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Archive for the ‘not so big house blueprint’ Category

Jul-3-2009

not so big house blueprint: roof deck/outdoor space

in the book series, not so big house, the key to getting the most out of a small space are niches. even in big homes, what makes a home “homey” are the small little places that feel cozy and safe. where memories are made. so good architects, builders and home makers build little spots into a house or apt to make the space memorable and alive. i’ve been blessed to live in a few places with little nooks and spots that radiate with life.

we bought one of the not so big house books because we were moving from a 2400 sq/ft md house into a 1100 sq/ft nyc apartment. but it turns out the not so big homes in the not so big house books were not so not-so-big. they were huge places! we have different definitions of not so big house!

in these features, i’ll detail mundane little spots around our apartment…..the spots where we live…and life is made.

because theresa is healing, we won’t be heading up the stairs to our roof deck for a holiday bbq. but we can relive past bbq’s and show off some of our outdoor space…which is sacred space in the city.  apartments are usually cramped…sometimes with very little light coming in….sometimes with no windows or worse! windows that open up to a brick wall. in the summers, people are out and about rather than trapped at home.

so to have some access to the outside right in your own home……magical.

each apartment in our building has their own deck except our place but there is this common deck that is almost used by nobody except us! our building mates even graciously allowed us to keep a grill up there.

a few times a year, we do summer right with burgers, chicken, corn….enjoying eats outdoors. we invite friends and family to hang until the sun is too much. we need to get an umbrella and some proper chairs up there so that we can lounge longer. the fall might be a more pleasant time to hang.

the ironic thing is that theresa and i aren’t very outdoorsy…we have all these plans for deck life but they never come to fruition. ministry life, family life, concert life, city life, travel seems to fill the schedule.  not a bad tradeoff.  but with zoe keeping us at home, the deck may have more appeal.

finally, we do not have the traditional breathtaking ny skyline views but we do have some great expansive sight lines giving us a surge of freedom. there are not many tall buildings so it feels like nyc…but a wes anderson version(i suspect he filmed quite a bit up here for the royal tenenbaums). we’ll gladly revel in it!

hoping to use the deck some more in the summer and the fall!

Posted under not so big house blueprint
Jun-5-2009

not so big house blueprint: gathering table

in the book series, not so big house, the key to getting the most out of a small space are niches. even in big homes, what makes a home “homey” are the small little places that feel cozy and safe. where memories are made. so good architects, builders and home makers build little spots into a house or apt to make the space memorable and alive. i’ve been blessed to live in a few places with little nooks and spots that radiate with life.

we bought one of the not so big house books because we were moving from a 2400 sq/ft md house into a 1100 sq/ft nyc apartment. but it turns out the not so big homes in the not so big house books were not so not-so-big. they were huge places! we have different definitions of not so big house!

in these features, i’ll detail mundane little spots around our apartment…..the spots where we live…and life is made.
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this is our dining room….a modest one by american dream standards but being in the city…its great! we can seat at least 8 and often more when we will pull up other chairs from the island. and it still doesn’t feel cramped. it usually feels homey.

we love that our place feels like a home. not just for us but for others.

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here’s another angle. when we were in md, we gave a lot of thought to what kind of dining room table we wanted. not trying to be “what furniture defines us” snobby at all….but rather, we wanted our home to convey a message….let us gather….gather around….you are welcome here….have a seat, there’s room for you.

these are not givens. some homes are museums that communicate don’t touch…or this is for show…or even worse…this place is for me, the owner.

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we knew our table would serve many purposes….meals, prayer, work, family gatherings, dialogue and debate, counseling, snack, planning, blogging, taxes, searching for tickets….it it has hosted all these things plus more.

a lot of good memories in a relative short time….hope you’ve had a memory at our gathering space, our gathering table. we’ve loved hosting you.

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the downside of getting so much use out of our table is that its beat up after 6 plus years….heat marks, scratches, nicks and stains….

with baby on the way, no way we’re replacing it soon. we will wait and enjoy our old friend. our companion who has travelled from md to nyc and warmed our lives. it has come to symbolize home in our marriage.

Posted under not so big house blueprint
May-21-2009

not so big house blueprint: baby room part one…

in the book series, not so big house, the key to getting the most out of a small space are niches. even in big homes, what makes a home “homey” are the small little places that feel cozy and safe. where memories are made. so good architects, builders and home makers build little spots into a house or apt to make the space memorable and alive. i’ve been blessed to live in a few places with little nooks and spots that radiate with life.

we bought one of the not so big house books because we were moving from a 2400 sq/ft md house into a 1100 sq/ft nyc apartment. but it turns out the not so big homes in the not so big house books were not so not-so-big. they were huge places! we have different definitions of not so big house!

in these features, i’ll detail mundane little spots around our apartment…..the spots where we live…and life is made.

with the baby coming….we’ve started the process of nesting…here’s the story so far.

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this was the guest room with a queen sized aero mattress and queen box spring that we inherited from val. we’ve had this set up ever since we came to ny…even back in our place on the lower east side. but this is no room for a baby.

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with steph’s help, i convinced theresa to paint part of the room to make the place feel a bit warmer. so armed with these supplies…..

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…the girls got to work…picking a greyish green that felt spring-y but not overly girly…..steph was super excited to paint! theresa was super excited to put the painter’s tape on! i was super excited that they enjoyed doing these things!

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we also ordered a crib and some real furniture…about the only other real furniture that we own is the dining room table. we’re mostly ikea people….functional and quirky stuff is what we tend to lean toward. but theresa’s mom insisted on real stuff for our daughter. having been warned that cribs sometimes takes weeks after an initial estimate, we ordered over a month ago. and we’ve waited more than 6 weeks! however, it gave the ladies a chance to paint without having to move stuff around.

more pics and story to come…

Posted under baby, not so big house blueprint
Feb-27-2009

not so big house blueprint: the duck bathroom

in the book series, not so big house, the key to getting the most out of a small space are niches. even in big homes, what makes a home “homey” are the small little places that feel cozy and safe. where memories are made. so good architects, builders and home makers build little spots into a house or apt to make the space memorable and alive. i’ve been blessed to live in a few places with little nooks and spots that radiate with life.

we bought one of the not so big house books because we were moving from a 2400 sq/ft md house into a 1100 sq/ft nyc apartment. but it turns out the not so big homes in the not so big house books were not so not-so-big. they were huge places! we have different definitions of not so big house!

in these features, i’ll detail mundane little spots around our apartment…..the spots where we live…and life is made.

we refer to our duck bathroom frequently in conversation…and people who have not visited ask…what are you talking about? what is a duck bathroom? you’ll have to come on in and see.

we have 2 full baths we have in our ny apt. one in the hallway and another one in the master bedroom. the duck one is the former and you’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the door marked with a duck.

this is our duck bathroom. its self explanatory. seeing is believing.

we had a duck bathroom in maryland and packed all the goodness in a box hoping to import the whole vibe. not sure if we would have one or two bathrooms…it is the city after all. when we were looking at apartments, we found one that we liked on broadway on the upper west side…and they had a duck bathroom too and we thought it was destiny. it was not. we were outbid.

but when we settled into our magical home, we were pleased that we could break out the ducks.

in maryland, we had 2 and a half baths….so theresa asked me what i thought of having a theme for one of the bathrooms. she picked ducks…a surprise for me since i thought she would pick something like grey. ducks seemed so cheery and contrary to her demeanor. not having an opinion, i acquiesced.

it starts with the basics.  soap dispenser. toothbrush holder. cup. and then some not so basics…that’s a big old candle holder and some duck key toppers converted into q tip toppers.

a duck nightlight….duck towels…duck tissue dispenser….and some rubber duckies!

our duck decor began with a bridal shower…her family and friends bought up a bunch of the stuff off our registry.  wedding gifts brought another wave.  later, we filled in the gaps…..

then it started happening….when people know you like stuff, they buy stuff for you. and being in ministry this long, i’ve reached this strange stage where people are reciprocating ministry with generosity. people want to give us things…things that they hope we love. we try to proudly display their love.

we are much too young for this stage but thoroughly humbled by it.

our first year in ny, for an anniversary gift, i got theresa this piece that proudly hangs on our wall. its a stamp defining piece for the room.

there are lots of little duckie details everywhere from the trash can to the bath mat to the shower curtain to the hooks on the curtain……ken calls our place ducks r us.

even in hidden spots and nooks…..next to the toilet and behind the curtain in the shower……

we don’t use the brush btw. its purely decorative.

finally, for this go around, inside the medicine cabinet are the knick knacks, mixed bag items and delicate dainties that won’t survive out in the open. but are safe here and line the insides. many of these are gifts…the aforementioned love.

thanks for visiting our duck bathroom…..it was the inspiration for steph’s guide to living with the tsangs…proudly displayed just outside in the adjacent towel cabinet.

as for what theme our second bathroom features…can you guess? we’ll answer some other time.

Posted under not so big house blueprint
Jan-15-2009

not so big house blueprint: an entrance just like in the movies

in the book series, not so big house, the key to getting the most out of a small space are niches. even in big homes, what makes a home “homey” are the small little places that feel cozy and safe. where memories are made. so good architects, builders and home makers build little spots into a house or apt to make the space memorable and alive. i’ve been blessed to live in a few places with little nooks and spots that radiate with life.

we bought one of the not so big house books because we were moving from a 2400 sq/ft md house into a 1100 sq/ft nyc apartment. but it turns out the not so big homes in the not so big house books were not so not-so-big. they were huge places! we have different definitions of not so big house!

in these features, i’ll detail mundane little spots around our apartment…..the spots where we live…and life is made.

in order to get into our home, everyone comes through this door. but unlike other front doors, (almost)everyone is stunned the first time they come in.

its because the elevator opens right into our apartment. i joke that this is a typical new york city apartment but really its closer to the fantasy of the movies. think back to how many of your stars’ elevators go right into their homes when their characters live in nyc. it happens all the time! and yet how many have you seen? here’s your chance!

its a great little distinct feature of our place(one of many! which is why we love our home)…but its also practical..since the apartments in the home are long and railroad style, and each apartment takes up its own floor, it makes little sense to waste space with a separate hallway just to get to your apartment.

most people ask how it works….when you open our front door, the elevator door is there. it does not open unless the elevator is called to the floor. when people are buzzed in, we summon the lift to us, hopefully with them in it.  when we leave, we lock the front door behind us.

the elevator has vents which means in the winter, it is a source of cold air…and the heat escapes unless we keep the door closed. we also have a wind guard and this brown turdy door stopper to minimize the effect.

upon entering, being asian, we request that our quests remove their shoes so that the place keeps cleaner. but most of them are still in a daze surprised by their magical elevator/entrance experience. many, many people have passed through in past few months with thanksgiving gatherings, christmas get togethers, family reunions and membership class.

our door is the first thing people see and remains the feature that most people recall when they think of our place: “…i still remember the elevator opening…..”

Posted under not so big house blueprint

Nov-25-2008

not so big house blueprint:island oasis

in the book series, not so big house, the key to getting the most out of a small space are niches. even in big homes, what makes a home “homey” are the small little places that feel cozy and safe. where memories are made. so good architects, builders and home makers build little spots into a house or apt to make the space memorable and alive. i’ve been blessed to live in a few places with little nooks and spots that radiate with life.

we bought one of the not so big house books because we were moving from a 2400 sq/ft md house into a 1100 sq/ft nyc apartment. but it turns out the not so big homes in the not so big house books were not so not-so-big. they were huge places! we have different definitions of not so big house!

in these features, i’ll detail mundane little spots around our apartment…..the spots where we live…and life is made.

what gives our place an open feel and yet a sense of boundary and closure is this island. it allows the apartment to flow from the kitchen to the dining area into the living room…and at the same time marks the kitchen as it own space….while being its own niche as well. its one of the countless favorite little places in our place. this is why we love our home!….there are so many parts to love.

from the kitchen view, you can see all the storage it gives us with pots and pans; drawers for utensils and gadgets. plenty of storage for a nyc pad…which makes theresa happy….we can almost fit all our kitchen gear from maryland.

looking into the kitchen, you see how the island works as a serving station when we entertain friends, family and church folks. drinks, food, water and utensils all fit….allowing for a buffet setting for large and small groups.

another view from the kitchen, closer to the stove shows the vast usable space available to us….theresa likes it when its completely clear and clean looking. but that only happens once in awhile since we have people over all the time.  when not entertaining, we use the end of the table for mail, messages and stuff to remember to do.

for quick lunches and dinners, we also like to eat here. these two stools look like they were made for our apartment from the height to the color. in maryland, we had an island and made the mistake of buying three seats and that made the island look crowded. we did not repeat the mistake. this looks snug and right.

on other days, the area is my work station….or brunch spot….and even a place for coffee and the new york times print edition. i still get the paper….i’m archaic.

underneath the counter are two important fixtures of our home….the fire extinguisher….and that pc looking things is….

our korean rice storage and dispenser…it evenly dispenses the right amount of cups when the lever is pulled. we use the rice pc all the time…..but thankfully have not had to use the fire extinguisher!

finally from this angle and this shot, you get some good views of our soft bamboo floors. they’re usually great except when you drop(heavy)stuff on the floor as  they dent easily. good news is that bruises and scratches blend into the look and fabric of the floor so no worries.

niches within niches and magical floors…we love our home!

Posted under not so big house blueprint
Nov-5-2008

not so big house blueprint: juliet’s place is outside the house

in the book series, not so big house, the key to getting the most out of a small space are niches. even in big homes, what makes a home “homey” are the small little places that feel cozy and safe. where memories are made. so good architects, builders and home makers build little spots into a house or apt to make the space memorable and alive. i’ve been blessed to live in a few places with little nooks and spots that radiate with life.

we bought one of the not so big house books because we were moving from a 2400 sq/ft md house into a 1100 sq/ft nyc apartment. but it turns out the not so big homes in the not so big house books were not so not-so-big. they were huge places! we have different definitions of not so big house!

in these features, i’ll detail mundane little spots around our apartment…..the spots where we live…and life is made.

we have this awesome wall of windows on the north side of our apartment, decorated and insulated by our beloved honeycomb blinds. we had honeycomb blinds in maryland and wound up picking the same color…a greyish blue…but not on purpose. i guess we are consistent in what we like.

a wall or walls of window seems to be the new trend of architecture for new buildings. some buildings have windows wrapping around the whole apartment! window treatments must be astronomical in those homes!

behind our blinds and on the other side of the wall of windows is a cool extra that the architect of our place (and building mate) put in to create another little niche…and add character to our place. as you can see, the wall is not comprised just of windows but also includes double pane-d doors….

……that lead outside! obviously, we have the wrong kind of couch that blocks sightlines and pathway outside. but we love our leather sectional and brought it with us from maryland. the way its supposed to work is the double panes create the illusion that our space extends all the way across the street….and gives you the ability to leave the apartment…to pop out to get some fresh air….

….here: on our little juliet balcony…as in romeo and. its enough to take one, maybe one and half steps. no space for a chair or a grill…but its a nice perk to be able to come out and enjoy the wind, the weather…take in the sites of the street.

it is peaceful up here….the noise from the ground is muffled.. it feels almost like you’re in a different place…no longer near the apartment.

outdoor space is a premium in nyc…but many would question what you can do with such a tiny space? what’s the function of this niche? its a reflection point. to think, to take in, to breathe…….and i can see the park…yes, central park…from my little balcony if i turn to the right.

here are some shots from the outside of our little juliet…..

it’s a great little niche…and part of the magic of our home.

Posted under not so big house blueprint
Oct-2-2008

not so big house blueprint: the holy grail of nyc apartments

in the book series, not so big house, the key to getting the most out of a small space are niches. even in big homes, what makes a home “homey” are the small little places that feel cozy and safe. where memories are made. so good architects, builders and home makers build little spots into a house or apt to make the space memorable and alive. i’ve been blessed to live in a few places with little nooks and spots that radiate with life.

we bought one of the not so big house books because we were moving from a 2400 sq/ft md house into a 1100 sq/ft nyc apartment. but it turns out the not so big homes in the not so big house books were not so not-so-big. they were huge places! we have different definitions of not so big house!

in these features, i’ll detail mundane little spots around our apartment…..the spots where we live…and life is made.

this is the prized possession of nyc apartments…your own washer and dryer in your own unit.

people outside of the tri-state area are surprised to find out that not all nyc homes have washers and dryers. where do you do your laundry then? when theresa and i lived on the lower east side, we would trek to the laundry mat and do our whites and colors in the coin operated machines. other options include drop off laundry by the pound and some people have their laundry picked up and delivered clean! we’re too cheap to do either of those last two options. and i don’t really want someone handling my wife’s underwear. or my underwear.

having the machines changes your whole lifestyle. likewise, imagine not having them and how that would change your life!

actually, we are lucky enough to have an apartment with plenty of closet space including a closet right across from the washer/dryer that we keep our laundry basket in. we kept it from our suburban maryland home despite the fact that it was unlikely a nyc pad would have room for it. but we kept our hopes up.

the way it wound up working is that we have a laundry room in the middle of our home that closes up and disappears when we close the doors. a very cool thing to have in nyc: the vanishing laundry room in your own space.

the laundry room isn’t just a laundry room of course. in nyc, you use up all the space you have…creativity is a necessity. everything has its place. everything has its niche. so its also a shoe closet, cleaning supplies storage, christmas ornament storage, games storage, umbrella rack and lost and found.

we spend a ton of time doing laundry….the result of having a constantly revolving door of guests taking advantage of free new york housing when visiting. sheets, towels, mats, pillow cases……and pretty small units keep me in and around the disappearing and reappearing laundry room.

not thrilling but here’s our life. a (laundry)life some in the city would like to have.

Posted under not so big house blueprint

Sep-12-2008

not so big house blueprint….left atrium of the heart

reflecting on our home in the city…………

in the book series, not so big house, the key to getting the most out of a small space are niches. even in big homes, what makes a home “homey” are the small little places that feel cozy and safe. where memories are made. so good architects, builders and home makers build little spots into a house or apt to make the space memorable and alive. i’ve been blessed to live in a few places with little nooks and spots that radiate with life.

we bought one of the not so big house books because we were moving from a 2400 sq/ft md house into a 1100 sq/ft nyc apartment. but it turns out the not so big homes in the not so big house books were not so not-so-big. they were huge places! we have different definitions of not so big house!

in these features, i’ll detail mundane little spots around our apartment…..the spots where we live…and life is made.

the kitchen used to be the heart of the home….where nourishment, refreshment flowed out to the family. the aromas of good food, good coffee would waft into the rest of the home giving life. just like a heart pumping blood to the rest of the body.

this has dwindled because people don’t cook anymore and the kitchen has lost its primacy. people eat out 3,4,5 times a week…sometimes all their meals are from restaurants! but in the tsang home household, we’re trying to fight that. theresa is taking more cooking lessons from the french culinary institute….the stove and oven will be her domain. i’m really happy for her. so much of her life is sacrificed living my life and the life of the church. whenever she can do something for herself, i’m thrilled.

my domain is this little niche. tucked around the corner of the fridge is this place where so much happens. not big things and not even exciting things…..but life things.

coffee is stored, ground and brewed here….in a few ways….i have two french presses, both wedding gifts of course. in fact, the majority of our kitchen was pimped out thanks to our friends’ wedding gifting generosity. if there is a gadget, appliance, plate, bowl, utensil, whatever you see in our kitchen, it was likely a gift.

i did buy the electronic coffeemaker to cut down on the amount of french pressed coffee i drink….theresa read a health threat article a few years ago and used it to threaten me into drinking less of the good stuff. we received a few coffeemakers for our wedding as well…my mother in law scavenged one and we returned the others until we could figure out which one really worked for us and serving groups.

in the early morn, before i go to work or to prayer, i make coffee or tea here. prayer and caffeine start my days.

coffee is not the only scent that comes out of this corner. two staples of life…rice from the rice cooker and bread, bagels are toasted here. for theresa, rice is life; a big part of our diet. so a few years ago, giving up rice during lent for her was near torture. i love rice too but i also dig toasted breads.

in this space, i also make shakes here: fruit smoothies for breakfast and dessert. protein shakes after lifting or for a meal substitute.

see? nothing exciting. but so much of our life starts here. maybe this corner and what happens here is a telling parable for our existence.

regardless, i love lingering here. with that coffee or that shake. nibbling on some bread. reading…waiting for something to finish being made. its a homey little niche that pumps life often.

Posted under not so big house blueprint
Aug-22-2008

not so big house blueprint: magic, sacred space

in the book series, not so big house, the key to getting the most out of a small space are niches. even in big homes, what makes a home “homey” are the small little places that feel cozy and safe. where memories are made. so good architects, builders and home makers build little spots into a house or apt to make the space memorable and alive. i’ve been blessed to live in a few places with little nooks and spots that radiate with life.

we bought one of the not so big house books because we were moving from a 2400 sq/ft md house into a 1100 sq/ft nyc apartment. but it turns out the not so big homes in the not so big house books were not so not-so-big. they were huge places! we have different definitions of not so big house!

in these features, i’ll detail mundane little spots around our apartment…..the spots where we live…and life is made.

this is our bedroom…and where the magic happens. but not in the way you think. let me explain.

during one of our housewarmings, i gave the folks a tour of the place….lagging behind, ricky yu entered the room and saw the desk right next to our bed…he assumed that this is where i write my sermons. and while i was showing others the master bath, we heard ricky say behind us…”so…this is where the magic happens.” we turned to see ricky, a little embarrassed realizing that most in room thought he was noting the king sized bed.

but some “magic” does occur here….since space in nyc is a premium, many spaces double or triple in function…

in this space, as you can see by the piles of books and papers is where i sometimes meet with god in meditation, prayer, readings, connection with nature. these are the windows i look out of when i pray….

there is a collage of man and god that is in my mind as i pray. when i see the inner courtyard with old buildings and gut renovations, i am grounded in reality…..my head is not in the clouds filled with illusions and delusions. i am reminded of the fact that i still live on a broken earth with all kinds of people with real lives and real problems; sometimes too real and sometimes much realer than mine. even realer than the real thing. but in the midst of the grittiness, i still see the majesty and power of god surrounding, peeking through, illuminating, permeating……this is the backdrop that pray with.

i am blessed to have these windows and so much light in my apartment…..here’s a shot before we moved all our stuff in…you can see that they are pretty epic. yeah!….upper, upper west side.

Posted under new york, not so big house blueprint