An Idea

As architects, my husband and I often get the question, “What kind of house would you design for yourself?” Up until about a year ago, the answer was, “I don’t know. We haven’t really thought about it.” As is often the case, the profession you’re in is usually the last service you apply to yourself- the doctor who never gets a checkup, the hairstylist who is always in need of a trim.

When you spend your time, energy and almost every waking hour guiding someone else through the design process, you don’t always have a lot of energy left to devote to your own project. But all of that began to change for us about two years ago when visiting my parents at my childhood home in Florida. Dad began designing and building the home I grew up in a couple years before I came along and I’ve never known another family home. It’s where my parents still live and where, when I say I’m “going home,” I’m referring to. Not only is that a unique position to be in now that I’m in my forties but a meaningful one. More so as the years pass by.

The site of our house on my parents' 5 acre property in central Florida

So, while wandering around the 5 acres “home” is situated on, I started to imagine what it might be like to build a little something of our own on this homestead. What better way to practice what we preach as architects and gain valuable experience while creating an opportunity to be closer to my parents more of the time at this stage in their life.

And so, an idea was born. After picking the site and running the idea past my parents, we began to design. The challenge for us was to create a space where we would be comfortable working and living for several weeks out of the year while not going overboard. Money, time and long term considerations were a huge influence, as is usually the case, as well as our desire to explore and push ideas that aren’t always appropriate for our clients.

Groundbreaking of the first house we ever built for ourselves

A little over a year later, building permit and variance in hand (that’s another story for another time), it was time to start digging, literally. While Chris focused on the “envelope” of the house I wanted to experiment with the interior space and the materials we used inside and out.

We hand dug all the footings
Our friend Anita, me, my mother and my sister. A family affair!
Not so standard concrete countertop

One big goal I had was to use concrete for the kitchen counters. And more than that, I wanted the sink to be integrated into the counter. A poured concrete counter with a drop-in sink had been done. I wanted the sink to be integral with the counter with no change of material. Luckily for me, my brother in-law is a big wig with Increte and was willing to help.

DIY kitchen tiny house
Rich Cofoid and Diego, of Increte Systems, spraying the fiberglass reinforced concrete mix in to the handmade custom molds
DIY kitchen tiny house
Putting the finishing touches on the concrete before letting it harden
DIY kitchen tiny house
The counter was cast in two pieces to prevent breakage in transit. The seam is centered on the opening for the cooktop

The form was built, the concrete was cast, LOTS of grinding and sealing happened and the day came to install this monster monolith. It went in with surprising ease and even more surprising fit. I was thrilled. The countertop/sink/backsplash was even more impressive installed.

DIY kitchen tiny house
Our carpenters, Cotton and Dore, carefully setting in place the first of two sections of the counter
DIY kitchen tiny house
Getting it perfectly leveled

An American Standard

Now, when you design and execute a completely custom concrete countertop with integrated sink, there are many factors to consider. This being our first opportunity to choose our own fixtures I took it very seriously. When I met the ladies from Modenus at KBIS 2017 and learned they had teamed up with American Standard to enlist some Designhounds to take the Beale Touchless Kitchen Faucet for a spin, in their project called Style My Faucet, I couldn’t resist. I was thrilled to be chosen to receive the very latest in kitchen faucet offerings from American Standard.

faucet designhound
The FedEx man pulled up with my new Beale Faucet. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. It was beautiful even in the box. And it was even more beautiful when it fit perfectly in my hard-earned concrete

Unfortunately for me, the thickness of the countertop and how that affects faucet install, was not top on my mind.  This became clear when it came time to install the faucet.  When we dropped the temporary faucet in to the designated hole in the counter, the stem on the faucet wasn’t deep enough to clear the bottom of the concrete. Crap. This was looking like a really complicated, messy situation and I was about at the end of my resources. Literally, right then, the FedEx man pulled up with my new Beale Faucet. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. It was beautiful even in the box. And it was even more beautiful when it fit perfectly in my hard-earned concrete counter.

faucet designhound
faucet designhound

From the moment we dropped the stem through the hole in the concrete the Beale was a dream to install. Sleek and dignified it was the perfect accompaniment to the polished concrete. Without being fussy, this faucet delivers all the modern technology we have come to expect at our kitchen sink. Touchless operation, pull down spray, water savings features and ease of use. Style-wise, I wanted something that could hold its own with the poured counter and sink without competing. The Beale is so streamline and sculptural, like the simplicity of the concrete, that it looks right at home.

faucet designhound
faucet designhound
faucet designhound

It's safe to say the delivery of this faucet was a high point in our project and continues to enhance what is one of the main design features in our home-away-from home. Thank you, American Standard, and thank you Modenus for delivering just the right product at just the right time! I love becoming a Designhound!

This is a sponsored blog post.  All editorial content is entirely my own opinions and perspectives.

This project is a design-build collaboration with Jones Pierce Structures. LG Squared, Inc. is the architect of record and the construction project manager for this, and many exciting high performance projects in the future. For more info on this project and other good practices of architecture, building science and high performance homes, check out our Instagram, Facebook and YouTube Channel


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