Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We-Design-Day: Home Evaluation - Ready, set, GO!

Thanks for checking back in with me! I wanted to take some time to let everything we've covered settle. Not only is this a lot of information to digest, it's a lot to prepare too so I want to make sure I cover the right things and make my documentation and information as thorough as possible. Furthermore, I like to share additional resources and in order to do that, I have to make sure they are valid and correct!

This week, I want to look at how we start to put all the things we've learned together. We know all the parts and the roles they play in our home and now we need to start putting them in a workable format. I like spreadsheets for this – there is software available for things like this – but the flexibility a spreadsheet offers and the ability to expand, adapt and customize it makes it my preferred choice. Before we get there though, we need to ensure we've got a workable document that we can insert our inspection notes and findings and record our evaluations. Additionally, the we need to document conditions with pictures or sketches. This is an essential piece of our report as we need a written record in order to plan our budget and develop a proper project scope.

Design Tip: We need to know what we have in order to define the parameters of our project.

To ease in the development of your scope, I've created a worksheet for you to document your findings. Feel free to print it off and use for your personal home evaluation document. This is the first piece in your "Evaluation Kit".

Tools for your Evaluation:
Home Evaluation Worksheet (direct link to the PDF being hosted on my ScribD account)
Canadian Wood Frame Construction Book

The book isn't essential but I would highly, highly recommend it for anyone (in Canada, anyway) that does any DIY, home renovation or design work. Having this book when you're hiring a contractor is helpful too. It provides a broad overview of the residential construction process and highlights very important factors that every homeowner should know. It was the “go to” reference guide for me when I was in design school and it is still an industry “go to” guide for practicing architects and designers. If you find a second hand copy, pick it up – the building code changes every few years but most of the fundamentals to wood frame construction remains fairly constant, thus making even an older copy of this book useful.

Once you've printed off the worksheet and have your trusty camera in hand, it's time to go back through your house and look at all the features we've discussed since January! I'll be back next week with the start of my home study to share with you and please feel free to email me any questions you may have about your own study!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - March 26, 2012

This week is TroubleMaker's Birthday Week! I can't believe my baby is going to be four! Seems like just yesterday we were anxiously awaiting his arrival... now he's a walking, talking, playing, eating, loving machine!

March 26 to April 1

Monday: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Chicken noodle soup
Wednesday: Baked Chicken and noodles
Thursday: Perogies and sausage
Friday: Nachos
Saturday: Birthday Party!
Sunday: Meat loaf and oven vegetables

For more great ideas, check out the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! Thanks for stopping in and see you again soon!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dinosaurs vs People - who is smarter?

Please note, I am not a scientist, I am just an interested party who has a vested interest in this planet we call home... When I started my blog nearly two years ago, I'd decided "nice girls don't talk politics" - there are many out there who are far smarter, better informed and more well versed in certain topics than I am and therefore, I decided to not discuss certain things.

Which each passing day, however, I become more enraged at certain things and I just can't keep quiet. My vested interest in this planet is asking questions, probing me for answers I don't have and things I can't explain. I decided early on in my adulthood to be the kind of Mom who lived what I spoke and believed in what I said.
Columbia Ice Field

What has me up in arms tonight is a PBS programme on ice, Extreme Ice. Gigantic sheets of ice that span hundreds of miles and home 75% of the world's fresh water. Their majestic and unsurpassed beauty is breathtaking. And their rapid melt and decline is devastating.

I am embarrassed to admit that I know people - smart people - who don't believe global warming and as I sit and watch this programme, I keep thinking about the dinosaurs.


We've all heard the joke - if the ice age took millions of years, why didn't the dinosaurs run out of the way?

Today, we see the next age of the dinosaurs coming and we are doing nothing to stop it. The polar ice caps, glaciers and ice sheets are melting - rapidly - and the consequences are monumental and devastating. It will lead to the end of our civilization but the policy makers, consumers and world governments do nothing.

There is a problem and we all have to face the fact we are destroying our planet. I won't make jokes about the slow dinosaurs anymore - we can see it coming and even have brains ten time the size of a stegosaurus but we certainly don't use much of it!

Thanks for reading - I usually have my design feature on Wednesday's but it just wasn't happening this week!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: March 17 to 25

My menu planning went off the rails this week. My husband was on a course and it meant after day care pick ups of TroubleMaker and Max, we weren't home until 5:30... I know, I know.. that's not late but for a creature of habit, it tossed our entire schedule out the window...

And it's why I'm writing this Saturday... The menu is so far off that what I'd planned for the weekend, I forgot about. I woke this morning thinking "oops. I forgot to take ham out for Sunday!" I'm back at the drawing board, so let's get started!

Saturday: Assorted Homemade Subs
Sunday: Savory Pizza Monkey Bread (adapted from this recipe using this crust - to which I add my own herbs and spices) with Caesar Salad
Monday: Pork chops with mashed potatoes & green beans
Tuesday: Egg salad sandwiches with soup
Wednesday: Chicken Parmigiana with spaghetti
Thursday: Boy's Choice (I'm off to an annual design function fundraiser)
Friday: Hamburgers (let's hope for good barbecuing weather)
Saturday: Boy's Adventure night! (I'm off to Swan Lake with my mother, sister and niece)
Sunday: Mom's Ham & Scalloped Potatoes

I'm hoping with our schedule more normalized this week, that I'll stick a little closer to menu (and thus our grocery budget). Thanks for popping in and be sure to check out all the people sharing their culinary prowess over at Menu Plan Monday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

We-Design-Day: Home Evaluation - General and Interior Fittings

Thanks for sticking with me during the recent two week hiatus! It's been a little frantic professionally speaking and it's left me exhausted in the evenings when I usually do my writing and research but I'm getting back into the groove. With home renovation season approaching, I want to make sure I've got the bulk of the information shared so we can all work on completing our home evaluation in time for summer!

Having covered all the “big” things that keep our homes up and running we get to look at the “fun” stuff – the things that make our houses our homes. This week we are going to look at the importance the interior fixtures play in our home and how they belong in our home evaluation.

The interior finishes sometimes get overlooked (as being included in a home study) because we do tend to maintain the interiors of our homes more so than the exteriors. It's common for people to paint and upgrade kitchens and bathrooms once they become dated or worn. Innovations in interior design progress frequently and the introduction of new and improved materials to improve the function, increase the energy value or improve the environmental impact are a multimillion dollar industry.
So where does this leave us?

Behind, mostly... But with efficient planning, attention to detail and making informed choices and not always following trends we can steer through the sea of information.

Let's start with the general considerations. Included here are the things “inside” the exterior walls; if you think back to week four the detail showed how our walls look like sandwiches. The batt insulation is the filling, the vapour barrier is our mayonnaise and the gypsum board is our top slice of bread.

Our walls, once installed, are usually mudded and taped. This is to say that a special compound and “tape” is applied to cover the joints, fasteners and corners. It is sanded and a primer is applied to seal the wall board. It is on top of this that we can apply our paint, wall paper or other interior decorative wall finishes. Typically, these interior surfaces are updated frequently, but have you ever not painted for a long time? Paint wears out, just like anything else. All the elements (sun, wind, wet) plus the human factor all abuse and wear the surfaces down exposing the joint compound and allowing the imperfections to show through. It takes longer (as I can attest – seven years in our home and all the screws and joints are starting to show through) but it does happen and like leaving an exposed roof, damage occurs and increases the cost of repair.
Another important aspect to our homes is the floor coverings. They provide comfort, enhance aesthetics and provide sound dampening. Age, flooding and general wear and tear all work to erode the floor surfaces. 

When replacing, cost, allergy factors, environmental concerns and installer ability need to be factored in. Fortunately, these are likely one of the less expensive endeavours you may undertake in your home.
In addition to paint and flooring, the millwork and fixtures in your home will also likely need renewing at some point during your residency. At what point is somewhat subjective. The basic functionality of any kitchen likely won't change but the style of cabinetry, colour of appliances and types of lighting may. This applies to bathroom millwork too.

Sinks, cabinets, appliances – oh my!

Now that we've touched on all the things that we should be looking it, we're going to start pulling it all together over the coming weeks. Thanks for reading this week and please feel free to ask any questions you may have about the topics we've covered this far.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: March 12 to 18

This week lacks creativity but it's simple and soft - just what the doctor ordered!

Monday Fettuccine Alfredo
Tuesday Egg Salad sandwiches
Wednesday Left overs (yes, Mama #2, we're having left over take out from Sunday)
Thursday Pulled pork with rice
Friday KD & Fish sticks
Saturday Homemade sub sandwiches
Sunday Mom's Ham & Scalloped potatoes

Check out all the great people sharing their menu plans over at the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! Thanks for stopping and and see you again next week!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

We-Design-Day: Design 101 - A Guide to Interior Design

This article was originally posted in November 2010. With a few renovations coming up around our house, I like to go back to what I know and it's a good refresher!

In conjunction with the changes I’m working on trying to make to my blog, I’ve been working on a couple of serial articles to share. One of which is a regular, weekly feature on interior design. My hope is to provide anyone with an interest a kind of “insider’s look” at small scale design and renovation projects. I’d like to share my knowledge and experience and make it a true ‘how to’ so I can help demystify an interesting and very popular vocation.

My intent is to share some of the history and principals of interior design and work through the process of a project from beginning to end. Having worked in the field for many years, I can provide insight on the construction process, how to hire a designer and general contractor, what to do when things go wrong and how to make changes on the ‘fly’.

So over the coming weeks, my company, Blue Door Interiors, will be sponsoring the “We-Design-Day ” articles and I’ll take you through the entire process of a (small) renovation project from conception to completion. Along the way, I’ll provide some Design 101 education, answer any questions you have, provide free tips and ideas and I’m planning a give-a-way or two as well!

Without further adieu, let’s get We-Design-Day underway!

When I decided to quit my ‘day job’ and return to school, I was 26 years old. I’d spent my late teens and early 20’s in the retail and middle management jobs and I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! I had the good fortune of being able to examine what I wanted to be when I “grew up” – I’d worked in a few different fields, had experience in what I liked (and didn’t like) and got to pick my profession. Most people don’t get that luxury so I am very thankful that my delinquent youth proved to be useful for something!

During my education and work experience, I’ve learned a lot about myself, my tastes, and my design style. I don’t follow fashion and I’m not a follower of trends. I firmly believe that the most appropriate solution for the problems I’ve faced in my career are generally the ones best suited to those who seek them.

And by that I mean it is certainly possible to design for today and accessorize with the latest trends and colours and I certainly can make your home look like the page of a magazine. But coupled with my love for interior design is a love for the environment and blending sustainable design with interior design for me go hand in hand – my first school project taught me that (I specified a compostable toilet, much to the horror of my professor)! I’m about function and form and reusing, reducing and even recycling when designing. We all want our homes to be a reflection of us and the way we live – good design can be attained by combining a good understanding of how a space functions and how the people who use the space live.

I’m about real design for real people.

This week, I’d like to share a few staple pieces of interior design information regarding the history, evolution and some definitions. My first year of design was tough. I’ve never memorized so many things in my life! Included in that memorization was the ‘definition’ of what Interior Design is… It only has changed a little bit from what I memorized and I see I’ve been ahead of my time as they now mention “sustainable design” in the definition.

Interior design is a multi-facet profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment. These solutions are functional, enhance the quality of life and culture of the occupants and are aesthetically attractive. Designs are created in response to and coordinated with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project. Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability. The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology, including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process, whereby the needs and the resources of the client are satisfied to produce and interior space the fulfills the project cools. Interior design includes a scope of services performed by a professional design practitioner, qualified by means of education, experience and examination, to protect and enhance the health, life safety and welfare of the public. Definition provided by the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) NCIDQ

To find where “interior design” and “interior decoration” started, one must look a long way back in time… One could say it even started when the first people furnished their caves with pelts and painted the walls, although pelts were functional and the paintings area theorized to be everything from trance drawings by Shaman to methods of communication, it still improved the interior living spaces. When the first peoples started building shelter for themselves, it all began to take form. At that time, however, the exterior and the interior were thought of in unison and as “one” space. As we (man) evolved from grass huts, the building envelope (the exterior of the buildings) strongly influenced the interior shape and function of an area.

The common use of the term “Interior Design” was not accepted into popular use until after the Second World War. Prior to the Second World War, and only really dating back to the late 1800’s, the design of an interior was often encapsulated within the architecture of the building as a whole. Any application to interiors was commonly referred to as interior decoration and specifically regarded only the application of surface ornamentation, colour, furnishings and accessories.

After WWII, a divide began to take place between the ornamentation of a space and how the space worked. This split is where the shape of Interior Design truly began to emerge as a valid and respected part of the built environment (and more than just throw pillows and wall paper).

But today, throw pillows and wall paper are all still a part of it! But I think that’s enough information for one week… Come back for the next We-design-day next week when we start down the process of designing your own environment!

I'd like to give a special "shout" to Clever by Design for helping me so many years ago with my logo and company image! I'm so excited to finally be at a point in my life where I can again fly the banner of the Blue Door Interior name!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Menu Plan Monday!

I realized today that I've not posted my menu for a few weeks... I've had a menu, it has actually been on my fridge since I got a new calendar whiteboard thingy for my fridge a few weeks ago! This week (and the coming few) won't be crazy spectacular - my husband is having dental surgery again so we are all on a "soft" diet!

Monday: Hamburger Casserole with noodles
Tuesday: ?? I'll be poking around the other linking up to find a quick, easy dinner!
Wednesday: Corn Chowder & Grilled Cheese
Thursday: Chicken Salad
Friday: Egg Wraps
Saturday: Fettuccine Alfredo
Sunday: Baked Potato & Leek Soup

Not super interesting, but it will fill the void at the end of each day! Thanks for stopping over and be sure to check more of the great menu plans at the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!


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