Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The best laid plans...

Does anyone else get scared of tape measures?  Functional tools but when they retract the zooming sharp sides freak me out, I'm terrified I'll end up with a massive cut, like a paper cut but bigger.  This week I've confronted my fear as I've obsessively been measuring lengths, widths and trying to envisage room sizes because (drum roll please)...we received our plans. 

Here is the existing floorplan:

 and here is what was proposed:

Proposed floor plan

I received the plans at 9am on Monday morning with a busy day ahead  of me - excitement combined with excruciating pain, all I wanted to do was rush home and feast my eyes. 

What an overwhelming experience it was when I finally had the chance to look at them closely.  As a novice I quickly realised reading a plan isn't as easy as reading a book - understanding perspectives, measurements, elevations, roof lines - these things take time. From my experience this week, getting a feel for a plan isn't something that should be rushed.

Something that was immediately obvious, even to my untrained eye, was despite the plan ticking nearly every box on our very detailed brief it didn't solve a fundamental problem with the way we live.

It seemed that our current issue of the kitchen area being too small for two growing boys would remain somewhat. What we had wanted was a big family dining table (not just breakfast bar) adjacent to the kitchen plus a small lounge area.

James and I spent about 4 hours trying to work out different ways our need could be met with the proposed plan.   Changing the family room to a meals zone seemed like a very big space just for a table (it's not big enough for dining plus lounge) and the space adjacent to the breakfast bar called "reading" just seemed too small, I felt it would be redundant.

I went to bed feeling dreadful, in my odd way I was feeling as though not getting the plans right first go was all my fault. Was my brief too brief after all?  Were we unclear about what we really wanted?  Were we overwhelmed by Peter's enthusiasm for his initial concept of adding an extra bedroom, forgetting about what we really wanted?

I woke the next day determined to resolve this and called Peter as soon as I could.  I felt very nervous making the call, it was like ringing to tell someone you think their baby is ugly.  He reassured me not to worry, that this was a normal part of the design process and that we could resolve it.  We told him our ideas and with his suggestions we came up with this (the pink lines are what the new plans will be - hard to see I know, hoping for another plan soon!) :

We've spent the weekend with the tape measure (panic!), pacing out rooms and trying to envisage the various spaces.  It's interesting to observe the different approaches different people take to visualising spaces; some can do it on paper, some need to stand in certain directions, others need to measure out a space in a completely different place to see how large a particular size is.  Whatever works!  James and I have drawn chalk lines on the ground and in an OMG moment I didn't freak out when I saw he had drawn on the kitchen wall in permanent marker - it's all going soon enough anyway!!
The roof line - we have decided to "settle" for a hip roof over the fancy skillion option Peter provided - by doing so we will save enough to put in a powder room.

The deck - anyone ready for a BBQ?
So it's been a big week, an exciting week.  What have I learned?

When you are on a tight budget you can't get everything you want  (farewell kitchen desk nook) - it's about getting what you need (apparently I need a butlers pantry! - I didn't expect to get one! have you got one?  Do you like it?)

What do you think of our plans?  (if you can't see them leave a comment below and I will try to upload in a different manner)

PS - a BIG congratulations goes to our lovely designer Peter Latemore, not only was it his birthday his week but he won the "Designing the Dream" Award at the Building Designers of Queensland Brisbane  North Awards.  If only we had the budget that would have been spent on that house....

Monday, 16 April 2012

Brief briefs? Not for me.

It has been suggested that I am slightly anal.

This outlandish claim was made after I wrote a list for a new cleaner describing how each room and item of furniture should be cleaned.  Apparently cross-tabulating the list with appropriate cleaning products to use was where I crossed the line... 

To me this list just made good sense. Ensuring a job is done right the first time is easier than correcting mistakes down the track.

Consequently it will be no surprise to you that I took the job of briefing our designer, outlining what we wanted to achieve in our renovation, extremely seriously.   Having never written this type of brief before I wasn't sure what to include, so turning to my friend Google I asked "how to brief an architect" and "architect brief template". This research delivered lots of ideas and questions to consider when putting the brief together.

I also spent many pleasurable hours looking at house porn; Australian House & Garden, Inside Out, Home Beautiful and the hottest of all Architectural Digest.  I salivated over the dreamlike images, ripping and tearing out pages, slapping glue on the pretty pictures to create a scrapbook of visuals to stimulate our thinking.

The end product?  I produced the brief (which is pretty long) using the following headings, you can read the full document by clicking here.
  • Who are we, what are we like & what do we like?
  • What is our house like now and what do we like about it?
  • What don’t we like?
  • What we would like done: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 
  • What are our priorities, must haves, would be nice to have...
  • In a perfect world the house would have...
  • What are our must haves...
  • Would be nice to haves...
  • What what we envisage each room to include where possible: Kitchen / Family room, Laundry, Outdoor area, Main Bedroom, Garage
We sent the brief to our building designer, Peter Latemore, before he came over to view the house and then come up with an initial concept.  He said he hadn't received such a detailed brief before. Had I crossed that line again?  Apparently not! He said the brief helped him understand our goals before he even crossed our threshold.  It would also avoid him having to drag information out of us and providing a greater insight into what our goals are.  In fact he had never received such a detailed brief before and was extremely pleased to receive it. It would help him get the design right upfront.

See mum, nothing wrong with being so anal after all!!  And who wants brief briefs after all - they just aren't a good fit.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Reno remorse?

Suddenly, struggling to open and shut the door isn't filling me with dread...why is this so?
I've bought plenty of "they might fit one day" dresses and felt remorse.  Years ago I met a few shady characters in nightclubs that evoked similar feelings the following day.  But I've never experienced quite the type of nervousness I'm currently feeling.

For the past 12 months there have been things about this house that have been driving me spare. But suddenly the horrific non-sliding, sliding back door doesn't seem as bad as normal, the 2m x 1.5m kitchen space that four people all want to cook, stack the dishwasher, cry, do homework and wash their hands in at the same time doesn't feel as crowded and the leaking, mouldy shower doesn't feel so dirty as it did six weeks ago.  In fact, I've started to wonder - do we really need to renovate at all?  Is there really any point taking on more debt?

Rationally I'm attributing these unsettling thoughts to the fact that I'm pretty relaxed right now.  It's school holidays, I'm not rushing here and there, wanting my house to work for me - make my life smooth and clean around the edges.  It's lovely at home with my two beautiful brown eyed, brown haired boys. The sun is shining and memories of how happy we've been in this house are flooding around me daily.

Do you think I'm experiencing "pre-reno remorse"?

DISCLAIMER !!! Please note I work part-time as Communications Manager for Timber Queensland.  TQ represents everyone from the growers of timber to end users eg architects and growers.  I'm fortunate that I will have access to people that might help answer some of my questions during the renovation.  However, it's important to note that this blog is my personal opinion piece and does not represent the opinions of Timber Queensland.