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Tag Archive for: renovation and remodeling

paradise, backyard

How To Pursue Paradise in Your Own Backyard

I just attended an exhibit at the Getty Museum titled “Pathways to Paradise: Medieval India and Europe” documenting people’s travels to destinations across Asia, Africa, and Europe in pursuit of heaven on earth. People have longed to find it for centuries, but have not been able to. Somehow, it made me think of DIYers I work with, those who are instead of expecting it to be somewhere waiting for them, are willing to build/create their own. Right where they are — in their own backyard. Read More

bar height, console, study

Designing a Bar Height Reading Console for a Study Filled With Books

I have a design-conscious client who calls me up periodically with a new assignment to tackle. I love working with him — designing something that fits its function and is innovative can be extremely enjoyable. This time we are working on his study brimming with books. In addition to bookshelves, he requires a desk and a bar height reading console in the space. Read More

maximizing, function, minimal, footprint

Maximizing Function in spite of Minimal Footprint

Recently, a friend asked for my help with a design of an apartment she is looking to set up as a vacation spot for her family in Batumi, Georgia. Excited with a challenge at hand — maximizing function within a minimal footprint — I set out to create a compact unit that offers its guests all the comforts of a luxurious hotel room. Read More

waterproof, modular, shower, system

Waterproof Modular Shower System by wedi

I attended LA Build Expo a couple of weeks ago. Overall, it was disappointing, but I did come across a very interesting product; it’s called wedi. A 100% internally waterproof modular shower system, a lightweight and dimensionally stable (flat) panel assembly that acts as a substrate to virtually any stone or tile adhesive. I was happy to learn about it and look forward to specifying it. Read More

curb appeal, architectural, intervention

When Improving Your Home’s Curb Appeal Requires Architectural Intervention

As architect on demand, I frequently get emails from DIYers concerned with their home’s curb appeal. When adding a few potted plants or planting climbing vines is enough to spruce up the entryway, Martha Stewart has great advice. However, it could be a question of subtracting, instead of adding. There are times when a façade can benefit from authentic architectural details and intervention. Read More

French doors, windows

Designing Exterior Elevations: French Doors & Windows

I received an email from a DIY Ally client with the subject line: “Exterior elevations. Front door entrance, steel French doors and windows.” The message read: “Alla, I am thrilled to find your website and would appreciate your help. I am in the midst of remodeling my 1930 home and having difficulty determining the appropriate look of French doors, windows as well as the front/back door.” Read More

fireplace

A Fireplace Is a Heart of a Home

Phew! Just emailed a revised set of drawings to a client. Having gotten a NY State license, I am picking up the pace — we’re planning to submit for permits in less than a month. My passion for the project in Bridgehampton is all-consuming. Now that I’ve worked out all of the “big moves,” it’s time to get to details — I’ve been designing a fireplace. Read More

bathroom, efficiency, compact, shower stall, enclosure

Bathroom Efficiency: Compact Shower Stall / Enclosure

We’re on a family vacation in Mammoth. The only one who doesn’t ski, I’m sitting in our cute cabin, mulling over the subject matter for my next blog post. I waited to get here, assuming that our master bathroom will prompt a good discussion. Well… Outdated or not, I can still ponder the efficiency of its compact shower stall or enclosure. Read More

scale, proportions

Trendy or Timeless? Don’t Forget Scale & Proportions. Part Two

I am feeling better compared to last week. Not able to visualize the massing — confused by how various pitched roofs came together — I made a crude model to assist myself. And finally, I got on the right track. Big or small, the most important design rule is to pay attention to the scale and proportions of the space. Read More

trendy, timeless, style

Trendy or Timeless? But It’s Not About Style! Part One

I am nervous: adding to an existing house. In my opinion, the addition, instead of blending in, has to be distinctly autonomous. Making it trendy, reminiscent of everything else around, is safe. However, design is not about applying a style. The new has to work with the existing and the end result should be timeless. Read More

bad experience, IKEA, kitchen, cabinet installation

A Bad Experience with an IKEA Kitchen Cabinet Installation

I wrote about helping a friend with an IKEA kitchen remodel recently. Unfortunately, it has not gone well. We are very disappointed with the cabinet installation. A problem that could’ve been addressed and resolved on site was ignored. The resulting mistake has not been acknowledged and fixed. Instead of taking responsibility and apologizing, the contractor in charge is still arguing, causing a major delay, not to mention a headache. Read More

plumbing, submersible sewage simplex pump

Plumbing Question: Submersible Sewage Simplex Pump

A client wants to act as a general contractor on her own small addition project. She asked me to help her understand the plumbing issues involved, as I’ve done with rainwater harvesting. Today I’m researching the installation requirements for a Submersible Sewage Simplex Pump, which will have to accommodate a new bathroom and possibly another small bathroom / kitchen if she converts a garage in the future. Read More

guesthouse, pool house, gallery

Guesthouse Doubles as Pool House and Gallery

I am back from New York. As anticipated, it was a productive trip. I’m inspired by the opportunities of the new project in Bridgehampton, “a former whaling and farming village.” Will gladly share many details as the design process moves along. It involves remodeling and adding to a traditional shingle-style house on a ¾ of an acre lot. Besides the primary residence, there is a freestanding shed on the property that will serve as a guesthouse, pool house and gallery. Read More

midcentury, modern, landscapes

Ethne Clarke’s The Midcentury Modern Landscape

I recently saw a Gardenista article recommending a book by Ethne Clarke titled The Midcentury Modern Landscape. I’ve ordered and have just read it in preparation for an upcoming project. I’m going to Long Island, NY to plan a renovation and remodel. I will be adding an extension, a swimming pool, as well as (in Clarke’s words) “an easy-care landscape that ties it to the site.” Read More

space planning, renovation, conceptual, questions

Before Renovation: Space Planning & Conceptual Questions

A message from a new client in Miami made my morning: “Hello, Alla. I am so happy I came across your website – thank you for offering your services.” She was very smart to consult an online architect and address space planning or conceptual questions before taking on a renovation project. Obviously, when someone  says that “your help and insight are much appreciated,” you work a little harder. Read More

Re-imagining a Roof Terrace as a Garden and a Pool Deck

Good news! We just got a building permit for the daycare center project. With the load off, I can spend some time preparing for the presentation I wrote about last week. This time the focus will be on re-imagining the building’s roof terrace not just as a pool deck, but as a roof garden.  Read More

organizing ideas, beautification, lobby

Organizing Ideas: Beautification of a Lobby

I have to admit. My work schedule is getting more demanding. In the spirit of multi-tasking, this blog has become a platform for client meeting prep. Thus, I’d like to share my process of organizing ideas for a potential project. It involves a beautification of a lobby, a roof deck with a pool, and a subterranean 2-level parking garage. The client is the homeowners association of a 24-unit condo complex in the foothills of Hollywood. Read More

redesign, powder room, steps

How to Redesign a Powder Room in 5 Easy Steps

My friends are tired of the way their powder room looks and feels these days. They want to freshen it up, change the fixtures, replace a misbehaving pocket door. I think they should also redesign flooring and lighting. No big deal, right? But to them, even thinking about it feels like a huge undertaking. In this post I’ll show how to do it in 5 easy steps. Read More

good environment, meditation, routine

A Good Environment for a Meditation Routine

I am getting better at living in the now. These days, I start my day by doing a particular meditation routine called Falun Dafa. Thanks to a good environment and my husband, an experienced teacher, with every practice I feel more confident and able to focus. At first, I was really distracted. Losing concentration is still an issue, but slowly it’s getting better. Regardless, I keep at it —  not too much of a commitment, just a 15-minute routine. Consistent, brief, daily sessions eventually garner good results. Read More

shabby, studio, apartment, home

How I Was Able To Turn a Shabby Studio Apartment Into a Home

Hello, it’s Mia Kazovsky, and I’m back for another guest post after over a year. Here’s a refresher: I moved into a studio on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the beginning of 2016. In the previous post, I wrote about the first steps in the process of upgrading my digs. Today, I’d like to share how I was able to turn a shabby studio apartment into a home. Read More

type V sheet, construction details, submittal requirements

Type V Sheet Construction Details: Submittal Requirements / Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the issues encountered while producing a set of documents necessary to get a building permit. Thankfully, I am done with all of the submittal requirements. Considering my aversion to all things UBC, it took staunch determination. And I’m especially proud of mastering the most tedious Type V Sheet construction details! Read More

Hollywood Regency Style, remodel

How to Remodel in Hollywood Regency Style

Hollywood Regency Style, a synthesis of 19th-century French, Greek Revival, and Modern was never of interest to me. That is until last Wednesday, when I received a text: “Good morning Alla. I wanted to see how busy you are these days as my parents just bought a vacation home in Palm Desert that is in need of a full interior and exterior remodel. Would you be able to consult them/me and possibly help with the entire process?” Read More

submittal, requirements, one-story, addition, alteration

Submittal Requirements for a One-Story Addition or Alteration / Part 1

A friend of a friend asked me to help with producing a set of documents necessary to get a building permit. Acting as an owner-contractor, they are planning a one-story addition/alteration and need to demonstrate that all of the submittal requirements per the Department of Building and Safety are being fulfilled. Read More

working, little details, bath, shelf

Working Out Little Details: a Bath Shelf

A potential DIY Ally client asked me if I enjoy working out little details. She wrote: “Hello, I am remodeling a 1938 bath in Washington DC. Have worked with architects previously, so attempting this without an architect, with a very trustworthy contractor. But he’s not a designer, and I want to do something unconventional (from a standard builder point of view) with a long narrow shelf across the width of the room.” Read More

transitional space, design advice

Transitional Space Design Advice

My DIY Ally clients look to me for guidance, expertise, and design advice — I take their questions to heart. One writes: “I suddenly have the option of buying the apartment adjoining my own in NYC but the apartments are awkwardly connected at the kitchens!! I’m hoping for some advice about how we would join these two places and am concerned whether the transitional space would be so awkward that it wouldn’t be worth it.” Read More

remodeling, master bedroom, master bath

Remodeling Master Bedroom and Master Bath

A DIY Ally client wrote: “We are currently in the process of completely remodeling our master bedroom and master bath.  Please see the attached drawings for the existing bath layout, a couple of proposed layouts that we have considered (we have the Chief Architect Software), and a blank template if you want to make sketches of what you think would work for us.” Read More

good craftsmanship

6 Reasons Why Good Craftsmanship Matters

Whether you are building from scratch or remodeling, good craftsmanship makes a world of difference. Especially if you lean toward minimal aesthetic, like me. I recently had to fire a construction worker who just did not put his heart into what he was doing. He was rushing too much, making one mistake after another. The result was unacceptable. Read More

reflected ceiling plan, design

Reflected Ceiling Plan Design

As DIY Ally, I’ve been asked to help with a design of a reflected ceiling plan (RCP). Nothing technical, just a drawing, which shows the lighting scheme of a space. A client’s email stated: “So we are adding a room to our house, it will be 16′ x 20′ with a single pitch ceiling from 12′ to 8.5′ high. We would like to get some input on ceiling and lighting design.” Read More

kosher kitchen

Kosher Kitchen Design: 7 Considerations

I was very fortunate to interview Mrs. Sterna Citron, the wife of our rabbi, Rabbi Chaim Citron of Los Angeles, about her kosher kitchen. Mrs. Citron approached our talk as an opportunity to teach and reflect, as she said: “It’s something I’ve done all my life. So I don’t think much about it. In order to explain it to you, I’ve had to do some thinking about it, which is good.” Read More

displaying, organizing, continuity

Displaying and Organizing While Creating Continuity

My living room and adjoining dining room are abundant with the artwork by our daughters. But there’s nothing random about what I’m displaying. There’s a sense of continuity, a cohesive connection between all of the pieces. The organizing element, the theme of this curated installation is Human Beings. On view, there are sculptures, drawings, paintings, even painted textiles. Read More

upcoming project, planning, kitchen remodel

Upcoming Project: Planning for a Kitchen Remodel

As a DIY Ally, I am always on hand to help with a layout for an upcoming project. This particular kitchen remodel is no exception. A couple came to me with the following request: “Our main goal is to open up the kitchen to the adjoining dining/living room area in order to take advantage of the view through the living room to the 12-foot sliding patio door that looks out onto our backyard and pond.” Read More

floor plan

Start Every Project with a Floor Plan

The importance of starting with a floor plan cannot be emphasized enough. A new client writes: “Hello Alla. We have been renovating a house we bought last year, and our next project will be the front porch. The basic concept is to turn the current sunroom into 2/3 open porch and 1/3 mudroom/entry way. We would also like to move the stairs to the left, closer to the driveway.” Read More

IKEA's. Sunnersta, mini-kitchen

My Plans for IKEA’s Sunnersta Mini-Kitchen

IKEA’s new Sunnersta free-standing mini-kitchen is ideal for my garden room. Maybe to someone, it’s “the no-commitment kitchen,” but I love it. It was just unveiled as one of the brand new designs in IKEA’s 2017 catalog, which claims that this tiny thing offers “all the function of a full-sized kitchen with just a fraction of the assembly and installation effort.” Read More

skylights

A Few Tips on Choosing Skylights

I’ve been working on an overhaul project in Jersey City and writing about its various aspects that fit within this blog’s categories. This week’s theme “passion for details” lends itself to a discussion on skylights. All along, they’ve been a “suggested” on the plans with a dotted line. Today, I want to concentrate on defining what they are and consider them in section. Read More

reach-in closet

Tips on Designing a Reach-in Closet

Today, still working on the project in Jersey City, I am focusing on a layout for a modular reach-in closet. At this point, all four of them are drawn diagrammatically, as identical blocks. So far, I’ve assumed that 5 linear feet is enough per bedroom. If that’s wrong, the entire floor plan will have to be reconsidered. Read More

Alla DIY Ally, space planning

Alla DIY Ally Project: Space Planning

As Alla DIY Ally, an online architectural services provider, I am frequently asked to help with space planning. DIY home improvement enthusiasts can benefit a great deal by turning to an architect in the effort to make the most of the space available. In this post I’d like to discuss a couple of examples that demonstrate the aforementioned benefits. Read More

stone walkways, dry construction, wet construction

Stone Walkways: Dry Construction or Wet Construction?

Last year, in addition to being under a tight deadline, I was working with a very tight budget. Consequently, I compromised on stone walkways, opting for “pool sand,” which turned out to be a mistake (soft underfoot and sticks to shoes). A year later, I am ready to fix it and am trying to decide between dry or wet construction. Read More

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