Garden – Pool Area

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Last summer we managed to get a empty side-lot transformed into our little oasis. In four months we went from a grassy side-lot to a hidden swimming hole with a garden that blends with the established plantings. It was a fun process, and thanks to the design work by Julie DeLeon of Groundwork Design we can now enjoy our compound and watch the low maintenance garden grow.

Here are the plans for the side-lot, viewed alongside the house and the existing garden, that is essentially directly in front and behind the house.

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We had some changes that needed to be made to the designs to accommodated: budget; permits; city-planners; pool design; changes in terrain due to pool dig; and other countless design issues that occurred along the way. So things look a little different, as our plans evolved and looked more like the this plan [pictured below] …. again with some modifications. We have kept the existing garden as is, adding some plants into the existing beds, but it is largely un-touched. The area we impacted was the side-lot.

The Frost House - Pool Garden Plan

POOL: We started the design with the pool selection and placement. We wanted to have long narrow pool that mimicked the shape of the house. Julie cleverly placed it in the back corner for a few reasons: 1] least amount of disruption to the large existing trees; 2] maximize our hours of sun on the pool finding the least shaded parts; 3] flattest area of the side lot (it is a basin and is lower by 4-6ft from the front side to the rear property line.

FENCING: We had to have a fence around the pool, and we wanted to also have it reach around the house to contain the dog. This was going to make a HUGE impact to the look of the house.

The design that we REALLY wanted came further into our front property, but the city would not allow it at 6ft to go past the front of the house. The ruling was made so it didn’t prohibit drivers from seeing cars backing / approaching the street from the driveway. We tried to convince them, that the placement left lots of visibility. We were able to get them to compromise, and we had to go with it. Otherwise it would have required us to apply for an exception – and that was going to be more time and $$$.

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So we ended up with this [see below] as a compromise. Because the change in location meant it hit an area where the land started to lower + dip – we ended up having to backfill under the fence to reach up to 4ft in some sections. We do miss that they fence was going to have a break and short turn. The short fence bridging the two long expanses, was going to be vertical bars, designed to be open to a feature a tree trunk and allow Banksy to have a view to the street. No clear view for the pup.

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As for the style .. we were inspired by our neighbors pool / yard fence that is made from aluminum & actual wire-mesh safety glass [pictured below].

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We also loved this image [pictured below] that our Landscape Designer – Julie shared with us. With that we were off to the races to find a solution for a fence, we have another post to give the details on the design … it can be found here.

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PLANTS: Julie choose plantings that matched those that were already in the garden, along with period appropriate options, in 1964 we didn’t have access to the vast selection of varieties that we do today.

FURNITURE: We have kept outdoor furniture around the house in the existing garden period appropriate with vintage pieces – all knoll of course. However, for the pool area we selected more affordable options that were still minimal in style, came with a warranty, and something we didn’t need to panic about as we witness them taking some serious use and abuse. We went with Design-within-Reach EOS furniture line in white designed by Mathew Hilton in 2011. They are proving to be durable and survived our winter. The only drawback the chaise loungers absorb the rain and hold onto the water – in a major way. The leaf blower is good for dealing with that issue, when turned on it pushes the water out fast, and they are relatively quick to dry. The umbrella’s are a classic, and we first saw them in Palm Springs at The Parker, you can buy them here.

Earlier this Spring we finalized some details, we need to add irrigation, and yet some details – like landscape lighting, have still not been resolved. The plants have a lot of growing to do for the hedges to form and the trees to mature. You can find us this summer in the side-lot admiring the view. It is so nice to be able to enjoy the pool and garden with friends and family this year without all the construction and mess. It’s cocktail time!

Glass Fence

We have had several requests asking about details on our ‘Glass’ fence. Let us start by pointing out our fence is a ‘fake-glass’ fence – it is actually made from polycarbonate material. We are not ones for long posts so we will break this down fast.

WHY A FENCE

Simple – we added a pool to the side-lot that came with the home, and state law requires the pool to be fenced. We also wanted to allow our dog Banksy to be able to enjoy the outdoors without us worry if he was playing on the road. The fence were were worried about – as we didn’t want to impact the look of the house – distracting from the original design and look of the garden – we started to lose sleep over the fence design.

DESIGN INSPIRATION

Luckily we didn’t need to look too far. We were inspired by our neighbors fence. Their gorgeous fence is an original pool fence to the house and it made from aluminum and actual safety wire glass. The minute we noticed it – we were 1] jealous 2] knew we had to do something in-the-manner-of to be period appropriate. Our landscape designer Julie DeLeon of Groundwork Design also provide some visual inspiration with black metal and glass fences, and we looked to our previous home for ideas too [see here].

MATERIALS

Here is a list of the materials that were purchased / utilized during construction:

  • Fake Glass: Mulit-wall polycarbonate sheeting we purchased through EPlastics, the material was made in Wisconsin, we had it custom cut and shipped direct
  • Posts: Standard 2″ square steel posts painted black [similar material – see here]
  • Post Caps: Plastic you can easily source these [local hardware or amazon]
  • Concrete: Used to set the posts
  • Frames: Steel hot rolled Angle bar [similar materials – see here]
  • Screws: Frames were screwed to the posts so at anytime if needed they can be removed.
  • Gate Hinge: Again nothing custom – readily purchased at hardware store.
  • Gate Handle: Simple and cost effective – here is something similar to what we used
  • Gate Plate: Custom made from plate steel, welded to steel angle bar painted black.

CONSTRUCTION

We had been working with, and still to this day, work with a local General Contractor, Juan Ramirez and his crew RASE Construction LLC – hold our house together and are not afraid of our crazy project requests. We are not handy people, and rely upon this crew to help us with our projects, they figured out how to construct the fence from all the pieces and put it together. The frames were welded off site and everything else was put together onsite. The poly carbonate panels are 3ft wide by 6ft tall, and are set into frames that are 2 panels across, attached to fence posts set every 6ft. We tried to do 9ft wide with 3 panels, but the wind made them too unstable. The rest of the details – to us it was magic. Sorry we are not of much use here as to the ‘how’, we truly are useless even with a hammer.

LESSONS

There was some trial and error with the fence, just like anything, nothing is really ever perfect and you just need to roll with it. Here are a few things we learned:

  1. Polycarbonate delivery was huge, the crates were custom made and hard to crack open – we needed a crew to help us off load a delivery that would normally go to a construction site with forklifts to offload – we had to do it by hand. It can be done, but be prepared with a crew to help you.
  2. Light. The fence creates the most amazing light shows all times of the day. It really obscures detail until you or the object is up close to the fence. You can see movement of people and cars going by, and night the headlights and tail-lights are like moving abstract art. And you can see the garden plantings and their movement too. So far no discoloration to the panels from the light has been observed.
  3. Weather. It is holding up well so far, it went in August 2017 and at time of writing April 2018 it is looking great. It has endured: heavy snow; high winds; tree branches; hot sun; and torrential downpours. So far we are giving it a thumbs up.
  4. Cleaning. It is low maintenance, with the hammered effect to the poly carbonate, to make it opaque it helps hide the dust and the rain splatter. A quick hose down get rid of any bark or soil.
  5. Channels. The polycarbonate is twin-walled so has channels for water and small bugs to make themselves a home. So far – the bugs haven’t been an issue. The first panels that were installed we used silicone and it created condensation issues. There is a tape to seal them that comes with the manufactures recommendation – don’t skip buying it, it seems to work to keep bugs out and condensation a way to escape [see photo below] It was only utilized on the bottom edge of the panels, the rest of the edges are sealed with silicone.

Oops this turned out longer than we thought it would. Well – we hope this helps, and please share your projects if you are inspired to create your own ‘frosted-fake-glass-fence’. And if you have any question please ask away we will do our best to answer your questions based on our project and experience to date.

 

 

Dezeen – Design Magazine

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Thanks Dezeen for the feature. Fingers crossed this story telling will lead us to some new connections with information and/or tales of life in an Alside Home. We are close to finding 30 of the homes .. out of the known 96 that rolled off the production lines and there is a possibility there might be as many at 200. Check out the homes we have found so far – thanks to the power of social media – on our Alside Homes Locator page.

You can read the full article on Dezeen here.

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Establishing ‘Trust’

We loving seeing the story of our house popping up everywhere: from major publications; and websites; to blogs across the globe. With each share we get to learn something new. This particular blog, it was the comments that grabbed our attention. Ross who is into restoring things, including an incredible home – Cross House. He shared our Curbed story with his readers, and one reader in turn shared some incredibly thoughtful food for thought:

“I have never found mid-century modern to be a personally appealing style, as my preference would be something built before 1900 out of wood., yet this house is exceptional. It is the epitome of preservation.”

Although we personally like mid-century modern we can also appreciate all styles of well persevered craftsmanship that represent a point-in-time, enabling the experience of life in another period in history.

It appears to me from reading the article that the reason that everything goes so perfectly is because the house and furnishings appear to have been chosen by a single designer or team of designers who not only designed the house, but were among those who created the very concept of mid-century modern. The fact that it was all put together as a model home means that the concept has never been tainted by the whims of its owners.

A great observation – we will have to quote you in our presentations for that thought.

The Frost family’s lifestyle lent itself to maintaining the house and its contents so beautifully, makes it a true example of a movement that has been little understood, nor, when I was young, even seriously taught in courses in the appreciation of the history of art.

The kids when they moved in were young teenagers, and we know that they did have a dog in the house, they knew how to respect what your hard earned money had purchased.

For its new owners, Bob Coscarelli and Karen Valentine, to walk in and recognize the value of these details and want to preserve them, is crucial to its continued preservation. It will limit them in their choices in the future, but is a trust that they seem ready to carry.

It is so true, although we love the house, we were hoping that we could have had a small project to update the kitchen and bathrooms, but because everything was so well maintained, it would have been wrong of us to change anything too significantly. These homes in this state are ‘needles in a haystack’.

Speaking of trusts, this house should be on the national register. I would hope for this house the same thing that I would like to do to for mine if I am able to complete its restoration, and that I would like to see Ross do for the Cross House.

Yes, we need to get moving on this listing, we really want to make sure it gets some recognition it deserves, at the every least with a listing on the National Register.

Now this next part is really interesting…. total food for thought when thinking about the future of ‘The Frost House’ – what next – could we consider a ‘preservation trust’:

  • Coscarelli and Valentine could set up a private preservation trust, foundation, or other tax-exempt entity for the property funding this trust with contributions.
  • (Although I don’t have the knowledge to determine the best entity within current laws. I will hereafter refer to the entity chosen as a trust.) Those contributions could come from multiple sources.
  • Those who would have a serious interest in having a tour of the home could be charged a significant fee, at least one hundred dollars per person. Such tours could be held on a regular basis, at the owner’s discretion. High fees would ensure that they would be limited to those with a serious interest, and of course the owners would have the right to show the house to anyone they liked at any time they like.
  • The current owners should not have any limits on their comfortable enjoyment of the property that don’t already exist.
  • The fees and other contributions could be invested in such a way that the capital would increase with every tour.
    • Only the income from the investments could be used for any purpose with hopes that the capital would continue to grow.
    • Income that was not spent in a calendar year would be used to increase the capital.
    • The board of trustees should be the owners, and others that the owners would select from the legal and financial community with a serious interest in the continued preservation of the house. I would say that it be specified that trustees would not be allowed to receive any remuneration for their work as trustees either financial or in any other form. It is my belief that too many such trusts have been gutted by trustees who “volunteer” in order to line their own pockets or steer work or patronage to people who would create some other benefit for that trustee.
  • The house could be owned by the trust, giving it tax free status and having the trust pay for upkeep in such a way that the owners could recoup their original investment plus any appreciation or minus any loss in value if we have deflation. This could be implemented by requiring one of two things.
    1. It could made into a house museum.
    2. The rights to its use as their home could be sold to people who would be committed to its preservation within the parameters set up by the current owners when the trust is formed.
  • For example, if the Frost family had set up such a trust, they could have left the house to the trust to preserve it. If they had had such a trust and wanted the value to go to their heirs, I am sure that their heirs and the trustees would have gladly approved Coscarelli and Valentine as the new owners and the Frosts would likely have been delighted to know that the new owners have a sense of commitment to its preservation.
    • The trustees could have approved and paid for the replacement of the carpet with terrazzo, as a solution to the worn carpet. After all, carpet can be put down at any time to return it to the exact original design, while the terrazzo will wear very well and serve the owner’s needs better.
    • They could also find specialists who can repair and maintain the vintage appliances, systems, and decor. Examples of such would be to go so far as to have fabrics custom made to match the original coverings etc. if necessary.
    • Covenants could be added to the deed that would assure the preservation of the house.
  • The trustees’ job would be to assure that the house is properly maintained, the capital is managed so that the income is only spent on quality maintenance with a diverse portfolio (to prevent huge losses such as those funds that invested so heavily in mortgage backed securities or companies such as Enron), and that no one could push for the alteration or demolition of the house for any reason.
    • They would manage the various efforts to raise additional funds, other than income from tours, for the trust. They would also have regular reserve studies done to assure that there is sufficient funding to prevent its decline.
    • A separate reserve fund could be maintained for expenses anticipated by the reserve studies.
    • The trustees could also create and raise money for a fund for the purchase of the rights that the owner(s) enjoy if they choose to sell.
  • I admit, I have written this in such detail to solidify ideas I have for the future of my own house and other historic properties that I have had buzzing around in my head. I find the lack of foresight that seems to result in the loss of properties whose owners or others were intent on preserving to be alarming.
  • The idea of turning a property over to municipalities for preservation seems to result in demolition due to budget cuts and disinterest from government officials.
    • There are so many examples that I hear about when someone posts an article, written in outrage when it is too late to do anything.
    • I usually prefer not to express my political views because I consider the to be private. I don’t really think that this statement is political, but others may. I feel that elected officials main interest is in being reelected, and the interests of preservation are not necessarily a thing that will help them with that. The bureaucrats who implement programs such as property preservation are required to do what they are told to within the law.

Such an incredibly thoughtful comment and discussion. We have reached out to Ross to see if he can connect us with Mr. McLean, he seems like a very interesting person.

Indianapolis Monthly – Feb 2018

It is here! Our first feature in print thanks to Indianapolis Monthly – Feb Edition 2018. It is a lovely piece written by Gina Bazer and photography by Bob Coscarelli. Our favorite quote in the article ….

Constructed of steel and aluminum modules in different colors, the Frost House winks at passing drivers like a Mondrian painting in the middle of a forest.

Thanks for the enchanting chat about the house Gina, we had fun reliving the story, and we continue to enjoy finding out more facts – it is like a good archeological dig.

 

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Look for the FEB 2018 Edition on news stands or pick up a copy for your favorite digital reader through an app like Zinio.

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Modernism Week 2018

We are excited to announce that the Frost House has been invited to attend Modernsim Week in Feb 2018. We will be providing a virtual experience on the house in the form of a ‘photography’ rich presentation.

We are seriously so honored to be called, even if we are filling a spot at the last minute for someone that could not longer attend – we will take it. Every time our story is told we hear from people that can provide us with more information about Emil Tessin or Alside Homes Corp. or lead us to finding one of the 96 homes.

HOWEVER, if you are attending Modernism Week – please do come to our talk. Our Mum/Mom’s can’t make it so we would be so grateful if you could make it to fill some seats so we are not talking to an empty room – we might even have a little gift as a token of our appreciation for your attendance. so please follow the link to buy tickets –>

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Here are some details about the event:
“INSTANT HOUSE. It will come delivered in two trailer trucks and within 48 hours will be completely assembled down to the last fixture and appliance.” LIFE Magazine August 18th, 1961.
Join the current owners of The Frost House’, as they share stories of living in an intact 1960’s prefabricated display home’. It is a remarkable time-capsule that is still furnished with its original sales model’ first-edition furniture from Knoll International, original kitchen with case design work by Paul McCobb, appliances, fittings and fixtures — even the original curtains. The home has been relatively untouched since it first went on the market to attract buyers to a new development in Michigan City, Indiana.
It still looks like the sales brochure. The steel, glass and aluminum flat roof home with its baked enamel panels of green, yellow and blue was so astounding to a local doctor that he insisted on buying the display model’ exactly as he experienced it. Dr. Robert Frost and his wife Amelia raised their children there and lived in the home until his death, leaving all the furniture basically where it stood when they bought it. Follow along on the journey to uncover the history of the home’s manufacturer, Alside Homes Corp, and the architect Emil Tessin, the son of Emil Albert Tessin, the legal guardian of Florence Knoll.

Belgium Story: In this unique house, time has stood still for almost 60 years

Thanks to a reader from Belgium, they reached out to inform us that on Jan 6th 2018 a story had been run on ‘The Frost House’. That explains the spike in google search visits from Belgium. The home appeared on Zimmo – from what we can gather is like a Zillow in Belgium, with the headline: In this unique house, time has stood still for almost 60 years.

We didn’t know that they were going to be doing a story, so some of the facts are not quiet right, but none-the-less it is fun to see the home being appreciated around the globe. Oh! And we love that they included some photos of the home from the real estate listing to how things are today – for a comparison.

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Here is the ‘google translate’ of the story from English to Dutch. Of course dome pieces got ‘lost in translation’ but it make for an entertaining read for those that are not so fluent in Dutch:

Bob Coscarelli and Karen Valentine rubbed their hands when they saw this gem. This prefab house from 1958 was then assembled at 48 hours and – due to an impeccable dedication of the previous owners – still looks exactly like it did then. “When we saw the house, we thought it was too good to be true.”

A dream come true.

This house is like a kind of time capsule, where you can not only discover how people lived in the 60s, you can just continue the tradition. This unique find was for the Coscarelli family the perfect end to a laborious house hunt. So they first bought a piece of land to build a house, but they blew the deal at the last minute because of cold fear.

The big disappointment quickly gave way to happiness when they saw this beautiful prefab cottage near Lake Michigan in Indiana (USA). The house was made by the company Alside Homes in 1958 at 48 hours by attaching steel frames of 1.3 square meters to each other with aluminum plates and where the necessary insulation was attached. In itself nothing special, were it not that the house is very unique because the company even before it was big breakthrough, was declared bankrupt. It did not deter the former inhabitants – the Frost family – and they fell in love with the house, including all Knoll’s furniture and the design by former interior architect Paul McCobb.

In Michigan, one Dr. Robert Frost at the time at the house and he not only wanted to buy the house, but also any piece of furniture that could be made by Knoll at the time had to be in it. He lived there with his family for 58 years, until he died in 2016. His wife died at the end of last year. When the Coscarelli family bought the house afterwards, it included the contents of the former owners.

And if you think that all of that has known its best time, you did not know the Frosts. More than five decades, the house was treated with unprecedented love. For example, the house was cleaned several times a day – with the same as when the house was bought – and every piece of furniture in the living room (s) had to be at exactly the same spot after cleaning.

The soundness of old household appliances you hear more often in the elderly from your family, but a whole house that has been inhabited for no less than 58 years by a whole family and where everything seems almost untouched, is unique. When the Coscarelli family moved in, they replaced the taps, floor and dishwasher in the kitchen – the heart of a home. All other devices were retained.

In the bedrooms in the time again stand still. Both the nursery with bunk beds, the master bedroom and the queen room – their nickname for the guest room – have remained almost untouched. For example, even the paint on the doors is still almost 60 years ago and the glass wall of the late interior architect Paul McCobb remained intact.

In 1958 there was even room in a house to relax. For example, a small desk was set up and there was room for a mini-library where you can relax in the evening with a good book. And everything you see is also authentic. From an old painting to a lamp from 1940. Some of the unique gems to preserve a rustic character were not received by the Coscarelli family.

We already take off our hat for the families Frost and Coscarelli. This property is unique and we are fan! You too?

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Here is a link to the article.