Daily Archives: June 24, 2016

project addition: opening up

One of the objectives of this addition project is to finally create a direct connection to the rear garden in our house.  Here’s a BEFORE shot of the current status (well, current a few weeks ago – the lilies and hydrangea are in full bloom at the moment).

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If you sort of squint your eyes and ignore the general decline of the rear yard (leaning fences, sad chain link, failing retaining wall, piles of old building materials), it’s not horrible. It’s just that we never, ever hang out there. Ever. There’s a large window in the kitchen that overlooks the yard, but it’s not like we have a direct view to the garden unless we’re standing at the oven. The door to the side porch is tucked away, and there’s no great visual to the yard beyond because of that magnolia tree.

It may seem counterintuitive to reduce the amount of yard we have now in order to build a better connection to it, but the smaller footprint doesn’t bother us at all. We’ve never used our yard, but I know that we will use a garden, and for us – smaller is better. I’m ready for a courtyard garden, with more privacy, a thoughtful layout, and the opportunity to move freely between inside and outside.

There are two other components to our location that have to factor in here – summer heat + humidity and mosquitos. So there is a degree of shading and easing into the outdoors that needs to occur as well. We may want to feel like we’re outside more, but the reality of summer life in this city is that it’s not always the most pleasant outdoors. Getting some air movement and controlling the light and heat as it enters the new space will be really important considerations.

Here’s a peek into an older version of the addition model. It’s changed quite a bit in the process of working on the construction drawings, but this is a good view to get the overall concept.

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We want that rear wall of the addition to have as much glass as possible, but we also want the ability to open the entire space up to the outdoors, with a terrace and gardens between the addition and the new alley house/garage. We’re hoping to use a NanaWall system in this opening, similar to this.

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My one hangup on this idea has been the screening options. This looks really lovely in the land of no Zika virus. We’ve got big, nasty river mosquitos in our real world, plus I feel like screens offer an added layer of privacy – a bit of a visual separation but not a visual barricade. It was nice to have the rep into the office today to talk about the system, and to see the screen option available. I had looked at other screening options (like motorized screens that drop from a pocket in the ceiling, or the coiling spring loaded screens – some that are pleated), but none of these were really ideal. If we’ve opened up the entire rear wall of the addition, we’ll want to move freely in and out of it without raising and lowering an entire wall of screening.

The NanaWall Screen ONE system is pretty cool in that it allows you to slide it open and shut as much or as little as you want – and it stops sliding when you stop sliding. So you can have the entire wall open, the screen completely closed, and then slide the door a few feet to exit or enter. The glass portion of the system will have a swing door component as well – so you can just swing open a door rather than open the entire wall to exit and enter. If we just wanted to throw open the swing door for a little fresh air, we could pull the screen out to cover that opening and provide insect control where we need it. Here’s a cool video if you want to see it.

The other benefit of installing a NanaWall system on the house? My wardrobe and posing skills are going to vastly improve as a result of it. Also, my view. Mountains and oceans for everyone!!

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