?  And just imagine, a line of Aspen trees for privacy outside the master suite patio.  Uh huh.  Are you jealous yet?

Speaking of trees, imagine a lovely cluster of Aspens and blue spruces outside the front of the house.  Maybe in the courtyard, maybe elsewhere.  I have a great selection of outdoor tree Christmas decorations.  They are gigantic versions of indoor tree decorations and they really add style to the outdoor decorations.  Any blue spruce worth it’s weight would love to have these hanging from it during the holiday season.

One other view worth mentioning here (OK, besides the 3-car garage), is the bonus room.

Now, the major part of the room goes from over the driveway to over the back of the garage.  The architect has suggested 2 things that are amazing to consider: 1) a door leading from the far-end of the bonus room to the outside over the side of the garage that overlooks the street.  This is instead of windows.  A little, mini-balcony.  The second thing is at the top of the stairs–his suggestion is an “eagles nest” for the kitties.  A room just for them with their toys, scratching posts and litter boxes.  Is this man great or what?  He’s thinking about our boys!

I just love all the storage space in this bonus room too.  Definitely something we need.  Right now our daughter’s room is being used for Christmas decoration storage which we move out of her room when she comes for a visit.  We’ll need something a bit more permanent in the new home.

OK, so I forgot the original purpose of this blog.  Exterior elevations.  Take the floor plan and put it into the exterior elevation and you’ve got our new home.  Stunning.  Are you jealous yet?

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