Archive for the ‘projects’ Category

making sawdust

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

walnut plywood




















The walnut has arrived for the built-ins in the bathroom.

And now David gets to put his mad woodworking skillz to work…

the cutting has begun




















Stay tuned. Thanks, Tim, for the use of your woodshop!

baseboard, how low can you go?

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Since the beginning, I’ve been on a mission to put an end to this business…

window trim



















trim around the doors



















stupid trim on the stairs





















Trim. Mouldings. Baseboard. Whatever you call it, I’ve broadcast my distaste for it more than once. I hoped to eliminate its evil existence in order to visually simplify our small spaces and reduce opportunity for dust collection. But… well, sadly it has reared its lascivious head downstairs. Luckily, David and Joe found a way to minimize its profile so that I can live with it. (Not that I have a choice.) Such thoughtful boys.

Do tell, David…


So. The question is why do we need baseboard down here?

Well, the makers of our new cork floor specify a 1/2″ gap between the cork and the wall, because cork needs room to expand and contract with fluctuating temperature and humidity. That’s a gap we don’t want to look at, so it has to be hidden by something: baseboard. Ordinarily trim is an opportunity for decoration but not at our house! We want it simple, plain, and rectilinear thankyouverymuch. That meant we had to customize our own.

Joe and I held the sheetrock up from the floor for two reasons…

where the baseboard will go




















By running the cork underneath the sheetrock, the 1/2″ gap can be between the cork floor and the studs instead of between the cork and the face of the sheetrock. That allows us for more minimal baseboard, as we can move the face of the baseboard inward a full 5/8″. Sweet.

Our test piece of baseboard worked out alright…

baseboard test












Check it out — instead of 1/2″ like the trim we pulled out of here when the remodel began, the baseboard now steps out from the wall only 1/4″…

baseboard now 1/4"




















Here’s how we did it: that L-shaped rabbet at the top of the board wraps around the bottom edge of the sheetrock…

so, this is the new baseboard


Then there’s a gasket on the bottom of the board to seal it against the floor but still allow the cork to expand. It also gives a slight reveal, hides any waviness in the floor (oh yes, the cement floor beneath the cork is slightly wavy), and makes it easier to paint the baseboard after installation without getting paint on the floor. That’s a plus.

Once it all tested out we made up 150′ of it, primed it, and started installing…

baseboard going in




















So that’s the story of the finishing detail on the walls, almost finished. Next comes the part where Brook and I wrestle over what color to paint it. Heh.


what happens in the shower

Friday, June 1st, 2012

… stays in the shower. Pretty sure that applies to the fancypants aluminum edging that now divides the tile and the cork ceiling, because I can’t imagine it escaping its new confines…

aluminum edge between tile and ceiling




















Looks good, no?

aluminum edge in the shower too




















There’s still more to be done, so don’t be too judgmental yet. The niche will be tiled soon and there’s more metal edge to come. And grout, of course. But I’m loving how it’s coming together so far!

in the bathroom, again

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Overdue for a check-in on the tiling progress. Let’s see how it’s going down there…

Mark and I figured out the placement of the niche. Actually, the placement of the pipes in the wall figured out the placement of the niche for us…

niche placement




















I really had my heart set on a long, skinny niche like this one, but the pre-made offerings were laughably short… we would have had to lay our shampoo bottles on their sides. Once again, had to settle. Sigh…

pre-made niche goes in




















niche gets mud




















However, it is mudded up and ready for tile, so there’s that.

Meanwhile, the tiles on the end wall almost reach the ceiling…

bath is tiled almost all the way to the ceiling now




















And did you happen to notice the aluminum edging?

crisp aluminum edge on the white tiles




















Will make a nice, crisp line between the tile and the mirror above, and between the tile and the walnut built-in going to the right of the sink.

The sink, if I can remind you, looks like so…

our duravit sink




















Speaking of which, I suppose you haven’t seen the rough layout yet…

layout of sink area




















We probably have a nicer scribble than this somewhere… I’ll see if I can dig one up.

Anyway, the top of the white vessel sink will be on level with a walnut box/countertop — the wood will get a heavy-duty coating of something you’d see used on boats. Green? Unlikely. Impervious to water? Most definitely. The box/countertop will be open on the end next to the toilet, so we can stash magazines and toilet paper rolls where no one has to look at them. (No more toilet paper holder like in the drawing.) A walnut shelf will stretch from underneath the counter to the corner of the room where it will also serve as a bench. Behind the bench is a floor-to-ceiling wall of walnut with a few hooks up high for hanging clothes. Built-in storage is planned for the intersecting wall — details later.

So that’s that. Did I mention that the wood for the bath built-ins arrives TOMORROW? Woot!

a little southern charm

Monday, May 21st, 2012

On a whim, I bought an Ashe Magnolia, or Magnolia macrophylla var. ashei, about this time last year. It’s a rare, native understory tree now endangered in its home state of Florida. Huge leaves — nearly 2′ long — are what drew me to it. But I was really looking forward to the 10″ flowers.

This spring, my gangly little 4′ stick of a tree rewarded me with a single blossom…

Ashe Magnolia blossom




















The next morning…

look, it’s opening!




















and a little bit more




















have a peek inside




















And then today…

she’s fully open today




















The petals curl up about an 1″ underneath, so it really does measure about 10″!

honest to gawd, it really is 10 inches across!




















The scent is intoxicating!

omg you smell so good!




















Our backyard now smells like a pricey brothel.

mystery solved

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Back to the deck. The other day, it was taken apart. And the findings? Tell us all about it, David…


So. Exploratory surgery has exposed the truth about the deck…

the deck wall has been removed




















Some is ugly… well, all of it is ugly. But we kind of knew that going in.

Insects had their way with the original deck and it’s apparent that in the early ’80s the deck was rebuilt. Unfortunately not by craftspeople, or in fact by carpenters. In any event, we will now repair what’s there as well as build it to the original ’70s design, as intended by architect Irving Haynes (click to biggify)…

architectural rendering of our house, circa ’70 | Haynes and Associates










Cantilevered. Which means we’ll be taking out the three spindly support posts currently there.

Our engineer provided us with drawings of an ideal situation (click to biggify)…

engineering drawing | deck, 04/02/12











The plan:

  • A pair of LVL beams (same as we used to support the living room floor/downstairs ceiling) will carry the deck load across the front of the house.
  • Two steel corners will tie all the wood together at the outside corners.
  • 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.
  • And with slight modification of the steel corner, we will proceed. After the building department gives us a permit, that is.


Once the framing is all sorted we’ll add some nice new decking, an affordable teak alternative called Garapa Gold. But that’s a story for another day.

In the meantime, everyone can see us from the street…

please don’t go out on the deck


Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Finished just yesterday, the floor downstairs has to dry for 10 days, which makes this the perfect time to re-deck the undeck.

As you may recall, the rotting deck was pulled out on November 15 and its replacement has been on hold since the end of March while we waited for our engineer to get back to us. So we’ve been living with a harrowing two-story step from the upstairs slider for the last 5 and a half months…

that first step’s a doozy!




















In all that time, nobody tried to step out onto the deck. Good thing.

Today Joe and his nephew Josh started dismantling the exterior of the deck…

first boards coming off












coming along nicely




















The plan is to do some spelunking on the inside of that wall in order to see what the structure detail is.

The engineer drew up a concept for supporting the deck without the posts, which David says he’ll share with you tomorrow… The question is how much rejiggering will the current structure need in order to accommodate the engineer’s design. A little? Or a lot?

floor finishing is happening

Monday, April 30th, 2012

There may be only one in this shot but I assure you there are two swarthy dudes laying down the first coat right now…

first coat going on!


ceiling done!

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Yep, the ceiling is dunzo! Finito! Completo! David has the lurid details…


Joe and I finished installing the ceiling tiles and tackled the final step earlier this week: sealing them. As I just reminded Brook, cork is wood, right? So it benefits from having a finish on it to resist marks and scuffs, and to keep the stain from discoloring over time.

Because the cork on the ceiling won’t get wear and tear from countless feet, we applied two coats instead of the four recommended for floors. The ceiling in the bathroom got four coats because of the increased humidity and the probability of water splashing up onto it in the shower.

The water-based finish was supplied by Duro, the flooring maker, as well as filters to ensure that no grit or anything else was in the finish, and applicator pads…

duro cork finish for the ceiling




















They even sent us the mixing stick! The finish is a catalyzed, water-based polyurethane. According to the instructions, you add 6 ounces of resin (the Catalyst bottle) to the gallon of finish and stir well. Easy. As long as you remember that the gallon needs to be used within four days or it will harden in the can.

We whipped up two poles to attach the pads to and then applied elbow grease liberally. To be honest, it was a little tricky keeping a wet edge on such a large expanse…

finishing underway, quick quick quick!




















The second coat dried very quickly and required moving fast to stay ahead of it. Invigorating exercise.

The finish dried within hours to a dull, not quite matte but far from lacquered, sheen…

ceiling is finished, yay!




















Looking good. Next up: the floor.


Monday, April 9th, 2012
Before we get started, I apologize for some text and spacing issues the blog seems to be experiencing. Hmmmm. Can’t figure that one out.
So here’s what you missed since I got slammed with work:

The ceiling is now completely tiled in cork (click to biggify the grandness)…

ceiling is corked, yay!
Something about it says eco-chic luxury spa, doesn’t it? The planks will get a protective finish tomorrow and the floor will be prepped for cork installation after that.

I mentioned the other day that Rob has been busy giving us light. The ceiling fixtures are in now…

first lights going in
Best of all — they actually work! Illumination. I dig it.

Also ongoing: tiling the bathroom. Our friend and fellow remodeling pro Mark Cummins has been prepping the walls, furring them out (building them up with wood shims) such that the diminutive wall tiles we’ve chosen will space out perfectly and require no cutting. That required a good amount of mocking-up and measuring. (And patience.) Followed by much re-measuring and marking, just to be safe…

marking the tiles




















Once Mark was confident we had it right, the 1/2″ cement board went up. In the shower, it’s gone from this…

shower wall before




















To this…

walls cement boarded in shower




















That’s the hand-held shower pipe poking through on the right. There will likely be an inset section in that wall for setting soap and sundries… a complication but hopefully not an impossibility. After that, water-based waterproofing and then tiling.

At this rate we may actually have a functional downstairs by summer. Doh! I just cursed us, didn’t I? Fudge.