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Triangle House

DIY, Inspiration By January 22, 2018 No Comments

Gagoghs

The average price for a new construction home in the US in 2017 was $282,853. A typical single-family home goes from a plot of land to four walls of move-in ready space in about seven months. Along the way, the process taps at least two dozen different tradesmen & women and generates around eight thousand pounds of waste. For most people that’s all well and good (except for the waste part) and relatively affordable. Who has the time to build their own home anyway? Trust the people with the skills and have ’em call you when it’s done, right?

If you’re New Mexico artist Gagoghs, you look at your $18,000 budget, your own two hands and say “f$*k all that, I’ll just do it myself.” Four walls? Why not three? The Triangle House may have been born of necessity, but it quickly became Gagoghs’s greatest artistic achievement.

No, Gagoghs is not his real name. But he is a real dude. And a real badass. Save a few exceptions (electrical by Buffalo Solar), every cut, nail, and every slab of concrete was run through the saw, driven home, or poured by Gagoghs himself. So yeah. Badass.

A former Los Angeleno turned high desert dweller, Gagoghs mentions he has no formal training in the construction trade, which makes the fact he built a house alone even more insane. His days in Los Angeles were spent working in the display department at Urban Outfitters, which served as his intro to the trade. “I found I just had a knack for precision, and could easily see in my head how something needed to look in the end,” he says.

Taos

As life tends to do, it eventually whisked Gagoghs away from LA to Philadelphia. He remodeled a house in Philly, but before long felt the pull of The West again. “We had stopped through Taos while moving to Philadelphia,” Gagoghs says. “We couldn’t get it out of our minds.” Not surprisingly, the price to buy a home in Taos was relatively WAY EFFING CHEAPER than LA or Philadelphia. He bought an old rundown earthship that needed a lot of love and got to work. He fixed the place up, built an addition featuring complex concrete pours (self-taught on the job, because duh), and honed his skills a little more.

I’ve never been there myself (yet), but Taos is a pretty magical place from what I’ve gathered. It’s the kind of place where if you’re an absentee homeowner and don’t hire a caretaker, you may come back to find a nest of hippies shacking up in your spot. It’s the kind of place where you can secure ownership of a plot of land by care-taking someone else’s property against said roving hippies & squatters. It’s the kind of place where you can literally eschew your own name, say “F$*k the world, I’m Gagoghs now,” and everyone’s like “Tight.” It’s the kind of place that’s so isolated that if you’re entertaining some dillhole in Minneapolis’s fancy to interview you, you drive to a stretch of road in the middle of nowhere to get cell reception and kick back on the phone while elk pass you by indifferently.

I’ve always been one to feel the pull of The West, and every time I make a trip out that way, I have a real hard time coming back. So help me when I finally make it out to Taos. I can feel the vortex from here.

Triangle House

One of the trades that was completely skipped in the building of Triangle House was an architect. Exactly zero sketches, drawings, blueprints, or renderings of the house were made. Zero. It all existed upstairs in Gagoghs’s head, perfectly rendered and ready to be translated into reality. Why a triangle, you ask? “I just wanted to do something unique,” he says. Well he did that, while also guaranteeing that almost every cut along the way would be custom.

Over the years prior, Gagoghs had collected building materials from Craigslist, architectural salvage vendors, and by “finding shit out in the woods.” Once a plot of land was secured, he rolled up his sleeves, measured 32 foot sides, 60 degree angles, and started pouring concrete. Framing the house alone “was one of the biggest challenges of the whole project,” he says. “Everything had to be dead square, and dead plumb,” which of course all had to start with a perfectly level slab.

Concrete slab down & cured, so began an 18-month grind of daily solo work, one cut at a time. You know how walls are normally framed, where it’s built on the ground then raised up and fixed in place? Yeah, you can’t do that alone. Gagoghs was literally building from the ground up, consulting those drawings in his head along the way. Problems that arose required making adjustments. “But everything pretty much went according to how I envisioned it,” Gagoghs says.

Fast forward thru those 18 months of building, framing, and the daily grind, and Gagoghs was on the home stretch, ready to build the interior rooms and move in. Exhausted from a year and a half of non-stop building, it was time for a relief pitcher.

Cue my brother Sam. “I knew the bathroom needed to be here, the kitchen over there, and the living room there,” Gagoghs says, but he only had a basic idea of the interior’s design. Gagoghs and Sam collaborated to finish the place in style. “We worked six days a week for three months,” Sam said. “It was flawless, we really brought out the best in each other.”

Reclaimed

Aside from plywood sheeting and framing lumber, all of the building materials making up Triangle House are reclaimed or recycled. Remember those years of Craigslisting, architectural salvaging, and back-woods scavenging? Well it paid off, helping to make an $18k budget a reality. Working with reclaimed materials also introduced some other challenges. When nearly all of your materials are reclaimed, you end up having small quantities of lots of different stuff. This is great to add variety, but Sam mentions it could have quickly gone very wrong. “We didn’t want the house to look like a set from Mad Max or a steampunk movie,” he says. “We had to disguise a lot of our materials simply because they were so random. If you’re using an old bed frame to use for your shower wall, you want it to look like a shower wall. We didn’t always try to draw attention to the fact that things were reclaimed. Fully integrating those items into a modern design was such cool challenge. We both have a very clean aesthetic, so getting everything to work in a graphic way was really exciting.”

What’s Next

With the interior of the main level complete, all that’s left is to finish the upstairs living space and some outdoor landscaping. With such an incredible house nearly complete in a town that’s a major tourist destination, Gagoghs admits he could easily make good money renting the space. But that’s not what it’s about for him. “I just love my energy in this space too much to give it up to random people,” he says. “Who knows, maybe one day it can be a museum with all my artwork on display after I’m long dead.”

Museum or not, income-generating or not, who cares? Triangle House is a feat of artistry & self-sufficiency to be sure, but at the end of the day it’s just three walls that house the spirit of a guy who wasn’t out to prove something, but who couldn’t resist the challenge of doing something truly unique & seemingly impossible.

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Behind the Curtains – Kate Carlson

Inspiration By January 11, 2018 No Comments

Behind the Curtains

Howdy! In case you didn’t make it onto Lindsey’s mailing list, we recently posted a new video on our YouTube channel to kick off a new series we’re running this year called Behind the Curtains. Throughout almost a decade of jobs at various design agencies in the Twin Cities, Lindsey has met some truly amazing people. We wanted to take a sneak peek inside their homes and showcase their space, how they make it their own, and give a sense of each person’s individual style. Kate Carlson, a former coworker of Lindsey’s at Ideas that Kick, seemed like a great place to start.

You can of course peep the video below if you haven’t seen it yet, but I wanted to give a behind the scenes look at Behind the Curtains Episode 1 (is that redundant? Ha) and feature a bit more of the interview that didn’t make the final cut. Enjoy!

Kate, Erich, Wally and their home

I won’t belabor the details too much, since it’s covered above in the video, but Kate and her husband Erich bought their home a few years back. As I mentioned, Kate is a graphic designer, and Erich is a swim coach for local youth. Since purchasing their home, they’ve added Wally the Frenchie to their pack, and are happily snuggled into their lovely two bed one bath in the hip Kingfield neighborhood of South Minneapolis. Kingfield is easily one of the hottest neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, and the work they did to spruce it up really brings it in line with the sophistication the neighborhood is known for. The kitchen had been lovingly remodeled before they moved in, but the rest of the space was lacking warmth, brightness and a welcoming feel. With refinished hardwood floors, some fresh paint, bright colors, and a lot of personality from Kate & her artist family, the home was completely transformed.

The bonus interview

So of course there’s only so much from a 30-minute interview that can fit into a 4-minute feature. Here are a few highlights!

Lindsey: What was the home shopping process like, and how was the transition from renting to owning?

Kate: It was super fun looking for houses, but a bit overwhelming. We looked at about 30 houses over the course of a month, and this one ended up being the last one we saw. None of the others had nearly as much character as this one, so we instantly fell in love and just had a connection to it. We loved the fact that we would be so close to restaurants, cause we’re such foodies. The back yard was really charming, which was a bonus since we wanted to get a dog eventually. Plus, Erich is kinda obsessed with bungalow architecture so that really drew us in as well.

The transition to owning was a little scary but nothing too bad. It mostly just freed us up to make decisions that we wanted to that we weren’t able to make when we were renting. Refinishing floors, painting, none of that really feels worthwhile when you’re renting, so it’s just a lot more satisfying making the space truly your own as a homeowner.

Lindsey: What plans do you have for future renovation beyond what you’ve done so far?

Kate: The second story is currently just an unfinished half-story attic, so that space has a ton of potential. Currently the ceiling height isn’t tall enough to accommodate much of anything, so we have plans to bump it out to a full second story – master bedroom, master en suite, kids’ room, and maybe a small kids’ bathroom if there’s enough room. With the house now only being at about 1,000 square feet and our neighbors pretty close to our house, the only direction we can really go with additions is up.

Lindsey: What’s your best find in your house?

Kate: Well I have a little bit of a shopping problem, so I tend to swap things around all the time and there’s always something new & fun. But one thing that I feel like is a solid, lasting piece is my dining room table, which was in my grandparents’ house when I was growing up. My mom was one of seven kids and they all ate around it when she was a kid, so it’s pretty fun to continue that tradition.

Lindsey: Where do you usually go to find inspiration for your house?

Kate: Well being a designer I’m on Pinterest all the time, but I also get a lot of books on interior design. I’m a big fan of Emily Henderson, and I’ve learned a lot from her books. She offers a lot of great advice and teaches you how to style things, so if you get too wrapped up and end up cluttering a room, there are great tips in her books about how to edit and clean up the space.

Lindsey: What do you feel is the best way to utilize color in a home?

Kate: I really love color and sometimes have a hard time taming it back. But my neutrals are typically white, black and navy, and there’s usually a pop of pink or orange – something to help the space feel a little more fun & festive. I really think that if I could get away with it, I would totally put colored tassels everywhere, and hot pink and orange on everything but it becomes too much if it’s not done minimally as an accent.

 

So that’s it for this episode, but make sure to pop over to YouTube and give a thumbs up if you liked this video. Also, if you subscribe and click the bell icon, you’ll get a notification when the next one is released!

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Kitchen Inspiration

House, Inspiration By April 26, 2016 No Comments

Last fall Josh and I tackled probably the biggest project yet – the kitchen. I’ve been dying to share the process and results with you since we started this blog. Before diving into the details, take a look at what we were working with:

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kitchen-before-burn

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kitchen-before-wall

Honestly, things could have been WAY worse. The prior homeowners updated the kitchen probably back in the early 2000’s which was a win/lose for us. The big win was that the cabinets were in pretty good shape, minus some burn marks from improperly installed lights, so we decided to reuse them (Yay, environment!) and paint them to our taste. We were also really happy with the can lighting and ceiling wallpaper, which sort of looks like those vintage ceiling tiles. Literally everything else had to go – beige leaf tiles, laminate flooring/countertops, peach paint…see yah later! The wall dividing the dining room and kitchen also made the space feel really cramped. Opening it up would allow us to wrap the countertop, providing more seating with a couple of bar stools. Thankfully another HUGE win for us was discovering the wall between the dining room and kitchen wasn’t load bearing (initially we thought it was).

As we started making plans for the kitchen, we knew whatever we’d do needed to fit our home. One underlying goal we’ve had all along is to stay true to our house’s history. As a craftsman style built in 1917, our house came with some pretty great features. For example, all of the windows in the living room have original leaded glass, our dining room has a beautiful built-in hutch and the main level has original maple flooring throughout. The way we use our house today differs greatly from a family back in the early 1900’s but we want to honor  the work that went into this house. What does that mean exactly? Well for instance, we’ve decided not to paint our hutch. We also restored the maple flooring. And even though we’ve had some issues with our boiler and radiator heat, we really love the charm those big radiators have.

The Inspiration

A few years ago when Josh and I were out in LA visiting his brother Sam, we fell in love with the tile at Intelligentsia Coffee Shop. I instantly wanted to use the same tile in our kitchen, and after a little digging, I found that the manufacturer was Granada Tile. Here’s the original inspiration from Intelligentsia in LA:

inspiration-intelligentsia

With that in mind, I made a SUPER quick before & after mock-up to visualize the tiles and color palette.

Before and after mockup of kitchen remodel

If you check out the Granada site, make sure to play around with their custom tile tool. It gives you a live preview of the pattern as you select colors. Pretty neat!inspiration-granada-tile

Unfortunately, the concrete tile turned out to be too thick to allow for a smooth transition from hardwood to tile. Plus we wanted to put in a heated floor, which added another layer of complexity. These concrete beauties ended up not being the right ones for this kitchen job, but we’re hoping they’ll find a home somewhere in our house in the future.

Once I convinced myself life could still go on without those tiles, I pulled together some inspiration and we plowed ahead. In addition to finding the right flooring, another high priority on our list was Carrara marble countertops. And our passion for marble grew stronger and stronger as literally EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. told us not to get them. But one thing you should know about Josh and I is that we’re neat freaks. The kind of neat freaks that hang out on a Friday night to reorganize the tupperware cabinet or label our tool bins. So, we were totally up for the challenge of babying our light, porous, and precious countertops.

kitchen_inspirationAs you can see from the inspiration board, we really wanted a timeless, vintage kitchen — something that felt era appropriate but still had a clean, modern feel. To ground the room we chose to do dark lowers and white uppers. And as stated earlier, marble was in the plan all along. Subway tile was also kind of a no-brainer for budget reasons, and with this being our first time laying tile, we wanted to lay something simple that wouldn’t leave us pulling our hair out. So really, the only undecided detail was the floors. Untillllll we found this kitchen. We loved these floors so much we decided to use the same hex pattern, but we wanted to center it between our cabinets and act like a decorative runner. Early on we found knobs and pulls from Restoration Hardware that we just couldn’t resist. These pulls are legit and totally worth the investment. So much so that the knobs might actually weigh more than the cabinet door (which is a strange feeling). To break up the black and white we decided natural wooden accents like a fruit bowl or utensil holder would do the trick.

Okay, so I promise within the next few posts we’ll reveal the final result. But, we have some interesting challenges and mistakes we think you’ll enjoy hearing about first, so stay tuned. Josh is gonna talk next about the process and a couple of the mistakes we made, including setting all the final cabinets in place, only to learn we had an illegal plumbing set up that required us to take some of them back out and knock open a wall again. Fun times, and lesson learned: Always call the plumber FIRST.

Additional photo sources:  1  |  2  |  3

 

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