The Big Reveal

Alas, it’s been a long time coming but finally, thanks to a lot of blood, sweat and heart our house is finally done and looking for its forever family. 

Click play below to take a tour set to questionably groovy music. 

Let us refresh your memory with some before and after photos.

I daresay, quite the transformation. 

 

Are You Into Schluter? (And Other Tile Considerations)

When our contractor Bob sent us on a mission to get schluter, we shrugged with embarrassment and slight terror: what on earth was schluter and what did you do with it? This innocent - but seemingly indecent question (…if you share our childish sense of humor)  underlined that when it comes to bathroom design and tiles, we still had quite a bit left to learn.  Here are a few of the things we picked up.

1. Schluter versus non-schluter: for those with inquisitive, thirsty minds below is an example of the mysterious schluter (courtesy of pinterest). While schluter promises to quickly and easily produce clean, crisp lines and hide unsightly edges, it does not quite mirror the aesthetic we had been drooling over for months (Sorry Bob).  Schluter would draw attention to our niches and ruin the ‘soft transitions’ we wanted throughout- in our instance, chrome schluter would not match our black hardware, black schluter would make our niches incredibly graphic, and the tile we selected looked almost dirty next to the white variety (the exotic red schluter was out of question…). Had we know about schluter and our desire not to use it, we probably would have selected a material (i.e. natural stone) that had beautiful, smooth or bevelled edges, rather than jagged brown edges: when you cross-cut a porcelain tile, you can observe the layer of glazed finish that has been applied to the clay substrate, as  opposed to a natural stone that is the same material and color throughout. Luckily we have our magician Bob and our tile-genie Fernando, who promised to save the day with their expert cutting and careful paint job. As such, we learned a very important lesson: before you do anything on the tile front, take into account whether or not you’re into schluter. And if you’re not, prepare for a little bit of extra and meticulous work. Nein to schluter in this house, thank you. 

How do you like your Schluter?

2. Porcelain has its drawbacks. Once installed, it promises to be more durable than its alternatives of granite, glass or marble. It is low maintenance, stain and liquid resistant, and has an incredibly impressive life span. Unfortunately, porcelain is a very brittle material that chips and breaks easily when being cut. It proves difficult to cut in a straight line and requires an incredibly sharp and strong blade -especially if working with larger tiles like ours. Our expert tile man Fernando had to switch out his blade twice and had to replace at least 5 tiles thanks to cracks that Nat’s perfectionist eyes picked up almost before they were made. If you choose porcelain, be prepared to hire somebody who really knows what they’re doing, or make sure you keep plenty of extra pieces in stock in case a few of them don’t quite mirror your excellent workmanship….

3. Measure everything twice and plan ahead. While advertised as 24 inch square tiles, what arrived was in reality a little under 23 inches. This may not sound like a game-changer, but it threw off our carefully laid out tile design. I am all for free-styling, but when it comes to tiles, plan it out. The devil is in the details, and as such, where tiles end and grout lines begin matters, particularly as it relates to niches. We opted to frame the corners with smaller pieces and work from the middle out, allowing us to use entire tiles and ensure symmetry of grout lines. However, all is not lost if your tiles end up in an awkward configuration - if you space your tiles to allow for 1/8 inch of grouting and choose a grout color that matches your tile, they will virtually disappear, creating one cohesive piece. Alternatively, you can throw caution to the wind and choose a more exciting grout color from the extensive rainbow array of colors available - brass, red, gold? Get wild with it. 

 Click below to check out the process for our master bathroom (still in the works). 

The Slump: Like Watching Paint Dry

As I’m sure our readership of two is aware, the Glanzmann Group Blog underwent a slight hiatus over the past few months. Not on account of a lack of desire to post, but rather thanks to a sense of stagnation and stifled progress. As much as we tried to think big picture and “respect the process”, the lack of physical changes on site dried up much of the excitement we felt.  And while we had heard that construction always takes more time than expected and can prove rather lackluster, delays thanks to weeks of rain, unexpected structural issues, prolonged electrical installation and a shortage of construction workers in LA,  messed with our mojo. Our ‘slump’ felt very much like we were watching paint dry... for weeks on end.

This slump is part and parcel of the development process. With plans drawn up, designs done and fixtures and finishes chosen, the unseen changes that happen in, above and under the walls and floors- ducting, plumbing, electrical, etc- take their bitter time. Admittedly, seeing the addition of one or two wires sticking out of the walls over two weeks does little to set the heart aflutter - we are hungry for visible changes that indicate bounds and leaps of progress. The fact that you need to finish the electrical, the HVAC, and the plumbing before you move into shear-walling, drywallingand throwing primer on the wallis difficult to swallow when you are eager to see your design manifested in its full glory. Coupled with the mandated inspections for each of these (shear-wall, electrical, plumbing, and a seemingly endless list of others), it can feel like time grinds to a complete halt. So much time waiting for things to move again lends itself to a dangerous timeframe in which you have time to doubt every single choice you have made: was the faucet we choose a good fit? will the extra money we spent on a quartz backsplash pay off? was full AC throughout really necessary? was buying this house even a good idea to begin with?

And then it happens. Things starts moving again - wooden floors are installed, the bare bones of cabinetry appear on site, and bathroom tiles are finally thrown up and grouted. With progress underway and your vision manifesting again, the slump is replaced with a newfound terror of seeing whether or not your selections and design decisions were actually good ones. Only time will tell, but at the moment Glanzmann Group is feeling inspired and eagerly biting our nails to finish house number 1. Stay tuned for progress pictures and more blog posts as everything finally pulls together.

 And if you are developing your own project and feeling like you’re watching paint dry at a ridiculously slow pace- you are not alone. Rest assured that slumping is all a part of the game... Or so we’ll assume to feel like we’re right on track...

10 Tips For Creating A Kick-ass Floor-plan

Here are Glanzmann Group's tips for sketching up your dream home  ( admittedly picked up from only two rounds of drawing floor-plans…) :  

1. Try to line up as many of the interior and exterior walls as possible to help with the structural integrity of your house - the less your walls zig and zag, the fewer structural elements your contractor will need to hold everything up- especially the roof. This is particularly true if you are designing a two story house- the more the walls align, the better for weight-bearing and money saving purposes. Similar logic applies to bathrooms- the more you can stack your bathrooms on top of or next to each other, the more efficient your design and the happier your pipes and wallet will be. 

2. Know your sources of light and place windows accordingly. Remember that if you live in the Northern hemisphere, the south facing side of your house will get most of the sunlight throughout the day.  So, if you’re like us and thrive off of good light and sunshine, orient your windows accordingly. If you want to wake up and drink your coffee in the morning sun, place your kitchen in a part of the house where you can bask in windows that have a southeast orientation. A fan of eating romantic dinners at dusk? Put your dining room in a spot with southwestern facing windows.  Remember however that too much sunlight pouring into your windows might result in a higher AC bill and sad, sun-bleached furniture. Be strategic with your window choices- they are essentially the lungs of your house. While each one costs a pretty penny, they prove an awesome means of making a tight space feel much roomier and bringing nature and greenery into the very heart of your design.

3. Be mindful of square footage. In Westchester for example, with the current legislation in place to keep mansionization at bay, you’re maxed out at around 50% of the lot size. While you can gently push and poke at this rule, if your lot is about 7,000 square feet, your house is capped at 3,500. Take note of the particular rules in your neighborhood of how the local Department of Building and Safety calculates total square footage. We were surprised to learn that any space where ceilings exceed 14 feet actually counts twice towards your total area; think about that before you decide to put your entire budget towards vaulting your ceilings to twenty feet. Also, note that you’re realtor’s method for tallying square footage is not the same as the city planner who essentially has the power to tear down your dream home.

4. Maintain as much of the existing footprint as possible. Add more than 500 square feet to your house’s footprint and you’re looking at costly water-mitigation measures. Instead, build up rather than out - if you maintain the footprint, the amount of roof and thus the runoff will stay the same. You’ve just avoided a massive headache and the need for oversized, unsightly planters. 

5. If you’re building a second story, start your floor-plan design with the placement of your staircase. Its uncompromising size means that it’s difficult to place as an afterthought. Ideally it should be placed in the heart of the home where it lends itself to better circulation by centralizing traffic flow, and wastes far less space than if it was in an entrance. 

6. Open expanses should exceed no more than 25 feet in any direction as such an expanse will result in a need for steel beams. Steel is ridiculously expensive - for our latest project, we spent over 20,000$ on two measly (wrong adjective?) steel beams. The rental cost alone for the crane capable of lifting one of the three-thousand pound beams starts at around 400$/hour. Big boy toys come with big price tags.  

7. Forget what some people say- size matters. It’s recommended that no bedroom be smaller than 13 by 10 feet.  (Legally, the International Code Council R304 mandates that “Habitable rooms shall not be less than 7 feet in any horizontal dimension.” Let’s hope for the sake of your occupants that you’re far from ever needing to be referred to that code…)

And as far as your master-bath goes - it should average approximately half the size of your master-bedroom. While I’m incredibly partial to a beautiful bathtub, enough space for a bed would seem to triumph over this luxury. 

8. If you’re designing with resale in mind, know that each “bedroom” you build needs its own closet to count on paper. And as for bathrooms- to qualify as a full bath you’ll need a shower/bathtub configuration. While you might save space with just a shower, you’ll fall one 1/4 of the way short. 

9. It may seem obvious, but draw in some furniture to scale to truly understand your space. Are you being overly generous in little Timmy’s room while the middle child barely has enough room for their bed? Favoritism can be great- but not when you’re designing a floorplan… Use model furniture to double check whether your configuration is ideal for furniture placement. It’s much better to lose one bedroom than to create a series of tiny, uninviting rooms. Plus a better sense of the furniture size and orientation will help you place your windows. 

10. Another seemingly obvious pointer- don’t forget storage space! Since it’s not the sexiest or most exciting part of the plan, storage is sometimes forgotten. Don’t do it. Whoever moves into your home will love you for having accounted for their Costco addiction and collection of scarcely used camping gear. 

Happy Planning! 

All Black Everything: The High Cost of Staying On Trend 

Here's a look at how delicious matte black can be when pulled consistently throughout- expertly designed by  Canny . 

Here's a look at how delicious matte black can be when pulled consistently throughout- expertly designed by Canny

Open any Pinterest board or catalogue and you’re bound to be enchanted by images of spaces framed with black hardware and windows. Without a doubt, matte black is having its ‘moment’ in the world of interior design and architecture. Perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising then to find that ‘all black everything’ carries quite the significant price-tag. Unfortunately for us, we were surprised…

It all started with the windows (and sliding doors). With the focal point of our house being the family room with sliding doors that would allow for seamless indoor-outdoor living, we reasoned that sexy, sleek black windows and doors would be the whip-cream to an already decadent design. We opted for windows from Marvin’s Integrity line (windows with a thinner profile and more blackened color than the widely popular Milgard Windows) which are unfortunately only black on the exterior. As such, we needed to paint the interior frames black - yet another cost to add to the docket…and then of course we needed cranks for the windows. If we wanted them in black we needed to pay the 50$ upgrade for each one. As consistency is key, we swallowed the cost…

From there the downward spiral came swiftly. As we had now opted for the more expensive and labour intensive black windows, we reasoned that we ought to spring for hardware that would emphasize this choice.  We didn’t quite realize that this ‘spring’ would turn into such a substantial leap.  While you might reason that spending a little more on one kitchen faucet or one bathroom fixture is not going to break the bank, a painful lesson that we seem to continuously seek out is that all those extra costs tally up with lighting speed. 

Consider this: the exact same kitchen faucet from Brizo ( a reputable brand with arguably reasonable price-points) is 25% more expensive in matte black then it is in chrome… the same applies to bathroom faucets, drains and shower heads (or so says the multiple numbers crunched using my rusty math skills). Admittedly there are cheaper sources for blackened hardware - but knowing that faucets will be used everyday, it’s recommended to invest in quality products that will last and stand the test of time and greasy fingers. Plus, much of the “black” hardware sold for less is actually a brown or bronzed finish masquerading as black - tread carefully.  

There’s also the question of supply. Unlike widely popular chrome options which seem to be never-ending, the number of matte black options are far more limited (unsurprisingly as it’s a relatively new trend). This naturally pushes up the price and unless you’re exceedingly lucky, chances are the ‘look’ you like is going to be hard to come by and thus, pricey. 

Undeterred, we forged ahead with our choice of black hardware.  With our wonderfully OCD designer Nat who resolutely reiterates that “design is in the details” leading the charge, choosing a black faucet in one bathroom meant a total overhaul of them all.  Chrome was banished from sight - shower heads, towel bars, toilet-holder, and even drains had to black (each bringing with them the significant percentage jump in price). Even our toilet flusher had to be upgraded from the chrome one that came free of charge with the toilet. At one point, we feared Nat’s zealous fervor would force us to return a bathtub on account of not being able to switch out the bathtub’s chrome logo. Luckily, the rest of us won that battle. 

Considering that we ordered more than 40 blackened plumbing fixtures,  the 25% price increase definitely tallied up. It’s sadly no surprise then that we exceeded our contractor’s plumbing fixture allowance by almost $3,000…. While this post isn’t intended to scare you away from matte black, it’s simply to share that choosing black hardware and windows isn’t just a question of bold design decisions, but also bold spending abilities. 

And also to remind you that if you do make it to tour our beautiful house - please, make sure you take the time to enjoy the black flushers. Aren’t they something?

Cheat Sheet to Scandinavian Design

Photo Via Fastighetsbyran

Photo Via Fastighetsbyran

Being from Scandinavia, it’s dangerously easy to throw around the fashionable ‘Scandinavian Design’ whenever asked about our design aesthetic. For many, (ourselves included) the term is tantamount to simplicity, utility and understated elegance - loose classifications that render it easy to mislabel. In a bid to make sure we’re not blindly leading people astray, we’ve compiled a cheat sheet with the basics of Scandinavian Design. Take a peak below if your interest is even slightly stirred…  

Beginning in the 1930’s but gaining credence in the 1950’s, Scandinavian Design belongs to modernism- a movement marked by functionalism, simplification of form and democratic design ideals. The guiding principle was to create beautiful and functional everyday objects that proved affordable to all, and would actually improve the user’s day to day. In true Scandinavian form, the hope was to promote equality and joy. 

Key words: Simplicity, Minimalism, Clean Lines, Functionality, Craftsmanship and Durability. 

Nature is at the very core of the design aesthetic: Cue the use of natural materials and simple shapes. 

The founders/designers you’ve probably heard of: Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen, Borge Mogensen, Hans J. Wegner, Verner Panton, Paul Henningsen, Maija Isola

The end-goal? To create a positive and warm home environment to influence your life and well being. Successful Scandinavian design should help you lead an unencumbered lifestyle, allowing you to overcome and even enjoy the harsh winters.  The method to this madness? (Tips loosely taken from homeaesthetics.net)

  1. Flood the interiors with light: large windows are kept clean and unobstructed to let in as much natural light as possible. Say goodbye to your bulky curtains or ornaments. 
  2. Invite the natural light to stay by using a lot of white - a natural reflector of light, enlarger of space and general brightener. Other means of capturing and bouncing the light: glossy and polished surfaces, mirrors, expansive light wood floors, and the use of monochromatic, light colors throughout. Did i mention light? 
  3. Add warmth to your home by incorporating natural wood, candles and a fireplace. 
  4. Bring the outside in by enlivening your home with plants and greenery thus allowing you to truly harmonize with the environment. 
  5. Invest more in timeless, quality pieces of furniture that will last forever. 
  6. Remove the clutter and opt for hidden streamlined storage. 'Less is More' baby. 
  7. Throw in some cozy soft furnishings and textures (i.e. the sheepskin you see everywhere…)
  8. Embrace the Danish ‘hygge’, the Swedes 'mys', or the Norwegians ‘kose' - an untranslatable sentiment for cozy moments of joy, connection and simple life-nourishing delights. Your space should bring more of this into your life.  
Photo Via Ultralinx

Photo Via Ultralinx

Photo Via Bjurfors

Photo Via Bjurfors

Photo Via Bjurfors

Photo Via Bjurfors

Let me blow your mind: While the term “Scandinavian Design” might lead you to assume it’s purely Scandinavian, it is more apt to call it “Nordic” as it emerged in the five countries of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark. Leave it to the Nordics to try to pull a fast one on you without you ever picking up on it. 

If you’re feeling inspired by Scandinavian design, Nordic Design is a great resource for lifestyle tips and style trends.