Posts tagged Our Team
Creative concrete

As we work our way around the back of the house we continue to design and work out details of the various parts. It's the same way we did the front and sides of the house. Today, Peter did  the last of the wall plaster work. That leaves only a little rock work along the bottom to finish things off. 

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One area we needed something imaginative was around the dog door. The door needed a roof over it to prevent water splashing in. Peter came up with the idea of building a miniature version of our patio. Yesterday we fastened in the steel framework and shingled the roof. Today Peter did the surrounding plasterwork and the rocks along the bottom of the wall. I'll be designing a faux round window and trim which will be routed in one piece. We'll paint it up and then install it. The tree trunk supports will then be sculpted in place after the concrete deck is poured.

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It's all a bit over the top but in good fun. Why not?

-grampa dan

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

Peter on the roof.

It was Peter's first day back on the job and we've been saving lots of work - just for him. Today he was to begin finishing off the dormer window trim which we had prepainted. I had also carefully measured and cut it to fit so it was just a matter of fitting it into place. In the next days he'll staple the lath into place around the windows and then we'll plaster and carve in the final 'wood' trim. A few days later, after the concrete has finished curing we can finish off the paint. The first dormer window looks fabulous already.

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One dormer down - three to go!

Good to have you back and close to home Peter!

-grampa dan

Trim and more trim.

This week we have made the transsition from working on the inside to finishing the outside of the house. Much of the fancy trim was cut last fall, but tucked away as the colder weather set in. Now we are again working on the base coats and three layers of glaze each piece will get.

The outside of the house has a hearts theme and the trim has thousands of tiny hearts routed into the center panels in four layers. The painting and glazing is designed to highlight them. In this picture Sarah is putting on the second of three glazes on one of the scores of boards.

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One more done with a hundred to go. :)

-grampa dan

Final strokes

It is always a delightful thing when we can finally call another room in the new house totally done. Today Janis' office got the nod, making it ready for the move in. The living room is also getting very close. Everyone has been busy applying the multiple coats of glaze and carefully cutting in the trim. One side of the bridge is now complete with the second side due tomorrow. The butterfly trim looks spectacular.

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Janis painted the plain middle sections of the wall this evening.

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Tomorrow we'll cut the last of the wainscotting making the room ready for furniture at last. I can hardly wait to sit in the love seats and just enjoy the space. It seems like a lifetime ago Janis & I sat in our old house and sketched out our ideas, dreaming of the day we would get to live here. Now after a tremendous amount of work by many fine people that dream comes true.

-grampa dan

The shortest way to the new house

With the tile finished in the kitchen and dining room today was moving day for the kitchen - at long last. We considered all options for the move but the thing was the doors in the old house were very narrow. To get the stove and fridge out we had to remove all of the handles and do some pretty heavy lifting, over counters, down stairways and then up a gravel driveway to the new house. Thankfully we also had a second option - a much shorter path to the new house. 

I loaded up the tools in the shop and then set to work. By removing one window in the old dining room and then cutting a door into the wall it was an easy twenty-five foot level push to the new house. It didn't take long with the right tools...

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After suffering through many cold winters in the old house we discovered what we had long suspected. The old house had single pane windows and no insulation or vapor barrier. There were three layers of siding however as the house had been renovated at least that many times in the eighty years it had been there.

With the large new door in the side of the old house the move of the kitchen appliances, fixtures and supplies went smoothly.

-grampa dan

MOVING DAY in Yarrow!

Today was the official start of the move into the new house. It won't be an instant process but instead we'll move in a bit at a time, sorting through everything as we find a permanent home for each item. I suspect many things won't make the journey as we decide what we keep or not. After ten years of living in the same place there is lots to sort through and move. Tonight will be our first night to sleep in the new house.

To get ready for the big day the electrician put in the last switches, lights and plugs, making sure every plate and cover was in place to make it safe for everyone. The plumber also arrived today to install the upstairs toilet and most importantly of all hook up the waste water system. At long last the plumbing was ready to go. Janis was dancing her dance of joy and insisted on moving the first of countless loads of things into the new house. Being the practical person she is she knew just what to bring...

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It is the time we have looked forward to for so very long! MOVING DAY ONE!

-grampa dan

Peacock room

Becke has always loved wild colors. For her room upstairs in the new house she has pulled out the stops. Inspired by a peacock feather she has designed the colors for her room. It is pretty wild. With the hand troweled sloped plaster ceilings and high wainscot it looks like no other room I've ever seen.

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By late next week the room will be complete. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan

House full of trades

The trades people seem to come in bunches, making for a busy space. This morning the two finish carpenters were the first to arrive. Brent's first task was to install and trim out the five pocket doors.

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Shortly after the counter top crew from Marr-Tech Kitchens arrived to install the quartz counter tops and sinks. They changed the house a LOT in a short time!

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Richard and his helper from Richard's Plumbing and heating also kept busy through the day.

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The boiler, hot water tank, pumps and plumbing are all first class equipment installed with a great deal of pride and care. This photo shows the work done to date but there is lots more needed to finish off.

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Meanwhile Matt keeps busy painting and other tasks. Here he paints the last of the corner blocks for inside the rooms.

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There's other things also on the go...  I'll be reporting on those a little later.

-grampa dan

Lighting the way

Today Ryan, the electrician finished hooking up the many connections in the electrical room. The LED's under the hand rail of the stairs inside the giant tree would be the first to get turned on for testing. It only took a few minutes to string the contactless Heico LED modules onto the wire and then glue them up into position in the cavity molded under the handrail.

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Ryan flipped the switch and the stairs were instantly lit perfectly as I had imagined. It was pure magic.

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Looking down from the top of the stairs it is just as cool.

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The Heico Lighting LED's will be dimmable so the perfect light will serve to allow night access to the stairs by our guests. the next item in the stairway will be the handrail. I'll finish welding the steel handrail in place and then sculpt around the steel structure to make it look like a tree branch.

It is all starting to come together.

-grampa dan

Wainscot color

With the waincot paneling largely finished and the dust starting to settle it is time to start in on the painting of those areas. Today Bec did some test panels for us to look at and we settled the design of these areas. The bedroom final selection was a darker shade of purple. The light of the room plays nicely with the texture.

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The living and dining room areas will be the browns. Originally we had thought a darker version of the colors might be right but after painting the actual wall we decided a lighter version looked better.

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Slowly it comes together.

-grampa dan

Bright color

With the ceilings done we are busy now putting color on the walls. Each room will get it's own theme and color too with the door in the hallway also sporting that same color. Janis' office was the next room to get the color treatment and she selected a shade called 'PINK TANK' just for fun. Trim in this room will be white.

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Janis' sewing room, the brightest (best lit) room in the house also got a bright color. The color is called 'HEATING DISORDER'.  Today we managed to get the edges and switches cut before quitting time.

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Stay tuned as the each room gets its color...

-grampa dan


Today the first of the wall color was painted on the hallway and living room wall. Through the house we'll use plenty of color but we have decided to to keep things simpler in the living, dining, hallway areas. The colors through these areas will be earthen, warm browns. By keeping things toned down we would ensure we won't get tired of living in this space. The more dominent (darker) tones will be reserved for the fancy trims and wainscot. Matt is doing a great job on the painting!  THANKS!

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Tomorrow we'll start more colors through the house. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan

Very busy, but with little to show

We are still very busy in the house these days. Lots is getting done but there is little to show. A freshly painted linen ceiling looks a lot like a primed white one. But Matt has been busy for days and days making sure the paint goes on perfectly. We are very pleased with the result! In a few more days the many colors on the walls will begin to go on and we'll have a LOT more to show you then.

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Today was also the day when the Steve the sound guy came to locate the built-in speakers in the living room. Lots of discussion ensued as we tried to imagine where they would sound and look the best. We checked and double checked the locations of the sound proofed boxes built into the walls. The last thing we wanted was to cut a hole in the wrong spot.

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With everything now figured out Steve will return tomorrow to do the final install.

-grampa dan

Reaching for the top

I've always looked up to tall people. They stand head and shoulders above me.

In past journal posts I've referred to Big Matt and Little Matt, both members of our crew. Big Matt is called that in reference to his larger stature compared to Little Matt. Little Matt is taller than I by a small margin. I look up to him too.

Today as Big Matt continued applying primer to the walls and ceiling in the new house I suddenly realized just how tall he is. As I watched Matt paint I suddenly noticed the fiberglass pole laying on the ground. Big Matt was reaching up to the nine-foot-two ceiling - without standing on his tippy toes. That is quite the stretch!

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Matt is doing a great job on the paint. Thanks for reaching above and beyond!

-grampa dan

We have doors!

Today was a busy day in the house. Brent Boughen and his son Jesse arrived to hang all the doors in the house. Like any masters of their craft the Boughen boys made it look almost effortless as they wrestled each heavy door into place and then carefully lined thngs up before fastening them into place. Each room instantly changed as they worked. Closets were defined and rooms were separated from hallways. Each room was suddenly complete.

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It was also a big day for our crew as they began the painting of the walls and ceilings in the house. Today was just primer and that job will continue for a week or so. Janis is very particular about how the paint goes on. No drips , streaks or roller marks are allowed. Matt has previous expereince as a house painter and his work was approved with flying colors. Amazingly, I am banned from painting in the house. I can't imagine why!  :)

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Then, once the primer is done the color begins.

-grampa dan

Secret stairway

With Christmas behind us and the company all gone it was time to get back to work on the house. Today's project was ambitious... applying and sculpting the fiberglass-reinfoirced-concrete through the stairway to the upstairs. We had previously welded a framework and applied the diamond lath. Today we would hide all the previous work and make the tree look like a tree.

We started at the top of the stairway and then worked our way down. Peter and I trowelled on the mix while big Matt worked the mixer to keep us supplied with the magic mud. We trowelled until almost 3:30 (about six hours) which meant we would be spending almost as many hours carving. The temperatures in the house were low and the humidity was high which meant the concrete would cure slow, giving us plenty of time to sculpt. Bec joined Peter and I in the sculpting process.

The first shot is from the top of the stairs looking down at Peter and Bec starting the carving process.

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I took this picture from on top of the scaffold in the dining room where I was sculpting the outside of the tree. Peter and Rebecca are carving the inside of the tree.

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The finished tree looks spectacular and is one of the most unique stairways I've seen, We purposely kept it narrow (three feet wide) to add to the magic and feeling of mystery. The first view shows the tree from the dining room. The oval shaped window looks into Phoebe's tree house outside on the patio.

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LED lights will be hidden in the dark horizontal slot that goes up the stairs on both sides.

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And here's a closeup shot of the top of the tree in the dining room. Potlights are imbedded into the tree to keep things nice and bright. The LED's will add to the magic and provide good light to the stairway treads.

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Everything will be allowed to cure a few days before we begin the paint process.

-grampa dan

Upstairs color!

The drywallers will be putting the finishing touches to the walls tomorrow. While they work we kept busy upstairs in the rooms that have no drywall. Phoebe's playroom is the furthest along. Today we started on the wainscoting on the lower walls. As color came down the walls the room came alive. The wood flooring arrives in the next day or two and then the room will come together quickly.

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I can hardly wait to finish off the first room of the house. Once that first challenge is done it will seem to come together in a little more of a hurry. It is going to be fun!

-grampa dan

Tree progress.

I've given my good friend Kurt Stoner from Pennslvania a good amount of time to design and start fabricating the (imaginary) tree in his studio. For those who don't know, he and I made a little wager while we were in Atlantic City a few weeks ago. He had been telling me of the tree he was going to build in his studio for well over a year. I too wanted a similar tree in our new house. So when I talked with Kurt in Atlantic City I purposely nudged him a little :) In fact we ended up making a little bet (an ice cold can of Coca Cola) over who would finish their tree first. The first installment of that story is told HERE.

The thing is I sort of already had a bit of a head start on our project compared to Kurt and his dream tree.  I felt so bad I decided to give Kurt ten whole days to catch up. After waiting the ten days my concience has eased a little.  :)  It was time to get to work again on our project and with Kurt and his team supposedly busy building his tree in Pennsylvania we had no time to waste. I'm going to be mighty thirsty by the time we finish our tree here in Yarrow and an icy cold Coke will be just the remedy I need.

Matt worked on the tree stairway all day. I helped out with the critical parts between my many other tasks.  We worked from the bottom up, finishing things off on the lower level, save for the area around the window which will arrive tomorrow. (I ordered it today)

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We cut the round forms that Matt would screw the stringer strips of plywood to. They were cut freehand, for the object of the excercise was to make this look like the inside of a very large tree complete with weathered splits and checks. The arcs were better not perfectly round.

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Then Matt cut and fastened the strips of wood to the round forms.

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Finally Matt stapled the diamond lath to the wood frame, forming it over the wood strips. The fiberglass-reinforced-concrete will be trowelled over this framework and then carved to look like wood.

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Now I know Kurt reads this journal regularly and he will undoubtably pore over all the pictures I just posted to see exactly how we did our work. That's OK. He will need all the help he can muster to have any hope of beating us. The main thing is that he start actually building his tree pretty soon - instead of just dreaming and talking about it endlessly. If he has the courage to send me pictures of his tree progress I'll even post them for him here on the journal. I can taste that ice cold Coke already...

-grampa dan