Thursday, April 29, 2010

Drywall Continues

The drywall job continues to transform our spaces, one by one, into approximations of the final product. I wanted to post the lastest views of rooms here. First is the pantry, the windowless box that will house our cold storage produce like carrots, cabbages, onions, and beets, our dry grains, our home-canned goods, as well as wine and beer. Oh, and all the canning equipment which currently is stored far away from my kitchen. Can't wait. The best part about it is that little grate you can see near the floor. It connects via 6 inch pipe to the outdoors, to passively let cold, north-side air into the pantry. Bascially, for a plain box, it's a pretty exciting little room.

Next is the north side main ceiling. It feels so much lighter and less busy, now that the raw insulation and rafters are covered up. Now the beautiful south-facing clerestory windows are allowing sunlight to reflect off the white drywall paper. I think it looks really nice.

Next, we have the entry room, which feels similarly transformed, into a lighter, reflective space. Unless it's early morning, this room is kind of dark. It doesn't really need to be any different, but it feels fresher to have it rocked. In one view, you can see the closet, and in the other, you are looking in toward the guest/massage space.

Finally, we have the guest bath, not really an excessively exciting room, but it is still nice to see it undergoing its facelift, too. The bathrooms have colored drywall, as it has some kind of moisture block. The area in the shower has yet to be covered by Hardibacker, which is concrete board. This will be backing for tile of some kind.

Last night, Drew and I made a "punch list" of all that is left to do to finish our room. It's a big list, but it's still a FINITE list. We'll see how far we can get, as Drew is about to begin his Salmon Group estuary project soon, and our star worker will also be on to other projects soon. I'm gonna have to step it up a little bit.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sack-a-Tomatoes for the Weekend

Sliding down from Owl's Treehouse in Hundred Acre Wood

Somehow, my only photos of our weekend adventure to Sacramento, are a few shots of Ella from Fairy Tale Land. But our weekend included so much more. It began with duck feeding at the ponds at Real Goods, and elevator rides at Grandma Barbara's house in Oakland, an amazing dinner followed by Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote video, a round-trip BART ride to breakfast in Rockridge, lunch at a delicious Mexican cantina in Oakland, a drive to Sacramento which included a round of the alphabet game, dinner at a very busy Chinese restaurant, a stay in a 7th floor suite across the street from Capitol Park, a visit to said Fairy Tale Land, a trip to the zoo, and a first-ever ice cream sundae, as children were not invited to the wedding, and Ella remained with our friends for the evening. And at the end of the trip, our last piece of fun was a short mini-hike in the redwoods, an hour from home, where we all breathed a sigh of relief at feeling the quiet of the giant trees, the gurgle of Bull Creek, and the songs of the solitary vireo and the varied thrush. Ahhhhh. That experience was complete with warm breezes.

While we were hiking, I asked Ella if she was still sad we were coming home (she was crying and saying she didn't want to go home). She said, "I thought I didn't want to come home, but home is so great!" So there you have it.

Outside Windowsills

Last summer, we debated around and around about what to do with our exterior finish "look". We wanted to install our windows, as designed, with their nailing fin, but we wanted the windows to have a heavier look that defined them more clearly. So, at Karl's urging, we designed concrete windowsills, which we formed out in the fall, and then stained with a concrete stain. They have metal strapping stuck in the back, which slips under the windows, and inside the house for anchoring. Then, the finish coat of stucco will go right up to the edge, blending them into the exterior.

Drew and Aaron installed the first ones the other day, because we couldn't proceed with the inside windowsills until the outside ones were done. And we can't plaster until the interior windowsills are done. Lots of "in-order-to's".

I'm really happy with how they look. I think they're going to look even more beautiful when the final coat of plaster goes on the outside.

Hanging Drywall

Hanging a 4x12 foot sheet with the drywall jack

Hallway and Laundry Closet

Master Bedroom

Second small Bedroom with Clerestory Windows in Loft

We've at last arrived at the drywall hanging part of our house project, which has been the most exciting for me, so far. It's taking the rough outline of the house we envisioned three years ago, and fleshes out the concept into actual rooms with ceilings. In addition, we're able to begin choosing finish details, such as floor and wall colors, and trim details. The finished end is in sight!

Not that I have any illusions about the amount of work required to move us forward to the end of our process. Everyone says, and I think they're right, "drywall hung, half-way done." I can see how imagining finishing the ENTIRE house would feel daunting and nearly impossible. But we are planning on taking it room by room, starting with the master suite, which includes the bedroom, bathroom, and our large closet. It is about the same square footage of the yurt, but it would only be a bedroom. We are hoping to finish this first and move into it. For now, we are mudding and taping, and preparing for plastering.

To try out the product, and evaluate its cost and usefulness, we are going to use American Clay in our bedroom and bathroom. The exterior walls, which at this point are still raw Faswall blocks, will get an initial base coat of Structolite, which is basically a gypsum plaster, mixed with sand. We are also evaluating another product from American Clay called Enjarre, which is clay plaster designed for commercial installation. Whereas the regular American Clay plaster is applied by hand, Enjarre has a different recipe which allows it to be sprayed on and then back-trowled, and it is less expensive. Basically, it's cheaper and takes a lot less time to install. I'll be updating on this as it evolves.