Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fixing Grades

In honor of the Atlanta Public Schools, we had our very own grade changing party in the middle of July.


We didn’t do any drastic grade changes.  We just back filled around the brick foundation and cut in the loop driveway in front.


As you can see, Jason the Grader (or should I say, Grade Changer) played a joke on me.  After he had the driveway all shaped up and the planting area in the middle all covered in mulch, he got Jason the Mason’s mortar mixer and left me a little yard art.


I was upstairs checking out the paint progress, but I looked out the window and caught him in the act.


I don’t know.  Maybe with a few pansies and some ferns, it could become an attractive focal point.


Meanwhile, Jason and his crew slipped around back to shape things up.


They got everything all nice and tidy, but…


I had asked them to sift through the vast quantities of wasted sand from the brick job and spread it over the back yard.  All that red clay needs a little something to lighten it up.


Well, they got the spreading part right, but not the sifting, as you can see here.  So, I ran home and got my handy dandy screen for sifting compost and my matching saw horses.


It was better than panning for gold in Dahlonega! 

…and more tedious…

So, I figured that 2 sifters would be double the fun.  I remembered a piece of hardware cloth up front that the geothermal well drillers had used to sift the sand for their grout.  We pulled a few boards out of the dumpster and knocked together another sifter.


By the end of the day, the sand was all sifted and spread and we were looking pretty good.


Except for the dirt at the  far end of the retaining wall.  Something must be done.  I think I hear the siren song of the rock yard…

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shabby Chic or Just Shabby?

It all started with this:


I wanted a simple mantel for the living room that wouldn’t compete with the bookshelves.  Most folks might want something a little more ornate  and formal in the living room, but I thought this one would be just right.

So, my crew and I put our heads together, measured the photo, measured the fireplace, calculated the proportions,  and dug through the trim pile.

Alan and Nathan pieced it together.


And added some trim.




We weren’t quite there. 

It was too leggy and the stair tread that we had tried for the top was too thin. 

So, I grabbed a piece of 1x4 and poked it in between the legs. 

Now there’s a sentence that is a perfect example of the dangers of using a pronoun too loosely.  But what English teacher would dare use it as an example in class?

Maybe we’d better just move on.


That was better.  Now we just needed a thicker top.  So, while Israel caulked and primed.  I went to visit the Yoda of woodworking. 

First he showed me the mantels he had designed.


Very nice.  I have to admit, though, that heart pine around a wood burning fireplace gives me pause.

Then I showed him my inspiration picture.  I expected him to say.

“very nice.”

After all, I liked it and we’re related.  Do you know what he said?  He said, “ Are you serious? 

It looks like something out of a tenant house.”

Look again.


Well, I guess maybe it does.  But I still like it.  Is that a bad thing?

Anyway, because he is Yoda and a natural mentor, he took me to a magical place in the mountains and helped me sort through a pile of 8/4 poplar.  We were about to give up, when I spied a good one about 10 boards down in the stack.  We pulled out board after board and finally found “the one.”

I stuffed all 9 feet of it into the Suburban and we went to his shop.  Only a Yoda of woodworking would have an octagonal shop.  Only a Yoda of woodworking who laid out his shop with a pair of dowsing rods, but that’s a story for another day.

We ran the board through the planer and got it smooth as silk.  Except for the one place where I didn’t hold my end correctly. Then we cut the one rough edge off of all 9 feet of it.  Then I stuffed it back in my Suburban and hauled all 9 feet of it back to the house.

Alan and Nathan treated it reverently.  They bought a special router bit to put just a small radius into the top and bottom edge.  I wasn’t there, but the magic was, so they knew just the look I was aiming for:


There you have it, gentle reader: Tenant House Chic.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Home Coming

Back in early July, we were getting ready for a home coming.  We had the guys from Premier Heating & Air come out and fire up the geothermal system and get the air conditioning going.


I’m glad they know where all those wires go!


And then on the Tuesday after Independence Day, our trees

came home as floor boards.


With the green paraffin sealed ends still in place.


I think they are going to be beautiful.

Some boards have more of the flakes than others.



Some are positively rustic.


And some are so clean they look store bought.


We tested the moisture content. The boards were between 12 and 16%. They need to be below 10% before we lay them. So the air conditioning continues to cool and dry the house and the flooring.


I’m so happy that we were able to make this happen. Using the trees we had to remove to build for flooring was really important to me. It’s kind of like The Giving Tree only with a whole family of trees.

Like families, though, I’m sure some of the trees are more giving than others.  Some are undoubtedly unhappy about the way things turned out and will complain when we step on them.  Some will glow with serene beauty, some will be attention getting, and some will go dark and brood in a corner. 

We’ll be delighted to have them all back home.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Paint Magic

A few weeks back, Israel and his crew started prepping to paint.


I think there was a seniority system, because the inside prep crew seemed much younger.


Of course, it could have been nepotism.  But, before too long they had the primer on the trim and the walls, and things started to come together.


When they started to prime the outside, the real transformation began.


As each side got painted, the house left Mary Ann behind and started to become a little more Ginger. 


The yellow was cute and pigtailish, but the white just takes your breath away.










Back inside doors were getting primed, too.


All the trim looks so much better all one color instead of two toned.


Now the outside is pretty much done, so Israel continues his paint magic on the inside.  He’s winding up the trim.


I guess I’d better pick those wall colors in a hurry!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cabinet Meeting

A few weeks back the cabinets started to arrive.  Some of the cabinets need to wait for the hardwood floors, but some, like the perimeter cabinets in the kitchen, can sit on plywood of the same thickness.  So The Town Carpenter started installing those.


First came the sink wall.  I was anxious so see how the apron front sink would look, so I was very excited to see it and how well it fit.


Then I had to pull out the granite sample to see how we had done with the paint color, sink and granite.


I think it’s going to work well.

Last week the counter top fabricator came by to make the templates for cutting the granite.


It didn’t look too hard.  You lay the lathe strips out, you square everything out, cut them to length and hot glue the whole business together.


Then you carry the little frames back to the shop and cut the granite to fit.

It gave us a measure of comfort.  Especially since Builder Gary nearly had a heart attack when he went to check on the fabricator the previous week.  We had chosen a close by shop so that we could run by to see the templating and cutting progress.  Gary couldn’t get the guy on the phone, so he just drove down there to talk to him. 

The building was empty.

No granite.  No saws.  No forklifts.

No forwarding address.

Has anyone ever bought a life insurance policy on their builder? I don’t think I can finish this house alone, and I don’t think Gary can take another day like that.

But, Gary finally got the granite guy on the phone and found out that their building had been sold, so they had moved ….

across town (sigh).

The good news is that he moved into the same neighborhood as the cabinetmaker, so we can visit both at once.

And speaking of the cabinet maker, back to the kitchen cabinets.

Opposite the sink wall is the fridge wall.  We will have a freezer on the left and a refrigerator on the right. 


But wait!  We will have upper cabinets between the two, also.


And here's a shot that shows the whole kitchen, including the range wall.  The cabinets that are painted on the inside will have glass doors.  The ones with wood on the inside will have solid doors.


Meanwhile, the little snack kitchen area down in the basement was feeling left out.  So the cabinets I had bought and stored in a U-Haul pod started shouting,

“Put me in, Coach!”

So, Coach Nathan and Coach Allan went to work:


And just to one up the upstairs kitchen, they took it all the way to counters.


Pretty spiffy, huh?


In fact, Coaches Nathan and Allan also took the upstairs laundry room cabinets all the way to counters, too.


And while they were at it, they fixed up the “infirmary” where we will store all of the diabetes supplies and other medicines and vitamins.


But, The Town Carpenter had an answer for all this activity. 

The master bath linen press and


the vanities.


I pulled out the faucets for the vanities and the granite sample to see how it will look.  I had to decide whether I wanted the granite honed or polished.


The granite sample is polished on the left and honed on the right.  The beadboard will be the color of the cabinets.  What do you think?  Shiny or matte?  Polished or honed?