055 Guerilla Furniture Design

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My guest this week is designer, craftsman, carpenter and educator Will Holman. Will is the author of Guerilla Furniture Design and many how-to articles for magazines and web sites. During the podcast we discuss:

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

054 Digital Design Tools on the Homestead

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Our topic this week is using digital design tools such as Sketchup to conceptualize and build simple projects around your house or apartment. Our guest is designer John Zapf, proprietor of  Zapf Architectural Renderings and the genius behind our chicken run. During the podcast we discuss:

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Restoring a Built-in Ironing Board

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If the original inhabitants of our old house found themselves teleported to the present, I imagine the first question they’d ask is why people go out in public wearing (me included) what to 1920s sensibilities would seem like baggy and wrinkled pajamas. The presence of a built-in ironing board in our kitchen indicates the centrality of ironing and a commitment to well pressed shirts and dresses back in the 1920s. If I were an archeologist, I’d be tempted to call these 1920s folks an “iron age” people.

But then this happened:

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Apparently, in the 1960s there was just too much strenuous “action” to bother with ironing. Around this time or at some later date, the previous inhabitants of our house converted the ironing board into an awkward spice rack. I guess all the “action” required seasoning.

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Restoring the ironing board was one of the first things I did when we moved into this house back in 1998. I just looked at some pictures of built-in ironing boards in an old copy of the Sears Home Catalog, cut out a piece of MDF and covered it in ironing board material. I attached a dowel to the back of the board that slides in a track in the lower portion of the cabinet. But somehow the commitment to iron-worthy fashion did not follow.

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On my bucket list is a much overdue attempt to dress better. Our neighborhood produces eccentrics such as the late Silver Lake Walker and Five Dollar Guy so I could dress like a 1920s monopoly man and nobody would notice. Just another aging hipster! But I need not push this fashion thoughtstyling into self parody. Perhaps some moderate ironing and a commitment to looking just a bit better would suffice.

Do you use an ironing board? How often?

053 Breakfast Nook Theory

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On this week’s podcast Kelly and I discuss our recent breakfast nook remodel and conclude with Kelly’s ideas about how to choose paint colors. I’m so lucky to have a resident Master of Fine Arts! We’re also lucky to have a digital copy of Architectural Graphics Standards!

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

How to Make a Breakfast Nook Comfortable

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When our house was built in 1920, breakfast nooks were somewhat of a builder’s gimmick, cute, but not that comfortable. Take a look at the ad above. Do those benches look like a place you’d like to hang out in? How about the bench to table distance? Do you see yourself leaning far over your bowl of cereal? If you’re seating more that two, what about the person that has to slide into the window side of the nook?

Our breakfast nook served as fodder for some of our most fraught marital squabbles. Kelly looked at the nook and saw potential for storage and work space. I held to my line of not altering the historical details of our old house. We both agreed that changes needed to be made. We had, after all, voted with our derrieres. Neither of us used the breakfast nook for anything other than as a repository for junk. Here is our nook, as it looks today, after some changes we made to make it more comfortable:

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Those changes were made possible thanks to handy a resource called Architectural Graphics Standards. AGS, offers a set of standard measurements for everything from table height to the length of a fencing pistes. When it comes to furniture, just a half an inch can make the difference between comfort and discomfort. The main problem with our nook was that the depth of the benches were at the very minimum recommended by the AGS. So we extended the benches by a few inches:

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As you can see, the cat approves.

Another problem was the size of the table in our nook. By shortening the table, we made it a lot easier to get in and out of the nook:

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Of course, you can’t serve a dinner for four in the nook with such a short table, but we see it more as a place to gather and for the two of us to have breakfast (it is a breakfast nook, after all).

Kelly did a great job with the hard work of sewing pillows and cushions and painting all the trim and walls. And, yes, that is a functioning built-in ironing board on the left in the wide shot. More on that in another post.