POST 16 She got Garbo stand off sighs…

Barbara TalksThe lovely but elusive blue-eyed Barbara has finally agreed to be interviewed for this blog. We caught up to her in her exquisite flower garden where both Barb and the roses appear to be thriving  If there are any misquotes, exaggerations or down-right falsehoods in the transcription of our exchange, please blame this reporter.

Reporter: Ms. Raff, you have lived in your home for 25 years. What inspired you to begin your new project?

Barb: My husband and I would occasionally look at open houses and online realty websites. He was particularly persistent, but we agreed that we loved our house and neighborhood, and it didn’t make much sense to move at this time.

The third weekend in May he came home with the book “Hypnotize Your Mate for Fun and Profit”. I found him reading well into the wee hours of the night.The next morning I was enjoying my breakfast smoothie.  My husband  snapped his fingers, I went into a trance, and just like that I  was signing all sorts of documents and we owned a new parcel of land.

Reporter: There are many lovely areas in the north suburbs. How did you choose the location for the new home?

Barb: We wanted a spot exactly 1.6 miles from a tollway entrance, with nice walking paths, good neighbors and a pond. We fed our requirements to Siri, and she did all the work. Best of all, she charged no commission for her efforts, though she did insist we upgrade to IOS 8.4 and pre-order a solid gold Apple Watch.

Reporter: The preliminary plans for the home look stunning. Our readers want to know how you decided what the size of the house would be.

Barb: I have become a huge fan of “Tiny House Hunters” on HGTV. I decided that if  families of 12 could live in a 300 sq ft home, I could downsize a bit too. My original plans were for a 15 ft x 15 ft single room hacienda, but my husband objected, pointing out there might not be enough room for the 80 inch curved screen HDTV he wanted and the extended designer sink I had chosen.  So we compromised.  The sink will stay, the TV will go and the house will grow.

Reporter: You have hired an interior designer, but what other influences will you use when decorating the home?

Barb: I love the Internet for eyeing things. You can go from site to site, picture to picture and then swipe left or swipe right…no wait, that is for something else.

Houzz is a great website to wander through for design ideas. And I love the Merchandise Mart, also a great place to wander through. Lots of items on display, knowledgeable help and all the latest styles. On the other hand, I will not be wandering through IKEA, Value City, or (shudder) The Dump.

Reporter: Many of our readers are approaching the empty nester stage. Your children grew up in your current home. How do they feel about your moving out?

Barb: Oops, we forgot to ask them. But they are welcome to any memorabilia they want to pack up and cart off. We take no responsibility for autographed baseballs or valuable baseball cards, First Place or Participation trophies, R.L. Stine books with missing pages or American Girl dolls with missing limbs. We can share custody of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers.”

Reporter: The new house looks like it is designed to entertain in. Have you planned your first dinner party?

Barb: Mr. N. Diamond, Mr. K. Costner and Mr. B. Cooper have all accepted invitations. None of them were asked to bring a “Plus One”. I believe my husband will be out-of-town that evening.

Reporter: Swipe right.


POST 15 Don’t Know Much Topography

barb3My impatience was rewarded. Sunday. Barb and I had a lengthy kitchen table meeting with “B” our architect and “M” our builder. The design process is incremental, step-by-step, but it is progressing.

Via E-mail, B had not been particularly enthusiastic about the revision to the interior we had devised last week, but when we explained it in person, and he was able to draw it to scale, he understood the advantages. Another “Great Minds Think Alike (and therefore agree with us) Moment.”

Turning  to the exterior, lots of discussion, lots of ideas suggested and discarded. We have moved away from our Board and Batten concept, recognizing that it would look out-of-place in the subdivision. Although I don’t anticipate any problems from the Homeowner’s Association Architectural Committee, we don’t want to present to them anything that will not blend with the styles currently in place. After all, we are the last house to be built and we don’t want to be a sore thumb, even with Barb’s talents as a hand therapist.

So we are looking at various combinations of stone, stucco and brick. B has definite opinions, while M says he will build it anyway we want. B and M, our design/build dynamic duo,  have quite contrasting styles. As an architect, B wants every detail drawn and redrawn until we are all comfortable with the design, know every dimension and every angle. He is happy to make changes now. M is less worried about the lines on the page. His experience as a builder of spec homes is more organic and concrete. He gets more of a sense as the walls go up and he interacts with the sub-contractors. He doesn’t mind moving a wall at the carpenter’s suggestion. Barb and I just hope a little creative tension will bring out the best in everyone’s talents!

Our meeting concluded with some interesting observations that none of us were expecting. Barb and I have been ignoring the topographic map, the series of barely visible lines that wander across our site survey. I vaguely understood that the “657” indicated feet above sea level, and that the closer the squigglies were to each other, the steeper the rise or fall of the land. But I hadn’t thought about any impact this would have. What we all determined yesterday was that by the time we were done pinpointing where on the lot the house will lay, and how it should fall on a North/South axis, we had effected how high doors at the rear of the house will be above the ground. Out goes the cedar deck, in comes a paver patio. A change we can live with, and might even prefer.

I had the chance to chat with a few blog readers this weekend. Glad to hear you are enjoying following along. Please keep comments coming. Barb and I always want to hear from you. Design and construction tips are always welcome, as are any other construction tales. The more interactive we can get, the more fun the journey will be.