Archive for the ‘projects’ Category

an idea starts to come together

Friday, January 18th, 2013

It’s been a while since we went to the bathroom together. David and Joe have been making progress on the built-ins in there, so maybe it’s time for a peek — even if it’s not quite done yet.

Let’s start at the beginning. A couple of years ago, I handed David a rudimentary scribble of what I pictured for our new bathroom vanity…

my first sink scribble












David drew it mo betta with measurements — I know I’ve shown you this before. This includes the shelf/bench and wall of walnut (to the right of the sink) that I was also hoping for…

layout of sink area




















Drawing is SO much easier than building. Here comes the hard part.

First, there was figuring out the complex, irregular curves of an imperfect  sink — not as right-angled as woodworker might hope — in order to get the wood to mate up with it…

figuring out the curves


Required some math but they figured it out, as I trusted they would. So they continued on to constructing the vanity box…

building the vanity box




















The open end will face the toilet. That’s where the toilet paper and the occasional book or magazine will hide to keep things from getting messy.

Once that was done, they propped the vanity up on sawhorses and made sure it fit the space as intended with the sink and the faucet roughly in place…

testing the sink on the vanity


There was the tricky veneering stage…

veneering the vanity












And then they secured to the wall and made the necessary tweaks…

making adjustments




















They stained it in place. Here it is with two coats — it still has to be made waterproof (that’s another story)…

hanging the box on the wall





















Just to the right of the sink is the walnut panel that will eventually have three hooks on it for hanging up clothes…

walnut panel installed




















The bench/shelf that extends from below the sink still needs to be built. But isn’t that gorgeous?!

In that same corner there’s now the built-in linen cabinet that David began last June. Just look at that walnut! Love love love.  Just needs a little tweak on that bottom drawer and it’s good to go…

walnut storage wall




















Love how the minimal fingerpulls worked out. Perfect…





















Inside, there’s plenty of room for towels and any bathroom paraphernalia…

a look at the shelves




















There’s even a recharging station for an electric shaver! So spoiled…

recharging station




















The drawers are nice and deep…

nice deep drawers




















Yes, the back of the cabinet and the drawers are angled to accommodate our angled wall. This should give you a better idea of the wall when you look at the other side. See how the lights are on angle, too?

record storage wall and hallway




















Btw, that’s the record storage wall, in progress. More on that another time.

So, back to the bathroom. Here you can begin to get an idea of how the walnut built-ins will look together — in an outage. I need light!

walnut corner




















Argh. So impossible to take decent pictures in this tiny bathroom — especially when the lighting isn’t done yet. Oh well.

Before I go, take a peek at the fantastic custom pocket door David and Joe designed, built and installed…

custom walnut pocket door




















A better look at the door project next week. That’s it for now.


new year, new roof

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013


Where the heck have we been? Maybe we’ve been stuck in a time loop and just barely made it back to the present. Yeah, that’s it, time loop. That sounds so much better than man are things going slowly and we just don’t have anything to share with you.

But things are picking up again! What better way to start the New Year than with a sexy new rubber roof? David was up there when it all went down during the first couple of days of the year, so he can share the deets…


Our old rubber roof was failing — not in a catastrophic way just yet, but who wants to tempt fate? Installed in ’85, it was past the end of its life and due to be replaced, plus it was leaking.

Just days after the New Year, I was surprised to hear from the roofers who said they were ready to roll. Talk about hardcore. The forecast called for  7 degrees the next morning and they showed up at dawn ready to rock. Removal of the recently fallen 8″ of snow was the first order of the day. The sun hadn’t even made it over the horizon…

8 degrees, 8" of snow to shovel off the roof.8 degrees, 8" of snow to shovel off the roof.




















That was quickly followed by removing the gravel stop around the perimeter of the roof…













Next, cutting the aging rubber roof and exposing what lay underneath…













The original roof was pitch and gravel. Then in the mid-’80s, fiberboard with fully adhered rubber was installed directly over the top of it…













Once they had the roof clean down to the original plywood sheathing, the crane started hoisting up materials…

hoisting the EPS foam to insulate the roof.












The 3” EPS foam was then ready to be installed in two layers with overlapping joints…





















New fiber board was glued down onto new plywood…





















Fancy two-part polyurethane glue was applied to bond the new fiberboard to the new plywood, so there are no fasteners to telegraph through the rubber…













Day 2 dawned with half the roof left to do…













Second verse same as the first, and then it was done!

new rubber — white to reflect the sun and save energy.




















Well, almost done. We still have 3/4 of the sheathing to remove so we can finish insulating the exterior walls, which means the final edging detail will have to wait. What you see here is temporary. In fact, when Joe and I are done, you won’t even see the edge…

temporary roof edge.




















One of the big goals of our remodel is energy efficiency, which is why we chose a white rubber roof rather than black. A lighter roof reflects the sun, which in turn reduces heat gain and lowers energy bills. In other words, white is the new black, and that makes it green.

We’ve also topped the house with 6″ of rigid EPS foam which, at R4.7 per inch = R28.2, increases our R-value and reduces our heat loss. That’s in addition to the existing 6″ of fiberglass (somewhere around R20) over which we layered the new roof.

Suffice it to say that we should be much cozier this winter.



potty time

Friday, November 16th, 2012

I haven’t talked about the work going on in the downstairs bathroom since back in September. I blame slow progress and work eating up all my time. Excuses, excuses. Now that my work is becoming more manageable again, let me show you what’s up down there.

Great news: our shiny new Hans Grohe shower hardware is now installed and working!

the new shower hardware is in



















Hans Grohe showerhead




















Ooh! Aah!

Caulking between the tile and the ceiling still needs to be attended to… all in due time. The shower controls are on the opposite wall…

the shiny shower controls




















The teak slatted shower tray still needs to be made, but that pretty much does it for the shower.

The wall-mounted Duravit Vero toilet is finally in, too. Rectangular! (Try to ignore the construction debris under the toilet.)

Duravit toilet



















don’t worry, the hole in the seat is oval... ish




















The water-saving dual-flush mechanism got set into the wall. You know, save the planet with every flush. The large button is for #2. The small button is for #1.

the flusher, on the wall




















Still to come: the sink and vanity, plus a bench/storage cabinet. And then this room is ready to roll!

re-decking done, pt.2

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space. Posts formerly holding up our deck are now completely removed.

Remember this?

sawing off the posts




















When the boys pulled out the jacks, we were left with mysterious hanging posts for a while…

one of our hanging posts




















Cut off but not actually touching the ground. Mysteeeeeeerioussss…

mysterious post no longer touches theground




















David and Joe finally pulled out the posts they had sliced a few weeks back. So now we’re not only officially cantilevered, it actually looks like we’re officially cantilevered!

posts are gone! cantilevering!


















yep, other side, too!






















Magic! It’s happening!


re-decking DONE

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

I apologize for my lapse in posting. Slammed with work again and it’s playing havoc with the bloggy. Let’s catch up, shall we?

David and Joe just wrapped up work on the deck. We left off with them installing the steel to cantilever the deck. This was the state of things immediately after…

deck walls await




















Time to replace the siding on the inside walls of the deck. The boys started by priming and then staining the cedar to match what’s on the walls below

the new replacement boards get primed before they get stained












As before, Joe nailed on Cedar Breather, which allows the wood to dry from behind. Then, one by one, the freshly stained boards went on…

the Cedar Breather gets nailed on before the new siding




















Before I show you how it all turned out, let me remind you of its former life in a dingy shade of drab.

This is what it looked like out there in March as it was being deconstructed…

remember how it used to look? Joe removing the siding in March 2012


Now there’s a chance that powdery sage green looks great on some other house and just not on this one, I’ll grant you that. Having grown up on an Air Force base, I can tell you that this is a shade from my childhood, requisitioned by the military in bulk. It was everywhere. And clearly I am biased against it.

But I blather.

Let me show you how to do justice to this house…

newly stained siding on the wing wall and railing



















view from the other end




















Wow. The beautiful wood now looks like beautiful wood.

Bulky, unnecessary trim is eliminated.

Crazy angular wing walls finally get the emphasis they deserve.

Great job you guys! Looks fantastic — and will look even better once that Garapa Gold decking fades to silver. Psyched. The cap on top of the railing (exact material TBD) will be added after the outside envelope of the house gets re-sided.

I like how the dark wood really grounds the house and frames the view now…

the new and vastly improved view from inside the house












I’ve been picturing a future in which the walls of the living area are lined in dark walnut built-ins that blend (almost) seamlessly into the dark wing walls…

someday the inside wall will blend with the outside wall




















I can see it. Can you?

Now… who would like to join me for a toast on the deck?

view through the slider

back in the bathroom

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

On Friday, RI Glass delivered and installed the shower glass and mirror for the downstairs bathroom…

the shower glass arrives




















The bathroom mirror was installed atop an electronic mirror defogger. It has a heating element to keep the area above the future vanity from fogging up when you take a shower. That’s my clever boy for ya…

the bathroom mirror is in




















The oval hole in the glass at top is where the lit shaving mirror will go. Below that will be a regular electrical outlet…

electrical: lighted mirror goes above, regular outlet below




















Nice, clean aluminum edge divides the glass from the tile…

aluminum edge between tile and mirror




















I think I posted this once before, but here’s a reminder of what this wall will eventually look like…

layout of sink area




















At the risk of being repetitive, let me remind you of this:

A walnut box/countertop will be open on the end next to the toilet, so we can stash magazines and toilet paper rolls. (No toilet paper holder like in the drawing.) A walnut shelf will stretch from under the sink to the corner of the room where it becomes a bench. Behind the bench is a floor-to-ceiling wall of walnut with a few hooks up high for hanging clothes.

Over on the opposite wall, the shower got its new frameless shower glass. Hard to get a decent shot in this small bathroom but you can see it’s finally looking like a bathroom!

it finally looks like a shower!


The shower base still needs to be topped by a teak slatted shower tray. Actual shower hardware not installed yet.

As always, tried to keep it fairly minimal in here, which is why we went with a frameless design. The metal bar is bolted to the header to keep the heavy sliding door setup sturdy. Closeup of the hardware at the top…

closeup of the hardware at the top




















Closeup of the sliding door track at bottom…

closeup of the bottom




















The fixed glass is silicone-mounted right to the tile…

shower glass wall siliconed to the tile




















Finger-pull on the sliding glass door. No handle to extend into the skinny room! Have I mentioned lately how much I love this tile?

fingerpull on the sliding glass




















The plumber comes next week to make the shower a working thing and install the wall-hung toilet. Woohoo!

hey, look who’s in the shower!




















cantilever is so happening!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

This is it. The rotting deck is rebuilt, the house has been prepped and waiting for the steel for the last month, and now comes the big climax. That cantilever we started talking about in May is on, baby!

Before David explains, let me remind you of this…

engineering drawing | deck, 04/02/12











That’s the drawing our engineer provided (click to biggify it) as a way for us to remove the posts and cantilever the deck. To recap a previous post:

  • Two steel brackets (or cups) will tie all the wood together at the outside corners of the deck.
  • Two long steel straps bolted to each framing member they cross will support the outside corners by spreading the load across the sides of the house.


So, can I introduce you to the steel?

Steel, reader.

Reader, steel…

closeup of the steel




















Now that the niceties are out of the way, take it, David!


Rhode Island Welding custom-made the steel our engineer specified for us (complete with pre-drilled holes as you can see above), and last week Joe and I installed it.

First, we drew exactly where the steel brackets (or cups) would fit into the existing deck structure…

drawing notes where future steel will anchor deck




















Then we put up a story pole — the 1”x1” stick that Joe’s about to put a screw next to — that would serve as our marker for the proper height of the deck structure once the posts were cut away.

Here’s Joe cutting the 4” x 6” post so that we could jack the deck up slightly — we want the deck to settle back down to its original height after we set it on the steel. The bottom of the story pole is taped to the concrete footing with blue tape…

cutting the first post




















After that, installation went fairly quickly.

Once in, the steel cup catches the bottom of the deck and the strap transmits the load up and spreads it across the house framing…

steel corner in place




















32 galvanized bolts, each ⅜” diameter by 4” long, hold it all together across each framing member as planned…

installed! job well done, boys!


This week, Joe and I will take out the remnants of the posts and the deck will be fully cantilevered as originally intended!

updates to the yard

Monday, August 27th, 2012

At the end of last week, our friends at Land Design Associates called to say they had two empty days in their schedule and they could tackle a few projects we’ve had waiting for them. This time around: paths!

Out back we started with this, knowing that eventually we’d add steps the same rice stone we’ve used elsewhere:

the paths out back when we started












And now we have this:

back paths from above




















My goal was to finish containing the slope — which we started when we put in the posts around the planting beds last fall — and slow the rain runoff and erosion. This should finally do it!

back path 1



















steel edging added here and there to hold the gravel







































Can I get a hell yeah for no more slipping and sliding down the hill + no more mud tracked into the house?! Hell yeah!

Out front, we envisioned adding stepping stones here:

the path out front when we started




















And now we have this:

front path with stepping stones




















Pleased to inform you that the stepping stones are Bambino-approved…

front path with cat




















Wow, that looks so… grown-up. So there you go. Inside the house may be a mess but outside the paths are done!

getting ready for steel

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

David and Joe have been prepping for the installation of the steel that will cantilever our deck. For the last few days, they’ve been removing the siding on the forward third of the house. David reports: “You can see that the original construction paper didn’t keep out moisture very well. The nails heads all show rust trails…”

getting ready for steel: siding removed


“Above, you can see on the lower right where the deck structure was repaired with pressure treated plywood in the ’80s. However, the object should have been to keep water out, not make a structure that could survive moisture penetration.”

Look what Joe found etched underneath the siding…

getting ready for steel: 1972



More from David: “Cutting the aluminum nails they used to install the siding in ’72 turned out to be easer than punching them in. I have a lot of respect for the carpenters that used these soft nails!”

getting ready for steel: siding nail removal


Once the boards were off, the boys added house wrap to keep water out temporarily — eventually all the walls will receive 3″ of foam insulation like the deck-end of the house did…

getting ready for steel: house wrap


With that done, attention turned to the inner walls of the deck…

getting ready for steel: deck walls await




















Now that the new LVL beams are in, the deck is rebuilt and the wall height  raised to code, the siding that goes on the inner walls can go up. David and Joe began staining it dark to match the siding below the deck…

getting ready for steel: staining the siding




















Looks to me like they’ll be busy…

getting ready for steel: siding in waiting




















The saga continues… but not today. Today the boys are taking a break.

two small things

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

One is considerably smaller than the other.

1. Butt-thra is still fluttering around the garden, five days after her birth

butt-thra on tithonia





















2. The mystery wallpaper has arrived for downstairs…

wallpaper is here!




















It will be installed on Monday. Stay tuned.