Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Onyx back splash

Remy has a dream. He wants a back-lit onyx back splash behind the wall chimney above the range. After affixing rope lights to the wall, he carefully put the onyx tiles in place. We all admire the results. More pictures of the finished product to follow.

Still staining wood

Staining the trim and doors is a painstaking process, but the results are positive so far.

We decided to do the doors with a deeper tone inset panel. Our technique to achieve a good finish requires use of a 1" brush, so as long as we're swiping away with tiny bristles, why not not create an interesting look.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A visit from our supervisor

Our cousin visits regularly, always enthusiastic to note any progress that has been made. We love his encouragement and excitement. Today he is dressed as a cowboy and has a special song to share.

Fridge gets a platform

When we placed the fridge in its spot and opened the doors, the left door bonked the granite. The solution? A platform. The fridge got a 7" boost up, and we will put a drawer beneath it. Now the doors swing freely without risk of bashing the precious stone, and we get a bit of extra storage. Win-win.

Trimming cupola windows

The cupola windows are all trimmed out with the same narrow crown molding we used on the other windows. By the end, the master was getting the angled cuts right the first time. Going up and down the ladder for each cut was a big incentive.

Do you notice more indirect lighting above the cupola windows. The electricians have indulged our every fantasy.

Accent wall is green

We're working on the wall. The green looks promising.

The colors used to create wood undertones are Benjamin Moore #1104 "Desert Beach" and #1117 "Guest House." The green is #SW6423 "Ryegrass." We've used oil-based enamels.

The green is thinned down 50/50 with paint thinner to create a light streaked/stained look. It may just work.

We are planning to replace the five rows of currently painted boards above the green to raw tongue-and-groove. Only after wielding the paint brush did we realize that it would look better to have the color end at the height of the built-in cupboards.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Accent wall back to wood

We may be onto something with the pesky accent wall. Our granite guy (who is also a paint guy) stopped by last week. Shad likes to look around the house and note what has changed, and he casually asked about the paint-test wall. The sun was almost down by then, but he squinted and said, "I like the green. I think what I like about it is that it is distressed." We had only a small sample, so painted it hurriedly over the white undercoat leaving a streaky effect.

All of a sudden the frustration of the wall came into focus. The paint, no matter the color, is so solid and static and one-dimensional compared to the lovely wood, tile, and stone all around. He suggested, "When we mess up, we
paint the wood back to a wood color, then we stain on top of the paint!" So that's what we're trying.

The first draft of "wood-look" was applied with too much contrast between the darkest and lightest colors (above), so we glazed on a thinned down coat of beige to tone down the light sections (right). Stay tuned for the green, coming soon....

Framing the doors - our stain recipe

Framing out the doors is in process. We think that our cheapie pine, carefully grooved, sanded and stained, looks like reclaimed wood. The secret is pre-stain conditioner, and MinWax "PolyShades."

We first apply a coat of "Classic Oak" which is very light and seals the grain. Then we mix 50/50 "Oak" with "Antique Walnut" which makes the nice dark line in the grooves.

With light sanding between each coat, the third layer is "Pecan" which gives a kiss of honey at the end.

Baby helps nail trim on the porch, ready for exterior lights on the posts flanking the soon-to-be screen doors. He's amazingly accurate, yet he still needs more strength to make his tap-tap-tap move a nail. He is slightly irritated when he hits the nail repeatedly, yet it does not go in: "That's not how it is supposed to work! I see everyone else making the nails disappear! Ewee, aggghh!"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Building permit for the addition

We received a call from our office of Codes Enforcement today informing us that we have been honored with a building permit for the addition. We're just about done with the first phase, ready to start the next. She's smiling. She'll keep the safety goggles nearby and the work clothes handy. Onward and forward....

Indirect lighting on the porch

We dreamed of indirect lighting that would illuminate the ceiling of the porch. With design help from Dad Kiker, and special TLC from the electricians, it works.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More work on granite

Getting stone around the posts has been tricky. We decided to make a backsplash in front of the posts and place a 6" continuous shelf above the backsplash that is cut to fit around each post. That way, if a cut is not exact, or if something breaks, a huge slab is not lost.

Here is a picture of the east-side shelf in place, complete with a preview of the red onyx that Remy is planning to install behind the range hood and chimney.

It's warm again

We had a few cold days at the building site last week. We even had frost on the car in the morning--horrors! But, at last, it has warmed up, and we decided to celebrate "Building in Florida in February," in contrast to other First Day builders who picture themselves faithfully slaving away in the ice and snow. Don't worry, we get ours in August.

Here we are still working on WOOD.

Outdoor hot water heater

We decided to put the hot water heater outside the house in its own little shed (the not-yet-stained structure seen peeking out from behind the house). With a high water table, we can't have basements in Florida. We're running insulated water lines to the house and to the radiant heat system.

Pictured here is the manifold for the radiant heat system, common in the northeast, but not down here in Florida. Because our AC man was doubtful that warm water in the slab could heat our house, he insisted that our AC system have a heat pump for backup. I know, you First Day builders who live in the ice and snow are rolling your eyes.

AC duct going in

The galvanized, insulated AC ducts are in. We'll be able to hook up the electricity to the system next week and test it out. We'll leave the duct silver for the time being and later decide whether or not to paint it, and if so, what color ... it's nice to have one decision that can be postponed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Roof on the tree fort

Granddad applies his carpentry skills to the tree fort today. It receives a few minor repairs and improvements, the most exciting of which is a new roof!

Here's the work crew perched on the sentry look-out point which guards the fort.

On David Howard's migration route

Our architect, David Howard, spends a few months in Florida during the winter, and we're on his migration route back to New Hampshire. Last year when we came through, we had a few bents piled up on the slab, and now there is a house. What fun to enjoy his architectural brainchild in the flesh.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ceviche and stone crabs

Remy came by with treasures from his kitchen, some fresh shrimp ceviche and steamed stone crabs claws. What a treat for a hungry work crew.
Our parents had a chance to effuse over the great job he did on our tiles. They also managed to slip in a few funny stories about our adventuresome family.

Paper off the floors

We decided it was time to take the protective paper off the floors and get them cleaned up. What fun to see the tiles again.

Window trim

We decided to use a small crown molding to trim out the window interiors. We painted it white to match, and you can hardly tell it's there. Mission accomplished.

After butchering a few pieces of trim on the radial arm saw, we borrowed a chop saw from a friend. Much better.

We also used the trim as an excuse to equip ourselves with a trim nail gun. It saved us, and made the job much more successful.

Kitchen appliances going in

The major kitchen appliances are going in. The two Dads work on attaching the power cord to the range. They succeeded, and they even managed to avoid looking at the instruction booklet.

Window sills

Remember way back when we were first clearing the land and we used the chain saw mill to cut planks from some of the trees that were felled? Well, we finally found a use for some beautiful pieces of red oak.

We cut 8" slabs in half leaving the bark edge natural, planed and sanded, varnished with three coats of Spar and then nailed them in place with a bit of liquid nails for good measure. We love 'em.