Posts tagged Design
Have a heart

The theme of our house on the outside is hearts. Many are hidden and subtle, carved into the trees and rock work. Once noticed, however,they are obvious and abundant. The trim has literally thousands of hearts routed into the accent centers. Even these from a distance look like a subtle pattern, painted and glazed various shades of brown and blending into the woodwork. But at each intersection of the large 8" wide trim a larger heart will be installed. And for good measure we'll paint each of those hearts bright pink as per special request by Janis.

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We'll be creating scores of heart shaped blocks for the task. This pile represents about one third of them.

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Each day more pieces are added to our giant jigsaw puzzle, bringing it ever closer to completion.

-grampa dan

Some ideas come hard

The Boughen boys are busy again with the trim in the new house and making great progress. This means I have to keep busy designing and creating the custom trim pieces they will install.

One of the key pieces are to form the decorative surfaces on the bridge over the dining/living room areas. Through the last six months we've been working hard to come up with a design. I've filled dozens of pages in my sketchbooks with ideas but none satisfied us until I finally hit on a dfferent version last evening. At last we had a design that worked! Today I worked on the final revisions of the design and tomorrow I should finish the routing version of the file. It will feature a butterfly background similar to the window trim on the windows.

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The design above shows the basic design. As usual we will include a bunch of surprises and details that will take it over the top. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan

Window trim test

Today Janis & I finally had the time to sit down and talk about how we wanted to do our window/door trim in the living room, dining room and entry areas. Janis has long loved a butterflies and so we decided this would be the theme of these areas. The trim will resemble the heart trim on the exterior of the house with a layered panel (of butterflies instead of hearts) in the center.

We started with a sketch as always. We determined the butterfly antenna and tail would have to be removed due to the scale of the butterlies.


We would use our MultiCam CNC router to create the panels. I created the router program and then set the fancy computerized machine into motion.

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The test panel looked pretty good. We looked it over carefully and decided to make a couple of minor tweaks to make it better. The butterflies will be enlarged just a tad to help them route better. I'll also adjust the spacing just a little as well. As a point of reference this panel is 8" wide as it will be between and around the big round windows.

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Tomorrow the routing of the permanent panels wll begin. I can hardly wait to start putting all the pieces together soon.

-grampa dan


In the middle of this coming week I have to travel to the east coast to a sign conference for a speaking engagement. That means I have to plan ahead and line everything up to keep our crew busy with work. One of the jobs to be done is the painting of the curved ceilings in the house. That meant we had to get serious about picking the last of the colors for the house. Flooring, counter, cabinet and trims had already been narrowed down. The wall colors were the choice of the day. So we gathered at the kitchen table and brought out all the samples along with the paint chips and sat down for a little fun. Current decorating trends weren't on our minds, nor did we have any magazines open for reference. This house is all about what we enjoy and little more.

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We looked at every color combination imaginable, from mild to wild and everything inbetween. It was a great discussion with some wildly varying options and opinions to be sure. In the end we were in agreement. So what did we choose?

Stay tuned to see.

-grampa dan

Tree house inspiration

Today I drove to the Okanagan to meet with my clients. Although I could have taken a relatively new freeway I decided instead to take a different road - a road I knew well from decades past. This was the scenic route.

Back in the late seventies and early eighties I made my living doing detailed pen and ink drawings. These drawings and the limited edition prints derived from them were sold in about forty galleries and frame shops throughout British Columbia. I travelled across the province many times in those years selling my artwork in these far flung places. As I traveled I would take a different route each time, documenting everything I saw along the way. My drawings were based on this research.

One of my favorite places in those days was a spot along the Hope-Princeton highway called Bromley rock on the Similkameen River.

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The river is forced to bend around the massive rock and in the process it scours the opposite riverbank in high water exposing the roots of many wonderful trees there. It was good to visit with my old friends once more.

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I did a number of drawings based on these trees, one of which still hangs on our wall.

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When we were designing the new house I drew reference from these same trees. Janis asked that we make the trees not quite so twisty and knarly and I had no problem with that (as long as we did the trees).

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Many other sources also provided inspiration as well.

-grampa dan

Porch almost done

While Bec was busy applying speckles at one end of the house we were busy at the other end mudding and sculpting the trees on the porch. In spite of very high temperatures we managed three trees and one beam. Tomorrow, we hope to finish the sculpting on the porch area, leaving only the back of the house to complete.

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We also have finalized the final colors for the trim boards on the house. The small heart panels will be a warm brown with darker wood grain that blends back to the window frames. Colorful hearts will act as accent panels where the horizontal and vertical boards meet.

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It is pretty exciting to see it come together.

-grampa dan

The work continues

All round the house everyone continued to be busy today. The caprenters worked on the last of the bits and pieces - almost done.

Out front the our crew finished the sculpting on the second big tree today. The first tree recieved it's third coat of base paint today, meaning it will begin to get it's final glazes tomorrow. 

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In preparation for more concrete sculpting in the porch area we put up the corner trim today. It instantly framed the house beautifully! Soon I'll route the horizontal trim to cover the backing timber.

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Bec continues to paint sample trim to help figure out just how the trim will be painted. We are getting close to our final decision.

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The plumbers did all the in-wall connections to get things ready for the insulation and drywall. The HVAC and airconditioning crew were also busy through the day. And Richard's plumbing and heating installed the wiring for the thermostats, making the infloor heating system ready for drywall.

We are quickly getting ready for the next phase of construction. Stay tuned for more...

-grampa dan

How green?

When we were planning our house and all through construction we continually weighed the benefits of building green. We are concerned about the environment of course but also about many other factors including cost and practicality. It all has to make sense. Building green costs more than not doing so, sometimes by a lot!

I read a green house blog recently where the owner spent more than 50 hours gathering nails and screws the builders had dropped. This person gathered just over 50 lbs of nails from the ground on that project in the interest of being green. This house owner quickly discovered the builders didn't like to use dirty rusty or bent nails. The scrap value of the used nails was almost worthless. I would argue that while perhaps very green, the whole excercise didn't make much sense. fifty pounds of nails fetch about $24 and that is brand new from the hardware store. I do pick up any nails I find in the driveway in the hopes of not getting a flat tire down the road. The rest I let lie or take out with the trash when I sweep.

We looked at every green option possible in planning our house. It all has to make sense - for us. The new house will hopefully be our home for many years to come. This meant we could amortize the extra cost of being green over a longer period. Certain things were easy to choose. We went with ICF Insulated Concrete Forms right up to the roofline as a way of saving engergy and money on our heating and cooling costs. A typical house built with wood frame is rated as R20. The reality is that it is actually about 1/3 of that amount because of thermal breaks in the insulation because of studs, plugs, potlights and other breaks in the insulation or vapour barrier. The LOGIX Platinum ICF provides a true R29. I'm told the extra cost will be paid back in as little as four years.

For our windows we went with Innotech Windows and Doors, tilt and turn windows. These quality windows and exterior doors are triple sealed and much more efficient than the norm. Because they are built extremely well they will last. Both of these factors will pay back our increased investment over the long term. These windows carry a thirty five year trasferrable warrantee for peace of mind.

For the roof we opted to go as green as we could but with added benefit. A recycled rubber roof made largely from recycled tires and installed by a top quality roofer, PenFold's Roofing. It carries a 50 year transferrable warrantee and should last far longer than that. We should never have to put another roof on this house. 

The roof insulation is being be done by the crew at ELEMENT Spray Foam. Spray foam was a practical way to go for our complicated roof. The vaulted ceilings and eyebrows begged for a better system than fiberglass batt insulation and conventional vapour barrier could possibly provide. We will encapsulate the bottom of the roofing sheeting and the framing lumber with foam to a depth of at least seven inches, meaning we have a true R28 in the roof. The attic will be considered inside space that is heated/cooled with the house. This means we loose far less energy in our ductwork than a conventionally insulated attic. 

A high end HVAC system will keep our house supplied with fresh air in an efficeient manner. The heating system will be a high efficiency hot water/infloor system provided and installed by Richard's Heating and plumbing. We considered geothermal but with a hogh efficient and super insulated house it would never have provided a payback in the lifetime of the system. We felt the same about rooftop solar heat and solar panels to generate electricity. Green has to be practical and make sense in our book.

We will use LED lighting throughout our house. The initial cost is certainly much higher but the savings should greatly offset the exta money we spend up front.

The house will have ceramic tile floors throughout. The tile floors will far outlast carpet or other options and will be easy to care for in the long term.

The outside of the house is sculpted fiberglass reinforced concrete painted with long lasting acrylic paint. These materials offer us the most creative approach we know and also have been proven to last a long time in hard use environments. Concrete decks and walkways are cost effective and long wearing.

In short, our house will be one of the greenest around but each component was carefully considered with the pros and cons weighed, and the costs and benefits analyzed. We went with contractors, suppliers and installers with hard earned quality reputations over the cheapest price every time. The result was contractors and tradespeople who we enjoyed working with. We felt they were genuinely in our corner and that they worked on our house as if it were their own.

While not as green a we possibly could have been, our house makes the right amount of financial and common sense.

-grampa dan

Two more pieces...

We designed and routed the first few vertical trim pieces for the outside of the house. After the crew went home yesterday and things finally quieted down I installed a couple to make sure we liked the result. Now we can go into full production to create the rest of the pieces we need for all around the house.

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With the front gable soffits in place it was time to begin the welding of the tops of the giant trees. Peter welded up the first today. This week the crew will add the expanded lath to the trees and then we can start sculpting them at last!

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The many pieces of the house are quickly coming together!

-grampa dan

Lay of the land

I get many quiries about where the new house is in relation to the old one. The answer is the new house is directly in front of the old. The foundations are four feet apart. The roofs overlap. The old house will come down when the new one is complete. Here's the view from the driveway which goes along the west side of our proerpty from front to back.

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The shop is towards the back of our property about 330 feet from our new house. From my studio windows I can see the old and new house to the north. The minature horse paddocks are on the east side of the property (right side of the picture)

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The new house is much closer to the road than the old one. The only time we used the front yard was to mow the lawn. So we decided to build 29 feet from the property line. (local laws allowed us to be 25 feet) By using LOGIX ICF blocks as a construction material we won't hear any road noise. We've also oriented most of the living areas to the south away from the road. The view of Vedder Mountain is visible from that side as well, plus the 330 feet of green rolling lawn, not to mention the minature horses.

We live in the center of a small town on the main drag through town but the proeprties are large and we are surrounded on two sides by agricultural land whch is protected by law and cannot be subdivided. It's like living in the county with a small town only half a block away. I took a few pictures of the property from across the road in both directions.

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The tower to the right of the picture is the electrical, telephone and water distribution center. All services come onto our property at this point and then go underground from this point to the shop, barn new house and old house. We call the building the train station as eventually the tracks for our giant scale railroad will go past this point as they circle the property.

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The property suits us perfectly. It is in a small town which we love. A busy road goes by our front door with more than a million people travelling to the recreational area just up the road. It's a great place to live!

-grampa dan

Planning to relax

Each evening Janis & I walk through the house, observing the day's progress and planning the next day's tasks. Changes and often additions are discussed. Then I sit down and do some drawing to work up what we talked about. It is a fun process.

Today as we looked over the porch with all the cool trees we thought it needed something more. After some discussion we decided a porch swing would be just the ticket. We talked of where it would hang and what it might look like. An ordinary swing wouldn't do. It had to have a heart theme of course to fit into what we were already building and it had to reflect the quality we were working into the rest of the house. Then we came into the house and I began to draw...

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For now I'll do little more than beef up the ceiling structure and put the eye bolts into the soffits of the porch but the porch swing will be a cool addition when the house is done. By then we'll need a place to sit and have a little rest.

-grampa dan

Have a heart

I showed some of the detail we will be incorporating into the exterior house trim. It features the heart motif throughout.

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Since then we've been playing with incorporating this theme on other areas than just the trim. The trees will incorporate the hearts in a subtle fashion. A missing branch will form a heart shaped knot hole. It's subtle but will still be there for those who really look. Some the the beam ends will also use this subtle feature.

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The porch railing will be sculpted stone. After exploring many diffenent options we settled on heart shaped holes in each panel. Peter welded up the first of five frameworks to test the idea. It passed inspection.

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It's fun to take a theme and push it to the max. I'm sure there will be a few more hearts to come.

-grampa dan

From dream to reality.

It is one thing to draw something cool and quite another to realise it as a full 3D object, often larger than life. In between there are many steps required to create it, safe and legal. I often get asked just what is involved.

Our new house is a great example. The design is fanciful, somewhat unusual. It is pretty easy to come up with the concept. I'll show our front window area as an example.

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The actual building ended up a little taller but we have stuck with the basic design. The drawings done by the draftsman were pretty basic, the walls straight and they showed a basic vaulted truss. Notes on the drawing stated that there would also be some structural steel and it would be engineered. Most importantly the structure has to be neatly tucked inside the features we build. As I drew my first drawing I kept in mind just what it would take to build it. Experience comes in handy and the more the better!

The window frame was built from welded stel and laminated plywood. It was built around the window patterns we created. The engineer specified the steel that was put into the concrete that was poured into the ICF forms. Once the house walls were up the building looked like this a far cry from what it would look like when we were done.

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The beamwork was the next item on the adjenda. It was more decorative than functional but required engineering none the less. I did up a drawing that explained what I had in mind to the engineer. He added many notes and small details showing how heavy the steel would be and how it would all go together. I didn't really get any surprises here but the engineer's notes and stamp made it offical.

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Once I had the engineered drawings in hand it was time to break out the welder and get to fabricating some heavy steel. I built two of the trusses - one for the front of the house and one for the rear porch.

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While I was busy back at the shop Peter had a second welder humming out front. He was building the armature for the first of the giant trees with knarly roots that would flank each side. We do this work with 1/4" pencil rod which will be covered with galvanized steel lath and then a heavy coat of fiberglass reinforced concrete. 

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We'll sculpt that to look a whole lot like massive and ancient trees that will flank the round window. The final step will be to paint it up to look totally believeable - just like the drawing we came up with back in April.

Stay tuned to watch this dream unfold.

-grampa dan

The fun begins

Things are finally proceeding to the point where we can begin the truly creative work on the house. On the east side the ground slopes away from the house making for a very tall, plain wall. It needed some special attention. The solution was to create some faux pilasters. They would sport some carved 'stone' featuring the same heart detail that will be carved into the 'wood' trim on the upper portion.

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The bulk of the pilasters will be fabricated from carved fiberglass reinforced concrete that will be fashioned over a pressure treated plywood form that will be attached to the wall. The feature center sections will be routed from Precision Board high density urethane. I routed the first pieces today.

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The crew cut and assembled the treated plywood forms this afternoon. They will be put in place in the next couple of days.

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The fun has begun for real. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan

House built with love

This weekend we've been talking about and working on the details for the erin on the outside of the house. The discussion has actually been going on for months without final resolution. We tried butterflies, leaves and other motifs but one or both of us was not in agreement. It was time for a new idea. We asked Peter to come up with something.

He took inspriation from the electrical tower shutters we had build almost nine years ago.

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Peter came up with two quick drawings, one of the trim and one of the knees that would go under the soffits.

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I fired up the CNC router to create some samples.

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One more piece of the puzzle is complete. This is a house built with love.

-grampa dan

Check, check, check

Yesterday we visited a house under construction and saw first hand the type of windows we are seriously considering. We opened and closed each type of window, measured and imagined how our windows would work and look in our house. We liked what we saw, but it also became clear we needed to make some fairly big changes to our design. A phone call from the engineer in the early afternon mandated a few more changes based on structural reqirements. This house is no ordinary space and typical rules do not apply.

Much of my working time today was spent changing, reviewing, and checking the window and door schedule thre times over. Changes at a later point will be very exensive and are to be avoided if possible. 

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Tomorrow we'll review the list one last time, then go to the window place and go over things one last time. Then it is time to pull the trigger and go on to the next item on the list.

Tomorrow the engineer will stamp the completed drawings and we head down to city hall to see about the building permit at long last.

Then we can build for real.

-grampa dan

Eevy ivy over

With the design of the outside of the house largely in the bag it is time to nail down the direction of the interior. The living room/dining room will have high walls and a higher vaulted ceiling. It will be bisected by a bridge over the center linking the bonus rooms upstairs. We are talking of an upper, routed molding separating the ceing from the walls. This fancy molding will house LED lights that will wash the ceiling with a warm glow. It will tie into the trees and vines we will sculpt as visual support for the bridge. 


Over the next days I'll be routing some samples and we'll paint them up to see if they work in the way we envision. It is going to be fun. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan

Creating challenges and then solving them creatively.

Anytime  we do a custom project our unique designs seem to create a whole new set of challenges. Since we are often doing things in ways not done before it quickly becomes obvious that the normal materials and ways of doing things are not going to work. The job we first need to do is solve all the problems we just created.

On the house project we are quickly gathering a group of very knowledgable folks who are willing to work with us. The list will be long. Planners, engineers, heating specialists, carpenters, concrete specialists, window experts, electicians and a host of others. Each will bring their expertise to the table and together we will get the job done.

It is going well already, and we are learning lots in the process. Instead of compromising, the standards are often raised as we look at the options. Often with the help of these experienced people we find we can do things in even more imaginative ways than we dreamed. 

One of the many things we are working on are the windows. The bulk of the windows, although not common, are pretty standard stuff. The large round windows are much more of a challenge. The easy thing to do wold be to change the windows to be much more conventional but that would mean we would have to radically change the design and in the process make it pretty ordinary. It's not at all what we want to do. We went through a number of window manufacturers to find one who said 'No problem - we'll figure out a way to make this happen.' Those are the kind of people I love to work with.

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This is going to be a whole lot of fun!

-grampa dan

Open house

Today dawned bright, sunny and warm. It was the perfect day to have a tour through the new house. I brought out the big tape measure, a set of blueprints, some cans of paint, some stakes and some flagging tape, then set to work. I measured and sprayed, pounded in some stakes and measured some more. In less than an hour the basic outline of the house was evident. Then I called Janis outside and we did the tour. We started on the front porch, and it was deemed perfect. Then we went in the front door and toured through the house, looking out each window to check out the sight lines and admire the vistas. 

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While we dreamed in 3D, lots of the local folks walked by. Word has spread a new house is coming to Yarrow and everyone is curious. They have no idea yet of what is really coming. It's going to be fun to show them one small piece at a time.

-grampa dan

Home sweet home

Building a new house is always an exciting adventure! As we start our new house we are quickly discovering just how much things have changed since the last time we did this more than 25 years ago. Our needs have changed too, with the kids long gone and us closer to retirement than we like to believe. 

We've been dreaming and planning the new house for the better part of twenty years and started to get serious nine years ago when we purchased the current property. But the new house, like everything, had to wait it's time. In the meantime we made do with the old farmhouse, fixing and maintaining it only enough to keep it livable for we would tear it down when the new one is done. We planned endless variations through those years, looking at every posible option.

The new house is designed to accomodate large gatherings of family as that is an imortant part of our lifestyle. We also host a number of workshops each year and meals will be taken in the new house to make it easier than hauling everything out to the shop. So we've designed the rooms to be large and spacious.

Every square inch of the new house will be a work of art, reflecting our likes and way of life. The outside will be the same, colorful and built to match the other large building on the property - our shop. 

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So check in from time to time as the building comes togeher. I'll be posting pictures and videos of the project several times each week. I'll also talk about the cool new materials and methods we will be using as well. We have lined up some amazing technologies to use and have partnered with some very talented and knowlegable folks. This will be a house unlike anything you have ever seen.

Let the adventure begin...

-grampa dan