Monday, September 26, 2011

waiting for bids and shopping for mid century modern glass in New York City

All three contractors checked in this weekend with questions or to say they were still working on the bid. I am taking this as a good sign that they are all interested. Our architect says to figure it will take at least three to four weeks. Meanwhile, to kill time, I went to New York City with KP for our now second annual weekend of  extreme self-indulgence. Mostly intensive shopping followed by wine and dinner. We stopped in at our favorite mid-century modern glass shop, The End of History. Stephen Saunders, the owner, was in and said he remembered us from last time. Probably because of the non-stop self-deprecating chatter. I really loved three pieces from last year. He only had the yellow in the shop, and the green was at a show. The blue had sold. 

mid-century Italian glass
The three pieces I really wanted from the year before.

So, instead I bought two matching pottery pieces that should arrive in a week or so. Update Sep-30-2011: Here they are with the glass vase I purchased last year from the shop:

Mid-century Italian glass and pottery
My little Italian glass and pottery collection.
I have a real problem with glass and pottery. More about that another day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

finding a strong contractor for a bathroom remodel: contractor #1

Contractor #1 came over tonight (#1 as in strongest referral). He is younger, I would say about 35-40. He works in a family business with his father and brother. He came strongly recommended from an old high school friend of mine who used him to remodel her period kitchen in a home off the traffic circle in Orange. My friend and her husband have extremely good taste and high standards so I was very interested in meeting their recommendation. Contractor #1 did not disappoint. By far, he asked the most detailed questions and offered alternative suggestions for what he perceived as problem areas. He was quiet, thoughtful and very mild mannered. He thought he needed 2 weeks for the bid. I told him to take his time. I figure 4 weeks when all is said and done and our plans are extremely detailed. This final meeting pointed out a couple of details we missed: the wood choice for the cabinets, cable details for TV on master bedroom wall, and the finish treatment for outdoor fireplace. I can't believe we left all that out! And we were trying to be so perfect. This contractor has done most of his work in Orange, which means a lot of remodels, but maybe not so many mid-century modern NPB.

selecting contractor #2

Met #2 today on my lunch break. He is #2 since he is the second strongest referral -- from a good friend of a good friend of mine. This gentleman was our oldest contractor (between 55 and 60), and definitely had been out in the field today from his dress, and seemed a little rougher than the other two contractors. The architect came over and briefly reviewed the plans with Contractor #2. This contractor seemed a little bit skeptical on some of the architect's ideas, especially concerning ceiling tie-ins from old to new. He asked extremely pointed questions. He also wondered how soon we were looking to start. I said, we could start right away, or work into the schedule, but if we didn't start in October, would want to wait until January due to things dragging out in December. Not sure if that was good or bad. This guy has worked a lot locally in the area and was familiar with NPB codes. Again, good impression. Seems solid.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

going over budget on remodel project, what is a good reason

I finally put together a spreadsheet with the dollars spent so far. GASP. I am disgusted with myself. Others in the household are not as surprised/horrified.

We are over budget on the architect. I can attribute this to some false starts in direction and narrowing the scope of the project as we went along. He charges hourly and bills monthly so it kind of snuck away from me. The architect has also served as a designer so that is part of the extra cost. And as the project progresses, he will stop by and offer some contractor supervision. The architect is my secret weapon to ensuring this project does not go off the rails. We had city plan approval on July-11-2011 and Home Owner's Association Approval on July-26-2011 (within a month of submittal). It has taken us about two more months (with vacations, school starting, etc.) to select and document every single detail in the plans. This includes toilets, paint colors, finishes, windows, tile, sinks, cabinet pulls, faucets,and the like.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

how we found contractor #3

Met Contractor #3 yesterday. He is our least strong referral as he came to me via the designer used by a friend of mind. He may have bid on their project but didn't get it. He ran over to grab the plans and understand the job. He is getting married next week but didn't want to be out of the running, so he was in a hurry and didn't ask a lot of questions. Contractor #3 commented that typically he gets plans on disk now-a-days. I called the Architect and asked about digital plans. He said, in fact, he had ordered digital plans (maybe his first time ever). He emailed them to me and I uploaded to Google Docs. Now we can do business like 21st century home owners. Contractor #3 is between 50-55 years-old, professional and has done many jobs in the Newport Beach area. He made an overall good impression. He looks a little like Tom Selleck. A little.

Postscript: he never returned a bid after several communications to us saying he would. He just wasn't a strong referral.

Friday, September 9, 2011

before pictures of our bathroom remodel

Here are the before pictures we are sharing with the contractors. There are a lot of them! The focus for the remodel is adding space to the two original bathrooms, adding a third bathroom, changing the heat from ducting in the slab, to in the walls and finally, a bonus, re-doing the interior courtyard and adding a fireplace and a cover (virtual square feet, if not actual).

Before Pictures - A link to the pictures.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

the great mid-century modern tile debate

The Great Tile Debate rages on. I can't decide whether to do the lighter tile on the master bathroom feature wall versus the darker tile (selecting from Timber Glen). It is the first time I have been stumped on a decision with the architect. I think he has admired my decisive nature and wonders if I am just like everyone else and not the super hero client he has always hoped for. On this tile color, I hem and haw for 3 days. The architect is definitely pro dark. My dear friend, KP, who has helped me do lots of stuff to the house, is pro light tile.  Husaband is no help because he says he likes them both (chicken). I send a decisive email saying absolutely, positively, light. Then I reverse it 8 hours later. We have landed on the dark after several switches. I am always drawn to color which KP reminded me. The decisions seem real and more final -- selecting the lighter tile, for now.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

selecting bathroom tile for a mid-century modern

The great tile debate has been raging on for about two weeks. Today, the architect and I are meeting at Daltile in Irvine to put an end to it. The architect is sold on 6x24 linear tile stacked on a feature wall in each bathroom. Not a common size. The tile he selected had little specs and neither of us loved it. I had spotted a tile online and saw it in the store, and voila, it was love at first site. Timber Glen, I heart you for our feature wall.

See the finished result, the mid-century modern bathrooms remodeled!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

how to select a great architect for your mid-century modern remodel

Well, I wish I could discuss the research I did, questions I asked, and extensive selection process I engaged in to pick the architect for our low six figure project. I essentially did it with personal references. I talked to two friends I trusted who both had remodels done recently and who were both happy. Both of their architects had a modern aesthetic and I liked the architects' work. Architect #1 was easy to schedule, came over with a portfolio, a CV, a flyer and references. Architect #2 came over with nothing and was challenging to schedule. Architect #1 returned a proposal quickly. Architect #2 took a week or two to return a proposal. Architect #1 had a cheaper hourly rate and Architect #2 was higher (but not crazy higher). Architect #1 specializes in and has a passion for Mid-Century Moderns (our house has vaguely Neutra-esque qualities and was built in 1955). Architect #2 lives in Irvine Terrace (our housing tract) and also built another show stopper in Irvine Terrace, meaning he is intimate with our HOA. Tough choice.

Neutra: Mariners Medical Center
Newport Beach, CA