Tag Archives: addition

project addition: black* brick / white brick

Let’s talk exterior materials for a quick moment. I did an overview of lots of materials awhile back, which is worth a read if you didn’t catch it the first time. We’ve researched and reviewed all of these possibilities, and have weighed them against the historic district standards in our neighborhood, ease of construction, first cost/long term cost, maintenance needs, etc. and we think we’ve settled on using brick. Two of our garage walls and one of our addition walls will sit directly on our property lines, so the less we have to bother our neighbors for maintenance access, the better. Masonry walls will require tuckpointing at some point, but that could be decades down the road. And brick really fits into the existing fabric of our neighborhood well.

But – I do not want to pretend like these buildings are original to our house, so the detailing and the color of the bricks will be a more modern interpretation of the existing housing stock on our street. I’m really leaning towards using a black brick, and M is on board *as long as we call it “slate colored” brick – which is where we’re pulling our color inspiration from. We have lots of black details on the historic part of our house already – the slate mansard roof, the window sashes, the decorative wrought iron fence. The materials of the addition will match the character of the existing, but will look distinctly different as well. I think this is a good thing.


The main level of the addition will sit out of the ground quite a bit – just like our house does. The original house has limestone foundation walls, but the new addition will have concrete foundation walls. We could leave these exposed or we could install a veneer over them – stone or brick or stucco, etc. I don’t like the idea of stone veneer at all. There’s no way to match it to the existing real stone, and I know it will end up looking like a cartoon version of the original. So we’re thinking we might draw from many of the street facades in our neighborhood and install glazed black brick at the foundation with matte black brick above. (I mean “slate gray”!) I think it will be a subtle difference, but will carry through that horizontal line that is so prevalent on the existing house… and be modern and sexy too. That’s what I’m going for, at least.

Another benefit of the dark color will be the way the new construction recedes visually. We’re greatly reducing the amount of backyard that we will have, and so I want the built construction to play second fiddle to the new outdoor room we’re creating between the addition. And green plays off black beautifully!


The existing two-story porch will be enclosed – a generous walk-thru pantry on the first floor and an enclosed reading / sleeping porch on the second floor – with access to the new roof garden above the addition. We’re thinking this will be black cladding as well, but not brick. Nice clean details, and then we’ll install some sort of offset trellis to support climbing vines. Ultimately I’d love for the entire porch structure to be covered in a vertical green garden with only the porch openings on the second floor and the transom window in the pantry visible through all the green. No one really sees this elevation of the house because it’s in the narrow gangway between our house and the neighbor’s. But I think it will look so gorgeous to look down that narrow path and see green, green, green.



On the inside I’m picturing the exact opposite – lots of white surfaces that will show off walnut hued wood casework. Some of our existing exterior brick walls will become interior walls, and so we’ll probably paint those white. I’d also love to expose the brick on the main kitchen wall – but I also like modern conveniences like insulation and power! So I’m leaning towards using a white glazed brick finish on this wall from countertop to ceiling – very appropriate for the era and style of our old house, but still has a clean, modern edge to it. We have a couple of samples from Fireclay Tile hanging out in our current kitchen. It’s going to be really important to bounce around light within the kitchen since there technically won’t be any windows in the room. But it will be open to the new pantry which will have a high transom window, and there will be a large skylight in the link between the old house and new. And the kitchen will be completely open to the new dining room which is all glass looking out to the garden, so I think natural light will not be an issue. (Light control just might be!)

13th Ave loft 2

That’s where we stand on some of our material choices at the moment. I’m starting to feel a little more confident about the direction we’re moving in. The process is overwhelming to say the least. So many decisions! I’m trying to channel thoughts of reading on the second floor porch or looking out into the back garden to fuel all these late night work sessions. Walking in the garden never hurts either. I can’t wait to breakfast in one – the transformation here is going to be amazing.

project addition: the perfect sink(s)

This past week (and current weekend) is what I like to call “getting things done”. I’m typically a list person anyway, but I’ve got a serious list going right now on all things project related – people to contact, samples to order, places to visit, drawings to finish, details to work on. I feel like I’m chained to the computer so much these days (nights, really), and so mid-week I decided it was time to do something a little more fun. Time to kick the tires on a few things I’d like to include in the kitchen, so we hit up a few showrooms around town.

Today was project sink – I’ve got two close contenders, (and one bonus one I didn’t know about) and they are fantastic.

Sink goals: BIG. I want a seriously large sink, and one that will work well with the way I like to prep food. We go through a lot of produce in our house, so dinner always starts with a good rinsing and washing of fruits and vegetables, and then I like to chop everything and have it in glass bowls or ramekins, ready to go when I start cooking. I currently use a bamboo cutting board on the 15″ countertop I have between my range and sink. I chop the food, sweeping the discards to my right, directly into a colander that I rest in the bottom of the sink. This works pretty well for me now, but I really run out of places to put the prepped ingredients, and once I have the heat going on the cooktop, the chopping board is a little too close for comfort (and has the burn marks to prove it.)

In the new kitchen (also a linear one), I want the sink on the left and the range on the right. I want to move from the left to the right as I cook, from beginning prep to mise en place to the stove. We’re gaining some space on the current wall by moving the refrigerator out of the room, and eliminating the 12″ wide full height cabinet to the right of it – so that’s about four extra feet of space. But in order to have a really large sink and range, I’ve got to make every inch count in this place.

Sinks in contention:

Kallista Multiere.

Kallista Multiere

Multiere is the most expensive of the bunch, but it’s beautiful. I love the design of the sink – it’s the most minimal design as far as how much space it takes under the counter, which means we can utilize most of the space below with pull out drawers. No wasted sink cabinet with a pile of cleaning supplies and empty around the pipes. (That’s what mine looks like now.)

Kohler, Stages 45

Kohler Stages 45

Kohler Stages 45-1

45 as in inches – these sinks are seriously long. This one is probably my favorite. It comes with all the accessories that you see in the photo, and it’s my favorite video as well. I feel like they designed this sink for our kitchen. I also would like to devour whatever they are making in that video, stat. We don’t defrost a lot of meat (or devein a lot of shrimp!) but man, that higher portion on the sink is brilliant. I love how every last piece is designed to remain as clean and sanitary as possible, everything drains, nothing slops over on the countertop.

Kohler, Prolific


This is the least expensive of the bunch, and a little bit smaller, but seriously so well designed. I love the wash bin, the colander, the drying racks. This is how I use my sink now, just with random pieces in my kitchen that don’t fit exactly right and don’t stack and store so well.

I have a feeling we’ll go with the Stages sink and accessories, but all three are really great options for a residential sink that is a solid workhorse in the kitchen. I love the way the sink is an integral extension of the prep space – I don’t think I could consider anything different after seeing how well these will work in an efficient kitchen layout.

P.S. Faucets. I’m not completely sold on the articulating faucet (two shown in the Stages photos), but man, they appear to work so well in that video. With a sink this wide, we’ll need a really large faucet with a big swing, plus one with an integral spray feature. I’m really leaning towards a touchless one as well. That’s a decision for another day…

project addition: gettin’ legit


Progress is moving along on the construction documents for the addition project. Carving out the time to work on them continues to be a challenge, but we’ve made good progress lately. I really, really want to post updates here but I have a mental block about doing it. Carving out the thinking (and doing) space for this is hard enough; when I start to write about the project here I end up telling myself to shut up and get back to work. I promise a gloriously detailed update once the drawings are in someone else’s hands for a bit – probably when they are out for pricing. I’ll need to write to blow off some nervous energy.

There are so many decisions to be made on this project. It makes me a little nervous, even though we both do this kind of work for a living. I’m doing my best to trust in the process so that I can push forward on things. It’s starting to feel more real now, and that’s helping me keep the energy level up.

On the docket for this week and next:

1. Drawings are going out to the structural engineer for input on the seriously large openings we’re making into a masonry bearing wall. That sounds inexpensive.

2. Meeting with the contractor to go over the current drawings and discuss possible timeline for the construction.

3. Discussion on HVAC options for the addition + relocation of existing condensers and possible replacement of old equipment.

Coming soon:

1. Zoning Packing Submittal (Hopefully this next week, fingers crossed that we get our neighbors’ support.)

2. Coordination of key items with product reps (like the Nana Wall system).

3. Completion of construction documents for pricing and permits.

4. Four billion decisions / drawings on cabinets, finishes, appliances, etc.

5. An update post(s) with visual aids!