Monday, February 23, 2009

Ideabox and Adair Home at The Portland Home Garden Show

Yesterday we had a brilliant afternoon, so I finished up some work early and went to the Home and Garden show at the Portland Expo Center. I had been there once before , several years ago, but this year I went to specifically to check out two housing concepts: Ideabox, and Adair homes.

Placed amongst brilliant installations of garden and patio art, the homes represented what may be new, more appropriate ways of thinking about homes and their place in urban/suburban areas. The homes were placed in relatively small spaces, with landscaping development that spoke to two complete different profiles of customers- one, a DINK (Double Income No Kids) and one a small, traditional family.

Ideabox was the obvious appeal to the DINKs- a small elegantly appointed space with the sort of finishes that would appeal to the modern buyer- light bamboo floors, low VOC paint, clean lines, stainless steel appliances and a kitchen island, ideal for eating and cooking. The interior was done by Design Within Reach, with modern Scandinavian furniture. The exterior was landscaped by Sycamore Designs, who imagined a couple who was hardworking, and need a retreat. According to the story for the home, one spouse loved going to spa and having wine, and one spouse loved golf.

Thus the design of the landscaping was to have a California inspired outdoor living room, with a fireplace, a outdoor kitchen ( with a grill, a small fridge and drinks dispenser), semi permeable pavers, a mini putting green, and a hot tub on a deck built outside the house. All of this, on a space that approximately 45’ x 60’ – a little more than half of a standard 50’x100 plot that would be sold in Portland. With some tweaking, a developer or a group of friends could put these sleek modular units on one standard city plot, and save quite a bit on development costs. Construction of Idea box would take about 6 weeks. Buttoning would take an additional week

The problem with Ideabox is financing and the placement of interior spaces. You must have a plot ready with utilities- and many plots in Beaverton/Portland metro are still overpriced. Placement of utilities, foundation and buttoning would run between 12K-20K in costs, in addition to the Ideabox itself ($85,000 for the confluence, $20,000 for additional ‘cubes’). Add another $7K for modern Swedish furniture and another for $10K for stylish landscaping.

The interior spaces are streamlined and sleek, with the living spaces in the middle of the home and sleeping spaces at the ends- really ideal for privacy in a small family or roommates, or having an home office in one space without it spilling out into the living space. The only issue I have the narrowness of the living space- a mere 14’. This cuts down on possible costs for oversized loads going down highways, but there is not enough space for a dining table for when the deck is not a suitable option ( like 6 months of the year).

We then moved on the more traditional Adair homes, which have a building system based on a sort of Craftsman sort of architecture, but I think it appeals best to a small traditional family. The model was one level, 1290 sq ft home neatly landscaped with decking, small evergreens and bulb flowers- easy to care for, easy to switch out if needed, and unfortunately easy to forget. The interior was not finished, but was diagrammed to show the floor plan when finished. The flow of space was not particularly imaginative – two wings of a home, separated by a long, narrow hall, small bedrooms and somewhat cramped baths. The space flow is not helped by the garage being a whopping 20’x 20’ feet- making the garage the largest space in the home. There is something wrong when the living room and master bedroom are the same size, when the garage is bigger than both.

But what Adair offered to many families is very appealing- help in securing land and financing, ecologically friendly insulation and paint, and quick turnaround- once everything is set, construction can be complete in about 120 days. The exterior finish of the homes are wonderful- strong, low VOC, non fading paint, composite wood siding with a 50 year warranty, composite decking with same. The exterior of the home will look bright and strong for years, with little to no maintenance- very good for young, busy, growing families.

The overall message, even with the miniature sized appliances and such, is that of comfort, affordability, sustainability and stability. A good message for any Portland metro buyer or person looking for home, and just a house.


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Monday, February 16, 2009

Nerd's tribute to Ricardo Montalban

He acted for over 60 years, had a terrific marriage and 4 kids, and acted in a variety of roles, from Lain lover to musicals and adventures to tv dramas and off broadway roles.

Ricardo Montalban- god, how he ruled.

Here is a bit from Star Trek II:

And now look at a very young Ricardo in this musical, holding his own against the goddess of American Dance Cid Charisse:

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No love

For me, sometimes February feels like the shortest and longest month. In terms of our new leadership, it must feel very short indeed, and yet a whole bunch of bills just got passed, and one whopper of a stimulus/jobs package, which made it's way through. Damn. That's a lot to get done in just 3 1/2 weeks ( yes, remember, Obama was just sworn in on Jan 19th).

Amazing. I need to become more productive in that way. I started my bike project, but it's not ready for Congress. But then again, I don't have the biggest and brightest brains in the country helping me out, so I will give myself a pass. A small one.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Stimulus The Opera

So, the economy. It’s on everybody’s mind. And so we had a stimulus package that was equal to 3% GDP. The thing is, it looks like our stimulus package will be a lot weaker (apparently mass transit and support our national factories is somehow ‘wild pork barrel spending’). The President, despite having the Republicans over for dinner and drinks, was not Bipartisan enough.


So, it seems that Mr. Obama’s patience has now run thin, and thus now the hard push- the interviews on TV, the speeches to wimpy Democrats and the not so subtle exhortation that “the voters chose different”, of course meaning that the voters chose him.

And of course the for this is we, the people, stuck with watching the either the economic abyss or the possible Renaissance- but we don’t the ending at all.

They are all still singing.

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