Thursday, July 24, 2014

Daydreaming

My real house feels like total chaos.  No one seems to mind, except me. Note the two kids reading blissfully. The third one is on the computer, completely unaware of his surroundings.



After another busy summer day, I couldn't get myself to deal with it (the kitchen and table look worse), so I took a walk to see today's progress. Three different crews were at the house today.  

The gables got another coat of red paint.

Our framers finished a little porch off the back of the garage.


The drywall crew finished taping and began mudding the house.




I seriously wanted to sit there and live in the daydream of that empty house.  

After a while, I headed home to half packed boxes; abandoned art, science and sewing projects; piles of fabric, tile, countertop, and paint samples; boxes of door sets and lighting fixtures; dishes for days; and a dinner to start.  

I am so grateful that we get to build this house.  It is so awesome and the crews are wonderful. So far the stress has almost nothing to do with the execution of the design.  Our framing crew is amazing and will be doing most of the finishing work, as well. It is just the coordinating of choices and making decisions, going through invoices, documenting everything and, of course, the ever-present budget that are taking over my life.  It is summer and I feel more stressed out because I am busy missing it.

I keep telling myself that within 6 months, all this stress will fade into memory.  

I can barely wait.




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

June/July Interior Update

Because we are installing in-floor radiant heat, so the crew came in and screwed down plywood sleepers for the hardwood to be nailed to in most of the house. Only the entry, mudroom, laundry and baths will have brick or tile, so no sleepers there.    Then the maze of radiant heat tubing was installed followed by gypcrete.  




The Renaissance Rumford fireplace has been installed and gypcrete poured.

Sheetrock began at the end of June.  It seemed like a big puzzle.  They went through and put up all the full size sheets they could and then went back and filled in the missing pieces.

Living Room - SW corner of house

view from Dining Room to Kitchen - SE corner

Thursday, July 10, 2014

For the love of red - part 2

A year ago, we were considering stained cedar or a blue-grey color scheme for the exterior.  Then while contemplating an interior style, I stumbled upon Swedish Falu (red) houses on Pinterest.  I loved the photos of them in the winter, spring, summer, and fall.  I have always loved red, so I tested the idea out with out sketch-up model, suggested it to Dan, Erica (our architect), mom and then I let my friends weigh in.

From there, I scoured the internet for photos of red houses, especially those with paint color details. None of them looked red enough, not like the Swedish houses.


I picked up a zillion paint chips, then a couple paint samples, then a couple more.  In the end, I tried out 8 paint samples on our shed. Some were too purple, too orange, too pink, too brown.  Then we tried Vermillion by Sherwin Williams (bottom right).  


I painted the entire shed (didn't get to finish the trim before the rain started) and looked at it all winter.  It was the right one.

And now we are on our way to a red cottage in the woods.  


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Leaving our mark

On Summer Solstice, Dan and I celebrated our 11th anniversary with the kids (Gramma was very sick).



The next day we all headed over to the house with sharpies in hand before the sheetrock began.



















Friday, May 2, 2014

Kitchen Design

I was fairly content with my kitchen in Atlanta, but it was terrible whenever we had company over. Since we remodeled, I am ok with the tiny kitchen we have now.  My biggest complaint about both of them, is that they really only work for 1, maybe 2 people at a time. Sometimes, there are 5 of us trying to get in the "work triangle."  It doesn't work well.

I want my kids to be in the kitchen.  I want them to be part of the our food prep, because there seems to be a lot of it when you make all three meals at home.  So, when we started designing the new house, the kitchen was the room I wanted to start with.  I wanted windows, work zones with room for everyone to be doing something productive or at least watching and being part of the conversation.  I wanted a kitchen we would want to hang out in.  What I don't want is dirty dishes taking over the kitchen or the stove in the way of traffic.

My demands were big and my kitchen turned out nice and large because of it.  I didn't want long runs of cabinetry where functions flowed into each other, and I as I was perusing the internet for inspiration, I discover the unfitted kitchen.  It was love at first sight.  I generally have a thing for the old-fashioned.  I love houses from the 1920s and 1930s.  It may be memories of my great grandmother's homes or maybe the style just appeals to me. Anyway, it is certainly not typical here, but when you are building a custom home, people seem to let you do whatever you want.

So, what is an unfitted kitchen?  Well, it is basically furniture instead of runs of matching cabinetry. Ideally, I would be out combing the antique markets to find the perfect piece for the right spot in my new old kitchen.  Unfortunately, Alaska is not known for its amazing antiques.  First, there is not a whole lot old here.  If it is old, it is 4 times as expensive as what you would find somewhere in the Lower 48.
Victorian, Inward Oriented, Unfitted Kitchen

So, I used sketch-up to come up with my ideal layout and cabinetry style.  Most pieces will be made by a local custom cabinetry guy and Dan is planning to make a few.

It is a little spread a part, but we can all be in there, without really disrupting each other.  The kids can get ice water and snacks from the refrigerator.  The microwave and coffee/tea fixings will also be over there.  Meanwhile another kid can be setting the table, or helping in the kitchen at the island.  Someone else could be doing the dishes or working over near the stove.

This is the view from the dining room.  The two cabinets facing the dining room will serve as my china cabinets.  I never unpacked my fancier dishes after our move from Atlanta.  There is nowhere to put them in our current house.


This is the view of the East and South walls.  The sink console is centered under the 3 windows in the center.  Trash and recycling will be to the left of the sink and a cleaning pullout and the dishwasher will be to the right.  The wood piece will hold our daily dishes and flatware.

The island will have seating for 2 on the end and 3 on the back side. The cabinet right of the stove will hold my mixer and various baking items, ingredients, and trays. To the left, will be pots and pans, cooking utensils and hot pads. It will likely be drawers, but I was playing around with idea of leaving it open when I snapped this photo.  The cabinet above will be made with a stained glass window that hung in our Atlanta house and will hold our spices and cooking liquids, with lighting behind the stained glass and under the cabinet.



This is the North wall. The refrigerator will be a standard 36" counter-depth fridge and we plan to have a full-size freezer out in the garage and a backup mini fridge. We went back and forth about what refrigerator to get, but after 8 weeks of not having a working refrigerator this winter, we decided we didn't want to spend a lot money on a fancy one that no one here can fix, in a reasonable amount of time.  So, we're keeping it simple and easily replaceable. The refrigerator is balanced out by built-in cabinetry. The piece to the left will have a small sink, glassware, microwave, maybe an electric kettle, and coffee/tea fixings:



I have been playing around with colors, but keep going back to mostly white.  I really want the house to be light and sunny with colorful accents.  I am still working out the paint, tile and countertop details.  I am leaning toward a pretty white subway tile with butcher block and some sort of white quartz countertops.

We are working with a local woodworker who will be building most of the pieces, but Dan is planning to do the three pieces on the stove wall. I was so nervous to hand over my ideas to the cabinet builder. It is an unusual idea and I am particular.  Thankfully, he is very interested in getting started and may be out buying supplies this week.  So, I hope it all works out.



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Exterior Details - Part 3

This is page 2-4 of the exterior details document Erica created.  It shows materials, measurements for each section, and how to layout the panels.





Less than a week after the batten issue, the full sized panels went up on the back gable and then the South gable.  It looked like this:



As soon as I looked at this picture Dan took, I knew it wasn't right.  The upper band was going to be too close to the top of the window.

So, we met the next day.

I brought warm, homemade muffins.

I explained the situation and that I thought they would build it like the first floor to take full advantage of the 10' panels and keep the pieces at the correct height, as shown, minimize the seams and keep the house from looking like it is covered in plywood.

Our contractor first said he didn't understand and then listened and looked at the document that clearly shows 10' between the two belly bands.  He agreed that if wouldn't look quite right. Then he said, "What would you like to do?" I said I wanted it done right, so that we could all feel proud of the house. He quickly agreed to take it off and redo it. I suggested, as a compromise, to leave the back East gable (master bedroom) as it is and paint the flashing but put the belly band where it belongs.  I don't love that, but I can live with it.

This is what the South gable looks like now:



Now, it is going to look great.  The proportions are right and the bellybands will cover the flashing so there won't be a horizontal seam, except on that back gable.

Hopefully, when all the pieces are installed, only those of you who have bothered to read my blog will know it is not true board and batten.  :)

Meanwhile, the soffits are turing out wonderfully (see gable soffits above and vented soffits below).





Another lesson learned.  Too bad I don't intend to build more houses.  ​I wish I had gone over all the details in person, but I thought they would pay more attention to the written details. I think we all learned a lesson this time. I am going to try to remember these two recent experiences and plan to be more proactive about discussing the details before they get started. Our weekly meetings are really helping with that.

The red on the front gable was completed today!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Exterior Details - part 2 and a 1" bump in the road

The weather is warming up here and things are moving along with the house.  Our architect, Erica, is off on her own adventure and has recently moved to Australia. It has change our house-build dynamics a bit, but overall, it is going well. We are having weekly meetings now and every single time we walk away, I say to Dan, " I wish Erica was here." :( We had to point out a few big things that had to be corrected.  We didn't really hash out who was paying for these corrections, so I guess that conversation is still coming.  

We are doing a board and batten exterior.  But, we were told that a true board and batten would be a bad idea - too much work, money and possible issues with the boards cupping.  We talked about fiber cement boards, but again, Alaska is a challenging climate and it would not be ideal.  We really didn't want plywood on the house, but unless we wanted to go with lap siding, we were running out of options.  So, we settled on a okume (similar to cedar) plywood with cedar battens.

After many discussions with our contractor, our awesome architect created detailed diagrams of all our exterior finishes (6 pages worth).  I made sure everyone had it, left a hard copy at the site. On it, it said 3" cedar battens and 10' plywood panels.  Here is the first page of the document everyone received:





the original mock-up
Let me first say, I really like and trust our contractor. They have done an amazing job so far and we have had very little to comment on. A lot work goes into managing a house built from both their side and ours. There are a zillion details to keep track of, which is why good communication and mutual respect are essential.

So, our contractor was out of town, his son (who has a construction management degree) created an full-size mock-up of our exterior. On the the mock-up they used 1x3 (2.5") battens.  We all stood there and Dan and I said, "Yes. That is it."  So, materials were bought and then every piece for the exterior was primed and painted with one coat of paint on all sides inside the shop.  The whole house will get a final coat later.

Supplies were delivered to the house and it took a conversation with the framers for me to notice the battens were now 1x4s (3.5").  I checked the document details, looked at the mock-up and then I called our contractor.  The disappointing part was that he tried to tell me I didn't understand nominal lumber (so, my husband, the woodworker doesn't understand it either?) and then that the sample was made up incorrectly by his son and foreman. I couldn't see how a written 3" on a construction document could ever be equal to a 1x4, especially after being shown 1x3s. I tried to explain how the batten size would effect the window trim sizes (the sides are suppose to be 1x4s), as they were suppose to be graduated. He offered to do another mock-up, which he did. Unfortunately, I didn't like that conversation much and I shut down.  I really tried to consider the new mock-up, but it wasn't right and did not include the window trim.

Two days later, we met and I tried to politely explain that I and Dan fully understand nominal lumber and after we approved a physical mock-up, we were expecting 1x3s. Since we originally talked about 1x2s, the 1x3s were already a compromise and 1x4s were not going to work. At my pressing, he reluctantly admitted they made a mistake and it would be corrected.  I think they just didn't pay attention and ordered the wrong material and probably didn't want to spend the time and money to fix it, but we insisted.  Anyway, last weekend someone ripped the battens down to the right size and they are off being repainted.