Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Slide. Finally.

Weeeeeeee' fit it.
The Slide! 

We said we would. But it wasn't 100% sure we could. Conceptually it was our intention but everyone seemed a little skeptical around us, doubting it actually could be done within our available walls and space. 
We basically had to cut open walls and floors to find out (in our newly remodeled/ finished home) and, well, we gave it a go!
I wanted a big Yellow Tube Slide to give Samuelle an alternative route to her play-basement from the main floor. That's what I had in mind. And from the moment I shared my plan with her… There was no going back! (She had already told her entire world about Her Slide!)

As the actual remodel dragged on (before and after remodel story and pics), the slide project kept being pushed back and was seemingly loosing momentum. We were then told that a tube slide won't fit within our actual walls… that we'd have to build a landing platform and opt for an open top slide. Though, I don't compromise very well when a vision has already come to life in my mind.  This news kept me awake for a few nights - and after the third sleepless twilight, I woke up with blue tape in one hand and measuring tape in the other; then I started making sense of our walls and footprints. That afternoon I ordered The Yellow Tube Slide online, which caused many more sleepless nights after that, wondering "Will it fit?" "Are we going to cut open our walls and floors to find out it won't?"

I scheduled our beloved and highly talented trim Carpenter (Mike Cantrell) to come install The Slide with me. I didn't tell him over the phone that I had ordered the tube slide instead of the open top one. I figured he would notice at some point! ;) I also knew that he would love the challenge once put in front of it! And he did! He was on it! Right there and then I saw it in his eyes, we were going to make this work no matter what.

No turning back! #indoorslide
A close fit! #indoorslide
Mike let me cut the first hole in the wall. It had to work now!! As we went along, we ran into a few moments of doubt, short panics (and a whole lot of sweating.)  For instance, the original turn of the slide was turning into a plumbed wall, but we managed to tweak it. Also some of these cuts and measurements were cutting it real close. Like, REAL close. SUPER LUCKY close! Made for a few good nervous laughs on the job!

Tide fit! #indoorslide
There she is, almost done! #indoorslide
Install took two days of hard labor and creative thinking to make it all work and fit together - with safety in mind! You can only imagine the anxiety the first night - when the slide was already in and we couldn't go down it yet ;) But all was well with the world because as promised: Mike got the slide in and ready to go right before Christmas!!! One heck of a Christmas gift for Samuelle… (& for all of us immature grown ups!)

Weeeeeee' #indoorslide
Oh the fun! #indoorslide
Christmas day was one crazy party in this house. Even grandma went down The Slide several times (incremental with the amount of wine that went down;)

Thank you Mike Cantrell! You were the real Santa Claus for us this year!!

Note: You'll never guess what family member likes the slide the most!? Sugar Banana Pants… Yes, our cat LOVES going down the slide - over and over again!

Sugar Banana Pants, our cat, 
LOVES going down the slide! #catslide
Best laundry shoot ever. 
#bestlaundryshoot #laundryshoot

Here are a few videos from our memorable slide opening party on Christmas day: 
Yep! That's how Christmas went down in this house!

Thanks for stopping by! 

~Deborah Jacobs, (

#indoorslide #Slide #catslide #bestlaundryshoot

Thank you Mike Cantrell!! I LOVE my slide!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

One happy remodel!

YES - We did it! 
It's one thing to watch HGTV and think of all the great design ideas I have, up there, stuck in my head! And it's an whole other thing to make it happen.
And yes. It was no piece of cake.
But man, does it feel great when you actually get through with it and get to live in your very own version of a dream home!

Open concept.
  • The After: New open concept main living space combining prior enclosed kitchen, dining room and living space. We removed the original ceilings, opening up the attic space, letting in more natural light through the new skylights. [Picture: courtesy of HAUS, architecture for modern lifestyles]

My husband Alan, my three year old at the time and myself recently moved from San Francisco to Indianapolis for a variety of reasons. Primarily to be closer to Alan's family, second for an awesome international school for our daughter - that we could afford (so that she can become fluent in my first language, French) and third for a more comfortable life style! … Selling off two properties in SF's market allowed us to upgrade from the 1100 square foot apartment where we were making due to "spread our wings a little"!

Now, we thought of our wish list very carefully! Because, even though we wanted more space, we didn't want our new budget to get us carried away and have us buy a house too big and imposing for our small family of three, as we'd get lost in it at separate ends of the home when we actually like to be close to one another (go figure!) and BIGGER well, just doesn't fit our personalities, yet, we wanted a home that allows hosting out of town friends and family... so we needed a flexible layout on top of all the following wants: Walkability! Bike-ability! Community! We wanted green around us BUT no yard to maintain as we like to travel instead AND we wanted for it to be close to our daughter's school as we didn't plan on being stuck in a car twice a day. Of all of these must haves, the hardest to cater to in the midwest was the combination of walkability - bike-ability and community. Location was key for us! 

Thanks to our amazing real estate agent Susan Tibbs, we found the perfect lush street in a perfectly walkable neighborhood and community, 5 minutes from Sam's new school! BINGO. The house for sale was a postcard like 1920's bungalow.  Even though the footprint had been extended through the back of the property - allowing for potential guest quarters, the main part of the house still had the very traditional small rooms (small kitchen, dining room, living space, small bedrooms, small bathroom… low ceilings...) so we knew we had our work cut out and that we would have to go through a major remodel to make this house into our own. But it felt right! The vision of what it could become for us came to me as I was walking through the house for the very first time in October 2013:

Before pictures.
  • The Before: Enclosed small kitchen, dining and living space. Beautifully done by the previous owners! 
    We just knew we wanted an open concept and more natural light for ourselves…

Where do we start??? Well, from the beginning they say… 
So, that's what we did. Step by step. By step.

Mom and daughter planning the remodel.
Late January 2014, after living in the house for a week or so, to really assess the space and capture our family's wishes and needs, I started sketching out our new floor plan. Sam was hard at work with me. The biggest ticket items in the main house were the open floor plan (taking down kitchen walls and ceiling), creating a master suite out of two adjacent bedrooms and a hallway powder room as well as connecting the existing hallway to the back of the home and garage, as you initially had to walk through an office to get to there. We also planned on turning the big room above the garage into our guest house.

February 2014, we started interviewing architects. One referral, one through Angie's list and one found on First one told us he would get us a quote by the end of the week, then the next… and then never got back to us. Yikes. Was that setting the tone of how this project was going to unfold here in Indianapolis? Thankfully not... Both of the other architect firms showed up, were very professional and delivered quotes and estimates in due time. We got our confidence back! We decided to work with Christopher Short - HAUS architecture. We loved their portfolio of works and they picked up our vision in a heart beat! Knowing we were on the same page and their immediate availability to start were a huge plus not to mention they also lead the construction process (coming with their hand picked selections of sub-contractors) meaning we would not have to individually look for and interview electricians, plumbers, trim carpenters… you name it. YES! The excitement kicked in!

Remodel Permits!
Next thing you know, the check book starts shedding it's pages (according to plan), professional architectural drawings and 3D plans of the new design and floor plan were presented to us (jumps for joy), permits were hung in our front windows and bang! We were in business! Good old big "OH MY" we were doing this, for real! The physical process of the project was drawn out into two phases. Phase 1 consisted in starting with the guest house above the garage where we would live while the construction in the main house was going on during phase 2.

Phase 1 took a little longer as planned, the existing insulation wasn't up to code nor would it properly keep our guests cool in the summers and warm in the winters… So we had to demo all the walls and ceilings and start fresh. First big unexpected dent in the check book and timeline. But we kept our spirits up!

In Law - guest unit construction phase.
  • Phase 1: Removing carpet, removing ceilings/walls to insulate efficiently, opening up the entry way to let more light in, adding skylights to the new kitchen area, enclosing new master suite with barn door enclosure.

By the end of May 2014, We were very happy and excited to move into "The Barn" and start phase 2 of construction! We were giggling over the fact that people here in Indiana were stunned we were going to live in a 900 sq.ft apartment for a few months… While we just moved from our 1,100 sq.ft apartment in California, which was considered big in San Francisco! Needless to say, we knew we were going to be just fine.

In Law - guest unit finished and ready.

June 2014. Phase 2 begins! Things are getting serious. We start by having the Asbestos removed from our attic insulation. Then. BIG DEMOLITION PHASE. Thrilling or chilling! Can't make the difference there for a while… Now, we were very conscious that we were about to demo a perfectly good and beautiful kitchen which had recently been redone, so we were a 100% committed to give the existing kitchen a second life. did wonders again: In no time were we able to find new loving owners for all of the appliances and granite counter tops. The kitchen cabinets were repurposed in "The Barn" for it's new beautiful kitchen! No waist:

Main house remodel: asbestos removal and repurposing of existing kitchen.
  • Phase 2: Asbestos removal + 100% Repurposing of the existing kitchen.

Repurposing, recycling and up-cycling were a very big part of our process, from start to finish. We decided to up-cycle an existing home rather then building a new one from scratch (not that we don't still have a dream/fantasy to build a passive or green home one day.) We were determined to recycle and repurpose as much as possible during the process of this extensive remodel, including the lath inside the walls we tore down! Yes, that fantastic lath that usually ends up in a dumpster was repurposed to make our fabulous kitchen counter tops! A brilliant idea from Derek S. Mills, graduate architect at HAUS! He suggested the idea as we were brainstorming for the best possible solution for our tops - aesthetically and economically, and he built them - after hours. He even let me help! Yay me!

Lath. Repurposing of interior walls lath to build counter tops!

The recycling theme trickled down to the sourcing of repurposed fixtures and furnishings where suited like, chicken feeders as pendant lighting, repurposed barn doors and art accents made out of recycled materials… All of this combined with high end appliances for a comfortable living.

… The remodel goes its course encountering it's joys and setbacks. When you are living through a remodel, the construction dust, delays and budget fluxes will get to you, but they truly are par for the course. The unforeseen will happen. Good and bad. You have to toughen up to get through.

The things we didn't know we could do! Amazing. When budget goes up in certain areas, you have to pick up and do some of the work yourself in other areas - if you want to stay somewhat on budget in the end that is! So! You do what you've got to do and you learn on the fly.

Learning on the fly!
  • Hands on we carry on! #learningonthefly

August 2014 rolls around and on paper we were supposed to be done by then, but of course we're still going full force while the pre-booked visits of my Belgian family start trickling in. My poor dad didn't see it coming. Aside from a few little road trips to discover lovely Indianapolis and Chicago, we put him to work! Thankfully that month we were blessed by a surprise request to part take in the Broad Ripple Historic Home Tour coming up. Well "why not" we said - covered in dust! LOL. Bring it on! It turns out that this new commitment and deadline of September 27, 2014 really put "progress" back into gear and motivated all contractors involved. Everybody had to finish by de tour! No more prioritizing other sites or projects in between. Yay us!

September 26, 2014. My mom's been here now for about a month (visiting from Belgium) enjoying a restful visit of painting, cleaning and helping get us ready for the tour. We finish tiling the kitchen at 8PM, yes, the night before the home tour and finish the last touches of paint and cleaning by 9:58AM the next day. Two - minutes - before - the - home - tour - began.

*HEART ATTACK* Well, Alan and I believe we now know what one would feel like if we were ever to have one.

September 27, 2014Broad Ripple Historic Home Tour. They counted over 800 people at the door with a clicker... It was beyond exciting to witness first hand the positive turmoil our house would get from the many visitors! People would wow and scream with excitement walking in the front door… Unbelievably rewarding. We might have counted 2 or 3 folks that weren't too happy that the original floor plan had been altered to a more contemporary one. (Sorry guys! Thankfully you don't have to live in it…)

Broad Ripple Historic Home Tour.
  • Broad Ripple Historic Home Tour, 2014. #BroadRippleHistoricHomeTour2014 #hometour #BroadRipple

Alright, alright! You want to take a tour too now? Please, come on in! 

Living space and kitchen after remodel. Bright and airy...

When familiar with the traditional bungalow style, you can't bypass being surprised as you walk into this wide open space. The design might certainly be an unconscious antidote to my claustrophobia. Bright, airy and simple is what I was going for. No clutter and nothing truly fancy. Raw, industrial elements and materials are definitely present in the mix of repurposed and recycled furnishings. The coffee table is the palette that was used to deliver our repurposed barn doors. We cut of one third of it's length, put on some casters and -voila! The fabulous green couches are the precious gift of Alan's grand mother. Believe it or not, they are over 50 years old and in original condition! Yes, that's a kitten you see laying on it so go ahead and scream MURDER! It is safe to say that they won't live for another 50 years in mint condition, but we'll give them our best shot and deepest respect.

Let's go check out the master suite. As I mentioned, we combined two bedrooms and a hallway powder room to make our very own little spa like retreat and we couldn't be happier with it… I still can't believe we live here!

Master bathroom suite after remodel. Barn doors.

Master suite demolition and construction phase.
  • The Before and During. Combining two bedrooms and a powder room into a master suite. #remodel
Hallway light source. Added skylight.
Midways through the hallway, in heart of the home, HAUS architecture came up with the brilliant idea to pull more natural light in through another skylight, so they dug through the attic again and made that happen! It is one of my favorite features in the house… Without it, we'd have a long and dark hallway to roam through! The skylight also provides natural light to the master bathroom through a transom window. Genius.

Bedroom reading nook.
Sam's room was a bit cosy to start with but it has it's very own on suite bathroom attached to it! We added a second closet by stealing some space from the office next to it, through her bathroom and we created a reading nook by digging space out from above the staircase leading to the basement adjacent to her room! You'll guess that she picked her color scheme and we repurposed the initial dining room chandelier into her bathroom after spray painting it PINK. This made for one happy princess! And that, well, that makes me one happy mom.

Pink room… little girl's room.
  • Sam's PINK bedroom… with the repurposed pink chandelier in her bathroom. #readingnook #girlsroom #pink

November 2014, we are still unpacking… LOL. One box at a time. No rush as we are still recovering from the big dig! (This also goes to show that we humans have way too many belongings! We honestly don't miss or remember anything that is left in those stacked boxes in the garage.) Anyways… We couldn't have done any of this without our amazing architects at HAUS and their selections of contractors. I can not wrap this up without sending them a huge load of THANK YOU'S and praises. We couldn't be happier with the final result. 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Note: Check out our later project: The Slide install:

~Deborah Jacobs, (

A story of great collaboration between brusfo and HAUS.

Thank you Sycamore Construction & team (demolition and frame work) - Thank you Randy Richey Plumbing & team (gas lines & plumbing) - Thank you Dickey Electric & team (electrical) - Thank you John Price Enterprises & team (insulation) - Thank you Aquadry Midwest (drywall and painting) - Thank you Mike Cantrell & team (trim carpentry)!