FEBRUARY 2007 - MARCH 2007

MARCH 1, 2007
As you can see, it's been weeks since our last entry.

Almost all of our time has been spent on the move to the new rental house and the necessary unpacking and setup, a big part of which is our office/computers which is essential to our project.

Other than chopping up some trees that were done in by seasonal storms, all's quiet at .

Today, we had an appointment with our neighbors and friends, Beth & Jerry, from up the hill at our original rental house. They are very talented sheet metal artists and they'll be creating the
"Harry Potter Gothic" beams that I've dreamed up for our living room ceiling.

Originally we thought Greg would make them out of wood, but then we met Beth & Jerry. We were in their home one day and saw these amazing corbels and architectural pieces. And when they explained it was made out of lightweight sheet metal, we were sold. And it solves several problems: it won't require Greg whose talents are needed elsewhere, plus the sheet metal is so light, it won't require beefing up the structure.

My design took dozens of hours of trial and error and eventually evolved into its current manifestation. You have no idea (and neither did I!) what's involved with something like this. You have a vision in your head, but then making it actually work is something else entirely. Early sketches had these things hanging too far down into the room. And Beth & Jerry explained that the more repetition, the lower the cost. And, even though this is a "splurge"...cost is an issue. And, too, there's the "magic of three" (you'll see three main components on either side of the center piece) which is always pleasing to the eye. No matter what it takes, I'm dead set on this idea...which evolved from
something I saw in a magazine years ago. Sometimes it's a curse having an imagination!

Anyway, what a trip it was attempting to transfer a two-dimensional drawing to a three-dimensional idea. It had been so long since I'd worked on this thing, I forgot all the missteps it took to "get there", so once
we set to work on it, the problems began (use your scroll bar at the bottom of the picture to view the complete image) (Also, you can see one of their corbels in the second picture.). Finally, after we were all trying to reinvent the wheel, I remembered what I had learned when I was working on the design months and months ago. And pretty soon we were making progress.

Next, Greg will mock up a three-dimensional example in cardboard and we'll put it up to look at the scale of it. Then we'll have Jerry & Beth over to work out more kinks. Even though we are months away from installing this, it won't hurt to have it ready and waiting because you never know how that might affect other elements in the room.

MARCH 28, 2007
We are finally "back on the job" - after a six month (unexpected) hiatus. Greg started back on Monday and used the past two days to reacquaint himself with where he needs to pick up on finishing the roof as well as some other set-up chores.

Today will be his first day back on the roof. This is the roof behind the turret above the Master Bath and Laundry areas. All roofs are going to have penetrations--chimney stacks, plumbing vents, ventilation and exhaust vents. They really do detract from the overall look of a contiguous roof, especially the faux slate metal roof we have chosen. In our case, this part of the roof, because it is the least visible, is the best place to try and direct all the penetrations possible. This
finished roof has 11 penetrations.

Also, wherever possible roof safety anchors have been installed along the ridge so that a safety harness can be attached should someone need to get on the roof in the future. Greg felt that to access the roof it would be easier to come out a turret window, hook onto a safety anchor and then step off onto the roof below. But he would need to construct a "roof step" because the AirVent ridge vent we are using is extremely delicate and you cannot even breathe on it without denting it. So he made a roof step that will still allow the attic to vent. Once again, at the local salvage yard he found a heavy galvanized plank that he was able to cut down to form the step. This
photo tells the story.

After the roof is completed, he'll finish the rest of the exterior siding and install all exterior doors. That will probably take until the end of the year.

While we've been regrouping all this time, Greg has been catching up with research on various upcoming projects such as the ventilation system, radiant heat, etc. He has found the
Journal of Light Construction website forums a gold mine where he can pose questions to the experts. It's one of the better resources.

I've been busy reading every interior/exterior design magazine I can get my hands on for ideas. So far I've subscribed to: Better Homes & Gardens, Architectural Digest, Domino, Dwell, Elle Decor, Home, House & Garden, House Beautiful, Martha Stewart Living, Metropolitan Home, Northwest Home & Garden, Real Simple, Sunset, Traditional Home, Veranda, and Western Interiors & Design. I look at everything (furniture design, furniture placement, window treatments, colors, trends, display ideas, storage, organization....) and tear out pages on specific ideas and file them in my "Room" files so they're where I need them when I'm ready to tackle details. But I also keep all the magazines because going over them again and again will be helpful during the rest of this process and many times I see something on a second go-round that I either missed or I wasn't thinking about at the time.

Once you subscribe to one magazine, you are bombarded with "special" subscription offers at reduced prices, so I figure it's inexpensive research material. And when I get a renewal offer (which usually costs more than the introductory offer), I call the magazine, tell them I'd love to keep it coming, but my budget only allows for the amount I paid last year - they never refuse! And another thing, always be aware of when your subscription ends - the magazines are famous for sending you renewal notices months ahead of time.

Greg has files for construction details and subscribes to Fine Woodworking, Fine Homebuilding, and the Journal of Light Construction. Unlike myself, he doesn't like to tear out pages - he prefers to create a reference spreadsheet to retrieve material.

Also during this construction hiatus, we've discussed details of various design projects.

As a result of our earlier attempts to work out the design kinks of our living room beams, we have changed it from a
seven-element beam to a five-element beam. This should also help with the final cost. Regardless, I've kept the design to an "odd" number of elements - a fairly universal design philosophy. I'm looking forward to creating the mock up which should give us a much better idea of scale.

Last night I took some quiet time, closed my eyes and took an imaginary tour of our finished home in my mind's eye. Some people can do this sort of thing...others cannot. My ability to do this has been a great source of inspiration not to mention helping to eliminate mistakes before they become a reality. During this little tour, I was also able to make some decisions about details such as window casings and certain "artistic" elements. I began by entering the front door and "walked" through each room looking at as many details as possible - right down to wall art and figurines on display. In a way this technique borders on self-hypnosis. When I was done, my excitement for what will look like left me with a longing for the real thing. I can't wait for the day when I can take friends on the actual tour and see their faces; because even with all our verbal descriptions of what our grand plan is, I don't think they really have any idea!

One of the things our research uncovered has us rethinking what product to use for our master shower walls. I thought I had narrowed it down to a man-made product called Avonite, but see where this is a poor material for such use. Likewise cement. Although it is "the thing" for kitchen counters - and we are definitely using it for ours - even the guru of cement, Fu-Tung Cheng, advises against it for a shower. So, we will probably use granite or marble. Our master bath counter top and decking to the tub is
onyx (a form of marble). We bought this material even before we broke ground. And since that time we have reduced the size of the tub decking, so perhaps there will be some onyx left over to work with for the shower.

Greg bought two pair of vintage "railway"car sconces for his turret from a local dealer and the seller was nice enough to give us a
gift of resin corbels which we gladly accepted and will use in the coffered ceiling of the gallery. We found these same corbels in a catalog for $135 each in resin and $400 each for real wood!

Did you know? I did some architectural terminology research on the word "turret" and found that the precise word for a turret designed to command a wide view or look out on a pleasing scene is "belvedere". So, it may take a while, but I want to start using the new term. Kinda fun I think.



And for previous house notes go to

to see what we've been up to lately

(the newest entries are always at the bottom of the page)