March 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
No Union Breaks.
The floors in my bedroom are done.
This means that a room in my house is habitable. As in I can move stuff into it. As in it only needs switch plate covers. I’ve even walked around in it more that a few times, mostly covered in sawdust, hence the smudges on the floor that my crazy renovating eyes are immediately burned by. I think there’s sawdust in my camera’s lens permanently at this point.
Let’s take a little trip through time, via pine flooring. My house is 132 years old. I didn’t really occur to me at the time that I was buying a house built exactly one hundred years before I was born, but that’s what happened. See that there floorin’? That floor was put in a little later than the initial 1880 homestead – it’s approximately 100 years old. We tore it all up. de-nailed it, cleaned it, ran it through the thickness planer, and installed what was left of it after all that it in my bedroom. It was in pretty rough shape in spots. It had been painted a few times. but it was actually really clear, beautiful stuff. That’s some damn long flooring. Apparently there was a ton of old growth pine in Missouri that was heavily milled around the turn of the(20th) century, and it’s fairly common to see completely clear wall-to-wall heart pine flooring in the older buildings around here. Dad almost looks like he could be in 1880.
See the end grain? Looks quarter-sawn to me…
I knew that there was a chance I would not be able to finish the bedroom with the left over flooring from the first floor, so before committing to the plan I did some research and found some “reclaimed southern heart pine” at The Salvage Barn in Iowa City. Sure enough, I needed that stuff, and so we traveled up there and picked up some of the most awesome flooring ever.
Wow. Dad in Tevas with no beard. These floors really have taken for ever. Anyway, Dad is standing next to the extremely long pine flooring I picked up for under $2 a square foot. This flooring was used to make bleachers that sat in a high school in Norway, IA until presumably they upgraded the gym (?) Anyway, this stuff was in much better condition than my old downstairs flooring, and I was concerned that it would look so different, but in the end I decided to go for it. It was fun to see initials carved in my flooring, and scrape gum off the planks to some extent, and imagine the teen dramas that took place in Norway High.
Up came the gross carpet, off came the Christmas Balls, and in went the floor.I guess I painted at some point too. The pine had no old finish to remove, and is pretty soft, so I rented this light-duty drum sander that worked nicely.
Ta DAAAAAA. You can see where the old downstairs flooring ends, and the new, Norway High flooring begins, but I’m choosing to see that as character (Ugh. Next I’ll be saying “charming.”) and a good use of the original materials in the house.
Tech time; We sanded at at 80 grit and then 120. I edged with both an orbital sander and an edge sanding tool, then vaccuumed and tack cloth ‘ed all over that like a boss. For finish I used Minwax’s water based polycrilic, as per the recommendation of the dude at Menards. It’s not necessarily intended for floors, but this is an upstairs bedroom with minimum traffic, and it kept my lovely pine from darkening and yellowing, which was my goal. The Polycrilic gave a nice soft, satiny finish on the pine, and was fairly easy to apply. However, I did this by myself in what was maybe not the easiest way – I probably looked like a bad high school theater interpretation of Pollack. I would definitely have someone help you get this stuff on if you’re considering using it. It dries really damn fast, and makes lap marks in the process like a mofo. If I did it again, I would have one person to get the stuff on with a mop head applicator (that’s what I used) and another to follow behind evening it out with a foam paint brush. I did this myself, and by the end I was sweating profusely and in dager of having my back snap in half. I sanded the whole thing down with 220 grit using my little orbital sander, which actually went pretty fast, added another coat, and that was it. I suppose I could’ve done a third coat, but it looked good to me, and I was admittedly ready for something, anything to be done.
January 4, 2013 § 3 Comments
There you are, you beauty.
It’s been way to long, since I’ve shown you anything going on in this baby. I keep waiting to post things because I’m trying to be all “before and after” but technically NOTHING IS COMPLETELY FINISHED AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! However there has been some progress. Oh yes there has. You may notice that there seem to be wood floors where once there were not. More on that later. For now, this is the story of something that is actually done. My beautiful, toasty little Christmas miracle: my wood stove. Should I name it? Maybe. Anyway, I picked out this wood stove and started payments on it exactly a year ago. The chimney was installed ages ago, and then began the deliberation that would haunt my dreams for months. What the hell do I put under it?!?! You don’t wanna hear about that. I can’t relive it. The emotional trauma is still a little fresh, but the breakthrough came at the Creative Edge remnant sale. Creative Edge is a world class operation based here in Fairfield that creates amazing installations of marble and granite, etc. A couple of times a year the Fairfield community has the opportunity to buy the remnants from their massive projects at extremely generous prices. It’s really dangerous to start looking at all these things and start getting ideas. You know, ideas.
Mies Van Der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat
I wanted something simple and black with a matte finish that wasn’t too terribly cheap looking. I had been toying with the idea of getting something custom made, because apparently only people in Belgium or St.Paul, MN are allowed to purchase stove plates like this one from Morso.
But Creative Edge came through, and I found a piece of beautiful, honed black slate that was going for $5 a square foot (pretty much everything there was $5 a sq.ft, which is effing crazy if you know what’s up) The very nice Mr. Chris Higdon made the appropriate cuts, delivered it for me, and voila. I had my dream hearth plate. This thing is deluxe, so it’s not a stove board, it’s a hearth plate. That’s what the fancy ones are called.
This is post installation. It’s somewhere between an eighth and a sixteenth proud (above) of the floor, and the plan is to bevel the edge down, which won’t be such a big deal because slate is relatively soft. I wish you could see a little more of the natural pattern in the slate, it’s actually quite pretty, but these are phone photos, so oh well. Now for some boring, technical DIY stuff. I’ll understand if you tune out now, but for those who are interested, here’s how we installed this puppy.
Upon delivery, we had the stone laid in the approximate place where it was meant to be installed. We then fudged it a bit to get it lined up just so. There was some wiggle room for us to work with because we have yet to install the baseboard/trim. We were lucky that the floor boards lined up in such a way that meant we would only have to do one cut. I had installed floor underneath the area before, and in the framing under the sub floor I had extra reinforcement installed. Did I ever tell you that this is the oldest part of the house and that I had to raise the floor because under that (now gorgeous) floor is a bunch of bark-on logs for support beams, and somewhat decayed pine planks from 1880? Unfortunately They’re bad old, not good old. True story.
The slate was exactly what I wanted, and being that it’s not quite as sturdy as granite, Chris suggested we install the slate directly onto the plywood sub-floor with a layer of thinset for added strength. So that’s what we did. Frist, the cutting:
Dad used a nifty little saw to cut right up against the edge of the slate. We then moved the slate and pulled up the flooring underneath. Two things: the floor is still unfinished, hence the mill marks, and that little crook at the end is there to fit the remnant slate, which had a little chip on the end. after we got all those floor boards up, we put down the thinset. We used dry mix, the more expensive variety, and it was fairly easy to mix up and apply. It’s basically like installing one giant tile. You smooth that stuff out with a drywall knife, and then technically you’re supposed to make a criss-cross pattern with some variety of grooved trowel, but we didn’t. We only did one direction of groove. So there. Have I said that I still have a lot to do in this house? Because I really do (see: bizarre outlet covers). After we got the thinset in, we quickly got the slate back into place using some long pieces of wood that we slid the slate on top of and then removed. The hardest part about his is the fact that the slate is really heavy. You have to have 2, preferably 3 people to do this. The slate was finally in, we let it sit for a day, and on Christmas day, I beheld my new stove! Good thing too, it was a sultry 19°.There’s a filter on this photo because my silly phone camera lost all detail, and this way you can see a little. So the stove was in! And I lit my first fire, with my Christmas present – a new blowtorch – which is a really rad present. Yay little True North stove! It may look like Dad does everything around here, but I promise you I lit that fire. And it was goodAnd now, stove porn! Enough to crash your computer even! Stoves that will make you think mine’s not so hot ( blog puns!) and have been photographed about a bajillion times better.
June 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Take me down, F-town.
Let’s talk a spell about ‘lil ‘ol Fairfield. After a little badly needed vacation, I’m back. There’s a t-shirt you can buy at a store in Des Moines called Raygun that says “Fairfield – 12 square miles surrounded by reality”. This may be due to the, erm, behaviors and ideas held by much of the Transcendental Meditation community which register at varying degrees on the “alternative” to “bazonkers” scale. Many see this as a negative thing, but I think that it’s actually pretty great. I thanks Jeebus that this place is a little un-real. I could say more, but it took Oprah like two hours to explain Fairfield and in any reality I’m no Oprah. So here’s a little recap of some of the recent events in my Fairfield life, ever so slightly edited to look pretty, idyllic and productive for the internet.
It was such bad news before, all peeling and gross. Now I must find a good way to clean the cedar…which I have been told is actually cypress. Ok.
The day truly began however, with a trip to the farmers market. Fairfield has a great farmers market, It has Amish farmers, vegan deserts makers, organic herb growers and a boatload of other local craftsmen that sell all kinds of fantastic things. The whole town seems to be out and about getting groceries and hanging out on Saturday mornings.
On this particular morning local builder Eric Hoffman brought out his new sthapathya-vedic tiny home.
We liked it so much we brought it home!
The previous weekend, my lovely friends Jon and Louise Lynch threw a really swell party to celebrate their five-year anniversary. They currently reside in L.A., (check out Jon’s company Shark Pig) but they own the house with the barn that housed their wedding reception here in Fairfield.
Great job guys, thanks for throwing a thoughtful, beautiful, epic yet relaxing event!
April 4, 2012 § 4 Comments
It’s not ready yet. But I work on it. A lot. So here’s an update and some proof!
Warning: those who find D.I.Y. construction boring need not read further. For the rest of you remodel geeks, follow me!
Dad, being a woodworking ninja, decided after much deliberation to give his little girl the next best thing to a pony – level floors. My floors are a blog unto themselves. After removing the very silly wall that separated the kitchen and what is now generously being referred to as “the dining area”, the sloping of the floor (in many directions) was pretty substantial. Being the light-hearted, easy-going soul that I am, I was willing to let it be its funky, sloped self, but Dad wanted it done right. And it was basically up to him, because I don’t know how to do all that shims-on-joists-laser-level goodness.
So here’s some exposition on the floors; The original flooring in most of my house was constructed with these extremely long solid planks of heart pine. These puppies run wall to wall across whichever room they are in.Pretty cool, eh? They are currently not in he best condition, but they will hopefully be restored to magical beauty after dad and I put them through a little process of leveling, planing, installing, staining and sealing. No biggie. I’m getting some new flooring to try and match this stuff. My final fantasy is that I will have floors that look like a little some thing like these beauties.
I know, lighting, blah blah. These are probably all hickory, or white pine or ash or something, but whatever. I fought orangey-red floors for years in my Brooklyn apt., and I will be damned if I find myself in that sweet-and-sour sauce colored hell again.
Something I am mucho pleased with is the way the pine walls in the bathroom have turned out. I got a ton of tongue and groove pine siding which I installed using a little chop saw and a nail gun. Ahhh. Power tools.
The lighting makes it difficult to really see what’s going on here, but this is the unfinished siding after the initial phase of installation.
That ventilation pipe btw, is going to be “boxed out” and some built-in shelves will be installed. I did a test of a couple of different stains, Pratt & Lambert “White Ash/Pastel Base” and Zar “Country White”;
The right is an unstained piece of the pine siding for reference. The middle piece has one coat of each stain, (the Pratt & Lambert on the bottom being the whiter of the two) and the piece on the left has 2 coats on either end. I didn’t see any noticeable difference between one coat or two.
Again, it’s difficult to really see in these pictures, the direct light from the window makes it look uneven and discolored which I assure you it is not. Hopefully you can see the difference. Can’t wait to get this room finished and do a proper “before and after”, maybe with a real girl camera which I never seem to have with me…
The next item in the mid-way progress report is the front walkway. Last week I gave myself a break on the “just get the interior done” game plan and decided to work on what I assumed was my little brick path. It looked so sad and overgrown.
It had just rained, so the dirt was coming up nice and easy. I started kicking at the dirt and realized there were way more bricks than I previously thought. Thus began 7 hours straight of digging in the dirt, which apparently was such nice dirt that my mother bagged it up to take home for her garden.
I saved as many as I could, but I fear it was a worm genocide. The Robins were circling all day. Finally, after giving myself a giant blister, I had uncovered all this;Yesss. Like an Archaeological dig on my front lawn. Now I am going to continue painting my room with Swiss Coffee.
March 6, 2012 § 2 Comments
Seeing as I’ve moved back to Iowa it was only a matter of time before I started hankering to live in a trailer. The interweb contains a sea of adorable vintage campers and the blogs dedicated to them. I’m reposting several of these pics from getcampie.com, which has some nice resources for enthusiasts. Someday, when I finish renovating my house, and am wondering what to do with my bags of cash and oodles of free time, I will possibly become one of those people that rehabs one of these things. So here are a bunch of sea foam, aqua, turquoise and celadon campers all in one location. Let’s say that again. Celadon.
The above two pics are the exterior and interior of an Airstream Vagabond. It’s part of the collection of vintage trailers, teepees and yurts that make up the fancy campground El Cosmico, located in Marfa, TX. Everybody loves Marfa. I love Marfa and I’ve never been there. In another effort to utilizie my cash bags and free time, let’s plan a Tragically Hip Road Trip™ and stay in ACE hotels and the other hotels owned by Liz Lambert, including the Hotel San Jose on South Congress in Austin. However, we will not be listening to The Tragically Hip. Sorry, Canadians.
These t@b trailers are purdy;
Oh my beloved Scamps! I saw this one for sale a while back. Didn’t have a cool 5 large sitting around at the time, so it’s long gone. Technically an Acorn, I think it’s the bees to the knees.
I realize this may not do it for every girl and boy, but for me, Field of Mother Flippin’ dreams y’all. Guess I should get a truck first…*sigh*…trucks.
February 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
It’s good, and it’s a lot of work.
Genus; wall texture
I have no idea what you call this particular type of wall texture, but it’s gotta go. Here I am starting to apply joint compound to my walls.You can sort of see that it looks smoother where I started on the left. God it’s ugly. It looks like someone smeared store bought frosting on the walls. However, they must have gotten bored or something because only a few of the walls have this crappy crap all over them, including one wall that is mysteriously half covered. It’s even more hideous in real life. Trust me.
Btw, step off about my obviously staged application technique here. I did a lot of research about this skim coating business, considered may apparatuses and tools, and finally ended up smushing this stuff onto the wall and into the crevices with my bare hand and smoothing it with a putty knife. Thank goodness joint compound is marvelously forgiving and looks like old world plaster or something. No perfection needed. After the first coat, my friend Ian came over, and, after being heartily amused with my play-dough skills, showed me how you actually skim coat walls. The second coat was very different from the first, and watering down the joint compound was key to making that sh-t work.
Earth-shatteringly important picture of joint compound drying;
In other news, the most excellent Mr. Sweeps (a.k.a Glen Fredrickson) came to my house and installed the chimney for my wood stove!
Yikes. After hours of looking at pictures of other people’s cute houses my house looks like it’s inhabited by Grandma Death. Sweet Lord I cannot wait to redo my porch and give it the slatty treatment, something I am shamelessly lifting from The Brick House.
Redwood slats look awful purdy. I have so much work to do.
January 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
It’s just a Goddamn faucet.
I can look at pictures of sinks, bathtubs, faucets, appliances and wood stoves forevah…The problem is it kind of sends me down an existential rabbit hole. I’m betting you can relate. Let’s use kitchen faucets as the focal point of this window into my disturbed psyche. Here we go;
1. Start out all giddy looking at any and everything, “price be damned! I’m getting inspired! Oh how pretty!” Then go into sticker shock and have an allergic reaction to blatant consumerism; “$2,500 for a spout and two knobs that would get me $15 if I sold it for scrap?!?!!? Gosh, people are so ridiculous!” Okay maybe it’s not $2,500. But it might as well be.
2. Start to realize that all the mid-range faucets are probably poor quality, are overly styled in an attempt to copy something else, and have crappy lines. Get annoyed because you can’t afford what is apparently mid-range anyway. Feel like a consumerist rat in a trap.
3. See pictures of well made, fairly good looking faucets from independent design studios. Wish you could afford to pay skilled independent workers what they are worth.
4. Get annoyed that people charge so much for vintage/salvage stuff.
6. Inevitably see some room that makes you think you should really chill the f-ck out. Think about how being a better person would probably make your kitchen look pretty cool too, you stuff obsessed American.
7. Start to get “creative” – as in “I can just go to the hardware store and make one badass motherf-ckin’ faucet. Watch me! It’ll cost fifty cents and look like the bathroom in a Brooklyn restaurant run by a bearded, plaid-shirted, tastefully tattooed hot guy who makes his own beer and furniture and goat cheese who I’ll try to flirt with only to realize that he’s married to Charlotte Gainsbourg or something and has a house upstate that he built out of old shipping pallets and an adorable 2 year old that he’s totally devoted to and I’m coming off like an NYU freshman talkin’ ’bout how awesome Momofoku was last night.”
10. Find picture of someone who has done pretty much exactly what you had in mind and feel wholly un-original. Question why you even care.
11. Look at your cat. Awww! Your cat is so cuuuute! Talk sweet nothings at your cat as it innocently stares a hole in your forehead.
Repeat 394 times.
11. Finally lose mind because you are broke, lame, un-skilled with a soldering iron and devoid of clear unique creative vision.
12. Get over it. Feel better looking at the Kitka cottage