Sunday, March 25, 2007

Something Green

When I listed my goals for the year back in January, I committed to doing six "green" things this year. I'm making progress on this goal and wanted to document the progress.

First up, we've installed bamboo floors. I feel great about having floors that come from a sustainable source. They are beautiful and remind me every day to be sensitive to the environment.

Second, we've converted our Eichler lighting (original to the house) over to flourescent lighting. 150 watts of brightness per bulb for 30 watts of energy. This is a good deal. Our foyer and kitchen are brighter for the effort. Scandinavian nations have legislated the use of these flourescent bulbs. I'm not a huge fan of government intervention but could go there for such a simple change and a big environmental impact.

Third, we're ramping up the recycling. Moving to California, I thought I could not recycle more. I was wrong. Paying simple attention to what can be recycled (and trying to reduce waste in the first place) can be very productive. We've even gotten the kids in on the action. "Do nothing that hurts the earth," my son proclaims. I cannot echo his sentiments enough.

The Saga Doesn't End

Huzzah, the bamboo floors are in! They are beautiful and do change the gestalt of the house. WIthout the fireplace, the common areas have a more loft-like feel. The place feels lighter and more spacious. Somehow it feels we're living more lightly in this place.

Make no mistake, it has been a long and dusty journey. The family had to decamp. Dust is still settling. A number of our posessions are still in boxes. Art is propped against walls, not yet hanging. Like childbirth, I'm told I'll forget the pain in about four weeks. I hope the same applies to my dear husband, who endured the mess with the kids while I flew off to Europe for a week long business trip.

The saga isn't over yet. One change begets another. Now we need new closet doors. Mark wants to give the study a fresh coat of paint. Spring has sprung and we should tend to bits of landscaping. I guess these are the inevitable steps to making this house truly our home.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Dust and Destruction

We're renovating. It's taken a fair amount to get my head wrapped around the concept. We live in a mid-century modern home in Palo Alto, California. Mid-century modern is a nice way to say it. The reality is that we have decent sized lot (for Palo Alto) with a ranch-style house built by Joseph Eichler. The best features of the house are the post and beam construction (read open space) and the walls of glass. Less attractive features of the house include the greenish carpet, faux tile, and cinderblock fireplace.

Right now, the last three things mentioned are gone. Beautiful blonde bamboo flooring awaits. Between the current state and the serene bamboo state stands a few more days of dust, adhesive removal, concrete and leveling compound pouring and drying, and (yes!) floor laying.

We started with "let's replace the floors." That lead to a rather ominious phone call from my husband saying "we need pour concrete." This was followed by "if we're going to take out the fireplace, we need to do it now." Men came. Dust covered every imaginable surface. Today, my dear husband had a brainstorm to move a piece of kitchen cabinetry so we could experiment with a new (and arguably better) layout. Of course, we have to do this before we lay the flooring. So now it's done.

We're living in the bedrooms, bathrooms and study. We're sleeping together as family, piled into available beds. Soon the men will come down the hall and we'll live in that big, open, loftlike space while they disrupt our bedrooms and study. The kids are watching DVDs; we can't get to the TV. The good news is that we're reading books. But dust is still everwhere.

Despite the dust and chaos, we remain optmistic. This is certainly the biggest step we've taken toward making this place--or any place for that matter--truly our own. I am confident we will endure and, indeed, prevail. I'm trying to be an optimist here, even as I feel the dust on my keyboard. Aargh!