Backyard Office: Dreaming

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Drawing of a Backyard Box office unit.

Nichelle and I have dreamed of building an office in our backyard, off and on, ever since we bought our house almost 5 years ago.  We have talked about a million different ideas and locations in the yard.  A couple of years ago, we even bought a huge 300 pound picture-window on craigslist to put in the office, which we never ended up building.  Those who know me well, know I am a dreamer, and can often be impulsive.  Thankfully, however, I am not so impulsive when it comes to big decisions like this.

Over the past several months, we began discussing a backyard office once again, but this time, everything seemed to fall into place.  We have had 5 years to think, research, and let it all sink in.  Now, I can honestly say I am glad we didn’t act on some of our previous ideas.  Our needs and lifestyle has changed quite a bit over the past few years, and I think we now have a better idea of what we want and need moving forward.  As I look out the window at the huge hole in our backyard, I am pretty sure we are not going to back out this time.

We played with the idea of building a prefab office, and we also interviewed architects and contractors.  In the end, we went with a company called Backyard Box and we are so excited.  Backyard Box is a new company run by contractor Sloan Ritchie, specializing in prefab offices and homes.  The designs are by Jim Burton of Blip, and as soon as we saw pictures of his work, we knew we found what we had been looking for.  Jim and Sloan have worked with us over the last 2 months to create a custom office, which ended up being even better than I expected.  That says a lot coming from a perfectionist.  It will look a bit different from the image above, but this is the unit it was based on and the style is obviously the same.  We will not be able to do prefab for a number of reasons, so this will be a good old fashion construction project.  It still has not sunk in that it is actually happening.  Although, the masonry drill putting holes in our foundation at 8:00am helps reality set in a little.

Having a work space where you can be creative and away from distractions is really important.  Since this is something I am extremely excited about, I thought I would blog about the building process as it unfolds.

Many of you have asked me to blog about this process as you are interested in doing something similar.  I hope it is something you enjoy.  For those who are not so interested, I hope you will bear with me.  It won’t go on forever.  🙂

So far, we have ripped a roof off of our patio.  Tore down two sheds, built a new shed, cut down a few bushes and trees, and finally the construction crew has begun digging.  It’s hard work, and very time consuming, but I have really enjoyed all of it.  I love working with my hands, and our backyard has provided no shortage of things to do.  No wonder I have felt so busy lately.

I recently did a shoot with Jane Pauley (NBC, AARP) and she commented at one point that the brain is happiest when it sees the hands working.  I don’t know if that is a scientific fact, or who to credit that statement to, but I think there is a lot of truth to that.  I find that I am happy when I am working in our yard, and I can see tangible results.  But, just to be clear, I’m not working on this office.  I’ll leave that to the professionals.

Next post in this series: Backyard Office: Shed Demo & Building.


Work And Play In Mexico

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Heading out the door to photograph author Richard Kelley for his new book Deathstroke, I had no idea that I would be kicking it with him on the coast of Mexico just a few weeks later.  Networking, and asking questions have served me well during my young career, and this was the crown jewel of examples.  During the photo shoot with Richard, it came up that he has an incredible home called The Sandcastle, in Ixtapa Mexico that he spent over 10 years building.  As I was asking questions, it turned out that Richard needed photography of his house in Mexico for some upcoming projects and articles, and he asked if I would be interested in photographing it. Yes. No need to really think about that one.  

I spent 5 days in June photographing the Sandcastle and relaxing.  I mean working.  I have never experienced a place as amazing as this one.  Most people never get an experience like this, and I am truly grateful for it.  But I am even more grateful, because this winter I was able to go back with my wife and family for a week of sunshine while it was raining in Seattle.  

There is no front door to the house.  Just a spiral staircase that winds up to the pool deck, passing several other rooms along the way.  The thought and care that went into designing and building the house really is amazing.  It took one man 2 solid years to paint the house to give it an old worn look.  Most of the floors on all seven levels of the house are carved stone.  There is a perfect half inch groove between every stone, and the grooves in each room run into a drain.  This makes it possible to walk anywhere in the house soaking wet.  A brilliant little feature that I think we will start to see more of in new suburban homes in the States…

Below is a slide show of some of my pictures from both of my trips, as well as my portrait of Richard Kelley who made this whole thing possible.  Many thanks Richard!
* If you are using a blog reader, you may need to visit my actual blog to see the slide show.