Life with an Architect: Soul of Beauty, Intelligence & Craft

In September of 2010 I got a bonus and took myself and my husband, Dan the Man, down to Bellingham Millwork to look at flooring.  Thus, began our saga.  I love this place, but it is a place that trouble goes to find its beginnings.  The kind of trouble that involves inspiration, design arguments and hard work and more time than any architect will ever own up to the project taking, I promise.    Millworks

Once, when we were new to our home, I thought we would put vertical grain Douglas fir flooring in our bedroom.  I was dreaming.  It is too soft a wood unless you don’t mind scarred and severely scratched floors.  So we looked at just about everything.  Because we have radiant heating in our floors, it is necessary to use engineered wood flooring.  I have learned that when you get it installed, there is no visible difference.   We decided on a good hard cherry floor. This is a photo from the website of the manufacturer.

American Cherry Elite by Kentwood

We have a lot of details in our house that are Vertical Grain Fir and we are very consistent in carrying through the same details for baseboards, window and door framing and many built in features that Dan has designed and constructed over the years.  Once we decided on the flooring, the plan for the remodeling was discussed for months before Dan could begin.  Any changes to any other feature in the master bedroom had to be taken into consideration.

Here is the incredibly ugly bedroom that we bought in November 2004.  I think it really takes the cake for ugly.

From the deck...

That door on the right went to a ‘walk-in closet’ that was too narrow to walk in.  You can see the room has good bones and wonderfully soaring  12′ ceilings with two skylights.  Dirty looking greyish Berber carpet from the big box store matched the quality of the cheap track lights that were jammed into the corners of the highest part of the ceilings.  The cheapest skinny moldings were around the doors and used as baseboards.

Here’s another view from the foyer. You can see the bathroom door next to the closet.  You can also see that in addition to the color of dried blood, baby diarrhea was chosen to accent its architecture.

View 2 2004 master bedroom

Living in this room convinced us that we needed to change it.  We were unable to center the bed under the skylights because there wasn’t enough room to open the closet door if we did.  That notch they made to accommodate the closet simply cramped the room and did nothing useful in the closet either, which needed reconfiguring. And there were five doors, counting the two French doors that lead out to the covered deck.  Where can you put furniture in such a room?

It didn’t take long and we realized our new home was both generally short on closets, and specifically in our bedroom, there just wasn’t enough wall space for dressers to make up for the lousy closet in the corner.  Plotting a change commenced shortly after we moved in but various events pushed remodeling our bedroom away from the top of the list of remodeling plans.

Once I had enough money for the flooring it was time to begin.  Dan is retired and all of our remodelling has been pay as you go so that we could stop at any time if we had other needs arise.  And Dan is the one who has done 98% of the work with heavy bits assisted by our neighbor’s son, Nate McConnell, who works in his father Gene’s cabinet making business.  He may be young, but he is knowledgable and creative when Dan needs help with something big or heavy and he has good ideas for alternative ways to accomplish things.  His father has been indispensable at times when Dan’s tools are inadequate to something that we need, or when Dan needs a better idea for how to build or finish something. We’ve got fine neighbors.

Things started with demolition, as they always do with remodeling.  That notch was removed and so was the doorway. Lighting was arranged around the perimeters of the room and installed both in front of, and inside, the new closets which flanked the French doors.  The chandelier was installed earlier and shades were removed to protect them.  I can’t stress highly enough how much you have to protect what is done from what is being done when you remodel.  One of those shades cost $30 to replace.

be gone doorwayThe closets begin


This is the other side of that wall!  A new closet is born, with entry from the bathroom.  All I lost was one wall hook.  What I gained was a lot of shoe storage, lighting and a wonderful cedar lined closet!   Since this photo was taken the towel rods and switch plates have been added.

The other side of the wall

There are multiple shelves overhead and beside the hanging space, using the soaring heights of the space for storage of suitcases and extra linens & blankets.  And Dan added that sweet mirror and lighting with an outlet so I could style my hair someplace where I could actually see what I am doing without my glasses.

drawers & hanging      Lighting


And of course, there are more closets! Another one for me, and one for Dan, who here is taking down protective paper from the staining of the closet.  We started with selecting the floor, but it is the LAST thing that gets installed as you can see in these photos.


Taking down paper


Closets 2

   Pottery Display

This was a test of the lighting and depth of the pottery display we decided to have between the wardrobes.  It creates a kind of nook for my Craftsman Rocking chair too. There will be collection of pots.


Closets near completion  Day 3 of floor installation

The floors are all done but for the last bit glued down and the trim will all be going in very quickly. The last photo is Dan visually fitting the next course. Next, a peek into what’s nearly finished, first my closet, then Dan’s.

My wardrobe  Closet 3

  • “Defining craftsmanship far more broadly than “skilled manual labor,” Richard Sennett maintains that the computer programmer, the doctor, the artist, and even the parent and citizen engage in a craftsman’s work. Craftsmanship names the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake, says the author, and good craftsmanship involves developing skills and focusing on the work rather than ourselves. In this thought-provoking book, one of our most distinguished public intellectuals explores the work of craftsmen past and present, identifies deep connections between material consciousness and ethical values, and challenges received ideas about what constitutes good work in today’s world.”

From Yale University Press regarding Richard Sennett’s book The Craftsman. 



Dan the Man
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