Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wooden Spring Be Lovely

   This week Ed completed all the finish wiring. That means he put in the trim for all the can lights, set all the light bulbs, and installed all the plugs. I was in charge of faceplates. With a few exceptions, such as the chandeliers and appliances, we are powered up. Last night we turned on the interior lights and the porch lights, stood at the end of the driveway and admired our work.
   The hardwood flooring was scheduled to be delivered Friday so several days were devoted to cleaning up the subflooring prior to delivery. The sheetrock mud got everywhere, so Ed used a paint scraper to clean the globs off the stairs.
 My job was to  vacuum the whole house with a  cumbersome shopvac, sucking up sheetrock dust and debris. Using a shopvac is like taking a pig on a walk with a leash.  After every room, I had to break down the shopvac, take the filter outside and pound the crud out of it, then blow it clean with the air compressor. Then I put it back together and started on the next room.It's a good thing vacuuming the finished house will be easier!  The sheetrock mud got everywhere, so Ed used a paint scraper to clean the globs off the stairs.
   Friday two guys showed up to deliver the flooring. We chose handscraped Acacia, a dense hardwood. This stuff weighs a ton, and half of it had to be carried upstairs.
   This afternoon I need to open the ends of the boxes so the wood can acclimatize to the house, to temperature and humidity. That way it won't shrink or swell once it is installed.
   I couldn't help but to open at least one box as soon as I could. Acacia, or asian walnut has a very active grain and color play, which I love. I'm sure someone a hundred years from now will buy this house and say, "What were those people thinking? That floor has to go." By that time, it won't bother me a bit.

  My biggest pending task is to stain all the wood for the door and window trim, baseboards and interior doors, which were delivered last week.  If I look at the whole pile, it's overwhelming.  So I just tell myself that I can only stain one piece at a time anyway. The amount we save by staining and sealing the trimwork will more than pay for the installation of the flooring.
   My workstation is set up in the basement. We put fresh paper down to protect the cement floor from drips. Then as an added precaution we put a plastic tarp down over the paper in the actual staining area. If you've ever seen me stain wood before, you'd realize how important that is.
   I set the wood on the sawhorses, usually 4-6 lengths per sawhorse set. I wipe them down with pre-stain wood conditioner. By the time I'm done with the last piece, the first piece is ready for stain. I brush the stain on one piece, wipe it down and move to the next piece. Then they come off the sawhorses and get stacked vertically against the wall. Because the roll up door is nearby, there is plenty of ventilation, but everything is out of the rain.

  Speaking of rain, this has been the wettest spring in recorded history. We've had very few days without rain since the first of the year, and most of those have been bitter cold. Two days ago, we had a lovely double rainbow, followed by hail. Finally yesterday we had a full day of sunshine, the first day to break 60 degrees. Come on, Spring!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Red Is The Color Of My True Love's Chair

   We're going to trim out all the windows, door casings, and baseboards with stained and finished wood. The interior doors will be given the same treatment. Since the elves apparently don't come in the night and do that stuff any more, it'll be my job.
   "No problem," I said, "I know how to do that."
   The truck showed up last week with half the lumber. Shoot me now.
   In fairness, I have to say that I wasn't the one standing in the rain unloading the truck. Ed had expected to pick up the stack with the tractor forklift. It will lift 1000 lbs, but apparently the stack weighed more than that and they had to unload it by hand.
   We are using hemlock. It has enough movement in the grain to have some character, but has less than alder. I wanted something that was different but complementary to the floors and cabinets. Something about the color of the front door. Unfortunately the hemlock accepts the gel stain differently than the douglas fir, so I was on a search for a new stain.
  I began by pulling out every old can of stain we had in the barn...except those marked "Cherry" or "Deep Mahogany". I found a very nice match in a tiny ancient rusted can. It's not even manufactured any more, so it was back to square one.
   Finally, after buying several more test cans, we decided to use MinWax "Early American". Just a caveat when testing stains: The color is significantly different if you use a pretreatment on the wood.  The top section is without a pretreatment, and came out blotchier and browner than the second one. I'm no pro and need all the help I can get, so I'll take a few extra minutes and wipe on the pretreatment. They recommend you use the stain within a few hours of the pretreatment, so I will have my work station set up and ready to go.
   Ed is still working on the painting. It was all going so well...we were ahead of schedule. We should have known better.
   Ed just finished painting our bedroom. The plan was for a very very light blue ceiling and soft blue-gray walls. We'd had these colors in a different house and liked them very much.
   It looked horrible. It was like some over-zealous woman pregnant with twin boys was preparing a nursery.        
   After much discussion, we decided to repaint it with colors used in the other rooms. Ed cleaned the blue out of the power roller and prepared to paint it again. After getting one coat of Biscuit on the ceilings, he checked his paint. He had 3 gallons of Biscuit in the bucket and went to add one more gallon from a separate can. Just as one batch of paint splashed into the other, he realized he'd picked up Bagel, not Biscuit. This was not a good thing.
    Not one to be wasteful of time or materials, he just switched gears and took it down to the basement and painted the gym walls instead.
     I went back to the paint store.  The guy at the Sherwin Williams paint store and I are now Facebook Friends, and  I have another carload of paint. Ed put the Biscuit on the ceilings in the Blue Room, and a miracle happened! That horrible baby-boy blue suddenly turned blue-gray. How does that happen?!
   As soon as the painting is completely finished, Ed will be moving on to the finish electrical. He can hardly wait. In fact, he didn't wait. He took a break from the paint roller and put in a few lights, just to refresh himself.  Lance-The-Electrician came back to hook up the three-way and four-way switches, and install the bathroom heaters.
   Ed will install the ceiling lights, fans and chandeliers.We used the 5" lights and BR30 CFL bulbs. I like the way they recess a bit in the plane of the ceiling. We used 6" fisheye fixtures in the apartment, and these regular 5" lights are much more subtle.
We also decided to put in way more lights than the plans called for, since we have so many cloudy days here.

 I have spent many a cloudy hour in front of the computer researching furniture. If I want actual furniture by the end of July, I need to be ordering it by the first of May. We don't want a repeat of the Saga Of The Sofa. Yesterday I spent the day in Astoria at the furniture store. The first thing I did was tell the sales person my sofa horror story, so that she would have a clear understanding of my fears. Keeping in mind that the items shown are not the actual colors nor are they in relative size, here's the plan for the living room. I won't post pictures of every room, lest I drive everyone to madness.  
   Madness was about where I was yesterday while looking at fabric samples. Frantic madness, yes that's it. How can you tell what a chair will look like by looking at a piece of fabric half the size of a post card? I wanted the chair to be same red as the accent wall, but there are a million shades of red. We'll see.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Color My World or Bleeding Money

    This week I did nothing but spend money. We knew that it would be a flood of money out the door (or in the door, depending on your perspective) during the last third of the construction, but it is staggering.

I ordered hardwood for the floors.

I ordered tile for the bathrooms, laundry room and foyer.

I sent in a deposit for cabinets.

I ordered a stove vent insert for said cabinets.

   Now that's not exactly true. I did do something else. We started painting. Did I mention I bought 75 gallons of paint?
   Now let me say right off, that between the cloudy days, my camera, this computer and fate in general, the colors don't show true. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on how tame you are about color in your home. I personally, am a color wimp,  but with therapy and a supportive spouse I have begun to accept paint as my friend.

  We started by painting the corners first, so we could roll the paint. Ed has a old but fully functional airless paint unit, which saves us hours of time.  We also bought a power roller from a paint supply place. That thing is slick. No more coming down from the ladder to dip the roller in the paint tray. Just pull the trigger and keep on painting, which is what Ed did.
   Now kids, don't try this at home. This is definitely not a recommended or OSHA approved method of painting a stairwell. Ed is a trained professional.
My job was to use the other ladder (in the more traditional method) and paint the corners and cut in the wall colors. The first day, I made over 250 trips up and down the ladder. The second day I could barely move and my knee was swollen up like a grapefruit. But through the miracles of modern chemistry, I kept painting. The knee is still swollen, but the cutting in is done. I rarely make a personal appearance, but I was wearing a Sherwin-Williams tapestry and thought I'd share. Fortunately, the walls look better than my clothes.

  Now here's the thing. Craftsman colors are traditionally earth tones, tending toward dark. We took that tendency and just stretched it a little. They honestly look much better in person than they show in the photo. I must admit I had real misgivings, and some downright panic about using red.  There will be cabinets below the red to either side of the fireplace. The fireplace surround will be slate.


The red carries into the kitchen. Here I painted the entire wall red, just because I got carried away, but most of this will be covered by refrigerator, cabinets and that butter yellow 1922 Magic Chef stove.

   By now most of you have formed into one of two paint camps:
        1. Wow, I love it!
        2. What was that woman thinking?!
  I'm still on the fence.

 Upstairs in the family room and library, I decided on a very soft green. The more I see it on the wall, the more I realize it is a very warm, cozy color. It also leads the eye out to the green outside. Above the fireplace is the same camel color as the foyer hallway  and stairwell.


  The two guest bedrooms are a soft cream. Even if the sun isn't shining (yes, we do occasionally get sun), these rooms have a wonderful inviting feel.

   This morning Ed is finishing the green.
We may need to make a trip to Seaside this afternoon.  After all that, we still need two gallons of Metro Mist, one of Crabby Apple, and two of Tatami Tan.