Thursday, June 26, 2008

Master Bathroom Redesign


My brother has been hard at work on our construction drawings and has made fantastic progress. In fact, we probably have a few posts to do to update on all of the little decisions that we've had to make over the last 2-3 weeks. One of the most impactful new updates is a re-design of the master bathroom that my brother just completed.

Original Design (click to enlarge)

Two things were a problem in the original master bathroom design. First, there was no shower depicted, and we definitely wanted a separate bath and shower as it has been Molly's dream to have a jacuzzi bathtub for a long time and this doesn't make the best combo bath/shower. But there really is no place to fit even a tiny shower in this design (it would go where the little closet is near the toilet) and so the wall behind the sinks would have to be moved, which then screws up the walk-in closet. And speaking of the walk-in closet, the fireplace flue has to go straight through the closet, which takes up space. Not only this, but apparently, per code, it should be covered be a small wall that encloses it (which isn't a bad idea anyway because it might be a little hot when a fire is going). So, all in all, the master bathroom needed a complete re-design. I think my brother's re-design is much better than the original.

Re-Design (click to enlarge)

Ah, much better. A 3' by 3' shower has been added in the bath/toilet area, and this area has been enlarged slightly to accommodate the shower. In order to allow this expansion, the door from the bathroom to the nursery/guest bedroom has been removed and the sinks have been placed where the door was. There's now a spot for the flue to go through the walk-in closet, and the closet has even been expanded! We lost some little closets in the bathroom area, but I think that's the right way to go and we can always figure out storage in other places and even use a small cabinet in the closet. And getting rid of the door was a great idea, the door wasn't necessary. When the baby is crying in the middle of the night, we were just going to end up going straight down the hall to the bedroom door anyway. Now the nursery also has more wall space for dressers and other things, so it seems like a bigger room.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

George W. Bush: America's First Catholic President?


How's that for a provocative title? But, it may in fact be true! Oh sure, JFK was Catholic, but he famously played down the role of his faith in his presidency, and considering the sort of "Catholic in name only" approach of most of the Kennedy family, their pro-choice stance and social liberalism, it's hard to really call JFK a particularly Catholic president. George W. Bush, on the other hand, has had a deep affinity with the Catholic faith, which has been clear in the number of Catholic advisors with which he has surrounded himself, the number of Catholic judges he has nominated to the bench, his extremely friendly relationship with both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, and his clear and overt references in his policies to many Catholic principles and teachings. So if Bill Clinton can be called the nation's first "black president," perhaps George W. Bush is truly the nation's first "Catholic president."

Except that soon, we may be able to remove the quotes around "Catholic president."

If I wasn't suspicious before (due to the many meetings President Bush has had with Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict, and his recent pomp and circumstance welcoming of Pope Benedict to the White House), I really became suspicious when I heard President Bush was to meet with Pope Benedict AGAIN last week on his farewell tour of Europe. "Again?! He just had Pope Benedict at the White House a month ago." Something's up here. I immediately thought that President Bush wanted to discuss something specific with the Pope. Perhaps converting to the Catholic faith?

The backstory is that President Bush's good friend, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, just converted to the Catholic faith a few months ago after scheduling a special meeting with Pope Benedict to discuss the matter. He is formerly an Anglican.

Also, President Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, has already converted to the Catholic faith some years ago, and Jeb's wife is also Catholic. Throw in the fact that President Bush has been rumored to be discussing the matter with some close Catholic advisors, such as Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the journal First Things, and I think there are some significant legs to this story. Prime Minister Blair waited (understandably) until he was out of office to convert to the Church, and President Bush would likely do the same. So it will likely be some time until we know for sure. But, here's the low down from elsewhere in the media:

A Catholic Wind in the White House -- The Washington Post

Bush 'May Convert to Catholicism' -- The Independent

George W Bush Meets Pope Amid Claims He Might Convert to Catholicism -- The Telegraph

Will President Bush Convert to Catholicism? -- Catholicism Blog

Bush Becoming a Catholic? --

English Paper Announces President Bush May Be Considering Catholicism -- Catholic News Agency

I don't think it's a slam dunk yet, but I'm reaching the point where I think I'll be surprised if he doesn't convert.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Architectural similarities with David Salmela


The summer has been going well for the Koop family, as you can probably tell from our low frequency of posting lately. We've been very busy!

I have had a chance to get some more books from the library, and the best I read was definitely...
It's a compilation of all of all of the architecture of David Salmela, whom I think, after the recent death of Ralph Rapson, is the most famous architect from Minnesota. Certainly, at least from the standpoint of residential architecture, he's one of the best in the country and has won many national awards for the homes he has designed. He's definitely one of my favorite architects as well, as he uses classic materials (wood, brick, stone) in modern ways so that his home achieve what most of modern architecture does not: "timeless design". Most modern buildings run the risk of being fads in design, whereas David Salmela's homes will stand the test of time and still be well thought-of decades from now.

As I was going through this book, the architectural similarities between Salmela's designs and our home project were striking. First, he uses multiple adjacent peaks frequently, just as my brother has done above our garage, and virtually all of his homes are in Minnesota and experience the same Minnesota winter that our home will. Somewhat unsurprisingly, it looks like his homes have survived just fine (without any special drainage that I can see) and the world has not devolved into chaos and anarchy :-) (click any of them to enlarge)
There's even some nice examples of snow drifting between the peaks.

Another similarity between Salmela's architecture and our home design is the use of partial wall, or walls that partially separate spaces while still keeping an open feel. Our home design has many of these on the first floor. Here's a few from Salmela's homes (click any to enlarge):
The windows on the last pic are very similar to those we will have in our family room area.

One last thing I noted was Salmela's use of shed dormers in homes where he is also using the simple gable vernacular form. These types of dormers are an option proposed for our chapel roof to let light in from above and create a visually interesting ceiling. My brother wondered whether they fit with the rest of the look of the home, but I think Salmela shows they can be used effectively. (click either to enlarge)

One thing I'm very concerned with is detailing of the interior of the home, and I like this motif of closely spaced vertical wood boards that shows up in Salmela's homes frequently. I think we could consider something like this for the stairway wall as it rises from the family room. We also have other "mission" style furniture that would play off this motif. (click any to enlarge)

In fact, this motif was also used on outer face of Salmela's newest Minnesota home, which just won the Grand Award for a custom home of 3,500 sq. ft. or less in the 2008 Residential Architect Design Awards (a very competitive annual competition with over 1,300 entries). This design also shows Salmela's versitility and shows that he's comfortable working with all types of forms.

Monday, June 16, 2008

It's Another Cute One!!

On May 21 I had a first trimester ultrasound to check the baby and determine an accurate due date. I was pleased to see Baby Koop dancing around and enjoying life so early. In this photo, Henry/Greta (or Henrietta, as Baby has been affectionately named by Uncle Evan) even looks like he/she has a little smile on his/her face!! At the time of the ultrasound, they estimated a December 10 due date, however, all four Koop babies have been 8-10 days overdue, so we'll still be planning on an arrival around December 17 (our original estimate). Your continued prayers for a healthy pregnancy are much appreciated. Thank you for all of the support in these early weeks...things seem to be turning around a bit and I hope to be feeling very well by July! :) God is good!