Thursday, December 27, 2007

Linoleum Removal: Chemistry 101

Remember the first project I posted on the blog about the linoleum removal? I kinda lied when I gave the post a title of 'One Project Down'. Instead, it should have read, 'One Project Started'. As it turns out, pulling up the old linoleum was cake, but pity the backing and glue remained on the floor. I kept staring att it wondering how I was going to get in off of the floor without damaging the hardwood floors. Hmmm, gasoline perhaps? No, then maybe creosote?

Project in action:

I ended up mixing up a mean batch of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, H2O and using brute force (wax on, wax off -- the 80s were useful for something). Basically, I smeared the area with water, then I'd wait. I'd wet it again, then wait. Then, I'd start scraping with the plastic scraper. The 2 dollar plastic scraper was perfect, because it doesn't damage the wood. With the scraper, I'd get all the paper off and the only thing remaining was the big brown blobs of adhesive. Turns out that if the adhesive was left wet long enough, it became water soluble and would wash off of the floor. All in all it took about 2-3 hours to complete the entire task.

Finished product:

That's much better. I'm kind of happy the linoleum was there in the first place, since the floor is in excellent condition as it was protected. I finished the job off with a highly potent concoction of Murphy's Oil Soap and -- yes, more H2O.

Now the floor is nearly ready for the next step: complete sanding and refinishing. And with that, this bungalow floor will be ready for another 100 years of service.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Planning the lanscape

I'm very excited about the opportunity to landscape our bungalow, but at the same time, a little nervous about the task. Designing in a craftsman style is very much about bringing the outside in and bringing the inside out. A craftsman bungalow should be comfortable, and it should blur the lines between the inside living room and the outside living room. Kurt and I spend a tremendous amount of time outside and it is important to us to have "rooms" available to us for reading, dining, or whatever it is we want to do. I've been reading a number of books to harvest design ideas, and one of my favorites at the moment is Naturalistic Gardening by Ann Lovejoy. The book features two photographs that are driving my latest outdoor landscaping obsession. Drum roll please....

Above photo: I love water, and plan on having a lot of it when I get done with the landscape. This is one of the first photographs in the book, and it instantly appealed to my senses. In the background, you see the porch with the pergola like rafters. I particularly like the textures in the foliages and the contrast in colors.

Above photo: What isn't to like here? Just looking at this photo makes be relaxed. What if this Japanese style bridge stretched across the pond and terminated on the other side by entering into a Japanese style tea house? I feel relaxed just thinking about it.

Okay, so where are we now and how will these design features fit into the current landscape?

Welcome to my back yard. This picture is taken about 1/4 of the way back. The back yard is about 80 feet deep. The first order of business will be to square off the back deck and get rid of the 45 degree angle corners. The deck is *huge* as it exists today, and we'd rather use the space for plants, etc. We'll be using the deck board we pull off to continue the deck on around the house (picture of that later). The inset portion of the home with the 1960's sliding glass doors will be an outdoor living room, and will be framed in with a pergola roof. From the corner of the deck, you'll be able to look over into the water. I've laid the water hose out as an example shape for the pond, but have yet to determine the final shape. The bamboo poles on the ground represent the bridge which will run to the tea house. The tea house will sit a little to the left of where the photograph was taken. Eventually, I'll upload a drawing of this layout so that it makes a more sense.

The sliding glass doors will eventually be replaced with craftsman type glass doors. They will open out onto the outdoor living room. From the outside living room, you'll be able to see the water and the fish (potentially Koi), and there will be a step down from the deck onto the bridge that will lead you to the tea house. The tea house will be the ultimate place for relaxation and meditation. I have yet to determine the exact design for the tea house.

I can just picture this in my mind, and what an amazing backyard experience it will be!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Whats Cookin

The large blank spot at the upper left of Boe's drawing is currently the site of the worlds worst kitchen. My first order of business in the new house is to make it usable. Ill be adding an island for some much needed workspace and storage. Adding a second sink to create distinct prep and dish zones. I plan to swap the dishwasher and cooking areas
across the room and make the door to the dining room wider.

But first, there's drawing out the plan. I decided to design my kitchen and cabinets in 3D. I'm using Sketchup for modeling which is pretty easy to use. And I'm using a full set of oak custom built cabinets I got at the building material salvage store. Remodeling with salvage material is not nearly as straightforward as paying someone to do the remodel, but it is tens of thousands of dollars cheaper. As my best friend has been fond of saying since we were in high school I put the EEP in cheap.

As the kind of person who enjoys refinishing antique furniture I see no reason I can't make this set of salvaged cabinets look like they were meant for this kitchen and look like they belong in this craftsman house we have grand plans for.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

House redesign concept

Oh the fun of being a new home owner. You know, the dream state when everything seems possible, and there seems to be an absence of obstacles.

I spent the weekend at home sketching some home redesign concept plans. Kurt and I would really like to have a library/den, and it seems like turning our back bedroom into just such a room might be the perfect opportunity. This drawing shows a bedroom in the front, with the addition of a door into the bedroom from the living room. The bedroom would also have a direct door into the bathroom for convenience. The living room dining room in the house would then connect to the then back bedroom now library, which is beside the staircase. This would allow us to remove the staircase from the dark brooding enclosed stairway that encapsulates the area. Kurt is worried about the line of sight -- basically that the house would be to open due to the cross-diagonal view of everything. I have drawn in some basic 'line of sight' marks to show the diagonal view. I really like this design. It would allow us to open up the stairs, do away with the hallway, thus enlarging the bathroom. We'll see how it goes :-)

I should go find something useful to do now like strip paint!

Backyard concept

I want a pergola. In fact, I want to modify the existing deck to make it more square, add a pergola to the now bedroom 'to be library', and then add a network of paths and pergolas that take you out to the garage where it will tie into a dining area pergola. No problem! (Btw... we plan on turning our now garange into 1/3 outdoor kitchen/dining area and 2/3 wood workshop.)

Welcome to my winter.

I'm in design phase right now, but I'm pretty excited to have a blank slate, which I see as a world of landscaping opportunity. I'm reviewing books now, and hope to turn my garden into a mixture of tradition, Japanese, and function. I'm going for some pretty awesome water features in this yard. In fact, I want one large pond, a creek, and a water fall/water tumbling rock feature. I want the waterfall near the dining area that way you'll have the audible pleasure while you're enjoying yourself. I plan on having a path that forges the creek, and I want the 'bridge' to be made out of stepping stones. I want you to have to interact with this landscape, which means watching and paying attention. Stay tuned for more design ideas.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

How it all started

Boe and I bought our first house together some two months ago. After living in a gorgeous Victorian rental for three years it was hard to make the decision to find our own place, add to that the prices in Seattle are some of the highest in the country so finding an old house with some charm left in it on a big lot was going to be difficult. Eventually with a lot of searching and some really good credit (his, not mine) we came across a smallish two bedroom built in 1924.

At first glance I was somewhat tepid. It has some good features like hardwood throughout the first floor and some interesting lintels. It has a 12' mantle with built in side cabinets, and great windows all over the place. Boe fell in love with the siding which is cedar bevel in an alternating pattern while I was impressed by the four car garage.

The detractors stacked up in my mind are that the 12' mantle, and every other peice of trim, is painted, the nice mission squares front door is painted with peeling veneer, the wonderful windows are going to need constant attention, the hardwood floor in the kitchen is modern pre-finished 3 1/4 TnG oak while the rest of the house looks like top nail (its not, luckily) 2 1/4 oak with a different stain. The biggest issue is that the kitchen, while large, is a living hell to work in. Theres no triangle , there are a ginormous pantry cabinet and the refrigerator flanking the door to the dining room and turning the workable counter space into dark little cubbyholes, the nice expensive Elkay "gourmet" prep sink is installed so the prep side is in a corner, not next to the only open counter and its crowned with a craptastic flamingo looking faucet. But the absolute worst part is that all the (tiny) cabinets (from 1967) have been painted the color of cat puke.

Well I guess all of that is changeable. I happen to work for a building supply company specifically a "Used" building material supply company. We pull antique house parts and usable materials out of houses slated for the wrecking ball. There are rare treasures and mundane bargains rolling past me every day all I have to do is pick and choose the bits to remodel (mostly Un-remodel) the entire house.

One project down!

It isn't completely finished, but I made good progress today. I'm
stripping the old linoleum off of the floor in front of our front
door. I'm preparing for the larger project of sanding and
refinishing the hardwood floors. I've never done that before so it
should be an interesting endeavour.