Category: Garden

Granny knows how to Downsize

By , January 9, 2014 11:50 am

My 95 year old mother in-law lives in a Granny Flat, she came west from cold Ohio to live behind her sons home in warm San Luis Obispo 15 years ago. Evelyn climbs the exterior staircase to her one bedroom 400 sq ft apartment above a garage. I was inspired to build my own studio following my Granny’s pioneering idea. Mother in-law apartments or Granny Flats have been around for years, but no longer just for Granny’s, ADUs ( Accessory Dwelling Units) offer rental income, work studios, and promote community Multi-generational living and increase your homes property value.

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Granny Evelyn with son Damian

Today the modern term is Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

In the fall of 2012 I went to a day long summit the International Living Future Institute held in Portland Oregon. Build Small LIVE LARGE  brought together architects, developers, builders, remodelers, urban designers, policy makers and real estate professionals to discuss, inspire and share ideas to craft strategies for this growing housing market. Go here to see videos from the summit. This was the first ever summit on space-efficient housing!

Currently the planning bureau and Portland City Council have waived Systems Development Charges on ADUs and they have increased the ADU size limit from 33% to 75% of the primary dwelling or 800 sq ft, whatever is smaller.

Go to this website for a one stop source of information about ADU’s, granny flats, in-law units, backyard cottages.

Let me share with you my 380 sq ft Sellwood Studio ADU that I build last year!

First Permits and paperwork- Upfront work but well worth it.

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Now the fun part tearing down the old garage that just was a storage place for junk not a car.

DSC07446 300x225 Granny knows how to DownsizeThe size 16 x 24 was similar footprint to the garage but was vaulted and has a private patio

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BEFORE rear of existing garage

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AFTER rear of Sellwood Studio

Emily Refi was the architect that I worked with she now works for Waterleaf Architects.

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Architect Emily Refi at front of Studio-                            complete with red   Vespa scooter!

I like how the Studio is similar in scale to the red cottage in front and that it sits in the middle of my urban garden.

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Red Cottage in front is 900 sq ft

Since the garage was demolished a small garden shed as built with nod to the old garage- the original green door was used.

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View from Studio set in middle of garden

Thanks Granny Evelyn for inspiring me to build a modern flat!  Next time we meet I will take you inside!

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AIA Tour in PDX = small + smart

By , October 22, 2013 4:53 pm

I wanted to share the highlights of the AIA Portland, 2013 Design Matters: Tour of Exceptional Portland Homes.

It was in conjunction of the Portland Design Festival.

 AIA Tour in PDX = small + smart

It started with a bit of a drizzle and by the end of tour the sun was out- so PDX.

Most of the homes were owned by the architects who designed them- they are always the first                                                    brave souls to go small and smart!

Lets talk about EXTERIOR SIDING-

No more Hardiplank or cedar, it is all about metal or dark wood and just for fun lets turn it Vertical.

Lets talk INTERIORS

White white and white- walls, on kitchen cabinets, on tile and Silestone counter tops.

The light bounces off the walls and creates a more dramatic effect for artwork.

Lets talk SURPRISES

Hoods that were stainless – small and round

Vintage or over sized sinks in the Guest bath/laundry utility room.

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Guest bath Aasum Design

Let’s talk Landscape

Use of metal for raised edible gardening bringing outdoors in with large windows

Best Idea for Bookcase- metal with thin veneer wood shelves.

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standard issue metal racks with veneer

So many incredible ideas! I am inspired.

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Airstream Dreams

By , December 14, 2011 11:12 am

Downsizing is all about priorities. What do you really need to live, work and play? What are the essentials? Arriving at a place where your space is smaller may actually lead to a larger lifestyle. Mobility, less financial burden, a clutter free existence – FREEDOM!

So, I love it when I see successful people living in downsized homes whether it be a condo, apartment, town-home or trailer! Check out this fabulous retro airstream that has only 150 sq. ft of living space and has been refurbished by landscape architect, Andreas Stavroupolo.

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Airstream 09 1 Kind Design e1323888553232 Airstream DreamsAndreas actually works from a second trailer that provides ample natural light, plenty of desk and wall space to spread out his plans and is equipped with solar panels that power his laptop and other electronics. Now, that’s just plain cool (and green)!

Stavroupolo loves the freedom this lifestyle affords him and the ability to live and work on or near his work sites helps him personally connect with each project.

Do you have any dreams of owning an airstream? Or perhaps you already do…I would love to hear about it!
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Images via here.

My New Old Shed

By , October 12, 2011 5:36 pm

Hello friends! I’m back! Summer was busy, busy and my time spent with family and friends was top priority! Now that Fall has come and everyone is getting settled back into their schedules, I have found time to work on my blog once more. As I mentioned in a past post, my son and I worked on rejuvenating the garden of my rental home and we were also in the process of building a storage shed. Both projects turned out brilliantly and here are some of the pics to show our fabulous results!

First up, the garden. It was so long neglected, full of weeds and completely overgrown but we brought it back to life!

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DSC04480 640x480 e1318462976555 My New Old ShedAnd yes, that is my “new old shed” back there! Cute right?

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DSC04490 360x480 My New Old ShedEven though our summer was extremely mild, Peter managed to pick a ripe tomato from the vine before heading back to school!

Okay, now for my shed! As you know, I researched sheds online, in stores and just about everywhere! I wanted just the right design. Simple, funky and constructed using some of the salvaged materials from the garage remodel (soon to be granny flat) I’m working on.

Finally, I found a shed builder – Justin Marical – that had great ideas and would build to my specs. Check out his great company here. He was very open to using my salvaged materials and helped me design a 12 ft long and 3 ft deep, lean-to style shed that fit perfectly with the scale of the backyard garden.

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DSC04444 360x480 My New Old ShedThis old window was from the main house which I had replaced with a new vinyl double hung.

DSC04447 e1318464436271 My New Old ShedPeter washed down the old door from the garage, which is now the front door to my shed.

DSC04468 640x480 e1318464506511 My New Old ShedThe shed threshold was created with bricks that we found on site. Peter did a fantastic job laying these in.

DSC04474 360x480 My New Old ShedThe beautiful red stained cedar siding was left over from an old condo project I worked on! This siding is usually very expensive but I got a great deal on it and Justin was drooling! ha ha! I added an old flower box that had previously been installed on the main house and the lovely trellis was installed by my very talented Russian carpenter – Eli! He has done some gorgeous work on my beach house too. Even the roof was done with left over composite material. Isn’t it cute!? I’m so happy with the result and it felt good to use materials that most likely would have ended up in a landfill.

What projects did you complete over the summer?

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Garden Makeover

By , August 10, 2011 2:20 pm

It’s been an active summer for me with lots of time spent digging in the dirt! I love it! With my garage remodel in the works at my rental home, it was time to tackle the overgrown, under appreciated back garden! At one time, it was a lush thatch of earth full of raspberries and fig trees with ample space for growing fresh garden veggies. Unfortunately, my renters – even with their good intentions – failed to care for it and mother nature took over. The result – a tangled, weedy, thorny mess!  SO…I called in my hardworking and willing son, Peter, who is currently home from college. We toiled away in the sun, happily pulling weeding, trimming shrubs and planting new vegetables and herbs. Two of my favorites – sorrel with its lemony goodness and watercress, with a peppery bite that is fabulous on a BLT!

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DSC04289 e1312997106862 Garden MakeoverIt’s looking SO much better! Thank you Peter!

As you can imagine, with all this gardening going on, I’ve acquired quite a few gardening books and have been hanging out at the local nurseries. Some of my favorites – Cornell Farms and of course, Portland Nursery. Oh, and if you happen to be out near Hood River, you must stop by Good News Gardening – a fabulous gardening center with a lovely Garden Cafe! It’s such a delight to visit these places and come home full of inspiration!

What’s going on in your summer garden?

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