Monthly Archives: December 2011

Hannah v. Sketchup: Round 2

So, I will consider myself the victor of Hannah v. Sketchup: Round 2!  I’m finding that this program has all sorts of cool uses!  Yesterday I spent some time making a floor plan, fooling around with colours and textures, and playing with the online 3D warehouse!  So much fun!  Check it out:

This is the floor plan I created.  I did the whole house by importing a jpeg of a floor plan for a small bungalow, scaling it to full size and tracing over the image. I only had time to “furnish” a bedroom and two baths, though.

A perspective of the bedroom.  My work colleague suggested making the walls a solid colour on one surface and transparent on the other, so that you can look through the wall, but when you rotate the view, it still retains its solid colour from the other side!  Great tip!

The bedroom perspective from the back.  I also tried out a window in the bathroom, and had some success with texturing it so that it was transparent, but I think that those aspects – doors and windows – will be something I spend more time figuring out.  As a second stab at Sketchup, though, I really feel like I am getting the hang of it.  And the more I do, the easier it will be to develop a consistent workflow and make this into a really awesome tool!  Stay tuned for more Sketchup fun in the future!

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Hannah v. Sketchup: Round 1

One of my new years resolutions is to learn how to use Google’s design program Sketchup and to learn it as well as I can.  I decided to get started a bit early…  There are a tons of great tutorials on YouTube, and this one taught me how to make a lantern!  I even got the flame coloured yellow!

Software is a big deal in design, or so I’m finding.  There are so many programs out there for design, and some of them do or don’t intersect with file types, styles, importing and exporting and especially 3D rendering.  I’m most comfortable with a program called Vectorworks, which is an architectural software.  It’s funny, because the capabilities of the program are so great – lots of 3D modeling and rendering with great textures, building information management, the ability to auto-create take offs and materials lists – but most of the time right now I end up using it for 2D modeling for floor plans and space planning.  It’s great, but the power available isn’t quite what I need to be able to communicate design to my colleagues or clients.

One of my colleagues at the office is amazing at using Sketchup.  I get to sit near her and every so often I see her working on a model…  She’s like a Sketchup wizard!  That’s my inspiration for wanting to use this program.  I tried it out a bit while I was still in school and didn’t really connect with it very well, but she makes it look just so easy, so I thought, ‘Why don’t I give it another shot and see how far I get?’

And so far, so good, say I!

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Design in My Backyard: More Superior Street

Well, my last post on Design in My Backyard was also on Superior Street, just down from where I live, and this next one is as well!  Superior is just a happening place for design, I guess…  Maybe it’s more that I’m just noticing the houses that are in my neighbourhood a bit more than anywhere else.  After all, I live and shop in the eight block radius around my house, and James Bay is a pretty awesome place for some very modern design, some very (very!) Victorian houses, some gorgeous Craftsman style places and everything in between.

So today’s house is also located in the lovely James Bay, just down the street from me.

The thing that catches my attention with this house is the “fish-scale” roofing tiles on the skirt roof under the upstairs balcony.  I love it!  I have never seen the same detail on another house.  It looks to me like this roofing tile is made of some kind of metal that is going through an oxidization process – maybe a copper with a patina on it?  This is a material that continues to age with the house (especially in a wet climate like Victoria) and will add grace and charm through the years.

I like the simple style of this duplex (another duplex!) – it is elegant, but has character.  The fish-scales are a big part of that, but there are a number of other details that I think really elevate this house from nice to eye-catching.  One of those details is the use of different siding textures on the upper and lower stories.  This is something I find myself drawn to over and over.  I find that mixing up the textures and colours between stories not only adds character, but also helps a multiple-storey building from being too overwhelming as a solid bulky block of house.  In this case, the horizontal plane of the lower storey siding helps to ground the bottom half of the building, while the vertical siding on the second storey pulls the eye upwards towards the roof. Overall, this detailing scheme keeps the structure from both being a boring flat face and towering over anyone standing at the front step.

Some of the other details that I find really engaging are the transom windows – both over the front door and in the bay window.  I especially love the stained glass elements in the bay window transoms.  I feel like the inclusion of stained glass is a nod to the Victorian houses in the neighbourhood.  I also love the style of the front door, with small glass lites high enough to allow light in and allow a visual connection between the inside and outside.  I think the proportioning on the door is great, and the dark stain gives it a feeling of substance and sturdiness.  Other details that I really enjoy are the thoughtful landscaping, the path of random-sized pavers with the darker border, the elements of the rock garden with the Japanese Maple, and the modern font used for the unit numbers (also used for the street address that is not in either photo).  I really like the thought and detail that has gone into making this exterior space engaging and welcoming.  These are all elements that draw people in, and they all probably contribute to me enjoying walking past this house so often!  I think that the design elements all really come together to create an exterior that is simple yet detailed, and has elements of modern and traditional design that make it unique.

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Oh, that holiday rush…

What is it about the holidays that seems to make people think, “Gee.  You know what I didn’t do this year?  Renovate my home.  I should really get on that…”  I just don’t really get the logic of that.  To me, the holidays can seem pretty stressful – not in a bad stress way, but more in a “I really need to clean my home and have everything ready for when my entire extended family shows up” kind of way.  Not the best situation to decide to tear your walls out and not have a working kitchen…

I was submitting permit plans on behalf of a client this afternoon, and the clerk and I had this conversation.  We both agree – renovation is best started in February.  Want the slow season?  February.  That’s slow season in the construction industry.  At least, here it is.  I know, that doesn’t always work for every location in the world, but here in Victoria, if you are just doing some interior renos, that makes the most sense to me!  February is rainy and cold and miserable, sure, but there are lots of trades who aren’t booked months out in advance, no pressure from holiday season and it’s still sheltered in an interior space.  Summer rolls around and everyone seems to want to do renos again.  I think if you were really smart about it, you would start the process in Feb-March, be completed by May at the latest (depending on the scope of work) and then be able to enjoy your new place for the summer – have people over and really get to have a full summer.

It’s interesting getting into winter.  I find that even for myself, all I want to do some days is eat hearty comfort food, curl up on the couch or sleep.  It’s like hibernation mode or something.  I think for me this started back in late October, but it becomes even more accentuated to me when the buzz of the holidays ramps up all around me.  I love the holidays and family and food and friends, which I guess is what confuses me about people wanting to do big alterations to their homes.  Shouldn’t we just want to be at home during the winter and be able to relax?

This is starting to sound like a bit of a rant, which it isn’t intended to be…  More of just a curious observation.  I think when I *finally* don’t have to rent any more and own my own home, I will plan to do all my home mods in between that holiday season and when it starts to get hot out again.  🙂  Can’t wait!

Exterior Love: Chicago

I came across this photo a while ago while surfing the internet, and put it away so I could look at it later.  This house exterior is a Chicago home designed by Vincere Design.  According to the portfolio bio, the house was inspired by many of the vintage co-op apartment buildings in the Chicago area.  The facade of this house is stunning, and detailed to an incredible level.  It seems almost imposing, with all the detail that runs along the vertical axis.  The charcoal accents that span two storeys high draw the eye up and up and up!  The effect of traditional severity is softened by the asymmetrical facade, however.  Setting the front entrance off to one side brings a casual element to the design that eases the impact this exterior might otherwise have.

The interiors are also a very finely balanced combination of formality with a hint of casual relaxation designed to create a warmth and comfort that might otherwise be lost with the high ceilings and super detailed molding.

The bright creamy tones of the walls are grounded by the warmth and depth of colour and texture in the hardwood floor.  The scale in the room is balanced by the horizontal molding detailing on the fireplace and the depth of the crown molding on the ceiling and the baseboard at the floor.  The heights of the interior trim create a sense of balance – high walls require tall trims.  Anything smaller than the crown in this interior just draws attention to how high the ceiling is by appearing unbalanced and out of proportion.

I also really appreciate the thought that went into detailing this kitchen.  Lots of stunning details make this kitchen welcoming and accessible, instead of overwhelming.  The crown molding is carried throughout the interior to bring continuity to the space.  The two doors on either side of the kitchen add visual interest – kind of like a sneak peek of what’s to come when you get through that passage.  I especially like the light that is reflected through them, as well as being able to see to a far window.  It reassures anyone standing at this point know what to expect (ah, there’s the end of this house), while still creating curiosity (I can only see a little bit of that next room, I wonder what it looks like?).  The professional appliance and marble countertops with solid piece backsplash is pure luxury, but the cabinets are kept at a reasonable height by the glass doors at the top.  It adds visual interest through detail and keeps the space usable on a human scale.

This home is truly a masterpiece of thoughtful detail, and is very well considered both in terms of creating that wow-factor through the luxurious materials and elements of design that are outside the human scale, but keeps it welcoming and functional by the use of those same details to bring the right elements of the design to the attention of anyone using the space.  Vincere has a great portfolio on their website, and is well worth checking out for their interesting and considered use of scale, texture and colour to create some really spectacular interior spaces!

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Design In My Backyard: Superior Street

I am constantly inspired by the houses in the city I live in, beautiful Victoria, BC.  One of my favourites is just down the street from where I live:

I really enjoy the balance of colour, texture and symmetry in this facade.  My favourite part has to be the very cheerful garage doors.  The colour just adds a really eye-catching pop that grabs your attention from the street.  I drive by this house at least twice a day, and look at it every single time.  I think the front doors are really well done, too.  The carry the viewer’s eye further into the house through the use of the same colour, while changing planes.  I get a really inviting vibe from this design – nicely done!  The perfectly symmetrical front works really well for me here.  It manages to look like a cohesive house, despite the obvious fact that it’s a duplex with two sets of doors.  The bay windows add some interest by changing planes again and adding some depth, and the cedar shakes on the gable tie the whole thing back down to the brick details at the front door posts.  It looks like this house has been really well considered, with great attention to the minute details that make people feel welcome and balanced without even knowing why!

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