The blog of Zazu’s Stitch Art, Why Shouldn’t It Be Beautiful? will cover wide-ranging topics, mostly sewing and household. This image shows a medium size project that I plan to cover with the new blog on this site. (Click two times to see the pictures really big.) It’s a new gas fireplace in our living room.
The small gas insert is the bed-and-breakfast-style we’d seen installed only at table height in brochures and other promotional pictures. About eight years ago, we had the gas line and fire box professionally installed at floor level and then we DIY-ed the finishing (inside and out) ourselves. A few years earlier, we had added both a master bedroom with a nice sitting room and a child’s bedroom in our attic. After that, suddenly the downstairs was so cold (with all the heat running up the new staircase) that we kept saying the living room was like a ghost town because no one ever hung out there anymore. This new gas appliance gave us our cozy winter living room back. (And gave me back my upstairs sitting room too!)
The new blog will track the major steps of projects big and small, with photos intended to inspire creative problem-solving in your own living spaces. In some cases, I’ll produce a few hands-on tutorial videos (like my sewing videos, except with
house paints, ceramic tile, etc.) and publish them on YouTube as applicable.
Anyway, we began the project with a cardboard box with wrapping paper taped on the front, roughly representing the gas insert. From this mock-up, we literally hung our Christmas stockings with care after Thanksgiving, and then left them there through the holidays. The cardboard box was made to be easily adjustable in terms of width.
We call this process, “doing the demo,” as in “here’s the demo” or “we better do the demo.”
To us, this means anything hands-on and concrete that helps you visualize the final result before you squander any of your precious resources building something you won’t enjoy living with! The box got smaller and smaller until we decided on a finalized size and plan that would balance all the factors we could think of and maximize the improvement without costing us too much somewhere else.
Of course there are certainly more sophisticated ways to make these decisions–such as with finely rendered plans produced by a professional designer using state-of-the-art software. If you can afford those services and can then conceptualize your space on paper or screen, more power to you. Personally, I like to be able to visualize it in 3-D, by hook or by crook, as they say. And yes, on occasion my husband gets out a t-square and reprises his high school drafting skills. And we still own a lot of graph paper…
The last two pictures show another type of demo entirely. These paper models were made by my husband concurrent to our biggest remodeling projects to date: 1) Attic Remodel: we added living space to a large previously unheated attic used only for storage (two 12-foot dormers helped us achieve a 73% increase in usable space), and 2) Detached Two-Car Garage: we added a two-car garage in the backyard with a large storage attic (to replace what we had lost above the house).
The house model itself showed us what the two new dormers would look like, and the garage model showed us how the buildings would look together with the garage pitched a little steeper to maximize headroom on its second floor. Both models were made to scale with care–about four years apart.
Please note that both times we had a builder that we trusted lined up to do the major work, and they had plans on paper addressing all the building codes and specs. And while dormers and two-car garages really aren’t rocket science, in very old neighborhoods like South Central in Helena, Montana, they make for very slick upgrades. So even though we had honest, super-efficient, and perfectionist guys hired, they still had dude aesthetics, and I knew that going in.
So we placed the burden on ourselves to be sure we would be pleased with the overall aesthetics of their plans before they got started. We knew such large dormers might look awkward added to such an old house. We also knew that in a perfect world your garage would have the same pitch as your house–or completely different–but not just a touch off, especially if both roofs run north and south as you can see in the earlier picture. Ultimately, we built the garage turned 90-degrees, so that its roof runs east to west as shown in the larger photo.
A side benefit in both cases was that just looking at these paper models made us feel confident about our choices as we embarked on the many weeks of hassle and stress inherent in these kinds of major home improvements and expenditures.
At our house we create because we breathe…Please join me as the adventure continues! I promise not all of the projects will be big!
Why Shouldn’t It Be Beautiful? Beth/Zazu