New curtains in the guest bedroom! Privacy from that crazy couple at last –

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Almost snowy

Once you’re done building a house, you’ve likely expended all your money, for now and for the next 30 years.  So, selling out as often as possible is a good idea.  Air B+B works, in this case we sold out to Belvita breakfast biscuits who took over the house for a day to do a commercial shoot.  Haven’t seen the commercial yet, but it was an interesting process. They put up a fake wainscoting over the cable railings (I guess that didn’t fit the vision), they put all our furniture on the sidewalk, and they turned the backyard into an editing set, and lunch counter.  Here’s a few shots from that day.

I know there haven’t been any posts in forever, I expect there will only be a few more in total, and that will likely be in the spring once we’ve had a chance to put on a few finishing touches ourselves.  With contractors out of the picture, the rest will be up to us to figure out how to build/make.  Thanks for reading over the past year and a half! This has been a fun and therapeutic exercise! Until the next project….

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Here’s a few progress shots of the staircase.  More to come when all the stuff in the room is out of the way.  A few more hexes (still sitting on the sidelines in the foreground) will be added to the bookshelf to act as a guardrail as you climb the stair.  We’ll likely mount a handrail to either the bookcase or the wall, still deciding on which one.  If you’re 5’8″ or taller, watch you’re head on the top step.  6’0″ or taller, the top three steps.  6’6″ or taller, join the Pelicans, I expect we’ll need your help  We finished the stair with latex paint (Pewter by Benjamin Moore), and coated them with acrylic polyurethane which is supposed to not yellow.  

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We decided to restore the brick sidewalk.  This is a labor intensive process.  Buried beneath 4-6 inches of dirt and grass, about 50% of the original brick sidewalk remained.  Stepping back, its not actually the “original” sidewalk.  This layer of brick actually has another sidewalk underneath it.  Likely, the first sidewalk was installed in the early 1800’s.  As the street subsided, or was just compacted, it became too muddy I expect.  The homeowners would then shovel ash from their fireplaces onto the sidewalk to increase the height slightly.  Eventually, I guess that wasn’t enough, and they layed another sidewalk probably in the early 1900’s.  On the front side of the house (Burgundy St side), we were able to patch the existing brick pattern work.  The most labor intensive part is re-setting the curb stones at a level and proper elevation about 6″ above the curb of the street.  The stones are slate, and about 6″ wide X 48″ long X 24″ deep.  They are very heavy, and it required digging them completely out and prying them up by hand to raise them a few inches.  My neighbors, who are doing the work, are younger and stronger than the average troop.  Anyways, on the Gallier St side, all the curb stones and bricks were too low.  They had to reset all the curb stones, take up all the brick, lay down a bed of gravel and sand, and reset all the bricks.  We needed about 3000 additional bricks, the ones we bought were from demolished buildings in St. Louis.  Here are some photos.  The bricks with writing on them are old “fire bricks,” – thicker bricks used in the fireplaces to retain heat.  My neighbor had a few extra in his backyard that he contributed to the cause.  Note: major downfall of a corner lot, a lot more sidewalk to replace2013-09-23 08.16.07 2013-09-23 08.16.22 2013-09-23 08.16.32

The attic stairs have almost reached the top! One detail added since last time: where the stringers of the two separate runs connect, they are doweled together.  In other words, a vertical wood dowel was set into the bottom stringer, and then the top stringer was set onto it.  Rather than having the stringers touch each other, the dowel keeps them apart by about a half inch, yielding a “floating” appearance.  Chalk that idea upto Jason.  Soon enough I’ll be priced out of these carpenters, they do some fine and careful work.  ImageImageImageImage

For any official reading this blog, this stair is to code.

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Here’s the beginning of the process.  I decided to share with y’all the plans this time as well.  General idea is to use laminated plywood sheets to create continuous stringers (the structural members at the side of a stair).  This type of shape would normally be done in steel, otherwise additional wall supports would be required under the landing at the bend in the “L”. Since there is no floor below the landing (because it’s open to the stair below), we opted for this path.  It should yield a visually light-weight form.  The treads will be notched into the stringer to hide their appearance from the side view. As the stair is behind the hexagon wall, I wanted to minimize the impact of it’s presence.  Ignore that there is no handrail/guardrail in the drawing – that will come into play a bit later.

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sunset from the upper porchImage

The hexagons have taken on a new life.  We built a bunch out of a total of 8 sheets of baltic birch plywood (5’x5′ sheets strangely), then arranged.  Its a sculpture/shelving/guardrail.  Hopefully it will also make the stair to the attic less precarious, as it will be quite steep without any wall along the office, by creating a screen. For now its a bit wobbly, but it will brace to the stair and end up being very strong.  We’ll add drawers, shelves and misc. inserts to the hexes later, after we’ve taken care of some more essential items.

In the meantime, we’ve also had all the shutters installed, and a good start on the fence.  The shutters have operable louvers, and really help on the privacy and security.  The construction was well executed, but the paint job was totally rushed.  Very frsutrating.  It’ll work out, but the painted hinges are pretty messy.  And the hardware was not totally thought out.  Hopefully they can repair some of the damage they did to the window casing while they installed.  The screws that go through the hinges were slightly too long and went all the way through the casing in some instances. Their plan is to grind down the screws, reinstall, bondo the holes, and touch up the paint.  Wouldn’t it have been easier to buy the right length screws?

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We also have gotten to about 99% complete on the kitchen.  A few nasty details with the paneling that was added along the underside/sides of the wall cabinets.  Anyone have an opinion on those panels? DO they add anything? They were added to cover up fastener locations on the undersides, but not sure if its an improvement.

The fence is about half way.  Its called a “7 board fence,” and is traditional to this part of town.  1×12 treated pine boards, screwed to 4×6 posts set 3 deep into the ground with concrete.  It will weather to a gray, instead of the current chemical green.  Gates will be added in the openings, a large one for potential driveway if we are ever forced to put in off-street parking.  Hopefully that wont be necessary, and we can stick with the plan for a garden.

Here’s some progress images.  Once the fence and stair to the attic are completed, its mostly millwork and repairing/touching up things from here on out.

Notice the street-style bball hoop Matt got me for my birthday. Brings me back to childhood and after-school 2 on 2 games in my bedroom – don’t know how my parents could stand the rowdiness!   Also note the pencil cactus  (Euphorbia) on the upper porch from my boss at the semi-official house warming party.  A nice addition and start to the garden!

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Many boxes moved, many stairs climbed, and then a party.  It was successful, no broken things, no injuries. Uptown apartment goodbye.  Image