Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rebar Madness

It's been a crazy couple of weeks trying to get everything in place for this momentous concrete pour. Since last post, we poured the piers and installed all the underslab plumbing. Then we dropped in 12" of gravel and tied all the rebar for the topping slab and the retaining walls.
The entire garage level will have concrete walls and floor.  This includes a laundry room, bathroom, and mechanical room, so we have to make sure that every exhaust duct that needs to go through the wall is planned before forming all the walls.
While it's always important to have a lot of people on hand for the concrete pour, that is especially true here where we have to get the hoses to the top of a 16' high wall.
Including the piers, the topping slab, and the retaining walls, we have 65(!) yards of concrete in for this two-story addition.  The concrete will need to cure, and then as soon as the forms are stripped, I'll show the finished product.  Check back in soon!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Project! Rustic Modern Master Suite Addition

I am so excited about this new project -- we just broke ground, so it's in the very intense beginning phase, but I know it's going to be amazing!  The house is in a great location, nestled into a hillside under a towering grove of redwood trees.  These are the "before" photos of back and the side of the house, with story poles in place showing what we're going to build.
The goal is to remove a deteriorating and poorly insulated master bedroom and garage, excavate into the hillside, and add on a new two story addition that will encompass a garage, laundry, bathroom, mechanical, and storage room on the ground floor, and master bedroom, master bath, writer's studio, and kids' playroom on the second floor. 
Notice the tiny backhoe ready to get started!  We have already performed all the demolition and excavation, so we're left with this massive hole.
To give you an idea of just how steep lot is, in this photo, I'm standing in the back yard and looking down toward the front yard.  Yikes!  We built safety fences all the way around the site that you can see in the background.
We've just begun drilling for piers.  We have a total of 12 piers, going down 12-15' into bedrock to anchor the new foundation to the hillside.  On the back wall where the black tarps are now, will be a 11' high concrete wall.

The design of the house is rustic modern, so that's what I'll call it from here on out.  It combines elements from the natural surroundings, like stone and weathered wood, with contemporary finishes, like steel and glass, to make the home seem like a cozy extension of the forest.  I'm starting to see more and more of this style in the wooded areas of the Northern California hills.  You're going to love it!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Tar Paper Star

I am such a fan of the site Fun and VJs, run by Anita in Brisbane, Australia.  She has a Queenslander house, which, to be honest, I'd never even heard of before reading her blog, but now I know it is a lovely architectural style native to Queensland in Australia, developed in the 1840s and still in use today, characterized by verandas, raised living spaces, and corrugated metal roofs.  VJs refers to Vertical Join timber, locally referred to as tongue and groove.
Anita's sow's-ear-turned-silk-purse is our latest Tar Paper Star, so check out her site and read more at the Tar Paper Stars link above.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Paint Colors at the Cottage

I've had a lot of questions about the paint colors used on this house, so I thought now was a good time to download for all of you working on your own cottages. 

One thing to note is that the ceilings are the same as the wall colors throughout.  This is a new technique we're seeing lately that really makes the woodwork stand out.  I was afraid that going away from white ceiling would make the rooms feel smaller, but it actually has quite the opposite effect.

Kitchen Cabinets & Trim:
Benjamin Moore Int RM 02, Super White, satin finish.

Kitchen Walls & Ceiling:
Benjamin Moore 463, Woodland White, flat finish.
Stair Woodwork:
Benjamin Moore Int RM 02, Super White, satin finish.

Stair Walls & Ceilings:
Benjamin Moore HC-173, Edgecomb Gray, flat finish
Bedroom Cabinets & Trim:
Benjamin Moore Int RM 02, Super White, satin finish.

Bedroom Walls & Ceiling:
Benjamin Moore 1577, Artic Gray, flat finish.
Child's Room Cabinets & Trim:
Benjamin Moore Int RM 02, Super White, satin finish.

Child's Room Walls & Ceiling:
Benjamin Moore HC-171, Wickham Gray, flat finish.

Exterior Trim & Fence:
Matched to Marvin Window clad color, Stone White, semi-gloss finish.

Exterior Shingles & Siding:
The exterior is not painted, it is covered with integral color HardieShingles and HardiePlank Siding in Boothbay Blue

Door Trim:
Matched to Marvin Window clad color, Stone White, semi-gloss finish.

Front Door:
Benjamin Moore 538, Vienna Green, semi-gloss finish.

Good luck to all of you out there in the painting stage.  You're almost there!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Modern Kitchen Fun

I've been meaning to post pics of this kitchen for a while.  I just adore the way it all came together.  This is another great design by Lorin Hill Architects, of the English Tudor house fame.
The house is classic mid-century modern, but a previous owner had poorly installed a cheesy Home Depot kitchen without permits.  At the "encouragement" of city officials, that room was torn out and the resulting kitchen has changed the whole feel of the home. 

The slab cherry cabinets and white granite lighten the weight of oversized pot drawers, and the orange accent wall (including door and trim) adds an element of playfulness while slyly downplaying the galley layout of the space.
Large rectangular floor tiles give the feel of stained concrete and heat registers run through the cabinet toekicks keep the floor area clear.  Period light fixtures from the underground favorite Schoolhouse Electric Company top off this great mid-century kitchen makeover.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Antique Lighting Restoration

Stop!  Don't throw out those old fashioned light fixtures that have been with your house from the beginning of time, bring them up to date with new shades and wiring.  You'll support your local artisans for less money than buying all new fixtures, and the style will read true your home's architectural roots.
The original gothic light fixtures at our English Tudor home were rewired to bring them up to safe and modern wiring standards by the folks at Sue Johnson Custom Lamps and Shades on Solano Ave in Berkeley.  Better still, they crafted these gorgeous custom shades that showcase hand-selected leaves of native California plants set in mica.  The seams are stitched fabric and the result is stunning.
If yours are already gone, scour your local antique stores and architectural salvages for period lighting and have a lighting restoration company bring it back to life for you.  So much more soul than buying new!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tar Paper Stars

See that little TAR PAPER STARS link above?  It will take you to a brand new feature I'm excited to introduce.  The plan is to showcase one builder site a month that deserves a little blog love, and by all means, suggestions are welcome!  Even though this month is already halfway over, it's never to late to introduce Meryl Rose of the Picardy Project.  She's based right here in beautiful Oakland, CA and has a great site where she documents the restoration of her storybook home.  Go there now!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cottage Complete!

At last, all the finishing touches are complete on our Little Blue Cottage and I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out.  Check out the photos below, and as always, if you have any questions, be sure to shout!

BEFORE:  2 Bedroom, 1 bath, Single Story home
AFTER: 4 Bedroom, 3 bath, Two Story home
DURATION: 10 Months 


Front of House - Before

Front of House - Current


Front of House - Before

Front of House - Current 

Back of House - Current

For more on this kitchen, see the 360 degree video here. 



During Framing



Woo-hoo for our first complete remodel from start to finish here at TPC!  So... what do you guys think?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Making It Home with Gumwood Moldings

Sometimes in a remodel, changes to the outside of the house can create unforeseen design dilemmas on the inside.  In the English Tudor home we've been restoring, in order to build the addition off the side of the house, we had to eliminate this classic leaded-glass bay window from the dining room wall and add a new door that would lead out onto the back deck.
This posed a challenge on the interior because the bay window trim tied into an intricate weave of beautiful original gumwood moldings and doors that add tons of charm to the dining room.  (Also note how you can see where art was hung on the walls for years!)
We knew that getting new trim to match would be impossible, so our carpenters carefully took apart the window trim piece by piece and, with a few scarf joints, tied it back together again, framing the new door to the deck on the right side and mirroring that distance off the corner on the left side.
Add in sconces (shades to come), a little linseed oil, and voila!  What bay window?  Also, for all you wallpaper fanatics out there, you're probably already familiar with the many gorgeous patterns from UK based Villa Nova Fabrics.  This is their grass cloth style wallpaper from the Florence Plain collection in Cayenne.  Love it!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reduce Reuse Recycle - Mix Old and New in Your Remodel

It's easy to want to start fresh when you're remodeling, but saving a few select pieces will help tie the new space to the old and may even save you some money.  Here are three examples of reuse in our classic English Tudor:

1.  Bathtub   This cast iron bathtub was original to the 1921 house and still in great shape.  Given the high cost of tubs, this was a perfect candidate for reuse, and it's right at home in the new vintage style bath.

Original Location

2.  Closet Doors   These beautiful original gum wood closet doors were re-purposed as, well, closet doors... but in new pocket door locations.  The holes from the old hardware just add to the charm.

Original Location

3.  Sun Room French Doors   The pair of French doors leading from a small bedroom to the sunroom were eliminated, in favor of a wider opening.  The glass-paned door is seen throughout the home, so we reused them in one of the new bedrooms to speak to the vintage architecture.  Sure, it's unconventional to use glass doors for a closet, but in this case, it really adds charm and character to an otherwise standard bedroom.

Original Location

So get our there and reuse, already!  It's good for the earth, the pocketbook, and oh-so stylish.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Reviving the Sun Porch

One of the greatest features of the classic English Tudor we're working on is this beautiful enclosed sun porch.  The vintage bi-fold windows accordion and all slide to one side of the room, making the room feel like it's inside the cedar tree.
Unfortunately, the 90 year old windows were allowing water to get inside the walls and rot the structural posts, as well as rotting the window sashes and sills.
We had window companies look at replacing them, but no one was sure about how to rebuild these windows and have them function in the same way.  The prices were incredibly high.  We developed a plan to rebuild the windows ourselves.  We had ASAP Custom Windows make the new wooden window sashes, then our guys carefully took apart the jambs piece by piece and milled new parts to the exact sizes of the old that would work with the antique hardware.
It was a very technical and complicated project that was great for the house.  The sun porch is still bright and airy, the new bi-fold windows are solid with proper flashing, and they function better than ever! 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Left Coast Lifter! Bay Bridge Construction Monster Crane!

My trouble with the now not-so-new S-curve of the Bay Bridge isn't the radius of the curve itself, it's that they stuck this amazing crane, dubbed the "Left Coast Lifter," right beside the bridge requiring me to exercise every ounce of restraint I can muster not to rubberneck.  As luck would have it, my friend and mentor Chris has a sailboat that we took out for the express purpose of getting a closer look at this beauty.
As we approached the Bay Bridge construction project, the sheer size of this crane is overwhelming.  For scale, the white curved structure in the background is a preview of the new Bay Bridge.
Here are the stats:
-Built by Zhenhua Port Machinery Co. Ltd. (ZPMC) in San Francisco's sister city, Shanghai, China exclusively for the construction of the Bay Bridge
-30 stories tall
-Boom can lift 1,800 tons (that's 3,600,000 lbs, or a community of myself and roughly 29,000 others about my size)
-And best of all... it floats!  It lives on a 400' long barge that was constructed in Portland, OR
The crane is used to lift pre-manufactured bridge sections into place.  The steel you see here is temporary.  It's used to hold the deck in place before the self-anchored suspension system is installed.  We cruised passed the dinky helper cranes,
and on to a great view of the new San Francisco Bay Bridge construction.
Rumor has it that this incredible piece of machinery will be for sale once the bridge construction is complete.  You know, someone has a birthday coming up...

For more info on the Bay Bridge Construction, including killer 360 degree videos of the action, check out the official site, Bay Bridge Info.