Archive for the ‘projects’ Category

the dust is flying

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Literally. Flying. Before I go any further, let me note that February 1 was the one-year anniversary of the permit that gave us the green light on our remodel…





















We’re running out of window space.

So, about the dust. Two crews working today. David and Joe are prepping for the install of the deck ledger board

david and joe prepping for the deck ledger board




















That should be done sometime after lunch and perhaps the siding will start to go up? Drilling holes through the insulation and into the wood behind it is definitely dusty.

Now that the walls are closed up downstairs, a plastering crew is busy making them look absolutely impeccable. Installing corner bead, taping, lathering on the drywall compound…

prepping the walls




















Oh, and sanding. Dusty.

More on the progress of both crews later.

transformation under way

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

No wasting time here. Now that a color decision is made, the deck-end of the house where the siding was removed can finally get closed up and the tarp can come down…

deck end of the house awaits siding




















As mentioned, the redwood that was on this inset was removed so the new windows and slider could get installed. Eventually, that painted redwood will be planed clean and added to the outer envelope of the house — later in the year.

The new cedar for the deck-end inset…

cedar siding before




















… got a healthy coat of stain yesterday, front and back, by David and Joe.

staining the siding




















It’s winter — too cold outside for the stain to dry. So the stain had to be applied indoors. The vapors were wicked awful, even with respirators on and all the windows and doors open…

siding on the drying rack




















After a night of airing out on the drying rack David whipped up, the siding should be dry now. The stench isn’t so bad today.

Next up: the new siding goes on the house. Then we get to live with a temporarily odd sage-green and grayish black color combo until the rest of the siding gets tackled. Yay!

is there a hi-fi way?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

… as opposed to my remedial colored-pencil approach to trying different colors on the exterior of our house? Of course there are other ways. There are a number of software choices out there, but not all of them are good and they’re not all designed for the basic homeowner.

The one that seemed to have the best reviews was Benjamin Moore’s Personal Color Viewer (PCV3), available for Mac or PC….



At $10, it seemed like something worth trying, so I did. It’s Adobe-based software so it’s not particularly stupid-proof if you’re new to Adobe. Out of curiosity, I tried it out a couple of different ways.

First, I uploaded an architectural rendering and played with that…

Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer: using an architectural rendering










Hard to tell what’s going on by looking at a rendering, it turns out.

So then I uploaded a photo and played with that, too. Here’s one somewhat sloppy example…

Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer: using a photo












The software comes loaded with BM’s color palettes, but it’s laborious to experiment with colors — I tried to find the right gold-green but it literally takes FOREVER to change what you’ve done. The navigation is horrendous. I say this as someone who’s in the business of helping to make things online more user friendly.

I do like being able to see what colors on the exterior look like in the context of the houses around ours. But overall, I think my results were hardly worth the time I had to spend trying to compare different shades on the areas I masked out.

Bottom line on the Personal Color Viewer: If you have hours and hours to waste, go for it.

If you’re in a hurry, whip out the colored pencils.

drumroll plz… the color choices

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Well, the day is here — the day we commit to colors. Here’s how it went down.

David decided that once he finishes adding insulation to the outside of the house there won’t be enough of our existing redwood to go around the enlarged envelope, so he ordered cedar. How will we deal with the natural color differences in two kinds of wood on a single house? Easy. The existing redwood will get pulled from all the inset areas and get used on the main envelope. The new cedar will go on the insets.

And how will that look? Well, I went back to my initial color exploration and got out the colored pencils.

How lo-fi.

And approximate.

Some of you liked the bold color approach, so I tried this… Grey on the outside and a plant-inspired gold-green on the inside. Would take some courage but I kinda dig it…

grey and color












Not a neon green but a green with a Dijon-y tone to it. Along these lines…

goldy green paint swatches




















Grey on the outside and brown (natural wood color) on the inside. Safer but not loving it…

grey and brown












I always pictured the house as grey, but another option was brown (natural wood color) on the outside and dark, dark grey on the inside. I liked this better…

brown and grey












Bix, of course, lobbied for his choice…

yellow and red candy-striped












At this point we thought we might want to see the grain of the redwood through whatever shade we chose for the main body. So David planed the paint off a few of the boards that were removed from the deck-end of the house to see what shape the wood is in…

paint removal




















Then off we went to Adler’s paint department with 40-year-old redwood and new cedar in hand to try out stains. Here’s what the first color tests looked like…

color tests on redwood and cedar




















New cedar on the left. Original redwood on the right. The dark grey at the bottom is too dark for the exterior. We don’t want to live in a black box. The lighter grey is okay. But how about the way that clear stain really brings out the richness and character of the redwood? Why hide that?

Sidetrack… Just for yucks I tried the gold-green against the wood color to see if that might still work for the insets…

wood and gold green


Okay, my sweater’s way too bright in the sun but you get the idea. David, however, was not convinced. So gold-green was eliminated. (I’ll be resurrecting some version of it as an interior paint color.)

There’s a modern house on my running route that’s a decent example of a real wood-look exterior…

another modern in providence












Don’t love the off-white as a contrast choice for us but what about dark, steely grey or even black? It’s a little more dramatic without being show-offy…

Walden Residence by House + House Architects |

Walden Residence by House + House Architects |


Once you add grey/black, white works nicely (perhaps for our foundation if we can’t figure out how to take it back to its original concrete-grey)…

Casa Ro by Elias Rizo Arquitectos |

Casa Ro by Elias Rizo Arquitectos |


So I guess that’s it then.

On the main body, glorious redwood — stained clear to show its awesomeness.

A dark, almost black stain on the insets.

And white at the base assuming (and it’s a pretty good assumption) that we can’t bring it back to a bare concrete state.


up to our knees in cedar

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Liberty Cedar arrived today and dropped a load…

delivery from liberty cedar












… of cedar.

This means that siding the still tarped-over deck-end of the house is imminent. Which also means we need a final decision on exterior color. Like now. Argh.

after 8 wks of pondering

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Remember way back at the beginning of December when Land Design Associates was working on the front walkway? While here, they also dealt with this ugly crack in the concrete that I showed you before…

crack in front of steps




















Yep, that one. There was much conjecture about what we would do about it. After considering the options, David settled (surprisingly) on the idea of insetting beach pebbles like the ones we have around our house…

our beach pebble border




















They look pretty nice when you clean the dust off…

beach pebbles up close




















So we crossed our fingers and let the boys go at it. There was an impressive display of dust…

concrete getting scored




















An incredible amount of sledge hammering…

concrete getting pounded




















The prying up of amazingly stout concrete…

prying up the concrete




















And eventually there was a welcome mat-sized spot to fill with new concrete…

getting filled with new concrete












Topped off by concrete with a dark stain to match the beach pebbles…

topping off with stained concrete




















Followed by the beach pebbles themselves, getting their tops as level as possible…

leveling stones




















Then, voila! Beach pebble welcome mat where there once was a crack!

stone welcome mat finished




















So it doesn’t look too bad, right? I mean, sure, it’s a little gloppy in spots (especially along the front curve. But in theory we can rough that out.)

a closer look














ugh, a new crack!












I just couldn’t deal.

All that sawing and pounding action took its toll, I guess. Granted, the new crack is much smaller than the old crack. But water will work its way in over time and freezing and thawing will surely make that crack bigger. Yay.

I’m not going to think about that.


hmm, not too bad i guess





















oh the horror

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Joe, don’t go into the light!

joe, don’t go into the light!




















David, look out for the people under the stairs!

david trapped under the stairs




















Or you might call this entry Insulating and Sheetrocking in all the Hard Places You’ve Been Avoiding.

fisheye! fisheye!

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

The sheetrock saga continues but it’s closing in on the end. Today the QuietRock got sliced and diced some more…

trimming the QuietRock




















The inset that will house the future desk and built-ins is done now…

desk area sheetrocked




















See that pillar wall there with the boards leaning up against it? Can I just quickly remind you that this was the spot where the new concrete and new column went in last spring?

Just behind that, the wet bar is fully clad now. As are all the living area walls. The only bits remaining are in the bathroom and under the stairs.

Which leads us to this:  fisheye views of downstairs…

fisheye view 1




















fisheye view 2




















I got David this awesome olloclip for Christmas — it’s has quick-connect fisheye, wide-angle and macro lenses for iPhone 4 and 4S. So fun!


almost over the wall

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Hard to believe but it’s a balmy 52 degrees out in January (the snow is melting like mad) and sheetrocking of the walls downstairs should be done today!

The bathroom actually looks like a room now. Remember what it looked like just a few days ago? The short hallway you enter to get to it is almost done…

hallway to bathroom




















To the left you can just begin picture the future wet bar in the alcove…

alcove for the wetbar




















And now there’s the actual doorway to the bathroom instead of just framing…

bathroom doorway




















On the left side of the doorway there’s slot to tuck in a pocket door…

space for bathroom pocket door




















Since it’s a small bathroom we wanted as much usable space as possible. A swinging door just didn’t make sense in here.

Step inside and you’ll see the entry wall is sheetrocked now…

bathroom entry wall




















The bathroom wall adjacent to the shower (that’s the shower in the shadows on the right) is also sheetrocked…

bathroom wall adjacent to shower




















More to come. In the meantime, David and Joe are busy trimming and fitting and pounding away…

david finishing up a wall




















Lookin’ good, boys!



Friday, January 20th, 2012

As promised, walls started going up today. First Joe soundproofed the gap between the ceiling and soon-to-be-wall with acoustical sealant …

acoustical sealant gets added to the gap




















Followed by sheetrock…

the first sheetrock goes up in the hallway




















Honest-to-gawd walls are happening!