Monday, December 27, 2010

Snowpocalypse 2010

Here are some photos from my house looking out into the yard on 2010.12.26 - this is the aftermath of the snow from Christmas evening.

Back Patio

View of Bedroom Deck

From the Front Window looking North

Looking North-West

The roads weren't bad at all - hit a few sales (Crate and Barrel to buy some ice tongs, Ikea to look at some shelving, etc).

-- John

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holiday Decorations 2010

I thought I'd share our Holiday Decorations with everyone - I try to hang these lighted balls every year - I love the way the light reflects in the clerestory windows. Enjoy!








Happy Holidays Everyone!

-- John

Friday, December 10, 2010

Surprise! An Original P&H Realty Business Card

Cindi was cleaning out the planter near the carport door (the planter is elevated atop a low wall, that provides some protection to the opening for the floating staircase that leads to the finished portion of our basement. When we purchased the home it was filled with very dusty fake plants, now long removed.) and the wood panel at the bottom was pried up so we could clean out all the detritus that had fallen between the cracks over the years. Low and behold she found this:

I think it was common for business people to make small quotes on the back of business cards which would explain the reverse text. I'm curious to know if the $6 was a credit or something else - I guess we'll never know. I believe this is the first card to ever surface from P&H - now to find one for Howard Hardrath and Tom Longino - one can only hope!

-- John

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Replacing the Front Door

When we purchased our current house in 2002 we were extremely happy. The house was our favorite in the neighborhood - we originally found it and met the previous owners while doing our neighborhood power walk (something we used to do several times a week - now were lucky to get one in once per month due to time constraints). During our walks we would go up Eaglerock from the Eastern end, up over the hill then cut over on Northlake Way, pick up Northlake Dr to Summitridge then cut across Archwood to get us back towards the front of the neighborhood (I'm calling the Eastern-most edge along Northcrest the front as that's where the main neighborhood sign is located and I believe that's also considered the main neighborhood entrance). One day we randomly decided to go down a street we hadn't before, Lori Lane. That's when our current house came into view - we were floored!

Through a series of events, we became the owners of our current house and sold our previous on Thornewood to Bo and Rebecca Beaven who I believe are very happy there. If you haven't met them you may occasionally see them walking pretty much the same path we used to walk when we had more time - cute couple. I should also mention for those of you who have alarm systems or are thinking of installing, that Bo's company, Safeguard Protection Systems has become our new monitoring service and it's been a fantastic experience. We were previously with Ackerman and not too happy with the way they handled issues we were having due to a nearby lightening strike - SPS came to the rescue and besides being expert installers, they allowed us to upgrade several of our systems (smoke and fire monitoring with a new sensor, a second keypad and wireless system for the phone so we don't have to worry about a cut line) within a reasonable budget - it was actually less to upgrade with them than it would have been for Ackerman to just fix the old system. But I digress...

When we purchased this home we loved the design elements and materials, we loved the sunk-in living room, the fireplace, the clerestory windows and many of the features. We continue to upgrade the systems and make changes to improve the house, as the downside of purchasing was there were many features that had suffered some neglect due to deferred maintenance (the HVAC and Water Heater come to mind - both now replaced) and one element that had always bugged us - the front door. The door as found on the house was a half-lit (meaning it had a window for half of the surface) solid-core door with two side lights (thin windows on either side). I don't know if that would have bothered us so much, but he panels in the bottom of the door always looked out-of-place on the house. Also, there's a planter to one side of the landing once you walk in (the landing is elevated as the living room is sunk in two steps) that didn't align with the window. From a design perspective it just didn't work.

Door Appearance in 2002
We always knew we would want to replace the door - I'm sure that the original was probably hollow-core and smooth - and knew that there was probably a single light to the left where the planter lines the landing so we were pretty sure we wanted something similar. In all the paperwork we received from the estate we found the original price of the Pella-make door - it was purchased at Home Depot (special order) sometime in the 80's. There was also an interesting sketch - I'm not sure if it was of the original door or what they were looking to get - that showed a french-style double-door opening with left-side light. The panels were shown to be 24" wide each and the knobs where the deep offset, one on each side. It looked wonderful so we went down the trail of using that same plan. The problem was that the original hardware was missing and finding a french-door set with the 5 1/2" offset wasn't very practical (I don't know of any company that's currently making that size, although there are still some old-store-stock sets available - fairly expensive due to rarity). Also the door itself would need to be custom built and the bids to do so started to escalate into the thousands.

Door from December 2004
I had taken a photo in 2002 of the door (it was so I could remember where the lighted balls we hang during the holidays should go) and we used it as a template to explore other possibilities. We would overlay pieces of paper cut into door shapes over the same image, ultimately holding those same templates up in the front yard to see how various designs would look on the house. Using a typical 36" wide door, the side light was the same size as the wall to the left which caused three vertical shapes all about the same size that looked incredibly awkward. The only solution was to widen the door which suddenly made the design workable. The next size up is 42" so we started pricing a wooden, solid core door - my preference was quartersawn beech and my intent was to build the frame myself, ordering the glass and doing all the work. We looked at getting a contractor out and got some bids on building the whole thing - once again in the thousands.

This is where Cindi stepped in and made me see the light - did I really want to continually do maintenance on a wood, natural finish door? At some point everyone ends up either painting or replacing it as it goes through the usual decomposition due to exposure to the elements. Our front door is particularly susceptible as the awning overhead is so high above, providing exceptional exposure to nature. So while pricing out a 42" metal (may has well be metal since it would be painted - it also has the lowest maintenance costs and we wouldn't have to worry about it sagging, warping, etc) door and the glass and materials, we ended up getting a bid on the design directly from a building supply. It ended up costing much less than any of the bids we received, and I pulled the old door and installed the new myself. This is the result...

New door installed 2009
 What you see above is is the new door with just primer in the brick mould. I finished the exterior to be paint-ready - the interior took me an extra year (yea the procrastination bug hit me and I never had time to custom cut the inside trim - quite a bit of work to get it ripped down to size and fitted against the wall). The glass is called something like "rain glass" and has a vertical texture - we wanted something you don't typically see that still obscured the view inside from nosy solicitors, but also let in the maximum amount of light. We had originally talked about painting it red, but it's funny how that color grows on you. I think we like it better the same color as the marble block, but will probably end up painting the door itself a bright color - it's a project for the spring.

Another shot from 2002

Shot from summer of 2010

In all the project was quite do-able. The door was a bear to set - took quite a few tries to get it to balance in the old rough opening. There's been some settling so the opening isn't quite square. Extended frames can be tough even in a square opening - I think I worked on getting this in over the course of several hours while several of my friends came over and made suggestions - it wasn't until everyone left so I could concentrate on the problem that I figured it out and get it in. I was in a wedding the same afternoon so there was a high degree of stress involved into completing the project - at one point I almost gave up and put the old door back in. Just make sure you plan as much as you can, taking lots of measurements and making sketches of everything. Even if you use a contractor it will help you to get on the same page with everyone involved.
I put the old door on Craigslist and managed to sell it for $150 - the buyer was so happy she sent me a photo of my old door installed on her house. I'm so happy it was able to be recycled and recommend that if anyone else does a similar project, you also sell your old door (if it isn't too trashed). It's a karma thing - giving back and not being wasteful.
-- John

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mailbox Post - this one on Lynnray

I've had this image since early March and thought I would post - this is another very good example of a homemade "tubafor" construction mailbox post that seems very appropriate for our neighborhood. It's really amazing what can be accomplished that's both well proportioned and pleasing to the eye, using inexpensive materials - the variations seem endless. This one has vertical symmetry and a tasteful base of stones and a couple of natural boulders.

-- John

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Northcrest Tour of Homes 2010

On May 3rd Northcrest's Hoe 'n' Hope Garden Club had their yearly Tour of Homes for 2010. 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 donations from the tour will go towards a new sign (the current sign was all but demolished late New Years Eve by an errant carload of celebrants - there will be a follow-up post with links and details for both the rules for the new sign contest and also how to make contributions).

Before going on, I need to apologize for a few things:
  1. These photos aren't of the normal quality I try to accomplish - my camera seems to be on its last leg. I had to discard about half of the photos as blurry, under/over exposed garbage - as such some of the images that I have posted aren't quite all there either.
  2. To add insult to injury, the power supply for my scanner seems to be dead - I usually scan the brochure but this year the cover image is directly from the digital copy (thus it's on a white background instead of the printed yellow paper background - thanks to Brian Robboy for providing the digital file).
  3. The lack of some images and use of some stock images (stuff I'd taken previously and already posted) - since I was helping on the Wollnick's residence as a host I was rushed and wasn't able to make it to all locations.
  4. The lateness of this post - trying to get my camera and scanner resolved has made me very late on several posts, across all my blogs - once again, my apologies.
This 2010 tour featured 3 homes, 1 landscape garden and the Northcrest Swim & Tennis Club:
3431 Heartwood Lane
3712 Eaglerock Drive
3386 Lynnray Drive
3224 Lynnray 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:

3431 Heartwood Lane – Kevin Gnewikow and Brian Robboy
Brian and Kevin have worked hard to balance their penchant for techno-toys with their home’s mid-century roots. Their recently (finally?) completed addition, designed by architect Mo Heidari, features a two-car garage/workshop, a second-floor master suite, and a third-floor loft. Hardwood floors throughout were laced-in seamlessly with the original bedroom floors.

The kitchen was reconfigured to get more fullsized appliances and workspace into its original footprint. A two-sided, 36”x72” Corian prep area allows several people to work comfortably, and an in-wall pantry maximizes storage.

The lower-level family room and glass sunroom serve as office space for Brian’s graphic design business, with an additional bedroom/bath suite, laundry and storage directly behind.

Technology upgrades include network wiring, Z-wave automated scene lighting, digital phone system, electronic shower controls in the master bath, and central vacuum throughout with automatic dustpans in the kitchen and basement.

Their eclectic furniture collection includes a Danish Modern dining table and chairs, china cabinet and bar originally brought to the US by a neighbor who served in Spain in the 1960s. A CADO wall unit in the living room showcases Brian's “interesting” collection of vintage mixers, blenders and toasters. Also prominent are paintings, ceramic pieces and a mid-century-inspired wall mural by local artist Matthew Craven. Exterior lighting and the one-of-a-kind kitchen chandelier are RETRO by Remcraft.

3712 Eaglerock Drive – Larry and Stephanie Hart

Larry and Stephanie Hart are pleased to share their years of hard work with friends and neighbors, and invite you to tour their home’s beautiful outdoor gardens.
For 37 years, Larry and Stephanie have considered their yard a work in progress. Even though they will be moving this summer, Stephanie still
couldn’t resist putting some touches of color in her yard for the next owner.
With their heavily treed lot, the Harts learned early on that grass just wouldn’t make it - but they just couldn’t bear to cut those pines and oaks down with all of the shade (not to mention lower air conditioning bills!) they provided.
So, they installed pathways through the front and back yards; added two ponds with waterfalls; and planted MORE trees! Today, the pathways are lined with azaleas, perennials, and annuals, as well as native plants wherever Stephanie could place them. Stephanie also notes that this natural habitat has a hidden benefit — no raking of fall leaves!
A few years ago, the Harts’ property was certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the Atlanta Audubon Society. While enjoying the gardens’ serene atmosphere and beautiful foliage, visitors find it hard to believe that the property backs up to Pleasantdale Road.

3386 Lynnray Drive – Lukas and Petra Vilimec
When Petra and Lukas first saw Northcrest, they fell in love with its open airiness and unique, mid-century architecture. When the time came to buy a home, they immediately thought of Northcrest — purchasing this 1968 P&H split-level with pickled tongue-andgroove ceilings, dark-stained exposed beams, and coveted white crushed-marble brick.

The lower-level family room is open from front to back, maximizing natural light and space. Initially, the lower family room level was unusable: wet-bar ripped out, fireplace plastered over, and wild paint colors. Petra and Lukas have since restored the wet bar and fireplace, and remodeled the bathroom.

Upstairs is an awesome collection of vintage and modern furniture and accessories, including Danish Modern wall unit, credenza, dining table and chairs; Lane Acclaim dovetail coffee and side tables; and a master bedroom furnished entirely in Broyhill's 1960s Brasilia line.

Outside, their landscaping plan is based on native plants and sustainability, and is inspired by vintage Better Homes and Gardens magazines and Sunset books. The backyard features a woodland garden, spacious deck and an area for a firepit.

“Our house is a work in progress — there is always something we want to do: updating our kitchen and upstairs bathrooms and putting hardwoods on the main level. We love that so many of our friends and neighbors share our passion for Northcrest."

3224 Lynnray Drive – Rick and Amanda Wollnick
Amanda and Rick have always been into different, quirky things. When it came to finding a home, they knew they would need something extra special. They had looked at 53 homes in Atlanta before finding their eventual nest on Lynnray Drive. And not a moment too soon, according to Rick, who jokes “I was starting to think that our Realtor® was ready to choke us!”

When Rick and Amanda first met up with their Realtor to check out the house, it was love at first sight. “We knew right then this would become our new home. The listing was only 3 hours old, and the sellers were still taking pictures for the listing. Knowing that the moment these pictures were available, the home would have multiple offers, we immediately made our bid. The rest is history.”

The last owners, Mitch and Daniel, did a great job remodeling the kitchen and putting down bamboo flooring, while keeping the simple, time appropriate, mid-century feel lovingly intact. Building on that success, Rick and Amanda have already come across a few choice pieces of mid-century furniture.

Their future projects include remodeling the downstairs family room and bathroom, and reinstalling the wet bar removed long ago by a previous owner.

“We know that restoring our home back to its original ‘cocktail-party-ready’ status will be hard work, but entirely worth the effort.”

Northcrest Swim and Tennis Club
3524 Bowling Green Way



We invite you make 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. 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 barbecue grill, multipurpose athletic field and children’s play court, all situated within in a 3.5 acre park setting.

A packed social calendar features themed dinner events every two weeks throughout the summer. On most Friday nights, you'll find members firing up the grill for a relaxed, informal poolside “bring-your-own” dinner party.

Best of all, the Club is managed and maintained entirely through the efforts of volunteer members and neighbors who recognize that the Club is a vital neighborhood asset — reinforcing that it truly is a "neighborhood destination."

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

-- John

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Carpenter Bee Traps

I finally had a chance to mount up some Carpenter Bee traps that I purchased as part of a neighborhood group buy - these came from a discussion on the Northcrest i-neighbors group (if you haven't heard about this group, it's a web-based community hosted by the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania an is free with no advertising. There are about 200 Northcrest neighbors signed up and it's used to communicate neighborhood issues, etc., especially by the Neighborhood Watch and other associations. Links at the bottom of this post). In any case, Chris Sommovigo posted this site ( and after viewing the videos about 10 of us got together and purchased the Carpenter Bee traps and "Bee Butter" (order was put together by Marty Levine - you can see the original post on i-neighbors here:

So I got two of these traps and mounted them on the Southern eave of my roof (I had sprayed the front, back and carport last year and they were still holding up well - the Southern eave is above a slope that cants down and left so it's harder to place a ladder so I was slack about spraying that end - this year there were bees everywhere, but that end got riddled with holes).

So this is what the trap looks like mounted - I used two short galvanized finishing nails (one on each side) - the website suggest covering one of the bee holes so I found one that looked active in the middle of about a dozen. I put one trap on each side of the eave, about 10 feet from the ends.

The first day I didn't see anything in there, nor the second so I stopped watching. Towards the end of the week I noticed somehing in one but it was hard to see how many were caught. This past weekend I got out the ladder and this is what was in the bottle:

So 11 bees - not bad for a test run. These were in the trap near the back of the house - the other trap got bupkis. These look soggy as it had rained - I drilled a couple of holes in the bottom of the trap (as suggested by the video so yes, you should also do this if you're going to use them).

In all not a bad idea and it works for sure.

To join Northcrest i-neighbors:

-- John

Friday, April 23, 2010

2010 Northcrest Hoe 'N Hope Garden Club Tour

Date has been posted: Sunday 2010.05.02 (that's May 2nd, 2010) from 2-5 PM. See you there!

-- John

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Snow in March - Seems to be a Regular Thing

For the second year in a row, snow fell onNorthcrest. This time we got about 2 inches of snow (yesterday 2010.03.02) with hardly any accumulation due to the temperature pretty much staying above freezing. Here are a couple of shots from my living room window:

This shot is from the dining room window overlooking the back yard:

-- John

Thursday, January 28, 2010