Remembering Elizabeth Wright Ingraham

REMEMBERING ELIZABETH WRIGHT INGRAHAM

This morning while driving to get coffee, I was listening to the usual pre-election ridiculousness on National Public Radio. I have only to wonder for a flash of a second what Liz would have thought of things (or of a certain candidate) in order to hear her voice and ROARING laugh — clear as a bell.  

Sidebar:  I would share what I can hear her say about that candidate, but this is not a political post. (And, now I can hear her say, “But, Carol… why NOT a political post?!  We all must SPEAK UP and DO something!”)

MY INTRODUCTION (a.k.a. ’THE INITIATION')

I had just moved to Colorado Springs and was working as an architectural intern in a small office.  Our office was right in the center of downtown, in the same building as a movie theater, a French bistro, a chocolate shop, and Liz’s two-story office, accessed through a narrow pedestrian alley.  Her office was next to a Thai restaurant, which always smelled like fried rice.

Liz loved hanging out will all types of creatives, of all ages. About once a month, several young professionals including several architectural interns, an architectural illustrator, and a landscape architect would pack their lunches and head over to Liz’s office to gather around her conference room table.  

I had no idea that attending the first time was a kind of initiation. When I got there, I noticed that the guys who invited me were unusually quiet. They had taken their seats, ready to observe the show. You see, Liz examined everyone who came through her office doors closely. If you weren’t up to snuff, you quickly became the target of an interrogation. If you did measure up, the energy shifted to banter. The interrogations were especially fun to watch (as long as they didn't shift over to you!)

For Liz and myself, it was banter.  Always banter.

Years later, I brought two summer interns from our office to lunch with Liz. It was my turn to sit back and enjoy the show. These girls were quite young, the kind of young that thinks nothing of wearing spaghetti-strapped sundresses and flip-flops to the office. Liz leaned in:  “What are the branches of the government?…You mean you don’t know?!...Who did you vote for?…What do you think of this legislation being proposed?…Do you read the paper...AT ALL? Watch the news?”  

One of them passed the test (barely, she was let off the hook after she correctly listed the branches of the government). The other did not.  

COLLEAGUESHIP

She was old enough to be my grandmother, yet we were peers. She introduced me to clients and her own children as “a colleague of mine.” This meant the world to me.  Back then, the only thing you could call yourself when you didn’t yet have your architect’s license was 'intern'… and this was when White House intern Monica Lewinsky was in the press, so it was a job title that opened itself up to some embarrassing comments. Not to mention the fact that everyone assumed that ‘intern' was synonymous with 'unpaid student'. (It’s not. You have to work for a minimum of 3 years under the direct supervision of a licensed architect as an intern before you can complete the examination process and actually call yourself an architect. Unlike doctors, who get to use the term doctor when they are still completing their residency.)

Over the years, I returned many, many times to Liz’s office.  With the group, without the group. It didn’t matter. I would drop into the office and shout up the stairs, “Hi, it’s me!” She’d answer with a enthusiastic, “Oh, CAROL! How ARE you? Come on UP!” And, when I’d leave, she’d send me off with, “Force on, Carol. FORCE. ON."

Success Story (and a new service option)

BEFORE & AFTER

BEFORE (left) & AFTER (right)

BEFORE (left) & AFTER (right)

Remodeled years ago, complete with an acoustical ceiling tile grid with fluorescent lights, this Craftsman Bungalow kitchen was long overdue for an overhaul. There was very little original charm left, other than the leaded glass doors in the breakfast nook.  Our goal was to restore vintage character while creating a highly functional kitchen that will eventually appeal to buyers.

The leaded glass doors were reused in the design of the custom china armoire, seen in the 'AFTER' image (above, right).

A new, widened opening from the kitchen to the dining room features a bar-height mahogany peninsula to make visiting while cooking effortless and to double as a serving counter. The opening was curved to match the existing openings exactly.

The antique telephone and mixer both work and are used frequently.

The antique telephone and mixer both work and are used frequently.

The retro-style fridge, vintage telephone, farmhouse apron sink, linoleum floors, and mix of reproduction and vintage light fixtures bring the charm to the foreground of what is now a functionally modern kitchen.

To see more photos, visit Houzz.

HOW IT STARTED

I was contacted by this homeowner after he attended my "Kitchen Remodeling for Vintage Homes" lecture at Historic Seattle.  The project had been on his mind for years, and he had already completed several other restoration/remodel projects in the house.  But, the kitchen posed a lot of design challenges and he knew he wanted to get it "right"... and by "right" I mean have it feel special and historic when he was done, not screaming remodeled now and outdated in 10 years.

GETTING IT RIGHT

What the homeowner needed here was for me to pull together the big vision, draw a detailed set of drawings that would get him off to a good start with his builder, and chime in on how to make semi-custom cabinets look custom and vintage before pulling the trigger on the cabinet order. He was comfortable taking on the shopping, daily supervision, and decision-making. And, his contractor was able to facilitate the permits.  So, really he just needed my help "getting it right."

DESIGN-ONLY SERVICES

As you can see, the results were fabulous!  Which has inspired me to offer design-only services to other projects that are well-suited for it.  Think that might be your project?  Contact me to talk it over.

Featured in SNAP magazine

Magnolia Mid-Mod continues to get noticed for its innovative design solutions, especially in the kitchen where ergonomics and workflow were carefully considered together with the different abilities of standing and seated users. Most recently, it was featured in SNAP magazine  (Sweets News and Products), published by Architectural Record.

In the pre-internet era, you would not have found an architect's office without current copies of the Sweets catalogs in their resource library. So, it's especially flattering to have been included in the Product Specs "Accessible Design Solutions" section of this publication, which serves as a "yellow pages" and inspiration source for other architects.

(The products editor, Sheila Kim, also included a handwritten note with my copy that made my day: "Your project truly demonstrates how beauty & accessibility can coexist.")

CAROL'S FAVORITE THINGS: ACCESSIBLE KITCHEN SINKS

  1. Elkay Drain Fitting - This offset drain creates an additional 12-3/4" of knee clearance for sinks without garbage disposals. ($114)

  2. Elkay Gourmet (Lustertone) Stainless Steel Single Bowl Undermount Sink - The center rear drain position installed together with an offset drain provide additional knee clearance. The Perfect Drain is an edgeless drain that eliminates the accumulation of crumbs and gunk. Undermount, 23-1/2" x 18-1/4" x 5-3/8". ($662, sink only)

  3. Rachiele custom-made apron front stainless steel sink with offset drain - Similar to the ever-popular custom sink seen in my Magnolia Mid-Mod and Pioneer Square projects, Rachiele sinks are available in standard brushed or rustic matte stainless steel with the option to add a hammered texture to the apron only or to the entire sink. The sinks can also be made with "signature ledges" which allow you to set cutting boards onto the ledges for ultimate flexibility. For those who desire a garbage disposal, a custom sink will allow you to place the disposal as close to the rear wall as and far out of the knee space as possible. Apron-front, custom-sized. (Price varies.)

  4. Moen 1800 Series - The rear corner drain is helpful when a garbage disposal is desired. Undermount, 23" x 18" x 5-1/2". ($294)  

  5. Kohler Vault - Clean lines and square corners coordinate with modern architecture.  The super-slim edge can be top-mounted or under-mounted. At 6-5/16" deep, this sink basin is deeper than the Moen and Elkay options. Use in combination an offset drain for maximum knee clearance. Dual-mount, 25" x 22" x 6-5/16". ($679, sink only)  

Note:  Prices listed are estimated retail prices.  Actual purchase price varies.

Video Tour: Magnolia Mid-Mod

There is a lot more story to tell (and stuff to show) about this wonderfully livable and accessible home than photos alone can capture.  

So, when the fabulous Chibi Moku team decided to film in the Pacific Northwest for a few weeks this summer, Karen and I jumped at the opportunity.  Enjoy!