Don’t forget to improve your Passive Solar Potential when you remodel!

2 min read Remodeling is your opportunity to improve all kinds of layout flaws – tight corners, inadequate kitchen storage, not enough privacy for bedrooms – AND improve your relationship with the sun.

Don’t let yourself think of existing walls as immutable or hyper-focus your attention on the surface of things.  Gilding the lily won’t fix an awkward, dark or segmented floor plan. 
Continue reading “Don’t forget to improve your Passive Solar Potential when you remodel!”

Micro Update: Matching the Front Door to the Mailbox

2 min read One of the most fun (and easy) things I did to the house last year was painting the front door. Here’s how I exactly matched the mailbox.

This is one of those curb appeal updates that gets tossed around when thinking resale.  For me, it is just too-long-delayed improvement for every day life.Granted, part of the reason it was so satisfying was that I’d devoted countless hours to fixing up the rest of the exterior, but this felt like the element that tied everything together.  Continue reading “Micro Update: Matching the Front Door to the Mailbox”

Testing Paint Colors in Natural Light

< 1 min read I recently realized that I’ve been living among wall colors I DON’T LOVE for way too many months and that it is time to make some of my planned color changes now while I can appreciate them rather than at the end of the project when I’m just about to pass it off to someone else.

After grabbing a really unreasonable number of swatches at the paint store, I set them up next to the wood trim – which I don’t intend to change – and was really surprised how most of the ones that seemed perfectly plausible in the light of the paint store were way to harshly blue grey in the house.  The outlier I had almost rejected as terribly taupe was the winner.  Continue reading “Testing Paint Colors in Natural Light”

Basement: the Midwestern Ranch House’s Secret Weapon

3 min read A basement is the secret weapon of the midwestern ranch house.

(This is one clear advantage we have over all those cool, glassy California Pinterest ranches.

Upper midwestern basements secretly expand square footage, storage and differentiation of spaces all without bulking up the house to the street or eating up the building site.

Sure, basements CAN be your extraneous junk space.  They CAN be your quick and dirty work out or project space.  But they they COULD be the inner sanctum – the most private and cosy spot in the house, insulated from temperature, sound and other people’s view.   The secret of an effective basement is not to treat it like part of your home, not a second class space. Continue reading “Basement: the Midwestern Ranch House’s Secret Weapon”