“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver
We kicked off our work with the architects at Albertsson Hansen in May, shortly after moving into our new home. Christine is our lead architect and Maria is the associate architect on our project, both have been very easy to work with and have led us to a great solution. I like that they’ve also allowed for our ideas and preferences to be integrated and improved upon. Our plan is to gut the kitchen and eat-in area and incorporate a small mudroom transitioning from the garage into the center hall. We’ve never undertaken a project like this; its exciting and creative but also a bit daunting. Prior to getting started I’d asked a lot of other people who had been through it for advice and tips on planning for success, which has so far been extremely helpful.
Here’s a peek at our process so far: After a “programming interview” in which they asked a lot of questions about how we live, cook, dine, entertain, etc. (for the kitchen and mudroom areas) and what our style is, likes and dislikes, they sent two other team members out to take measurements for the “as-built” drawings from which they would work. Several weeks later we saw the first round of hand drawings, roughly outlining potential layouts. All were intriguing and involved various ways to work in a mudroom where we currently have none. They also all included removing the wall between our kitchen and informal eating and family room areas. Key differences were placements of doors, size of island, and number of walls that would be moved. In the end we settled on something that seemed to accomplish our goals and where we felt we could manage to the budget we had set out.
After that, the architects went away to develop the more detailed CAD drawings. See a snapshot of portions of this below:
Hard to read because of my scan quality, but gives you a sense of the detail involved and you can maybe see where the kitchen is the center area, flanked by formal dining at left, informal dining at right, and mudroom tucked between garage and eating area. Then family room is adjacent to eat-in-area. The kitchen and family room form a reversed L-shape around the existing deck.
These are what they call the interior “elevations”, illustrating mock-ups of how the layout would look when facing and giving us something to react to in terms of appliance, cabinet, and window placement.
Next week I’ll be meeting with Christine and Maria to start going through some of the color palette and material selections. This includes things like flooring, cabinet materials/styles, countertop materials, tiles, any upholstered seating, fireplace surround, etc. Not to say these need to be final, but swags so we can get a more accurate bid back.
Here are some photos that show how my thoughts are developing around the look of our house. The excellent part is that some of the images are of work that our architects have done for past clients – how easy is that?
Another angle of the same kitchen, I like the darker wood floor and trimmed french doors with the white cabinets, it really makes it pop. Also, the look is classic while maintaining a clean and contemporary look.
I like a simple, unfussy, and somewhat weathered table for the informal eating area. We have a formal dining room with more formal furniture, so I really want this table to be casual and a place where the kids can not only eat, but also do art projects, play with playdough, etc. without fear of stains or gouges. Something of hand scraped or reclaimed wood would be great in that regard.
Though its not exactly inventive, I would love a honed Carrara marble countertop for the island, similar to this picture below — a thick slab with lustrous gray veining throughout, and a square edge (rest of the kitchen is nice, but way too much white for my taste).
That is critical, because I think it gives it that distinct look and the “bullnose” (rounded) or “ogee” decorative edge in marble definitely veers more traditional or formal, which is not what we’re after.
The last couple of months its been the team of architects who have done all of the work. Now the work begins for my husband and me – we need to spend more time discussing and getting out to see potential options. This is always tricky because even though we’re usually pretty close in aesthetic preferences sometimes it’s surprising the little things that he might object to. Actually, this raises another good subject about the process when it is a couple doing it together: division of roles. You can do everything together equally, but it will certainly make the process more laborious.
We basically agreed upfront on what budget we’d work with, then I found the architects and design/build and we decided together who we’d hire. From there, we’ve both needed to be really involved in layouts, but as we head into more interior design choices and kitchen functionality details my better-half has agreed that I should lead these decisions. Naturally, he reserves “veto power” on any selections and will attend key meetings, but given I have more time to manage the project and happen to be the primary cook this arrangement made sense.
When we get to reviewing the bids and making trade-offs as needed to meet our budget that is when I expect he’ll get involved. First, he’s more practical and pushes harder on the value piece of the project. Second, if we must reduce scope significantly then it’s important we’re in agreement on what things are first to go. We’re both beyond excited about the idea of having a kitchen that we were able to design the way we want. Let’s just hope that the positive vibes are strong enough to carry us through months without our kitchen!
Hopefully the meeting next week will be productive and we’ll be in a good position to start bidding out to potential builders in July. I’ll be sure to share any cool images or ideas that come out of that discussion!