Friday, July 23, 2010

Chapter 10 : …to Heaven.

Got lots of comments on my last entry so I wanted to quickly post on the resolution.

The BEFORE picture below shows the steeper stairway with a curved hand rail. Also notice the graduated staircase outline. The curves of rails don’t really match the long lines and the staircase makes the scene a little busy.

As we brainstormed various options, Kichijoji Dudette and I drew INSPIRATION from Cafe Zenon which had this very simple yet stylish staircase. Although some would think it less than ideal to block the view to the bar, we thought the below example adds a sophisticated layer to the space.


Which brings us to our resolution: A staircase which is less steep and safer with straighter lines that is better integrated with the long lines of the open beams on the 2nd floor. Just a great example of a few little details really changing the atmosphere.


On a final note, we’ve signed the loan contract on Wednesday and we’ll close on the land on 7/30. I’m investigating on how I can bring down my tax rate down 75%from 0.4% to 0.1% on my mortgage setup fee. Will keep everyone posted.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Chapter 9 – Stairway to ….

…Heaven of course. But just when you think you’ve got things pretty nailed down here comes another detail that makes you rethink your whole design. The drama for this week is the staircase to the loft area which will be Home Theater.

Challenge #1 – Steepness
My main concern was that the steep angle (a touch over 50 degrees) would get annoying after a while and could create problems of safety. Research told me that anything between 30 to 50 degrees was doable but I was a bit far off the optimum range of 30~35.


So my solution here was to shift the stairs a little further out and create a bit of a landing platform to get less incline. Above was my little doodle to explain to Sakamoto-san over email. Not very pretty.

Thankfully, the dude can sketch in his sleep.


Below is the extended platform side view with some recessed lighting.
It’s great seeing your designs and vision so concretely and I think it’s more effective than just 3D CAD imaging. Sketches have soul man! :)


And since we were extending the platform for the stairs, we figured we’d stretch it out all along the east side patio doors. This has a nice transitional effect between inside and the outdoors and vice versa. Another benefit is that it can act as make shit seating area and adds another level of dimension to the living room. Yes, we will lose living space, but it will be cozier.


Challenge #2 – Stairs in front on patio door.
And just when I was feeling I had notched up a little victory, the crushing blow: “I don’t like it.” she said. Not “How about this?” or “How about that?”. Just “It doesn’t sit right with me. That’s just how I feel.” Major frustration, disappointment. Dude! What are going to do? After licking my wounds, and some sulking on my part, we went over the various options but it wasn’t until we looked at the sketch below that we agreed that there was no better solution. Actually, it’s still a pretty darn nice living room. Again sketches are great.


Here’s leaving you with a classic.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chapter 8- INAX showroom part 3 - Return of the Architect

It’s really strange once you’ve gone to a particular showroom enough times you actually know where every thing is and it starts actually feeling like home…. This past Sunday we went on our third visit but this time with our Secret Sakamoto Weapon.

So we needed to confirm a few things about the kitchen as some of the storage units will be built custom.Sakamoto-san checked if we could source some of the door panels directly from Inax. So far the answer is that the type of wood finish is "no problem". But the type of handle it will come with needs to be verified. We want the same integrated carved handles (so it looks like solid piece of wood). We also needed to confirm the range hood and we’re glad we did since one particular display was way too low. You’d have to be about 5 foot tall to cook without hitting your head against it. But in the end it checked out. We should be able to adjust the height.

Another important note is that we got our first draft estimate and it’s a bit higher than we expected, but the builder probably priced in the fact that we would negotiate it down. In any case, we’ve decided to scale down the bathroom as the custom built-ins are EXPENSIVE. Below are some sample of the materials of the bathroom (right side- Sandstone Panel and Dark Grey Tiling) and washroom (left side-Zebra wood finish with pearly white double sinks and Sea-Blue-Green tiling). The overall feel will be of warmth and coolness.


So moral of the story here is definitely third time is a charm especially if you go with your architect. I think we’ll be saving mucho dinero going with a high-grade system kitchen with light customization.

Below is was our reference point for the bathroom.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kichijoji Nepalese Curry - Namaste Kathmandu

Anyone who has kids understands how hard it is to find a restaurant that will please everyone. Our kids are 11, 8 and 6 so outside of the main family restaurants and McDonalds, their tastes vary a lot. But one place we are unanimous about is Namaste Kathmandu. It serves the best curry in Kichijoji and is very conveniently located on Nakamichi Dori.

Here’s the map link.


It’s a small place but we managed to get a table for 8 people near the entrance.


Below is the deluxe set 2 choices of curry, rice, nan, kebab and tandoori chicken and choice of a drink for about 1200 yen.


The kids love the Kid’s set which comes with a tasty but mild curry, rice, nan and manga pudding and lassi for about 600 yen.


Below is the owner of the establishment and we just found out that she lives literally right in front our new home. Small world after all.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chapter 7 – Hybrid Kitchen and Stucco Cracks

Not sure if any of you are starting to get sick of reading this blog, but I’m definitely in need of a little “Home Design” vacation. But I guess this is the most critical stage where it’s easy to succumb to that “you’ve done enough for now” feeling and you miss that important detail that will come back to haunt you.

So last Friday, we had I think our 4th session with Sakamoto-san. On the menu for the evening was a nice chickpea salad, breaded fish with herbs, baguette and brie. I would have been tempted to open up a nice Bordeaux save for the fact I would have to drive Sakamoto-san home. Once dinner was finished we tackled the following:

Hybrid Kitchen:
So our dream kitchen was almost at risk as we found out that the INAX system kitchen we had spent 2 showroom visits contemplating would not accommodate the Miele Induction cooker we wanted. We like the Miele model because it has 4 induction burners instead of the typical 3, and the flat surface essentially extends the width of the counter while doing the food prep. At first I was not happy with preliminary options: A-Choose Inax but no Miele or B-Choose Miele but spend 50% more on a custom kitchen. Thankfully, Sakamoto-san is no slouch and investigated a third option (Hey isn’t this Naoto Kan’s new policy slogan? Anyhow I digress..) A middle of the road solution is reach out to Kitchen Designers such as Credo that have experience in slightly altering the larger factory designs. In our case, they will simply adjust the opening of the engineered stone counter so the cooking unit will fit.
It should cost less than 10man which is still not cheap but a lot less expensive than going the custom kitchen route.


Stucco Exterior and Cracking:
Been doing some research on this and I’m realizing I should create some sort of a Links page. Basically, cracking with stucco is inevitable, it’s just a fact of life. Yet there are solutions. Aica makes Jolypate which is stucco that has an Acrylic-like coating on top of stucco that is somewhat elastic yet breathable. So hairline types of cracks should not be visible. So that’s one less worry. We are looking at SK Kakken over Aica as it should provide the same quality at a lesser price. But I want to see the catalog before I decide so I can read and compare for myself. Final note is that you should make sure you discuss how the stucco will be applied. There is a new trend to have an air space between some of the layers good airflow and prevent mold within the walls. However, the down side is that the walls are less resistant to bumps as they are hollow. Something to consider if you have Cristian Ronaldo in the making.


We went over more details of course such as flooring and roofing but that will be for the next post.