Monday, December 28, 2009

Mail Box Post - A Fine Homemade Example

Here we have a refinement of a commercially available mailbox. Allen really liked the simplistic and modern design of a mailbox offered by Design Within Reach - the Premier Mailbox and Post, however it's difficult to justify the $480 price of the unit (that's $200 for the box and $280 for the post) - taking his cue from his dad (who does metal fabrication and CAD/CNC design work for Delta Airlines), Allen worked to fashion his own version in Stainless Steel and Oak. The result is a nice modernist box with an enhanced, oak post (the original is a stainless steel tube).

By expanding the size and materials of the post Allen was able to mount these attractive house numbers - something one can't do with the DWR designed box. One change to be made - the screws used weren't stainless and they've started to rust - those will be replaced soon.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Quest for P&H Homebuilders - Part 1

My next series of posts will be about P&H Homebuilders - the company that developed and built most of the homes in Northcrest. I had heard many stories about the builders - named Paul Edwards (the "P" in P&H) and Howard Hardrath (the "H" in P&H) over the years. From original homeowners I learned that they were a dynamic pair of gentlemen who somehow came from the car business ("they were these car salesman...") and that they started out by building homes over near Chamblee in Drew Valley and Northwoods. Anecdotally I learned that Paul was quite the good looking guy who would often charm the wives (never hurts in sales I guess) of couples buying in the neighborhood. I had also heard that there might have been a third partner in the very beginning but no one I talked to remembered his name. I was given some materials gathered by Chuck Hunt and his wife (Chuck has been the president of the Northcrest Neighborhood Association which most people probably don't know about - it's actually a loose group of homeowners who have gotten together in the past to provide support and action against potential zoning problems, or other neighborhood concerns like the addition of hte speed humps on some of the streets.), like an alternate version of the neighborhood brochure and a few old published newsletters.

My next bit of information came from the son of an original homeowner who grew up in the neighborhood - Chris Bowen, who's family lived on Hartwood Lane (in the front of the neighborhood - he also told me that he has some photos of himself taken by his dad when the street was still gravel so this was pretty much in the very beginning of the development). When he mentioned that there may have been a third partner to his dad, he was told:
After talking with my Dad, he told me that the original corporation developing the subdivision was "THE, Inc."

The partners were:
A man by the last name of Talley
Howard Hardrath
Paul Edwards

According to Daddy, they were equal partners. I'm not sure when they became "P&H".

Another bit of far as the P&H houses that were built...
Local framing contractors were used for the basic framing but...he roof system, the 4x8 beams and the 2x6 "V" groove, tongue and groove decking was all done by a family business out of North Carolina or Tennessee....
Supposedly they had a sawmill operation and they did a turnkey operation and took care of all the houses in the neighborhood.

If our memory serves us right, we gave you a map of the neighborhood from 1964 or 1968. You may recall that I told you that my father drew this to keep records of the memberships at the swim and tennis community since he was a committee member of during those times. The other residents of the neighborhood that we have given this to seem to have gotten a kick out of it, and we're happy to provide it."
That map was a rather interesting diagram of the streets and lots in the front of the neighborhood (before Hidden Acres and lots East were developed). The lots are mostly labeled by the current - 1962 or so - owner's with phone numbers. There are also numbers indicating membership order and larger numbers for funds commitment. The diagram I believe was used to gather money to fund the pool.

Based on the info I had I started to add it to the NorthcrestModern website, indicating that much was word-of-mouth or speculative. The website stated to garner some interest in the local papers and eventually by national periodicals like Dwell - also Mitch and Daniel's house on Lynnray managed to get into Atomic Ranch. Later in 2008 Brian Robboy and Doug Thornburg put together a feature article for Atomic Ranch - that's when I was first contacted by Ray Edwards (Paul Edwards' son) and Dorothy Hardrath (who wrote "Howard Hardrath was a double first cousin of my husband's. We've been friends for many years.") - she also provided Howard's phone number - but I felt a bit awkward calling him up "out of the blue" as it were.

Ray and his wife came to the house and we sipped wine while he reminisced about the neighborhood - Ray grew up during much of the development and actually helped out doing tasks around the neighborhood. He told me that his dad and Howard own matching A-frame houses at Lake Lanier and that his dad still lived there. As an aside, he also told me that many of the homes in Northcrest East (the old name, the entire development is now referred to as Northcrest-Pleasantdale but in the past the homes from Lynnray and to the east were part of Northcrest East) were actually built by Howard's brother, Bud "Buddy" Hardrath. He also volunteered to get into contact with his dad and try to track down some additional records and info if they still exist. I'm still following up with this lead.

In the meanwhile, Cindi was contacted by Sam Troutman who is married to Sue Hardrath, daughter of Bud Hardrath (still living) who invited us to come to Howard's home and speak with him. Dorothy Hardrath told Sam and the family in Atlanta about the Atomic Ranch article and they were all excited to meet us. Included would be Lori Hardrath (who incidentally was the source for Lori Lane!). How exciting! More to come in part 2!

-- John

Monday, December 7, 2009

Restoring an Original Kitchen Sink Base Cabinet

I did a little write-up about how to effectively replace the floor of a kitchen base cabinet - the same technique could be use for any base cabinet or vanity. Since I did this in a Northcrest home I thought it only appropriate to share:

-- John

Friday, December 4, 2009

Another Awesome Mailbox Post

Now this is one of my favorites - local artist Brian Dettmer has done a fantastic job presenting this useful, stainless steel locking mail box. It's both very appropriate, practical and very appealing - kudos!

For more info on Brian's work, check here:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mail Box Post - Two More Good Examples

Example 1:

Continuing with my dialog on good mail box post designs are the following two examples. The first is rather "classic" using 2x4" elements for a simple patterned, modernistic design. I like this one due to its simplicity, interesting patterning and inexpensive materials usage. One doesn't have to spend a lot to get a good looking post.

Example 2:

The next box I like for completely different reasons. This one done by Hartmut Jordan exemplifies good, modernistic design by incorporating the mailbox itself as a design element. The problem with finding a good mailbox post is that often one is stuck with the shape, color and materials of the mailbox itself and so can only focus on the post. What Hartmet did was to use a brushed stainless "classic shaped" mailbox and contrast it with color and the parallel lines of the cedar slatting. He then integrated the shape into the post design by extending the slatting further back, so the box cantilevers from the post, making the whole unit a single structure. You'll find several, poorly executed copies of his design in the neighborhood - the copies don't work well for various reasons (one has a "bulge" that rings below the post that's ackward, the other extends slatting straight down so the box produces a rather phallic shape - sorry to digress about those but neither work for me). I like everything Hartmut has done on his mailbox and hope others use it for inspiration on their own mailboxes and posts.

More to come soon.

-- John

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Northcrest Tour 2009

On April 26th Northcrest's Hoe 'n' Hope Garden Club had their yearly Tour of Homes for 2009. The garden club does this to help promote the neighborhood, highlight unusual or original homes and gardens, and raise money for the maintenance of the main entry planter (beneath the Northcrest sign). This year the tour featured 3 homes and the Northcrest Swim & Tennis Club:

3636 Northlake Drive
3433 Archwood Drive
3378 Regalwoods Drive
3524 Bowling Green Way

To view photos of each along with snaps I took of the interiors and exterior gardens, click the tour brochure image. Here's the text from the Tour brochure:

3636 Northlake Drive - Owners Phil and Lora Buonpastore
Phil and Lora's 1963 A-Frame was featured in an early 1960s full-color spread in the Atlanta Journal, and again in the Winter issue of Atomic Ranch magazine. It retains many of its original features - yellow exterior, hardwood floors, mint-green Jack & Jill bath, and the colorful, mid-century "beach ball" pendant light fixture in the living room.

This home is also one of the few in Northcrest with five levels - including a full basement, and is also the only A-Frame with a complete "A" structure (others stop on the right side of the roof line).

Phil and Lora have made a number of improvements, installing energy-efficient windows and doors, replacing the roof, and updating the 1980s Poggenpohl kitchen (won by the original owners in a contest) with quartz countertops.

An avid DIY couple, Phil and Lora embarked on an adventurous basement renovation in 2006, and have completed 85% of the work on their own. Formerly located off the laundry room at the rear of the house, the basement is now accessible from the family room, thanks to some invasive and inventive concrete work. The new basement features plenty of living/entertaining space and significant additional storage. The updated family room features new drywall and insulation, and an under-stairs storage area with a door constructed primarily of wine corks.

Exhausted from the two-year project, Phil relaxes in the new basement, while Lora designs a plan for the upcoming renovation of their Jack & Jill bath.

3433 Archwood Drive – Owners Scott and Heather Markle
The Markles almost moved out of Northcrest...

They loved the neighborhood and their home, but missed some fo the amenities found in newer homes. More than anything, they wanted a real master suite with a proper tub and shower. Before Scott persuaded her to get married and move in with him, Heather had an apartment with a garden tub - and she missed it terribly. The Markles even met with a Realtor. Reminding them how great the neighborhood and their home are, it was actually the Realtor who convinced them to stay on and simply add the things they were missing.

So the Markles found a great contractor (it helps to have on in the family), and set about creating their dream home. They extended the house with a two-=story addition in back. The top half is a new master suite including a sitting room, two-sided fireplace, and master bath with walk-in shower and Jacuzzi bathtub. Their old bathroom is now a walk-in closet. The Markles also focused on improving the energy efficiency of the home with a new insulated metal roof, HardiPlank siding on the addition, and new double-paned windows and doors throughout.

With this renovation, the Markles strove to maintain all of the things they love about Northcrest, while also incorporating many contemporary features. The result is a home that mixes the best of mod and modern. And the Markles are happy to have created their perfect home.

3378 Regalwoods Drive – Owner Matt Keller
Matt Keller's love for mid-century modern homes began three years ago, when he drove through Northcrest one afternoon to avoid rush-hour traffic. Looking to purchase his first home two years later, Matt wanted a bargain-priced midcentury home, near 85/285, in need of serious restoration. It wasn't until he'd seen a few homes in Northcrest that Matt realized he'd been here before.

He definitely found what he was looking for. Years of neglect forced a complete gut job - yielding six dumpsters of plumbing, wiring, drywall, insulation, flooring, and a perfectly preserved possum.

Working with a friend full-time, Matt renovated with the home's midcentury style in mind, updating and adding his own personal style - modern, earth-friendly and organic. Lowering and removing walls created an even more open floor plan, while many of the original framing materials were re-used to create interesting new features - a built-in desk, bedroom closet, and a reinvented Hollywood-style walk-in shower. Materials from a poorly-constructed addition were recycled into chunky, angled chairs.

Other unique features include modern, industrial lighting and a bomb shelter original to the house.

From the ground up - insulation, flooring, drywall, trim, even re-staining the tongue-and-groove ceiling - this renovation should be 85% complete for the tour. Matt has definitely turned this former potential tear-down into a neighborhood gem!

3524 Bowling Green Way – Northcrest Swim and Tennis Club
We invite you to make the Northcrest Swim and Tennis Club the last stop on your tour. Gather with friends and neighbors to chat about the homes you've seen, enjoy complimentary refreshments, and learn why the Club is truly a neighborhood landmark.

Founded in 1962 by original Northcrest homeowners, the Club quickly became a hub of Northcrest living, with an award-winning swim team and social and recreational activities for both kids and adults.

Today, you'll find an affordable, enjoyable, resort-like experience - reminiscent of a 1960s country club - with its modern trapezoid-shaped pool, Tiki Hut snack bar, two lighted tennis courts, event pavilion with built-in party-sized barbeque grill, multipurpose athletic field and children's play court, all situated within a 3.5 acre park setting.

A packed social calendar features twice-monthly themed dinner parties and social events throughout the season. On most Friday nights, you'll find members firing up the grill for a relaxed, informal poolside "bring-your-own" dinner party.

In the last few years, the Board of Trustees has successfully implemented a "grass-roots" operating plan (nearly every aspect of the Club's day-to-day operation is handled by volunteer members), securing the Club's future as a valuable neighborhood asset.

Ready to join? Call (404) 592-3381 or visit our web site at for details.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Snow in March? A Cooling Treat for July!

Something to help cool everyone off this hot July

I thought I would post some images that I've been remiss in posting over the past year or so. We had a special treat this year - on March 1st Mother Nature provided us with an unusual, heavy snowfall (I know you northerners will look at this and wave it off as nothing, but for Atlanta, especially in the spring, this is very unusual). I don't remember anything like this in previous years - when we first moved to Northcrest in 1998 (at 3401 Thornewood Dr) we got hit by an Ice Storm late in the year - I don't remember what year exactly but around 1999 give or take. That one was bad due to all the rain we got for about the month prior - then the ice hit, expanding all the wet pines. My next door neighbor at the time was from Mobile and he had never seen anything like it - he was out on the back deck when a limb came crashing down to break his collar bone. In any case, this "snowstorm" started out as a light snow - unusual in March, so I took some snaps. These images are from about 2:00 PM - and I'm showing them progressively so you'll see it started to get heavy:

The next set I took between 2:30 and 2:40 - it really started to come down and was sticking good at this point - you can see the accumulation on our patio furniture. The flakes were gigantic and fantastic to behold...

The next photos were taken a bit later - between 6PM and 6:30PM (note the state of the full-bloom camilias - they look like giant octopoda!) - we decided to get out in it. By then the temperature came up a bit so the snow was getting really slushy and it's starting to melt on the streets - it was interesting walking beneath the trees - stuff was falling hard and it really pelted the hoods of our jackets.

That snowman ended up lasting a couple of days - sort of a reminder of what once was...

-- John

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mail Box Post - Modern Solution

I wanted to start a series of posts about mail box posts - I've been asked in the past about what type of post would be appropriate for these great modern homes where we live in Northcrest. It's really easier to describe those that aren't appropriate, but I'll leave that for later. What I'd like to talk about are basic design elements that work well with modernism.

If you look at our homes you'll see a lot of parallel lines - most of our homes have horizontal windows original to the house that are level and the houses stretch wide - to me from a design esthetic I would try to also do some parallel lines, either vertically or preferable horizontally, on any mail box post for one of our homes. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with simplicity - a single post, either round (as in metal pipe) or square (like a 4x4" pressure treated or cedar post) would be more than appropriate. The important thing is to simplify the lines and keep ornamentation at either a minimum or within the reason (parallel lines again). Now I'm not expert, and I'm not a professional designer by trade - so I'll keep my comments directed towards actual examples. What I mean is, if you're into a big showy mail box with ornamentation, bright colors, etc. then by all means go ahead - it's all about personal preference. My intent is to provide some examples and guidelines that work with modern design, not tell you what's right or wrong, or tasteful or ugly.

So to start, this is a post I found rather in keeping with our modern homes - it's made from several cedar 1x6es (they look like they might have used some extra fence boards) using some ornamentation via the stacked, parallel boards.

I particularly like the floating stainless steel numbers - I purchased some similar for my house but need to figure out a way to drill through the stone to attach them. More to come soon.

-- John

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Updates 2009.02.15

I've been rather remiss in updating both the site and blog and hope to rectify that beginning with this post. I've got lots of news I'll be posting in the next few days and weeks. First I'm placing new images and pages of resident homes. Here's a list of updates - these photos were taken in the fall of 2007 (yeah I've been that slack!):

3335 Archwood Dr
3360 Archwood Dr
3551 Beach Hill Dr
3556 Beachhill Dr
3546 Bowling Green Way
3547 Eaglerock Dr
3611 Eaglerock Dr
3612 Eaglerock Dr
3632 Eaglerock Dr
3637 Eaglerock Dr
3645 Eaglerock Dr
3648 Eaglerock Dr
3656 Eaglerock Dr
3368 Regalwoods Dr
3400 Regalwoods Dr
3401 Regalwoods Dr
3457 Regalwoods Dr
3473 Regalwoods Dr
3478 Regalwoods Dr

-- John