Photographer, Designer and General Contractor

Following up on last week’s profile of photographer and designer Jamie Sangar, we wanted to learn a little more about her background and most recent project – her own home.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

As a little girl, I never imagined myself being a general contractor.  General contractors carry tape measures and wear hard hats. I was going to wear tutus and make-up. In my wildest imagination I never guessed that general contractors could do both!

When my husband and I decided we wanted to build a modern, energy-efficient home in Indianapolis, Indiana, our options for homebuilders were pretty slim, to say the least. In a market with much more conservative taste overall, and neighborhood homeowner’s associations that have a tight hold on architectural styles, the challenge was real trying to find the perfect land that would allow us to have neighbors, since we aren’t the country-dwelling type, as well as the design freedom to build a modern home. So, before even getting started on the land search, we knew we were up against two major roadblocks.

Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised to quickly find the perfect land. It’s as if fate was on our side. We knew that our next step was to find the perfect architect. Even though we are both artists (my husband, a Visual Effects Supervisor, and me, a photographer by trade) and can easily visualize and design things on our own, we put the upmost value in hiring an architect, that could not only design a functional home based around the way that we live, but also, build a home that fit the land. We lucked out with lots of tall, mature trees, and a hill that our house would set atop—all things that we wanted to help dictate our home design, rather than knock-down, flatten, and plop a house on top of.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

After meeting with three different architects, we chose to work with Jason Wolfe at Demerly Architects, who was the perfect match for us in terms of style, personality and being willing to work with, what some would consider, a tough budget for a custom home that offers some high-end technology and appliances. He had ideas on where to save money to help offset those luxuries we weren’t willing to give up.

After having our plans priced with two local builders, and feeling frustrated by the price that came back both times, we decided that if we were going to make our dreams a reality, we were going to have to get our hands dirty. And by “dirty,” I mean, take on the responsibility of being the general contractor on our build.

I managed the day to day progress, scheduling the sub-contractors, managing material deliveries, working with our lender, meeting with potential subs, getting quotes, keeping the job site clean, hiring and firing, all while managing a full-time photography business and two children.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

Our exterior walls are SIPs panels (structural insulated panels) built by Thermocore, which means that not only is our home very insulated and energy-efficient, it meant that our walls were built indoors in a factory, unexposed to the weather elements, and then delivered on two semis to the job site. A crane and a framing crew would then set the walls, which drastically cut down on framing labor and time. So within days, our home had a roof and we were ready for the rough-in stage.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

Next was the fun part. That’s when all of the finishes and final design came into play! I knew I wanted to be minimal but warm and inviting, sleek but introduce textures, and add pops of color through furnishings rather than with wall or tile colors. The palette was simple; white walls, polished chrome finishes, black windows and maple hardwoods.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

The most important room to us was the kitchen. I love hosting, cooking and entertaining, so our main “splurge” was our kitchen appliances. An example of finding ways to offset the cost of our commercial-grade kitchen “must haves” was to design and build our own cabinets from Ikea. Ikea’s white glossy lacquer cabinets were the clean and efficient look we were going for!

Photography: Jamie Sangar

I’ve always had a passion for interior and architectural design. It’s just something that’s in my blood and I’ve followed for years through social media outlets, magazines, and in stores. But the most fun and applicable way for me to put that knowledge to use was by building our own home.  With this home, unlike our last home, I wanted a clean and modern neutral palette. Our last home had lots of color incorporated by different colored painted walls. My plan with this house, however, was to incorporate color with furnishings, while keeping the floors and walls neutral. This has allowed for a consistent look and feel throughout the entire house, while each room has a unique flair based on the furnishings.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

I especially have a love of mid-century modern design, so while our home is brand new, those same ideals were used in the design of our home. The idea that large expanses of glass be used to bring the outdoors inside, with a large open floor plan concept, we’ve topped that idea off with lots of mid-century modern furniture and decor. Another goal with the design of the interiors was to be as minimal as possible, while still being comfortable. An example of this is designing our closets so that our dressers fit inside there, rather than in the bedrooms. This allows for more floor space and less surfaces that likely end up finding clutter, and not to mention, dust. We also chose wall-mounted vanities in every bathroom to give the illusion that the rooms are larger than they are, by being able to see the floor underneath. The same is true for our master bedroom with floating nightstands. From an exterior standpoint, we chose a front door that is one that you would’ve seen in the 1950s, and we chose to make it orange, to contrast our two-toned grey siding.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

Now that we’ve gotten comfortable in our new home, I decided to carry on with my design passion, and start Mod Abode. I view Mod Abode as a blend of all of my passions; photography, design and architecture! It also gets me involved in a social media community that shares those same interests. I get to take pretty photos of design elements and credit those who are responsible for designing or carrying such cool things in their stores. I am not quite sure where Mod Abode might lead me, but my hope is that new doors open that let me expand upon the things I’m always eager to learn more about.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

Photography: Jamie Sangar

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