On April 15, 2008 we closed on a 1955 Mid-Century Modern home in Merriam, KS that was custom designed by the late Donald R. Hollis of Hollis + Miller Architects. We will be sharing our journey as we update the house to make it our own, while trying to stay as close to the original design as possible.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Black Dog Bar (in Theory)

Over 7 years ago, LD bought a wooden sign that adverstised "Black Dog Bar and Guide Service". Two of our dogs are black labs, and one of Morgan's nicknames is "Black Dog". She is the type of dog that would be quite happy just hanging out, so LD loved the idea of setting up a bar and calling it "Black Dog Bar". The funny thing is that LD doesn't even drink! That did not deter her, however, and she began her obsession with finding black dog bar memorabilia.

A search on ebay led her to discover Spanish Peaks Brewery. Spanish Peaks Brewery (at that time in Bozeman, Montana) had incorporated the owner's black lab, Chugwater Charlie, into their labels. She fell in love instantly, and started buying specific items from Spanish Peaks Brewery. The only problem was that the brewery had gone out of business and their merchandise was only available through on-line auctions. It was fun to sit on the sidelines and watch collectors become involved in some heavy bidding wars!

Spanish Peaks Black Dog Ale Label

Over the years, LD bought several beer taps, glasses, coasters, a banner, and several tins. Her Holy Grail, however, was a neon sign. The first time she came across one, it sold for over $500.oo which was way too much for somebody on a graduate student salary. It would be at least 5 years before another one emerged on ebay. The seller, however, was in California and would not ship. LD decided to ask my sister if she would be willing to pick it up for her, and hold onto it until we could drive to California to pick it up. My sister was gracious enough to go pick it up, and hold on to it. That sign completed her collection, but we did not have the space in our previous house for a bar!

When we walked into this house, LD knew that the"mid-level" room was going to be the future home of her Black Dog Bar. The previous owner used it as a dining room, but we are not really dining room people.

Since we bought the house, LD has had a difficult time trying to figure out what the bar should look like. She wants it to match the style and spirit of the house-Organic. But all the bars she has seen so far are too traditional and visually "heavy". So she figured she was going to have to design it herself.

Well, LD finally figured out one of the main components of the bar, which would match the interior of the house perfectly. She found some resin/acrylic plant panels to use for the base of the bar with a soft backlight. This would work extremely well, especially since LD worked with native warm-season grass.

At this point in time, everything is theoretical. She showed me some photos (see below) of what it could look like, and the idea is quite stunning if she can pull it off. Time will tell.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Katy's Modeling Gig for Purina

Last weekend LD got a call from one of her friends at Purina. Purina is redesigning some of their dog food bags, and needed a black lab with a specific look. LD's friend told Purina that Katy was a perfect candidate. So LD submitted some of Katy's photos to their marketing representative, and they told her to bring Katy. We took Friday off, and drove to the Blackhawk Valley Hunt Club for the photo gig. And Katy took a break from search and rescue to try her paw at a new job.

The photo shoot was scheduled to start at 10:00am this morning, so we all got up pretty early to drive to the Hunt Club. Katy, who is definitely not a morning dog, slept the whole way there (lucky dog).

Katy trying to find her best angle

They wanted to take some photos in the fields, so we were driven out to the Club's grass fields. It was HOT, but Katy was very patient!!!! They wanted to take a photo with her mouth closed, but she kept panting. However, they managed to get some shots with her tongue in her mouth.

Katy smiling for the camera

The photo shoot was for their Canine Advantage dog food line. We were told that the redesigned food bag would take about two months for development, but it will probably roll out in the first Quarter of 2010.

For a job well done, they are going to give LD the photo of Katy, and several printed food bags. We plan to put them up in Black Dog Bar (more to come on Black Dog Bar!).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Busy Weekend

We had a very productive weekend.  We started off with stripping the rest of the cabinets.  However, we did take a break yesterday to attend the Studio 804 Open House (thanks to KC Modern for giving us the heads up).  I was looking forward to attending it all week, so were a million others!  

I also took some time to finally drop off my car at Uhaul to the have the trailer light harness checked.  The last two times we rented a trailer, my lights were not "connecting" with the trailer lights.  With our upcoming trip to Ikea, I wanted to make sure that the light harness was working.  It turned out that there was nothing wrong with my wiring.  So the trailer's lights that I had been renting was the problem all along.  

Last month "DMS" left a comment stating that Donald Hollis' (architect of our home) house in Overland Park was up for sale.  In her comment, she stated that the house needed more work than she and her husband could do.  After dropping off my car at Uhaul, LD decided to drive by the house to see if it was still on the market.  It was, so we stopped, and did what any curious person would do-we peeked through the windows.  The house was in horrific condition!!!  Seeing the house in that condition really broke my heart.  It really does need a lot of work, but the location and lot are nice.  If anyone is up for a challenge, the address is 7642 Hemlock, Overland Park, KS.  I tried searching for it in the MLS Listings, but I could not find it.  It is being sold by an independent real estate agent, but I didn't pay attention to the name because I figured it would be listed.

As of 4:36pm today, all of the cabinets have been stripped!!  HOORAY!!!!  I wish we could say that we sanded everything, but we have 7 doors and the cabinet frames (along the wall) yet to sand.  LD has already promised herself that she will never strip and sand kitchen cabinets ever again!!  However, I can't make that same statement.  LD forgets that there are still 3 built-in
 cabinets that still have to be stripped-sanded-stained-etc!!  But those will wait for now.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Kitchen Progress

LD had a little too much fun with the sledge hammer.  Our interesting mosaic backsplash, which people either loved or were puzzled by, is now history.  We still need to relocate the switch for the garbage disposal, and replace all the drywall before they can make a template for the countertops.  

Ordering the kitchen countertops really motivated us to complete work on the kitchen cabinet stripping and sanding.  We managed to get all of the cabinets in the kitchen island stripped and sanded yesterday.  LD and I finally got the stripping down to a science.  Well, LD got it down to a science.  It turned out that I was using a lot more stripper than I had too.  LD set me straight, and taught me that less is better.  Who knew?  

Early this morning we started cleaning a sticky mystery substance (we think it is old molasses or maple syrup) that was spilled who knows how long ago.  It was all over the sides of two cabinets and throughout the drawer glides.  The mystery substance corroded some of the drawer glides, which we thought about replacing, but we discovered that we could remove most of the rust with the Dremel grinder attachment.  

While removing the old handles, we stripped several screws.  We could have bought new screws, but we never really cared about the handles because they are actually small-we kept scraping our nails on the wood everytime.  So we drove around looking looking for new cabinet handles.  After finding the handles, we decided to spend a couple hours at the movies to see the new Star Trek movie (which is pretty good by the way).   

You know, it is very difficult to put anything on the newly stripped/sanded cabinets.  After all that work we are afraid of not achieving the vision we have in our heads.  We thought we could stain them today.  Unfortunately, we are still experimenting with the right application technique (penetration time, wood conditioner vs no conditioner, etc).  Can we achieve the right color with the stain that we currently have?  

So we are finally working on warp speed (sorry couldn't resist, just came back from watching Star Trek).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Countertops Have Been Ordered!

We set up an appointment with Pia Designs for concrete countertops.  Pia Designs was great, they took the time to meet with us and listen to what we wanted.  Unfortunately,  we decided that the look that we really wanted we could not afford for both the kitchen and master bath.  However, we will have them fabricate the trough sink for the master bathroom, and decided to go with Silestone countertops for the kitchen.

Once we made our decision, we went to Home Depot and checked out several Silestone samples.  When we got there, we found out that Home Depot was having an awesome discount on countertops, and an additional discount on Silestone!  Talk about fate!!!  Only thing was that we had to decide by 5pm that day because that was the last day for one of the discounts.

LD and I had a hard time agreeing on what we liked, but we narrowed it down to two (bamboo and Ivory Coast).  I decided that we needed another opinion, so we asked one of our neighbors to help us decide.  In order to make sure our neighbor's choice was unbiased, we decided not to tell her which two samples were in the final heat.  In less than a minute, Jennifer eliminated all the other samples and decided on bamboo.  The colors in the bamboo sample really tied everything together.  So we placed our order for 79 square feet of countertop-thank goodness for Home Depot's 20% discounts!