Category Archives: See how others live

See how others live and let them know what YOU think!

Cartoon-like home in Thailand cost just $8.000 to build!


It reminded me of the Maison Bulles house for Pierre Cardin on the French south coast. And it reminded me of another real live version of the Flinstones’ home. Either way, this is a clever piece of work. The owner built this wonderful little home for as little as $8.000. His name is Steve Areen, once a flight attendant for Delta, now non conventional entrepeneur making money with music, photography, blogging and, as this project shows, by saving money on living costs. He used materials sources from the local area and did most of the work himself saving on labour costs. It took him only 6 weeks nonetheless.

Dome house by Steve Areen / photo: Inhabitat.com

Dome house by Steve Areen / photo: theownerbuildernetwork.com

Dome house bathroom by Steve Areen / Photo: Inhabitat

Dome house by Steve Areen / photo: Izona

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The hunt for the perfect, inexpensive kitchen island


Our kitchen was fitted by the company that renovated and revamped the building we live in. It’s nice, supposedly a high-end brand, but we miss space. Both for cooking and for storage. We have a lot of cookbooks, a lot of oils, vinegars and herbs, and because we live in an apartment, we need space to store empty bottles and paper. Moreover, we are in desperate need of an extra, small, fridge.

Kitchen as seen from dining room

Kitchen as seen from dining room

Same, but different angle. The two double doors on the right are our fridge and freezer

Same, but different angle. The two double doors on the right are our only fridge and freezer

View from kitchen towards the window

View from kitchen towards the window

If we were to have designed our own kitchen we would’ve put in an island of some sort. Plus we would have made use of the space under the window and created a u-shaped lay-out. As you can see we put two shallow storage units together to create a make-shift island, but it’s not ideal. It looks messy and still doesn’t give us the extra space we want. And there’s no room for an extra fridge.  Time for the real deal. As usual though, my challenge is to find something that is functional, but not expensive.

So yeah, this, for say a maximum of $150? I know I can…..

I went on a scavenger hunt online looking for existing work stations, kitchen islands, vintage desks, tables etc, but couldn’t really find anything that fit our needs. Mind you, it needed to allow us to store books, small kitchen items, a few drawers, a mini fridge and ideally also our garbage bin. It therefore needed to not be too open, a certain height to allow preparing food on it, a certain size to fit in the kitchen and ideally something that wouldn’t alienate prospect buyers as we are making looking to sell in the next few years….More and more I started to realise I might had to build something myself.

Have you guys ever heard of Ikea Hacks? There’s a whole world out there of people, the so-called hackers, using Ikea furniture for other, or better, uses then they are designed for. I check out the various websites and blogs frequently and stumbled upon a few kitchen island or bar ideas using the Ikea Expedit. A simple, cheap and understated storage unit.

I like how here you can see how a dark counter top makes it look a bit more solid.

As the Expedit is only 79cm high, and our kitchen is about 93, we would also need to put wheels or other underneath

We would also use two to create this L-shape. It would hide the fridge and allow for the garbage bin to be hidden too. This example still looks very cheap and frail though

This is starting to look like what I have in mind!

I really want the result to look as if it was part of the original kitchen design. So what I am thinking of doing is buying the high gloss white Expedits, adding a few of the high gloss doors and drawers. It looks a bit better and the white tends to turn a bit beige over time, which would be great as our kitchen is off white too. To match the counter top with our black granite kitchen one, I could opt for painting the work top faux granite. Or maybe I could fine a real granite counter top second-hand somewhere. Furthermore, I would  add height by putting black baseboards underneath, like our own kitchen has. And, I might even go as far as to attach the Tyda handles on the drawers to match the ones we have in our kitchen. All in all I think it would look like a proper island with tons of space and plenty of room in the nook of the L to put a mini fridge and a garbage bin. The total cost would be about $150. Not bad I think…..Yeah, I guess it’s time for a trip to Ikea soon!

Check out my Pinterest mood-board. I will keep you posted. In the mean time, any other suggestions are more than welcome!

Bathroom retile. Black and whites


A last post before I leave for a well deserved trip to Tuscany!

Our bathroom is showing some serious wear and tear. It’s a shame really because it’s not that old. It was installed and tiled in 2007, and looked good for about ten minutes before the tiles started fading. They are big grey slate tiles, and to be honest; I am a bit fed up with those anyway. They were a bit too much of a trend so you now see them in all renovations done between 2006 and 2010. Time for a re-tile it is.

Current bathroom. The floor is not visible, but believe me when I say it looks nothing like the slate on the walls anymore

Current bathroom tiles. They look great on the wall, it’s the floor where the problems start

 

 

You can see the faded tiles in the shower. They tick me off each day and it's just not worth it.

You can see the faded tiles in the shower. They tick me off each day and it’s just not worth it.

We are leaving the grey slate on the walls, and I am thinking of treating them with an oil finish to make them stand out. For the floor I am either thinking black and white, or just white. Either way, a smaller tile as I think the contrast with the bigger grey slate will look great. Have a look at some of the pictures I collected on my pinterest moodboard. I looked for pictures with a distinct darker colour on the walls to highlight the contrast between the floor and walls.

Love this. It obviously means I’ll have to infuse my bathroom with a few more brocante or antique-ish items, but I guess I could give our bathroom a similar feel. Painting the bathroom rack black or dark grey/blue is a start. Maybe add a small chair?

A clean look, with small white tiles. They are not expensive either. I’d make the seams between the tiles a bit thicker to really show the contrast. And I’d make them dark. This because it would look better, but also because white seams are a nightmare to keep clean

 

Love this too. Small round tiles, the so-called ‘penny rounds’, found in many American bathrooms from 1940’s and 1950’s. I love how they instantly give character to a bathroom

 

I also thought of maybe going for a more elaborate floor with a massive contrast effect. But as we are thinking of maybe putting up the house for sale next year, this might not be too great an idea…..

Just look at the floor in this one as the rest is a bit tacky. I do have a thing for marble though….. I bet this would look great with the rugged, dark slate…. But I am dreading even thinking of the final invoice….

 

What do you reckon I should do?

 

 

What $2.950.000 buys you in New York.. and in Amsterdam


A recent post on one of my favourite blogs, The Real Estalker, featured a modest two bedroom apartment in NYC. I am no newbie to international real estate so know that prices tend to be, well, insane there, but this surprised me. The 1,486 square feet apartment is listed for $2,950.000….

Don’t get me wrong.. it’s a nice place, but $2.950.000? really??

Granted; the views are amazing, and having windows in both the bathroom and kitchen are rare in this city, but still…. $2,950.000???????

Let’s stop and have a closer look. First, let’s get this in metrics; $2,950.000 equals about €2.225.000 and 1486 square feet is about 138 square meters. I am actually wondering if, based on the floor plan, that figure is not a bit of a fib, but let’s say that square footage is a hard fact. Now come join me and find out what that price tag gets you in my home town Amsterdam, shall we?

Schermafbeelding 2013-09-11 om 11.40.38 AM

I give you, the floor plan of just one floor of our soon to be revealed mystery home

I wish I could get a sharper image, but I am confident that you can see that this home (yes home, not apartment) is a tad bit bigger than the NYC listing. It is situated on one of Amsterdam’s famous canals; Leliegracht. It’s listed for exactly €2.225.000 and for that you get 13 rooms spread over a total of 500 square meters (5382 square feet). But the real treat is the garden! The back of the house is double width so the garden is huge with a lot of privacy. It borders the neighbouring gardens so the city seems far, far away.

The House is situated on a lovely, treelined canal

The House is situated on a lovely, treelined canal

The home would not be fully available for use though. The second floor consists of two self-contained studio apartments that are rented out. But this, in turn, gives you a bit of cash each month, lowering the monthly payments. And the current tenant is willing t discuss a move. That’ll cost you a so called ‘oprotpremie’ (severance pay). Mind you, there is still more than enough private space, and the studio’s make use of their own separate entrance. The one downfall really is parking, or rather, the lack there-off. No private parking means you are subjected to the bureaucratic hell that is parking laws in Amsterdam. If you did not leave behind a house in the same area, you might be looking at a waiting list for one spot. But then again, the building fees of the apartment in NYC are a staggering $2668 a MONTH, which is more than enough to rent two parking spots somewhere nearby.

The main floor boasts a wonderful formal living room and eat-in kitchen with doors leading to the garden

The main floor boasts a wonderful formal living room and eat-in kitchen with doors leading to the garden

Lush gardens, with several spots to follow the course of the sun

Lush gardens, with several spots to follow the course of the sun

The house is old, built in 1900. Which is actually relatively young for its location as most homes on Amsterdam canals are from the 18th, sometimes even 17th Centuries. It’s a monument, which does mean that you are limited in what you can change or do with the home. But anything you do, you can do subsidised! Ahhh, the joy of living in a socialist state 😉

The house actually looks older than it's 114 years.

The house actually looks older than it’s 114 years.

So, I guess it’s safe to assume living in NYC comes with a price. A high price. And here we are, Dutch ‘disgruntleds’, complaining about the price of real estate in our capitol…… I dare not compare the other way around; checking to see what a private residence with garden on Manhattan would cost. I guess it’s more though.

I love the suburbs


Call me crazy, but I love suburbs. Ever since watching US movies and television, I have a fascination for them. The idea of urban development specifically designed with space – both private and communal – and convenience in mind is very intriguing to me. And I love how suburbs tend to immediately trigger people; both in positive and negative ways. Some people shiver at the thought of living in cookie cutter homes, with neighbours watching your every step. Others long for the space, yards and convenience that come with a move to ‘the burbs’. And a suburb in the USA is different from a suburb in France for instance. We all know the images of violent riots emerging in the Parisian ‘Banlieu’. And in some countries, suburbs are equally crowded as downtown, and often poorer than their inner-city counterparts. My fascination is limited to the classic leafy suburbs like in the movies. What do you think of when you hear the word?

Levittown. One of the first suburbs in the USA. Returning veterans longed to settle so suburbs emerged in many parts of the country

The very typical suburb Richfield. Once a very dull and uninspiring part of Minneapolis, now a popular place due to its proximity to town.

Brøndby, on the outskirts of Copenhagen

Suburb in China. All homes are the same

Paris banlieu with riot police

The Amsterdam suburb IJburg, takes inspiration from the historic center, with houseboats, canals and back-to-back homes.

Gorgeous Tampa suburb aptly called ‘Beautiful’. And this is the kind of suburb I love……

 

Public toilets turned into architect’s dream home


Well, your initial thought might be what I was thinking too. No matter how cool this house is going to look, I am not sure if I could ever live in what was once a public restroom. But London-based architect Laura Clark went for it and after long legal battles bought the old restroom from the local council, and revamped the space into her dream home.

The place before. Now there are some original features you might want to get rid of instead of preserving……
image source: telegraph.co.uk

The place after. I am beginning to see what she was thinking
image source: telegraph.co.uk

The garden is where the stairs to the ladies restrooms were. The entry to the men’s is now her front door.
image source: telegraph.co.uk

The flat has no windows, only roof lights. But it still seems bright and airy. I really hope she managed to get rid of any lingering odour though. All in all I am impressed with her pezzaz, or chutzpah if you will, but am not sure I would call it worth it. To be honest, I find the decor a bit dull.

Read the whole story here.

Soucre: telegraph.co.uk

Stunning bathtub views from 432 Park Avenue New York City; the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere


It has yet to be completed, but the artists impressions alone make for a big wow. 432 Park Avenue in New York’s swanky midtown area will be the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere once completed in 2015. Yes, that’s right, 2015. All images below are rendered images of what the building will, and interior could look like. The views will be hard to beat, that’s for sure. But I’m already dizzy with vertigo just THINKING of taking a bath there, so not for me.

images © dbox for CIM Group and Macklowe Properties

432 Park Avenue

Bathroom view in 432 Park Avenue

Artists impression 432 Park Avenue