Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ductwork, Deck and Time Capsule

I didn't get my floor samples done because I had other things that
needed to get done first.  Did you ever spend a weekend
working on a project that ends up just feeling like a setback?

Before I get to that, let me show you this week's progress.

The heating ducts are in to the upstairs.  You'll also notice the new window.
This was the window that was in the old bathroom.

The other new window that will be over the sink.  It's the same exact size
as the old window, it just slid up a few inches so it clears the countertop.

The new windows from outside.  These are same windows I used
on the front of the house.  Marvin, clad with ebony aluminum.

The back porch has it's new columns in place on the first floor.  I'm really
happy with how they look and now that I see them in place, I don't want to
add any railings on the first level.  I'm not required to have any railings if
the deck is less than 29 inches high.

The columns are Turncraft Polyclassic columns, eight-inches square.
They're made out of a fiberglas reinforced resin that's supposed to be stronger
than steel and concrete.  You just cut them to length, secure them in place and
then the capital will slide up and get tacked in place.

I spent the weekend working on the deck.  I bleached the wood with wood bleach
to get rid of the mildew stains, wiped it down with a baking soda solution to
neutralize the bleach and gave it two coats of Behr semi-transparent stain.

It doesn't look too bad in the photos but it's really blotchy.  It seemed like
the water-based finish was drying as quickly as I was putting it on so I couldn't
keep a wet edge.  The orangey-pink color of wood also makes it look lavender.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it.  Probably go more opaque.

This is the view of the dining room window.

Back inside for a minute.  The floor joists that span the two foundations
are getting back with pieces of plywood so that the spaces can be filled
with foam insulation.

This was my last chance to get my time capsule buried.
I used an old tool box that was in the basement and filled it with goodies:
A first generation iPod mini that's never been taken out of the box, an
old iPhone, an empty bottle of cold brew coffee (since it seems to be all
the rage right now), blueprints of the house showing all of the work I did,
before-and-after photos of the house, printouts of several posts from the blog
(including all of your comments!), photos of me and cats, a newspaper, Google
maps of the neighborhood, historical maps of the neighborhood and an article
on global warming that included pro and con arguments about human causality.  

All of the paper materials went into tyvek envelopes just to protect them from moisture.
I closed up the tool box, put in a trash bag and dropped it down the last opening between
the two foundations.  It's weird to think I'll never see this again in my lifetime. 

The plumbing, electrical and HVAC inspections should take place this week,
the insulation can go in and then the fun part can begin!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Kitchen and Porch Progress 10.19.13

You all surprised me with your love for black and brass.  I do like it too
but as some of you pointed out, it might be a little heavy.  But I love both
the white and black so no decisions have been made.  I'm still looking actually.

Some good progress has been made; in fact, I think the plumbing is done.

All the new outlets and switches have been roughed in.

The ceiling is furred out and ceiling fixtures have been wired.

I think there's just the ductwork for heating to go and we can insulate
and get the walls closed up so the fun can begin.

But it's a busy, busy weekend of getting as much outside painting
done as I can.  It's supposed to turn much colder next week so I'm not sure
how much more time I'll have before it gets too cold to paint.

I decided to tackle the hardest thing first.  Thirty panes on the French doors.

When I was painting the inside of my new windows are few years ago,
you may recall I discovered that Scotch makes blue tape corners for windows
and hinges.  I've never seen them in a store but I found them online.  These
rolls of 60 are $7 on Amazon and I'd need two rolls of them just for the doors.
Kind of expensive just to tape the corners.

So I went back to my little trick for taping the corners and refined it even more.

I was initially cutting very sharp, almost 45 degree angles in the tape but
I've discovered that cutting a much more oblique angle is actually much easier.

Overlapping the two pieces with the point in the corner makes a perfect fit.

Then just fill in the sides.

I got all the goobers scraped off last weekend and one side primed in dark gray.

I got the other side taped up and primed today and a final coat of
black on the first side so I'll be able to finish them up tomorrow.

Image from
I was thinking of going with dark colors on the back porch deck and
ceiling and this was inspiration for that idea.  I was concerned it
might read Craftsman or Bungalow and some of you pointed out
that the dark colors would really absorb heat from the sun.

Image:  Christie's Real Estate
So it seems like a better idea to keep things light not only to keep it cooler
but I'd like the porch to be an extension of the kitchen and these are more
like the colors I'll have in the house.

I chose a semi-transparent stain by Behr called Cape Cod Gray
and it seems to cover the orange tones of the fir decking while
still allowing some the grain to show.  I can always go more opaque
later but thought this would be a good place to start.

The outer edges of the decking that have gotten wet in the rain seem to
have mildewed so I was little concerned this might show through the stain.

So I tried a little wood bleach on the edge of the deck that will be
trimmed off and it very quickly removed all the mildew stains so Ill
give the whole deck a quick coat of wood bleach, and then wipe it down
with a solution of baking soda to neutralize it before I do the staining.

I'm not happy to extra steps but it's nice to know there's a way to fix the problem.

In the meantime, I'm gluing up some white oak samples so I can experiment with
stains and finishes for the kitchen floor.  I'll show you those next time.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lighting Inspiration

Nina:  House and Home
Pinta:  Lili Diallo from Livingetc.
Santa Maria:  Jonathan Adler Design, Elle Decor
I know not every state and/or business celebrates Columbus Day but it's a holiday here
for most of us in Massachusetts so I thought I would mark the holiday with a little Christopher Columbus lighting inspiration with NiƱa, Pinta and Santa Maria chandeliers.

Inspiration is an interesting thing; it can come from anywhere.
You just need to take the tiniest spark of an idea and run with it.

My lighting plan for the kitchen includes a pendant and few flush mounts.

Circa's Yoke pendant, Marine flush mount and Siena flush mount

Going with a nautical look was my first inclination but
I've seen it done before and it's just a little too literal.

So I took a little inspiration from the rubble.  When the kitchen floor
was opened up, I found these few light fixtures tucked up on the second inner
foundation.  I probably could have reached them from the basement but the
ductwork obstructed them from view.  I thought the white porcelain fixture was
interesting and I would bet it was used in the house at one point in time.

I pulled it out and studied for a few days.  I considered cleaning
it up, having it rewired and finding a globe for it but it's cracked
in a few places and has some discoloration so I got in internet to
look for something similar to see what I could come up with.

And after looking at thousands of lights I found it a Schoolhouse Electric:
a white porcelain fixture with a glass globe that looked very similar
to what I thought the fixture from rubble would look like if it were restored.

And I paired that with a white enameled pendant and a nickel flush mount.

It's a group of fixtures that transport me to an old bakery in my hometown.
I photographed it the last time I was home.  It's so charming and warm and authentic.
I thought if I could ever make a kitchen with this feeling, I'd be quite happy.

I then took the white and swapped it out with black with brass
for another look that I think is quite handsome.

Another possibility but with white shades.

Have you looked at Schoolhouse Electric?  They have a great mix of fixtures all
available in different finishes and variety of shades that will work with each fixture.
It seems the possibilities are endless.  And they sell a lot more than lights.

I haven't made a final decision but I think these would be great
juxtaposed against cabinets made from an antique store counter.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


It's been a frustrating two weeks.  I came down with a cold that left me
with bronchitis and there's been very little progress in the kitchen. 
The major construction part is done and now we're waiting for the
plumber, electrician and HVAC guy to do their thing.  

There has been some progress on the back porch and I'll
admit that I was excited to see the French door go in.

The tongue-and-groove fir decking is down on the first floor
and most the beadboard ceiling is up.

Two wall sconces will flank the French doors.

I used an onion lantern at the front door...

...and I found these industrial-onion hybrid lights
at Home Depot.  A really nice look for little money
but they only come in silver and this odd "brick" color
so I picked up some Rustoleum black spray paint
to make them match the light on the front. 

A few coats of black satin later...

...the look so much better.

I'm really happy with how they turned out.

I'm kind of toying with the idea of staining the beadboard
ceiling dark brown and painting the deck a very dark gray
like Kendall Charcoal.  The back porches face South and
the sun beats down on them most of the day.  I was thinking
the dark colors might eat up some of the light but I also wonder
if it's a color palette that reads craftsman.  Know what I mean?

It requires more thought.

Anyway, back to the French doors.

They're made by Simpson and have true divided lights.
One would think that a single pane with applied wood mullions
would be cheaper but, no, true divided is the less expensive route.

The down side is each of panes has this rubbery adhesive that
squishes out around every single pane when they install them.
I'm doing all the painting so trimming all this goop off is my job.
It's tough stuff.  

I did a few this weekend and each pane takes about 15 minutes.

So while I patiently wait for progress in the kitchen, I'm spending
a little down time enjoying the fall foliage.   

We had a little rain today and that
always makes the color a little more intense.

This all seems a few weeks early this year.
If only the plumber was on the same schedule.