The window sill
There's a very unhappy meeting of the window, counter and window sill in the exisitng bath. The "robust victorian" casing around the window is about 6" wide with a corresponding 6" apron below. I just saw that Daltile makes a pre-fabricated beveled window sill in various stones including carrera marble.
I had considered just having the window sill fabricated from left over pieces from the countertop and that's what we may still do. Horizontal surfaces, particularly in moist areas like a bathroom are probably better served with a non-organic - easily washable surface. Since we're thinking of using carrera marble on the countertop, it could simplify and improve the meeting of materials. I'm also thinking of removing the wood casings and apron in a move towards a more consistent sleek look. The contrast between old and new that we had attempted before did not work out as well as it could.
I'm using Google sketchup to explore ideas. Its a great free modeling software product that many people including architects are using.
Right now the tub is set against the left wall and there is a low platform at the right end of the tub (not visible). It is tiled in white and has become a catch-all of clutter and ugly grout. The curtain rod is suspended from the 11' ceiling -- all in an attempt to recreate an original victorian feel.
We wanted to keep the tub from feeling too enclosed so we are not using a shower enclosure. I wanted to eliminate the platform so my first thought was to furr out the wall to meet the tub but that made the area seem constricted. Furring out the wall at the toilet end seemed a better option to eliminate the platform. I thought using a darker tile platform to set the tub in place would minimize the ugly grout issue. Finally, I wanted to eliminate the suspended curtain ring. The wall receiving the curtain rod at the foot of the tub does not extend far enough out to receive the rod so this rod bends back to the wall.
Pre-fabricated shampoo niches are made by Tile Redi, Noble Niche, and others. I haven't used either product so this is not an endorsement.
Minimizing the clutter of bottles is a good thing, particularly if everyone has their own special product.
Traditionally these niches are hand fabricated on-site by the installer or a ceramic soap dish can be used. The ceramic soap dish is usually too small for anything beyond soap and it can be kind of clunky visually.
Now there are prefabricated units that can be recessed into the wall and the ceramic tile can be installed over it to form a continuous tile surface of the same material. Theoretically this should have a better waterproof seal as there are fewer exposed joints. I wonder if there is even a better way to hide the clutter?
Mies van der rohe's famous quote, "less is more" has intrigued architects for most of the 20th century and he is considered a foremost proponent of the minimalist design approach. Although there was a flirting with post-modern longings for historical reference, the minimalist aesthetic is a strong as ever today.
Minimalist Door Detail
Although less is visible, it takes more time to detail and skilled craftsmanship to deliver a superior product.
I tried this minimalist approach recently on a project on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. When you look at this photo of the trimless flush installed door, what you see is not just the plane of the wall and door, but suddenly the joint separating the wall and door presents itself. In this case it is straight, parallel, and crisp.
I wouldn't have attempted this without the help of a master craftsman - Kenji. I'm thrilled with the result and so is my client.
Kenji is from Japan and is a master Japanese carpenter and furniture builder. His work is second to none. Thanks Kenji.
Here is a sketch and photo of the existing conditions.
The only thing original in the room is the wood wainscot. It was stripped of many layers of paint in 1975 when I first bought the house. The result was a fairly dull slightly damaged brown surface. Years later, we had it stained and varnished to try and improve the appearance, but it wasn't much of an improvement.
Chris has been patient with my attachment to the "original" wainscot although a few years ago she sent me a message by painting a small section white. Well I guess I'm ready now. The wainscot is going to go. The wainscot is old clear heart redwood so it would be a shame to just trash it. Maybe the backside is in pristine condition and we could use it another way? Stay tuned.
Got a garage? You've got a cafe. That's what Vega Cafe is.
Create your cafe by opening your garage door! That's Vega Cafe. No problem telling if it open or closed. If its open it's open. Busy Folsom Street doesn't get a lot of foot traffic, but there's usually a parking space close by. I stop here regularly on my way to work for my Americano and Blue Bottle Coffee. Great guys work there and the coffee is the best!
Getting an iphone has changed how I look at things. I'm amazed at the fun I've had taking pictures. Even before aiming, you see something amazing. All you have to do is press the shutter and voila! Something great is all around us. All we have to do is notice.
February 2, 2011: I stopped by Vega cafe to get some Blue Bottle coffee and noticed the first blossoms of spring. Striking in its loveliness and delicacy in gritty SOMA. I was so taken with the pleasing composition of the motorcycle nuzzling the tree that I sent a copy to Katie.
March 31, 2011 I stopped by Vega again this morning and looked at the tree again. It was the same time of day but 2 months later. Both days were clear and bright, winter lingering in the crisp February air. Today it will be in the 80's - hot for San Francisco. The morning air already anticipates the heat to come.
The tree has shed the blossoms and is now crowned with purple leaves. The motorcycle is gone, its rider off to new adventures. The composition sucks. The space around the tree filled and congested. The car and woman crowd and obscure the shape of the tree. Even the foreground shadow of a pickup in the earlier photo is gone. Ugh for the composition.
It's been 2 months. The same yet not the same. Am I the same person? The tree has done quite well in being a tree. Have I done as well? These two months will come again only in memory. Time moves forward.