Friday Finds


What do you have on the agenda for this weekend? I have some work on the schedule, but fall is a slower season for me. So, I’m looking forward to trying out a new slow cooker recipe, maybe raking some leaves, and definitely watching a movie or two. Oh, and voting! We receive mail-in ballots here in Washington State, and they arrived yesterday. Can’t wait to send mine off. This Presidential race sure has been a wild one. So wild that it’s pretty well drowned out all details about other races. Of course, voting down the ballot is just as important, if not more so. Because I’ve heard relatively little about our local candidates amidst the major campaign madness, some research is in order. I suspect I’ll be spending a good chunk of time working my way through our voter’s pamphlet, which is quite a tome this year. Sounds like I should add a bottle (or two) of wine to the shopping list…


For those of you who are as overwhelmed as I am by all of the aforementioned political drama these days, I give you 15 Tiny Animals Wearing Tiny Sweaters. Because we could all use a little more Awwwww… in our lives. Hang in there – only 18 more days to go!!


I stumbled across Brian Dettmer’s TED Talk this week and am now obsessed with his book art. Known as the Book Surgeon, Dettmer uses surgical tools like knives, scalpels, and tweezers to breathe new life into old books – as well as maps, albums, and cassette tapes – transforming them into intricate sculptures that “expose new relationships of the book’s internal elements.” Amazing.


One of my first jobs was with the Seattle Chamber Music Society coordinating classical concerts in public spaces for audiences under forty – a program known as Under Forte. (Har.) Despite the cheesy name, these salon-style concerts were so cool. We held them in art galleries, retail spaces, and private homes. Alas, they never gained a great deal of traction. Fast-forward to the Uber Era, and now there’s an Uber (sort of) for classical music – Groupmuse. This online social network connects young classical musicians to local audiences through concert house parties. If you live in NYC, Boston, San Francisco, or…Seattle!…I encourage you to check it out.

In other random news… Pringles Has Already Announced This Year’s Holiday Flavors. Am I the only person who had no idea Pringles offers holiday flavors?!?

Now Reading

To the First Lady, With Love – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Gloria Steinem, Jon Meacham, and Rashida Jones (T Magazine)

Now Watching

13th (Netflix) – Ava DuVernay’s documentary about the 13th Amendment

Now Listening

Gaga’s new album just dropped, and I’ll get to it, but I can’t seem to stop listening to Saint Motel. (Spotify)

Portland ADU Tour 2016 – Part 2

One of the major reasons the idea of building an ADU resurfaced for us recently was to create a place where RF’s dad could potentially stay with us. Aging in place – the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level – has become a more prominent initiative as our nation’s boom generation heads into retirement. Aging with us is not exactly “in place” for RF Sr, but closer so than many other options. Plus, it could give us the option to truly age in place down the line. From that perspective, this ADU from the 2016 Build Small, Live Large tour was of great interest to us.

The owners of this home also moved their parents from across the country because they need daily living assistance. An ADU provides a separate living space for the parents close to the primary residence that gives them a sense of independence but also easy access to family support. This is the main house, an historic storefront residence.


Around the side, a gate leads to the ADU, built in the same style as the main house.


This was the only ADU we toured this year that posted architectural drawings…


…and models!! Be still my heart. The plans were actually helpful in determining whether or not we might be able to expand the footprint of our garage to accommodate a main floor bedroom. If we follow one of our lessons learned – construct rather than convert – we think so!


This ADU has an accessible entry ramp that leads to an entry portico. Upside: Perfect for aging residents, obviously. It’s also nice to have a dedicated entryway, with room to drop coats and shoes, in rainy weather cities. Downside: It adds to the footprint of the structure, but not the living space.


The open living space is compact but has room for favorite chairs, a fully functional kitchen, and a table for a family of four. The homeowners regularly cook and dine here with their parents.




Built-ins make room for collections and media without creating impediments and hazards.


The bedroom, though, is where it gets really interesting. A full size bedroom on the main floor of an ADU is a rarity. We saw a couple, but they are generally not common. This one has plenty of room for a full size bed, and again makes use of built-ins and recessed furniture to keep pathways clear.


The bedroom leads to a full size, accessible bath outfitted with features to make senior life a little easier.


Doorways and pathways capable of accommodating walkers and wheelchairs create a bathroom that’s downright luxurious by typical ADU standards.


A washer/dryer combo are tucked into the bathroom closet.


Most ADU’s take advantage of skylights to illuminate the interior, and this ADU is no exception. Skylights above the living space and stairwells bring in lots of light, even on rainy days like the one we had while touring. Most ADU’s also have a little surprise somewhere in the home – in this one, it’s a little 2nd floor deck.


Since this home was planned for aging parents, the homeowners wanted to make sure that there would be room for a live-in care provider. The lofted bedroom was designed for this, but will also make a nice guest room or auxiliary space – like a crafting room, for instance – should the homeowners eventually downsize into the ADU.


It’s not a large room, but there’s enough space for a queen bed to one side and a sitting area to the other.


And, it has a half bath upstairs. I guess the homeowners felt this would be sufficient for their purposes. Though, they probably could’ve worked in a shower had they forgone the outdoor space.


Lofted bedrooms and lofted ceilings give the impression of more spacious rooms. You give up privacy, so it just depends on your priorities. I think it’s a nice feature of this ADU…but, the live-in assistant might not agree.


I’m not yet sure that “aging in place” is the ultimate goal with our future ADU. So, I’m not entirely ready to spring on this plan. Ultimately, I think a slightly smaller footprint used as a rental probably makes more sense for our lot. We’ll just have to see where life lands us. This is a terrific example, should we need an accessible space.

So, overall impressions…

PROS: Accessibility. Ramps, large doorways, and clear pathways truly suit this home to senior life. A main floor bedroom is also a plus. The lofted bedroom also creates enough space for this ADU to function well in a variety of capacities.

CONS: The balance of space tips towards the bed/bath over the main living room. The footprint is larger than we would ideally like on our lot.

BEST HOMEOWNER LESSON: This project is a prime example of research paying off – not just researching materials and design features, but also how the space will be used now and over time. It’s probably the most thoughtful ADU we toured.

Friday Finds


The leaves sure are fluttering today! We’re bracing ourselves for three storms in a row here in the Pacific Northwest – the third of which is the remnant of a typhoon and estimated to be one of the Top 5 storms of all time in our area. Eep. These “-pocalypses” are often overhyped, so I’m holding onto the hope that talking about it will diminish all potential strength. Of course, there are already significant power outages in our area, and tornado warnings to the south. The worst is not expected to hit until tomorrow afternoon. So, I’m hunkering down with Netflix at the ready…and keeping my fingers crossed that the power won’t go out!


Pineapple Leather?! Ananas Anam is making an innovative textile made from pineapple leaf fibers called Piñatex™. This “strong, versatile, breathable, soft, light, flexible textile that can be easily printed on, stitched and cut” is already being fashioned into footwear, accessories, and furniture. Very cool. And a terrific sustainable alternative to other vegan “leathers” which are typically plastic.


Need to add a touch of tropical to your life as the days get shorter and temps cool down? Hygge & West wallpaper tiles are an excellent solution! And, temporary – in case you like to change up your decor with the seasons. I also like the Daydream, Andanza, and Sketchbook Floral styles. Look out, RF…I’m feeling a bedroom makeover coming on!

If you’re in need of a god laugh, which I know many of us are these days, I recommend Quarter Life Poetry. Samantha Jayne’s charming doodles and snarky poems are worth a chuckle, even if you’re past the ketchup sandwich phase of life. After all, you don’t have to be a Millennial to understand the allure of oversized tees and wine-stained sweats.

Now Watching:

Vice News Tonight – Vice moves from weekly to daily dispatches. Instant fan.

Now Reading:

Today Will Be Different – I think I’ll download Maria Semple’s latest, in case of power outage. I can’t honestly say that I love Where’d You Go, Bernadette, but I’m a sucker for stories based in Seattle.

Now Listening:

True Disaster, Tove Lo – Again, if I buy into the disaster hype, maybe it won’t materialize…

Have a Safe Weekend!!


I really hate that word. Is there a better one for vacationing in your hometown? Because, for me, staycations conjure up weeks spent at your actual home. I’m not at all opposed to such a break, and yet, what I’ve been imagining lately is a weekend in a downtown Seattle hotel. One where we can wake up and wander over to Pike Place Market – a place we never venture to because of all the sighs. Sigh…parking will suck. Sigh…so many tourists. Sigh…it’s raining, will it really be a very nice?

Downtown Seattle is so iconic – especially the waterfront. But, if you’ve lived in an iconic city, you are probably much like us and rarely play tourist in your own city. Such a shame, really. People travel here from all over the world to see the things we often take for granted.

So yes, I would love to wander over to Pike Place Market.


See a concert at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park

Take the Monorail to Seattle Center.


Have a drink at the top of the Space Needle.


It’s not that we haven’t done these things. We have – or, at least, between us we have. We don’t even live very far outside of the city core. Just over the ship canal, in fact. But there’s an appeal to living at the heart of the action for a couple of days. Becoming part of the city’s pulse. So, I have my eye on a couple of classic Seattle hotels…

The Edgewater

A true classic. The Edgewater is Seattle’s only over-water hotel, it sits on the former Galbraith-Bacon Pier site along Elliott Bay. Many famous visitors have stayed at The Edgewater over the years – Led Zeppelin (they’ve actually been banned!), the Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, The Village People, KISS, Black Sabbath, Kurt Cobain (of course!), and, most notably, The Beatles who stayed at the hotel in 1964 during the height of Beatlemania. It’s said that you can fish off the balconies, but I think that’s been discouraged since the Zeppelin incident.




Inn at the Market

This elegant boutique hotel is practically hidden in Pike Place Market. Rooms feature floor-to-ceiling bay windows with downtown, market, and Sound views. Cafe Campagne, one of four adjacent restaurants among a sea of other downtown greats, serves classic French fare – a terrific brunch spot. Their real claim to fame, though, is the rooftop deck where visitors can enjoy a pre-dinner glass of wine or post-sunset nightcap. The Inn’s history is not quite as storied at The Edgewater’s, though perhaps that’s just because their style is generally a bit more hush hush.




I’ve heard a rumor that the Inn is a lovely place to wake up Christmas morning. But I can imagine an incredible New Year’s Eve at The Edgewater. I don’t think you can go wrong with either. In fact, perhaps we need to plan ahead for both!

Portland ADU Tour 2016 – Part 1

I normally save the best for last, but I loved this ADU so much that it just has to come first! We could drop this ADU in our backyard tomorrow and I would be so pleased with it. It sits behind a 1920’s bungalow, very similar to our 1910 cape cod. It’s also a garage conversion with a footprint very similar to our current garage. So, it was all too easy to visualize creating a similar situation on our lot.


One difference was the orientation of the roofline. Tipping the roofline towards the front and back of the lot rather than to the sides, creates more privacy – both in the ADU and in for the main house – a critical consideration when living in such close quarters. This family also used clever fencing to create a private entry for the ADU, while maintaining a small dedicated yard for the main home. A patio and small patches of gardening space connect to the ADU.


Also in the ADU entry was an enclosed storage area constructed in the same style. My guess is that it’s most likely shared with the homeowners – you still need a place for your lawnmower, after all.


This stairwell and loft literally made me purchase tickets for this year’s event. They were featured in preview materials and I was instantly smitten. Several folks have told us that we don’t have space for a legit set of stairs in our garage, and this 100% proves them wrong!


Love it! Turns out, changing the orientation of the roofline is just the ticket. You might notice that there are no windows behind the stairs or in the kitchen area to the right. These just so happen to be the sides facing the directly adjacent lots. Also perfect for us, since we don’t have much in the way of setback on those sides.


I will say that the living area with furniture in place is “cozy”…code words for small. Alas, this is a small house – 540 square feet. Cozy is what you have to expect.


Here are a couple of images looking towards and past the tv into the kitchen.


Oh man, that kitchen! For such a small space, the kitchen lives very large.


Here are a couple of overhead images that give you a better sense of the room. I’m not sure we have that much counter space in our house! That’s not a mini-fridge, btw…it’s a full-size dishwasher.


The fridge is around the corner, across from an awesome pantry. As ADU’s go, this one definitely had decent storage.


This door leads to a pretty darn luxurious bathroom for such a diminutive home.


Full size shower/bath. Oh, and hidden behind those curtains…a stacked washer/dryer.


Plenty of room to move around. In fact, once again, larger than the bathroom in our 1910 bungalow.


Let’s back up a minute and talk about the loft.


We have also faced skepticism about a loft bedroom…and, again, the height challenge in this home was solved in part by the orientation. I can’t deny that it seems tempting to center the bed around the point of the room, but that really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Most of the time, you’re laying your head down on your pillows. Or, at the very least, sitting propped up at the head of the bed. By directing the bed in this way, you get maximum height where you actually stand by the bed. Makes total sense!


How about those big windows?! Love the light that they bring into the overall space. (But, I’d probably want remote blinds for 4:30 am summertime sunshine…)

There are times when we debate the need for many amenities in our own ADU. Why go all out for a rental? Well, Seattle’s ADU requirements include a stipulation that property owners live on-site at least 6 months out of the year. Given my penchant for gallivanting around the world, I could see a time when we rent our main house for the full year, airbnb the ADU while we’re overseas, then live in it ourselves the remainder of the year. If we’re the tenants, I want amenities. Plus, amenities will garner higher rents – and, hopefully, more responsible tenants as a result.

So, overall impressions…

Pros: perfect size for our goals, open/spacious feel, overall sense of privacy, lots of light, separate bedroom space, full-size appliances, legitimate stairwell, dedicated outdoor space, storage

Cons: lack of privacy in open bedroom.

Seriously, I can only come up with the one con. I’m completely serious when I say that this ADU could be dropped in our backyard tomorrow and I would be pleased. It’s about as close to perfect for us as it gets.

Best Homeowner Lesson: Get a bid, not a budget. This ADU was budgeted at $70K, but the final cost was $120K. Having a clear, detailed list of expectations and timelines for scope and deliverables can prevent unexpected (often costly) scenarios.


In my book, there’s really nothing more chic for fall than jeans and a black turtleneck. It’s a flexible look that’s equally perfect whether casual or all dressed up. The same can also be said for the classic LBD. So, what better pairing than the LBTD…little black turtleneck dress?

You can opt for traditional…


Banana Republic


Silence + Noise | Kensie



ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo


Dolan Left Coast | Zara



Free People




…or contemporary designer.

Milly | Valentino

No matter how you wear it, always a classic.

Curious about Idaho

You know, I realized recently that I know very little about our neighbor to the east: Idaho. We drove through along I-90 back when we moved to NYC, but it was very early in the adventure so we were eager to keep moving. Plus, it’s only about 75 miles across the panhandle. (Do they even call it a panhandle when the pan is turned upright?)

I will say that Coeur d’Alene looked lovely, especially as we rounded the lake. I’ve heard great things about Boise. Sun Valley is certainly quite notable. But, with a husband who STRONGLY favors the coast, we very rarely even consider venturing to landlocked locales. So, I really just haven’t given it much thought. Until today…

I turned to Instagram to investigate, and it’s looking like we might need to rethink the interior.


Priest Lake: @stevenscarcello

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Inferno Cone: @meganmalz

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The Farmstead Corn Maze: @hellomeridian

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Boise Foothills: @vannobo


Palouse: @hannahgrieser


Salmon Challis National Park: @stafford_josh


Kane Lake: @robfiero


Tetonia: @ain_embry

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Wallace: @urbancamperphoto


Coeur d’Alene: @haley.amsel

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Tetons: @idahoadventuregirl

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Salmon River: @honeypine

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Idaho Snow: @familytrifecta

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McCall: @einna3

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Lost River Range: @pkskishop

Build Small, Live Large – 2016 ed.


Sorry to keep you waiting! I definitely want to tell you all about the incredible ADU’s we saw in Portland, but it’s taking me some time to organize the wealth of information and photos from this year’s Build Small, Live Large event. Plus, like last year, I think this will necessitate 2 or 3 posts. So, stay tuned!

Before we get to the ADU’s, I would like to tell you about our experience at Saturday’s workshops. Last year, we only registered for the tours. It was a valuable experience on its own because the homeowners, designers, and builders are present and agree to be very transparent about their ADU experience. It’s a rare opportunity to learn a great deal of info straight from the source – especially to learn from their mistakes! Because we have been getting even more serious about adding an ADU, we thought it would be worth it to also attend the workshops this year.

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The day was split up into two sessions: Laying the Groundwork and The Design & Building Process, taught by ADU Guru Kol Peterson. Kol and his wife, Deb Delman, live in an ADU that they built, and are also the couple behind Caravan the Tiny House Hotel. Drawing from his now extensive experience, Kol teaches classes and offers consultative services to others interested in this world.

Laws governing ADU permitting and construction are municipal, so we knew going into it that most of the information would be based on Portland regulations. But, all information at this point is helpful information. Many others agreed. There were registrants from all across the US – and even a few international folks. Portland really is leading the way in this field, so it’s worth paying attention to what they’re up to.

There was a TON of info, and Kol makes a living from sharing that info…so, in fairness, I’m not going to give away all of his trade secrets. I will, however, tell you our Top 3 Takeaways:

1. Research, Research, Research

It’s so clear that we need to get serious about reading all of the ADU info on the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections website. Like I said, the codes that govern ADU construction are municipal. So, as much as there were quite a few useful tidbits at Build Small, Live Large, we will ultimately need to know the rules specific to Seattle. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections offers a LOT of info and resources on their site. I just need to get cracking!

In addition to learning more about existing legislation, it’s also wise to pay attention to what new plans are being proposed. Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien is trying to increase affordable housing in Seattle by make it easier to build backyard cottages. In Portland, they’ve passed initiatives like waiving the System Development Charges – currently in the range of $8-12K, but expected to increase to $20K. That’s certainly a substantial savings! O’Brien’s current proposal relaxes permitting restrictions rather than giving financial incentives, but who knows?! Perhaps increased citizen involvement (that means us!) could move the needle on the latter.

Of course, we also need to do our homework on ADU designers and builders. The access that Portland’s ADU Tour gives regular old folks like us to professionals in this field is amazing. And yet, because they are not experts in Seattle zoning and construction requirements, most of them limit their practices to the Portland area. We need to find the Seattle equivalents.

2. Invest in an ADU-Specific Architect

That brings me to point #2. Kol could not stress enough the importance of working with people who know more about the ADU design/build process than you do…and, than does the average architect. ADU’s are a special little world. Working with someone who has already charted this territory can save you thousands, so it’s well worth the upfront investment.

It’s imperative to find an architect who will take you through permitting. This way, they are responsible for making sure their plans work within the parameters of ADU regulations. I have come to the conclusion that I’d like to work with a design-build company – currently eyeing this one – but Kol also recommended contracting construction-ready drawings, rather than permit-ready drawings. That way, once everything is designed and permitted, any contractor can see the project through to completion.

3. Conversion vs. New Construction

So, this one is particularly applicable to our situation. We have a 20′ x 20′ garage at the back corner of our property. It has always seemed logical for us to simply convert this existing structure into an ADU. Alas, that might not actually be the case! Kol broke it to the crowd that constructing sufficient support around an existing slab foundation can often be more costly than leveling the original structure and starting from scratch. What?!? But, there’s already this building here! We spoke to several folks on the ADU tour who corroborated with Kol’s assertion. They all said that, if they had to do it again, they would start from scratch. Fascinating!

My only concern is our setback. The current structure does not meet Seattle’s setback requirements. No biggie – there are such things as variances. I just wonder if we are more likely to qualify for a variance if working with an existing structure than starting anew. Of course, this brings us back to #1 – Research, Research, Research…and, #2, investing in someone who knows.

So, this is where we’ll start. I have a TON of reading to do, a few phone calls to make…not to mention some patience to exercise, I’m sure. It’s a time-consuming process, but after listening to and absorbing all that Kol had to say, I’m more excited than ever to embark on this adventure!