Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Library Progress

Gutted library room
We're making steady progress on the library remodel project that we started earlier this summer.  In July, we gutted the library, which was a former bedroom.  This room was the most mutilated in the entire house, and had undergone numerous bad remodel jobs.  Very little of the original plaster walls remained (approximately 25% at most).  Most had been replaced with drywall and 60s era dark wood paneling.  During the remodel process we discovered that one of the original windows had been removed at some point, so we reinstalled it.  We didn't have the original window, but we had salvaged a window from the kitchen when we installed the French Doors.  It was nearly the same size so it worked perfectly.

North wall of library
In the past month the drywall was installed and sanded, and we primed and painted.  The room is far from complete, but it is already much more livable.  In the picture to the right you can see a box we bumped out on the North wall over the newly installed window.  Our plan is to build custom bookshelf cabinetry that has a built-in look.  The bookshelves that you see in the picture are made of solid fir and are out of an old school building in the Seattle area.  The wood from these shelves will be salvaged and refinished into the new cabinetry.  This project is a ways out once more of the house is finished.

South wall of library
For lighting we had a light box installed centered over the window, and two wall sconce boxes on the South wall.  We are currently shopping for authentic vintage lighting fixtures to feature in this room.  It may be some time before we find the perfect thing.  The South wall of the library will feature wood stained fir frame and panel plate rail, which we will be installing in the coming months.  The closet door on the South wall will be replaced with a stained 3 panel door that matches the doors in the remainder of the house.

Honeysuckle wallpaper: Bradbury & Bradbury
Most of the paint colors throughout our house are from the Sherwin Williams Arts & Crafts collection.  The ceiling in the library is painted Roycroft Vellum (SW2833) to match the ceiling color throughout the rest of the house.  The wall color is Ruskin Room Green (SW0042).  We felt that green was an appropriate color for the library as it is very calm and grounding.  Our current plan is to hang wallpaper on the South wall above the plate rail, similar to that in the picture.  We have ordered a sample from Bradbury & Bradbury to verify that the red is compatible with our rug.

We installed push button switches and Bastile style switch/outlet covers throughout the room.  Switches are from Classic Accents.  Classic Accents offers standard single pole as well as 3-way, and dimmable push button style switches.  Switch/outlet covers are from House of Antique Hardware out of Portland Oregon.

We're considering the installation of a Murphy Bed on the East wall.  Currently, we don't have an official guest bedroom since we converted that room into a TV/entertainment room.  We would like to be able to treat our guests to something nicer than a pull out couch.  This is still something we're considering, but it will come down to size and scale.  We found an interesting company that sells frame kits, which would allow us to build our own cabinetry.  This could be an option, but no decision has been made.

As you can see, we've made good progress.  Building the wall paneling and plate rail is the next big project, which should be a fun and interesting job.  Stay tuned for more details on that!

Friday, November 2, 2012

2012 Project Retrospective

2012 was a productive year, but blog activity has been light.  Much of our work this year has either been underneath the house in the crawlspace, on the roof, or drywall and other less romantic blog-worthy topics.  Having said that, we did make great progress this year.  The leaves are changing, so it tis the season to close the books and document the progress we've make thus far.

Living Room

In the living room we repainted, installed a new ceiling and finished the fireplace mantle.  After months of planning, we got the fireplace surround tile ordered from Motawi Tileworks and installed by Select Tile.  We're extremely pleased with how it turned out, and this room is really coming around.  There is still plenty of work to be completed.  We have to install the plate rail along the back wall, and we're still planning to install box beams on the ceiling in the living room/dining room.


In the kitchen, we got the tilework installed, including a special medallion over the cooktop area.  We're pretty happy with how it turned out.  We had hoped to make more progress in this area, but other areas of the house have taken priority this year.  There is plenty of work still to be done in this room, but it is very comfortable the way that it is.


2012 was largely about maintaining the garden that we've worked so hard to create over the past 5 years.  Maintenance on the property is no small chore.  I'm pretty sure we pulled at least a half ton of weeds this year.  We did finish planting the rain garden on the North side of the house, and I look forward to seeing the plants start to fill in during 2013.

The following are some pictures of the garden during the 2012 growing season:

Peach tree in bloom.

Sour Cherry tree showing off its full bloom potential.

The Dogwood tree blooms - the first sign of Spring.

The garden really grown in.

Our newly installed greenhouse.
Attic/Upstairs Master Suite

The space before we started. 
This year we really started to tear into our attic-1/2 floor upstairs space to start converting it into a master suite.  This space has always been low and claustrophobic because of the way they flattened the ceiling off at the peak.  To rectify the issue, we tore the ceiling out, divided the upstairs area with a set of french doors, and are slowly remodeling the area.  As of the writing of this post, the drywall guys are at work finishing up this job.  This is the first time that we've hired out drywall work, and that is in and of itself worth celebrating!!  (Really dislike drywall work)  Earlier this year, we installed an opening skylight on the roof to bring in much needed additional light and ventilation.  It is amazing how much that helped open up the space.  We will be installing a second one on the other end of the space sometime in the future. 

Dividing wall installed, and flattened ceiling removed.
The previous owners of the house REALLY liked Ivy and painted it on everything, and by everything we mean everything.  We even found ourself scraping Ivy off of painted windows.  We dream of the day when it is finally all gone!

Room after drywall and skylight installed.


What was previously the garage has now officially been promoted to workshop status.  To do so, we removed the 16' wide garage door, and installed a new set of french doors and windows to replace.  Our workshop is divided into two spaces - the first will eventually be a studio space for "clean" art work projects, such as painting, finishing, etc.  The second space that you enter through the first is our wood workshop.  In here we have lots of wood finishing tools that we have used extensively during our home remodel project.  In the long-term, we'd like for this outbuilding structure to somewhat match the style of our house.  It won't completely, because it has different windows, but we're hoping to install siding and paint it so that it matches better.   We also installed a brick patio in front of the workshop and built some raised beds in the area.

Before the ugly garage door was removed.

Installation of the patio we built from recycled brick.

Our library (formerly a bedroom in the house) was easily the ugliest room in the house, and potentially the ugliest room on the planet.  One quarter of the room was plaster, one quarter was drywall, and the other half was partially painted 1960s panelling.  It pains me just thinking about it.  This room was the victim of a terrible remodel job sometime in the 60s.  We determined that the room should be gutted since there just wasn't enough plaster to preserve.  That's exactly what we did this summer.  We also discovered that this room once had another window that had been removed.  We decided to reinstall the window to bring additional light into the space.  Thankfully we had a window that matched the house from when we installed the french doors in the kitchen.  This room is currently being drywalled, and we hope to have it primed and ready to go by the end of November 2012.  We built a drop-box from the ceiling to install custom built bookshelf cabinetry so that it will have a built-in look.

After all the walls were gutted.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

2012 Canning and Fermentation

2012 was our first big foray into the art of fermentation.  We fermented 40 lbs. of cabbage and jarred more than 4 gallons of Sauerkraut.  The process was incredibly straight forward.  We started with a case of cabbage, and then we sliced it down and layered it in our crock with salt.  We added a small amount of salt brine to supplement the water in the cabbage to ensure all the cabbage was completely submerged.  6 weeks later we had Sauerkraut.

Next up is deli dills.  For this, we're fermenting 25 lbs. of pickling cucumbers in pickling spice, dill and vinegar diluted with water.  All of the recipes we're using are straight out of the Ball canning book.  According to the book, this process takes approximately 3 weeks.  We have one week remaining before we jar some to refrigerate, and jar others to can.

On top of that, we processed salsa verde, peach butter, peach BBQ sauce, peach salsa, and dilly beans.  Approximately 150 lbs. of food in total.  This year we got smart and set up our canning operation outside for the extra space and to keep the mess out of the house.  That's something I'll be doing again in the future.  The pantry is rather packed with jars right now.  It's a rather good feeling.

We're planning an Oktoberfest event in October to ring in the arrival of fall.  For that, we'll be serving the sauerkraut, mustards, a pickle plate, home cured ham and homemade sausages that are all homemade.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Goodbye Garage, Hello Workshop

You probably thought we had abandoned our blog this year.  We were beginning to think we had too.  Hopefully we'll do better in the coming months!

We've had this project on our minds since we bought the house back in 2007.  At first, we had some pretty lofty goals, but somehow time and DIY brought us back down to reality which is a good thing.  Our "garage" is really ugly.  It has no architectural features that match our house, and the building is quite large.  (800+ square feet to be exact)  We stopped using the building as a garage years ago when we removed most of our driveway to make room for the gardens, outdoor dining room and orchard.  It would be an impossibility to drive back to the garage at this point.  Instead, we use it as a wood shop, and for storage/projects.  For that reason, we divided the inside space into two sections, approximately 400 sq. feet each.  Recently, we officially removed the 16' wide garage door and have officially stripped the building of its "garage" roots.  The building is hereby officially deemed a workshop.

Step one for this project was to finish the space in front of the workshop where the old concrete driveway once was.  For this, we used recycled brick found on Craigslist several years ago.  As patios go, this one was pretty easy to install all things consider.  The only thing special about this project was installing drains to prevent water from standing on the brick and then running into the structure.

Next, we tore down the old garage door and framed it in for the doors and windows.  The windows are salvaged out-swing casement windows, and the french doors are another salvaged item.  The doors had to be cut down because they were taller than the existing header for the old garage door.  This presented a small challenge, but in the end it worked out pretty well.  Already, things are starting to shape up and look a lot better.  This structure has been a downright eyesore for years.

This project is far from done.  Our plan is to reside the front and North side of the garage that face our property.  For this, we will likely use a horizontal siding material like Hardie Plank and try to match the siding pattern on our house.  It is unlikely that project will get finished this year.  Once new siding is installed, we'll be ready to paint this structure to match the color scheme of our house.

This winter, we will be using the inside front-half of our workshop as a work space to strip woodwork and finish trim, etc.  Eventually, this space will be more finished so that it is multi-use.  We haven't exactly decided what the space will be used for, but ideas include an art studio, home office, bar, entertainment/dining room area, and maybe a little of all of the above.  Whatever the use, it'll be nice when this structure isn't a complete mismatch from the house, and is a little more pleasing to the eyes.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dogwood Tree in Full Bloom

It's an early spring for sure.  In 2011, the Dogwood first bloomed on May 11th, almost 2 weeks later than this year.  The garden has put on an amazing amount of growth this year in a very short period of time.  It's going to be a great 2012 growing season.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pacific Northwest Woodland Garden

The last couple of weeks we've been working on the woodland garden on the North side of the house.  The concept for this area is a walk through the dense forest of the Pacific Northwest.  We're featuring many of the plants one would find on just such a journey.  The one plant we wanted the most was not available from Woodbrook native plant nursery in Gig Harbor, but they called me back to let me know they were able to locate it.  We went back today to pick it up.  The plant is Devil's Club.  It has a really cool name, and the plant looks great.  It gets approximately 3-5 feet tall and equally as large in diameter.   This has to be one of my very favorite plants found in the forests around here.

The picture doesn't really do this area justice, partly because of the large propane tank which is really an eyesore.  The plan is to cover it with a willow or bamboo fence so that it isn't as noticeable.  In this area, we planted 15 different native Northwest plant varieties for a total of 90 plants.  Some of the plants include, Devil's Club, Cascara, False Lily of the Valley, Vine Maple, Sword Fern, Deer Fern, Lady Fern, Maidenhair Fern, Salmon Berry, Bunch Berry, Evergreen Huckleberry, and the list goes on.  Most of the plants were pretty small in 3.5" pots to help control cost.  When we landscaped this area and installed the path, we built a low area, which you can see to the right of the path in the above photograph.  This is a wetland area where water collects from off the roof of the house.  This makes it an ideal location for Devil's Club, Cascara and other water loving plants.  Some of the plants in this area are still in their pots because it is much to muddy to plant right now.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring has Sprung

The garden is alive and well this year.  This weekend we will be planting the North side of the house with native Pacific Northwest shade plants.  Pictures of that project to follow soon.  The following are some pictures from around the garden.
Nectarine tree in bloom.

Pear tree in bloom.

Pond sedge grasses spring to life.

Lupines (front-center) in full growth mode.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mantle Refinishing Photo Montage

We recently completed the work on our living room mantle.  The following is a photo history of the process.

Finished mantle after rebuilding and staining/finishing. 6-Apr-2012

Picture of the mantle from the original MLS listing before we purchased the house. 20-Aug-2007  

Horrible process of stripping the paint. 8-Mar-2008
Mantle after a stripping the paint. 16-Oct-2011

Process of sanding and refinishing the mantle. 4-Dec-2011

Mantle after installing leaded glass doors and tiling fireplace. 10-Mar-2012
Original 2nd hand cabinets we salvaged the leaded glass fronts from. 24-Aug-2008

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March Project Progress

March has been a very busy month.  We have been blessed in the Pacific Northwest with monsoon-like rains that have forced us indoors.  That means more projects getting finished indoors!  Here are a few of the most recent.

Framing Windows

Existing garage structure
We've invested a lot of time fixing the house since we bought it 5 years ago, but the same is not true with our garage.  This space has been critical for us to work on all the many projects over the years, but it isn't an attractive structure.  Our garage is capable of parking 4 cars and was originally connected to the street by a driveway that ran the full 200 foot length of our property.  We had other plans for this space, and have since pulled up most of the concrete and installed a greenbelt for gardening, an orchard, and an outdoor dining room (1500 sq. feet total).  Our long term plan is to covert the space into a workshop - the front half being an art/creative space and the back half a wood shop.  To see this vision through, our plan is to remove the double-wide garage door and install doors and windows in its place.

In-swing casement windows
Custom milled sill stock
We located a set of 8 in-swing casement window sashes that we really liked.  We purchased them several years ago with the intention of using them on the front of the workshop since they match the style of our home.  Unfortunately, they weren't framed, so that left us searching for instructions on how to build frames.  We came across wood shop plans for casement windows in Robert W. Lang's Shop Drawings for Craftsman Interiors.  We recently completed milling the window sills out of 2x6 dimensional cedar.  The bottom rail insert was custom sized for these particular windows.  This was a pretty fun project and required a custom jig to be built for the bandsaw to cut the sills with the appropriate slope to shed water.  In the coming weeks we'll begin cutting the side rails down to size to complete this window framing project.  Once finished, we will have two sets of 4 foot wide double casement windows, and a single 1 1/2 foot wide single casement window.  These will be combined with a double in-swing set of french doors to replace the existing garage door.  That will be a big step in converting the garage into a workshop.

Framing in the Dining Room Buffet Cabinet

We bought an original arts and crafts era built-in buffet cabinet that was salvaged from a home being demolished to make way for a parking lot.  While it is a sad story, it did give us the opportunity to salvage the cabinetry and build it into our own home.  The cabinet did not have finished sides since it was originally built into a wall.  We recently enclosed the top of the cabinet when we sheet rocked the ceiling, and gave the cabinet new sides made from clear vertical grain fir plywood.  In the coming months, we plan to finish the sides using a frame and panel look, and stain it to match the rest of the woodwork.  The cabinet is beginning to look like it was always a part of our home.

Dining Room Light Fixture

Refurbished dining room light fixture
We recently completed rewiring this light fixture that we found on Craigslist and have installed over our dining room table.  We were able to salvage the original Edison GE "Fat Boy" sockets, which date back to approximately 1905.  New wiring and new insulators, and the light is as good as new.  We ordered interesting replica Edison light bulbs which have yet to arrive.  We are still working to complete the fixture shades, which still have all the original slag glass.  It's nice to finally have a ceiling light fixture over our dining area.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tile Installation

The tile work is complete in the kitchen and in the living room.


We went with a simple subway pattern and an integrated medallion with song-birds by Motawi.


Lee Green 4x4 field tile with an integrated raised diamond in gold.  Tile by Motawi.