Thursday, December 25, 2008
Thankfully, Santa was nice enough to secure the purchase of this item for me (he has yet to deliver it down the chimney). What makes this settle special is that it comes with a story. This particular settle has been in the same family for three generations. That's a bit of history that you don't always get when you purchase something at auction or at an antique store. Originally, this settle had a leather bottom cushion and pillows. Unfortunately, the brutal Tacoma weather has not allowed us to retrieve the it yet, but I'm happy knowing that it'll be mine soon! In time, I'll refinish the bottom cushion, and have back pillows made. I'm leaning towards leather upholstery just as it would have had originally (see photo below).
In Picasa, I keep a photo album containing pictures of furniture and design elements I like, so that I can refer to them at a later date. I like to think of it as the Sears catalog picture clipping of the future. I recommend doing this, because as you visit sites and look at books you'll gather a lot of ideas. This particular photo is of a settle I fell in love with. I present this to give you an idea of what the cushions will once again look like when complete.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I've been laboring over the stain color in the house for some time now. Which is right? Light, dark, medium? What type of stain? Should we shellac over it, or just use a linseed oil? perhaps a nice wax finish would be good.
The pieces of furniture we rescued from the house slated for demolition simplified this decision making process. No way were we going to strip these amazing cabinets and try to refinish them. The color was splendid, and they had the patina you only get with time. So, the decision was simple -- we'll just stain all the wood in the house the same color as the cabinets. Next step, match stain.
Finding a way to match stain when you're a perfectionist is not a simple task. First, Kurt visited with a number of woodworking shops, and they all referred us to their sample books. The problem was that we were not finding a match close enough to call it good. Then came a suggestion Kurt got from someone at work -- contact Dalys.
Dalys is amazing. It's a Seattle based company with an interesting history that makes stains and other wood finish products. And guess what else they do... THEY MATCH STAIN! You can go in and look at their samples and pick from their pre-mixed recipes, but lets face it, stain color is all about the wood it is applied on, and you'll rarely find something that's an exact match. Dalys will do a custom stain match for the very low price of 20 bucks. 20 BUCKS! Hell, you can spend that at Starbucks in less than a week.
We took a peice of wood in from our cabinets that was the color we wanted matched. We also took in two peices of unstained wood -- douglas fir and western hemlock. In about 4 days, Dalys called us and our custom match was ready.
Because the stain color we're matching is so rich and pigment loaded, Dalys had to go with a two step process. The first layer is a pigment loaded dye, which is the first coat you apply. The second layer is a stain, which is applied on over the dye. We purchased a gallon of each, and we're told that's enough to stain approximately 400 sq. feet. That should get us pretty far into our project. Our plan is to use this color on all the wood trim, the wainscoat, the boxbeams, etc.
Our first application was the new 3 panel door Kurt installed in the dining room that leads upstairs. He finished the door jamb, and the trim that goes around the jam. It looks really terrific and we're happy to have the color peice of the puzzle solved.
Restoring a house is a chore, especially since real craftsman with expertise in their field are hard to come by. If you too need to match stain color, I highly recommend Dalys. We need more local independent businesses like theirs. Be sure to check them out.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
We've decided to hold off on the driveway removal project until next spring. The economic turmoil has us a bit dazed and confused at the moment, so we've decided to hold off on non-essential projects. Having the driveway removed now would satisfy my desire to have this project complete, but it isn't a necessity. In fact, having it done in the spring has its benefits. This way, we're not stomping around in the mud all winter long.
Are others delaying house improvement projects until the economy stabilizes or improves?
Monday, October 6, 2008
This summer, Kurt and I spent long hours breaking about 10% of the total driveway by hand. I convinced myself that we'd use the broken concrete to build landscaping walls. Well, plans change. We're hiring this job out and we're having the concrete hauled away.
On October 16th, they'll be breaking and removing a 90' long section of driveway. That'll open up approximately 1400 square feet of open space. In that space, we'll be adding a vegetable garden, building an outdoor dining room and planting a small orchard. That'll be a lot nicer than a huge swath of concrete. It may solve some of our water problems since the water can actually go into the ground!
We're leaving a 50' section of driveway at the front on the property. This will easily allow for the parking of three to four cars. Who needs more parking than that?
Stay tuned for pictures of the disappearing driveway!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
As a comparison, this is where we started this year. Not exactly from the same vantage point, but you get the idea. I don't even know where to begin to quantify the time spent. I'm not even sure I want to know. What I do know is that all of this work keeps the therapy bills low! If I'm busy, I'm happy. If I'm not creating, then things aren't so good.
Looking back, here are some of the things we accomplished this year:
- Remove ALL of the garbage that the previous owners left over (thik 3-4 truck loads)
- Remove fence from around deck. Deconstruct fence panels and salvage panels.
- Square off deck and make it rectangular as opposed to a half-hexagon.
- Tear out first 25% on contrete driveway.
- Build pond and add Koi.
- Haul in and install 10 ton of basalt rock.
- Build big pond organic filtration system with UV clarifier.
- Install approximately 100 foot of waterline and run underground cables for irrigation control.
- Lay 100 to 150 foot of new paths out of crushed brick.
- Move winter drainage creek so fence can go in.
- Build first 50' of Craftsman fence along property line.
- Rotate shed 90 degrees and move it 8 feet back.
- Haul in 10 cubic feet of dirt and have it moved around.
- Remove brick planter box from front of house (75% complete)
- Remove boat from front yard.
Not to worry, the blog won't be ending. Next up is a remodel of our upstairs space. We'll be turning one giant uninviting room into a 'quaint' bedroom and a television/entertainment room. As for the rest of the house: Kurt will be working on the kitchen, and we plan to continue stripping the woodwork.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
First the high bridge and now the low bridge. Pretty soon we're going to start installing overpasses.
When I designed the landscape (and yes, all at this was drawn out before being implemented, which is a MUST), I took into consideration the vast amount of rain we get during the winter time in the Pacific Northwest. The specific area we live in was once a vast wetland, and every year it tries hard to revert back to its wetland-self (hence the ducks that show up every winter). This is primarily the reason we're installing so many raised beds. On any given day during the winter when you walk across the yard, water squirts up out of the ground. It stays saturated all of the time. Thankfully, we have a creek that runs alongside our property which runs constantly during the winter months. Without the creek, I'm pretty sure our property would just float away.
This was a concern when we built the pond. In goes the water falling from the sky -- the water line goes up -- and the pond eventually overflows. I built a low-spot in the pond which will acts as a spill over. The spill over should (if it works as planned) run into the rock creek bed I've designed that runs under the second low bridge. So, in the summer months the creek bed will be nothing more than a dry rock bed, which has a certain aesthetic quality to it. Once more of our concrete driveway is pulled up, the little creek will run over into the big creek, and the water will be whisked away. If this doesn't work, we may all drown.
I sure hope the ducks show up again this year. One needs something to look at to get through the gray months!!!
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
For sometime, we've known that we needed an outstanding craftmsman artifact to restore our homes charm. Home, I'd like to introduce this hutch, and hutch, I'd like to welcome you to this home.
About a week ago while surfing Craigslist, I discovered the hutch you see pictured here. I couldn't believe my eyes. This was EXACTLY what we'd been looking for. We knew that our dining room needed something grand to be "Craftsman", and this Craftsman hutch, constructed of Fir, is grand in every sense of the word. It wasn't too big, and it wasn't too small, this hutch was just right.
The hutch was saved from this 1916 Craftsman home located in the Hilltop area of Tacoma. Unfortunately, the home is being dozed to make way for a parking lot. How on earth the Tacoma zoning allows for that to happen, we'll, don't get me started. As much as I hate to see this house fall victim to progress, I guess its destruction is what's allowing us to add this masterpeice to our home. I'm just happy that we were able to save this handmade furniture, and bring it back to life in our home.
I couldn't be more happy to have found this. Our plan is to change the wall this hutch is on to make it appear 'built-in'. We're still working up the plan on exactly how that's going to work. We've also decided what color the rest of the woodwork is going to be in the house once we get all the paint stripped! We're going to do our damndest to match the color of the hutch.
Oh, and one last thing. We also salvaged two matching room dividers, which just happen to have leaded glass doors that match the hutch! These two units were not actual room dividers, but rather shelves that were up against a wall. That means the sides and backs aren't finished, which means we'll have some work to do matching the stain and the wood grain. Once installed, they'll sit as room dividers exactly as pictured in the image. Tapered pillars will run up to the ceiling, and will intersect with the box beams, which we plan on installing in the living room.
We've got our work cut out to make all of this work, but I'm pretty sure we're up for the challenge. I plan on preserving the history of these artifacts by printing out photgraphs of the house they were removed from, noting it's address, and putting all of it together in an envelope that can be attached to the hutch. I feel it is important to preserve their history. My grandfather was a carpenter, and I have a deep love of hand crafted beauties that runs deep in the bloodline of my family. Seeing is believing, but the story behind them is what brings them to life.
Monday, August 11, 2008
into an I-35 disaster scene. The approach on the left side of the
bridge is a little steeper than I was hoping for. That can always be
fixed later. Now, I need to install the right side approach. Maybe
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008
The crushed brick has arrived! After months of product searching and price checking, I finally decided on a recycled crushed brick product to use for path hardscaping. After shoveling some of this stuff, I've noticed trace amounts of other stuff in it, like tile. I'm quite pleased with the product!
Here is a picture after applying some of the crushed brick. It will contrast nicely with the basalt rock and the concrete chunk walls.
foot long driveway gone, but no I don't want to pay to have it hauled
off. On top of that, I'm trying to get use to the idea of using what
I have available to me, instead of wanting something I don't have.
I've got a ---lot--- of concrete. I started building the 'Central
Park' retaining walls, and honestly, I think there is enough other
stuff going on in the landscape that you don't notice the concrete
chunk wall. What ideas do you have for recycling concrete? I'd love
to receive suggestions...
Friday, August 1, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
We're kicking the landscaping project into high gear. Today, we're expecting a 15 cubic yard shipment of top soil to be delivered. Sunday, we're expecting 9 cubic yards of crushed brick to be delivered.
We're laying out the landscaping fabric, and preparing for the hardscaping to go in. Our hardscape it relatively straight forward. We'll be using the crushed brick for paths, dirt to build up beds, and concrete chunks (from the driveway tear out) to build up retaining walls. Concrete chunks are not my first choice, but we've got a surplus of them since we're tearing out most of the driveway. It was either use them in the landscape, or pay thousands of dollars to have the stuff hauled out.
Using the concrete chunks and the crushed brick were both choices I made in an attempt to keep the landscape environmentally friendly. They are both recycled products, and are thus being removed from the waste-chain. We'll be using basalt stone in various arrangements throughout the landscape as focal points. If I had it my way, we'd skip the concrete chunks and use 100% basalt, but then what would I do with all that concrete? Ah, tough decisions. In the end, I think the concrete chunks will disappear out of the landscape once all the plants are grown in.
More pictures and coverage soon.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
With my old pond, which was no more than 600 gallons, I used a 5 gallon bucket, placed a pump in the bottom with an outlet pipe raising up 2-4" below the water surface. I then filled the bucket with lava rock, places some filter pad over the top and sunk it to the bottom of the pond. It worked like a charm. The water was never crystal clear, but it maintained a pretty good balance. My new 3000 gallon pond is going to need a bit more than the bucket treatment.
Extreme conditions in the large pond calls for an extreme bucket! Pictured here is a 50ish gallon farm supply watering trough. A watering trough works better than most rubbermaid totes, because the plastic is thicker and it is less prone to bulging. Pictured here, the trough has two pipe bulkheads drilled through the side. The first is a 1" PVC line. This is the water inlet and will run from the pump in the pond to the filter trough. Unlike the filter bucket mentioned earlier, this system remains outside the pond. In fact, this filter is sitting on the side of the house right next to the air conditioner. Eventually, I'll build a fence wall around all this utility stuff. The second bulkhead is a 2" water outlet. Water will run out of this hole into a 2" flexible pipe which will transport it back to the pond.
In this image, you're looking into the top of the trough. I have placed a grid on a number of bricks, which provides a platform on the inside of the filter unit. Eventually, the pipe you see jetting out in the picture (water inlet) will go down through the grid, where the water will be injected into the bottom of the trough. Filter medium will be placed on top of the grid. Why the space at the bottom of the trough below the grid you ask? This is an area that will allow filter scum/sludge to accumulate.
This is a biological filter unit. Colonies of good bacteria form on the filter medium, water passes through it, and the bacteria eat the evil out of the water (including algae).
I plan on going one step further with my filter. I'm going to put a UV filter inline on the water inlet, which will nuke the chlorophyll that then gets stuck in the filter that the bacteria then eats. Guess what - the bacteria also produces a bi-product waste. This waste (fertilizer) plants love and can eat thus producing oxgyen for your pond. Whew... that's one heck of a cycle of life!
I'll keep you posted on the success of my homemade filter.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
Next step is to decorate with rock. Stay tuned! I hope to have the water installed by Sunday evening :-)
One project is almost always connected to half a dozen other projects, and this case is no different. My long term plan is to install irrigation throughout the yard. There are two reasons I'm doing this. One, convenience. I love being able to go on vacation knowing my plants aren't dieing. Two, direct irrigation of plants saves water. Once I'm done, you'll be able to control the duration of each watering. That means I can give perennials less water than the annuals, etc.
For the plumbing, I ran three lines. The first line is the pressurized supply from the house. This PVC line will eventually run to a number of outdoor faucets as well as the irrigation control valves. The second line is for gray water. This PVC line runs from the back of the property to a faucet right beside the pond. I put the faucet in a ground level valve box, which can be landscaped around. Eventually, I plan on setting up a rain collection system, which can be used to top off the pond with water. This negates the need for dechlorinator, which is necessary if you use tap water. The third line runs from the deepest side of the pond to the head of the waterfall. This is a 1" flexible UV resistant line which will attach to the pump in the bottom of the pond, and pump the water up to the head of the waterfall. To top it all off, I also ran irrigation valve wire in the trenches. This is a low-voltage wire that runs from your irrigation controller to your valves. I went with a 7 strand cable (7/18AWG), which will allow me to control 6 valves from each run. This cable was a little more expensive, but I wanted to build the system in such a way that future valve expansion would be easy.
Purchasing the pond liner makes me nervous. The first time I built a pond, I measured wrong, and the liner I purchased was to small. This is not a cheap mistake. MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE, and MEASURE again! I couldn't afford to get a different liner, so I ended up filling in the pond some to make the liner fit. This time, I'm purchasing the EPDM line with an extra 5 feet on each side. This isn't cheap, but with a pond this big, I can't risk making a mistake. Besides, you can use the extra liner as a 'pad' on the bottom of the pond to sit rocks on. If you are building a pond, I recommend that you go large with your liner. If all else fails and your liner is to small, you can always fill in the bottom a bit. No one will ever know :-)
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Sunday, June 8, 2008
I decided first thing after purchasing the house that the backyard is to flat. I decided to fix this in a couple of different ways. First, I'd build elevation changes using dirt. I'd get the dirt by excavating the area for our pond. Second, I'd add dimension to the yard by using varying height landscaping.
I started by building a half-mound of dirt against the fence. I contemplated building a full mound, but decided that the back of the mound would be wasted space, since it wouldn't be easily visible. To build the half mound, I began harvesting concrete chunks from around the yard that the previous owners left. Not to worry -- we'll have an endless supply on concrete chunks once we begin pulling out the driveway. I'll save that story for another day.
Kurt and I began stacking the concrete chunks against the fence. As with any mound, it has a high point and then slopes down on each side. Therefore, we built the wall to gradually slope up to a maximum of approximately 3 1/2 feet and then back down again. The base of the wall at the highest point is probably 2 feet thick, since it'll have a lot of soil stacked against it. This is my number one concern. If this stack ever collapses into the neighbors fence and yard, it's going to be a mess to fix.
Later this summer once we complete the process of excavating the pond, we'll build a waterfall whose head will be at the top of this mound. Once finished, no concrete chunks will be visible.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
After staring at the damn shed for three months during winter, I finally backed away from the ledge and decided that the shed should live. I decided it would become my mission to make the shed not horrible. Step 1... move shed. The shed was built on site by the previous owners, who had no sense of balance beyond, "have that perfectly centered", which is exactly what they did with the shed (and everything else they touched. I won't even get started with the fact that they didn't move furniture away from the walls when they painted. Instead, they just painted around things. Seriously -- does it get more half-assed? Oh, back to the shed...). They positioned it right-smack in the middle of the yard with the peak of the roof facing the house. I continually asked myself, why does this positioning suck? First of all, there was no reason on earth why the shed should be perfectly centered. It wasted perfectly usable space to the left and right of the shed. Second, the shed roof pitch exactly mirrored that of the garage creating this perfect harmony of BLAH. GET IT OUT OF MY YARD.
With that, we rotated the shed 90 degrees clockwise, and then pulled it closer to the garage. We also moved the shed out further away from our neighbors fence. If you are smart, then you should be asking why on earth I would waste so much perfectly usable space. Well, I determined that we needed a space in the yard to store compost bins, pots, wheel barrows, etc. A 10 foot by 12 foot "room" behind the shed would be an excellent place for a work area. It was hard for me to sacrifice the space, but let's face it, our yard is not small as it is.
There are a number of projects remaining. First, I'll install a gate between the shed and the garage that blocks the view of the mess that's behind and beside the garage. Second, the "front" of the shed seen from the house will have windows installed, and perhaps some craftsman light-sconces. Eventually, we're gonna build a natural stone patio to the right of the shed that will include an open fire pit for small fires. The view to the patio from the house will be obstructed by the zen-garden, which will include several types of bamboo, including timber bamboo.
As the shed sits now, I hate it much less. It still needs work, but at least it isn't centered. If you too have fallen victim to irrationally centered sheds, don't hesitate, MOVE IT!
Thursday, June 5, 2008
We have started to dig a pond just off the deck, and are using the fill dirt to build up the area our waterfall will cascade down from. We used concrete chunks to build up a retaining wall against our North property fence. Once the mound of dirt is finished, the concrete wall will not be visible. Our new pond is much bigger than our old pond in Seattle, which was constructed out of an old water bed frame that we found. Our new pond will reach a maximum depth of 3 feet, and is approximately 20 feet long and 12 feet wide. Once it's all done, it will be decorated in with large rocks, plants and landscaping.
Boe whipped out 54 feet of the fence on Memorial day he's been planning for awhile. There are a couple of items remaining to complete the fence. He's going to add two cross horizontal pieces of trim boards onto the front of the fence to give it a more finished look. Then, he has to install the horizontal cross sections between the lentils at the top. And finally, he's going to trim in the trellis sections between the fence panels, which are made out of steel rock-sorting grates that I picked up from Second Use. All in all, we're very pleased with the outcome of the fence. Once it's finished off with landscaping and vines, it'll be a real masterpiece.
Monday, March 17, 2008
The triangle is just missing.
Most of the cabinets are less than 12" wide.
The fridge is in front of the light switch.
You paid money for those lights?
Painted paneling over cracked lath and plaster.
Giant drainboard on "gourmet" sink is facing away from the only open counter space.
All the great window and door casings removed to put up paneling .
The furnace was installed right in the middle of the kitchen.
Fir floors cut out to install prefinished oak from Home Despot.
BABY PUKE?!?! is that a color choice sane people would make?
Sunday, February 24, 2008
If you look carefully, you'll notice a bit of trellis between the two fence panels. I built a bit of trellis this morning as a prototype with the leftover sections of fence board that remain after I cut the two narrow slots for the fence panels.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The Style 1900 website has a links page to a number of artisan websites.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Each panel will be hung between a set of 10' poles, and 18" above each panel will be a lentil that supports an arbor type structure (more pictures soon, as it is hard to describe in words). I decided on this panel structure based on the design of the siding on our house, which follows the same wide/skinny/skinny/wide horizontal format. This panel creates a boundary, but does not block 100% of the view. It also allows for air flow, which is helpful for the plants that reside near the perimeter of the fence. In Washington, once or twice a year we get a wind storm that throws 60-100 MPH gusts our way. I've seen many fences blown over as a result of high winds, and I'm hoping this fence will allow enough air flow to prevent that.My south property line needs about 200 feet of fence, but i'm only likely to get about 50 feet built this year.
Enough obsessing about fence. On to the next thing...
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
them. I scour Craigslist for them all the time. When I find them for
free, I jump. I don't even necessarily have to have a project in mind
to collect them, but I know I'll use them for something, eventually.
Free bricks don't seem to show up as often on Craigslist in the South
Sound. Maybe that's just a bias I've developed over the past few
months. Nonetheless, I did recently find a large pile of bricks
(around 900 bricks) that I actually paid money for (about 10 cents a
brick). These 1920s era beauties will be great as a path, a patio, or
as the skirt for the porches we're going to build eventually. Bricks
-- collect them! You never know when you'll need them.
This is the first load. We we're almost done with unloading them. I
always sucker a friend or two into helping.
Here is a partial pile. By the time we got all the bricks moved, the pile was about 4 times this high. That'll be a good quantity of bricks to do some fun projects. Best of all, we're reusing material that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Okay, I've been a little Craigslist crazy lately. I found these two fantastic pieces of furniture online. The mission style chair is going to require a lot of work (gluing, clamping, reupholstering, etc.), but the price was right.
This bench isn't the most comfortable piece of furniture, but I have always believed comfort is secondary when it comes to furniture. I'd rather be in pain and look stylish :-) That must be a sign of a true furniture addiction!