Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Getting to the Hearth of the Matter

We progressed quite a bit since returning from our inspiring D.C. trip.

I tackled the 3rd wall which was a mishmash of leaky aluminum windows, different moldings and that rough wall paint style that I hated.

Pic above was taken not too long after we moved in.
By now, restoring the moldings has become a pretty automatic process involving safely removing the old paint, sanding, repairing and finally staining to match the dark wood throughout the house.  I was able to pull out some of the wainscot to I could add insulation to the exterior facing wall.

The two windows posed a little bit of a challenge.  Brand new, custom ordered dual pane windows would have cost hundreds of dollars.  So I took a drive and hit the usual salvage places and would you believe I found one, never-used double hung vinyl window that was EXACTLY the size I needed?  It was in great shape and still had the labels on it and I bought it for $65! I installed it in just a few hours and felt that luck was with me.  After a few more days of searching, I knuckled under and purchased a brand new small window from HD for $125 but it took over 2 weeks to be delivered! And would you believe it WASN'T EXACTLY the size I asked? Let me see, is it better to check the salvage yards for an exact window you could install that day, for a fraction of the cost, or go retail and pay more and wait longer for something not exactly right?   I've always been a big advocate of using salvage materials but this experience pushes me into the salvage camp even more.

So with the new windows in, I carefully pulled molding from another part of the house to build matching trim around the windows.   Andrea sponge paints to match the other walls and I once again add the Tung Oil as a sheen.
We've really grown to enjoy the look and ease of wood shutters so I added some to the lower part of the big window to provide privacy yet allow light in.

I had been thinking a lot about fireplaces.  For generations, a fireplace was where families huddled together to stay warm and even cook.  Fireplace mantels became a major focal point of design since people wanted something else to look at besides the calm, flickering fire.  Although modern forced-air allows heat to efficiently enter any room, it did take away the need for people to come together in one room.  After giving it some thought, we felt it would be cheaper and just as efficient to put a new gas fireplace in the middle of the old house.  We spend most of our time here anyway and I like the idea of a central heated area to eat meals, entertain etc..  Also, the flames on these new gas heaters look astonishingly like the real thing and is much safer and cleaner than wood burning.

So we began to update our bland wall heater, which came with the house, to a more efficient new direct-vent gas fireplace.  I found a good company on Ebay after reading the horrible Yelp reviews on all the Bay Area fireplace companies.   The company I used is called 'Embers Fireplaces' located in Central California and their products were affordable and great as was the customer service.  I highly recommend them.

After a bit of research on fireplaces, I settled on first installing a small brick hearth made of antique bricks found in our yard and other places.  I harvested a 'Carnegie' brick from the patio outside and matched it with bricks that had a wide range of colors.

Following framing and installation of the firebox and vent, I did more research on fireplace mantels and found that most of the pictures showed mantels that were usually all one color-white.  The Victorian style mantels were audacious and extremely expensive and I wasn't sure if it would work in the small main room.  So after some thought, decided to build a custom wrap-around mantel using salvage pieces and some brand new Poplar wood boards.  I learned that ordering specialty Victorian tiles would take several days and I was eager to finish so I found about 30 stone tiles, with a lot of character, at salvage for $6.

When I put it all together, we liked the two-tone look of the dark wood against the greenish-poplar and decided to work with it.  The corbels and legs came from a custom kitchen cabinet and the artwork from my sister. I guess I had to build a fireplace to fit the art! 

I spent an extra $125 for the faux brick look inside the firebox and it was well worth it.  It looks great and much better than leaving it all black.  Like a rockstar, Andrea is called in to bring music to the wall with her sponge technique.

I put in the shelving and coated the stone and brick with a water-based gloss substance, that is used on tile, to give it that "wet look" and viola!, a new efficient gas fireplace with custom mantel.


And Now

And I final triptych pic the captures the mental-visual process.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ghost Town Farm visit

We met Novella Carpenter and her daughter Francis at her Ghost Town Farm tour on Saturday. I bought a jar of honey produced from her bee hive. It was cool to meet her especially since we live in the same hood.

Our garden is currently producing lots of zucchini, lemon & green cucumbers, cherry plums, and blackberries. More pictures and notes to follow soon.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Resuming Restoration

We've started the process of restoring the 3rd wall and floor in what we call the "living room".  In the past it served as the main eating room with fireplace or some kind of heating source.

Our task is to remove the carpet and remove all the paint and gunk on the original hardwood floors as well as remove the paint off the original wainscot and window trim.  We are replacing the windows with double hung dual panes and will gently pry off the wainscot so we could add insulation behind it.

Of course there will be general repairs along the way.  The plaster wall is in good shape and just needs a skim good to smooth it out.  Then Andrea applies her sponge painting technique which will make the wall look like a custom wallpaper feature that blends with the other walls.

Our budget is about $1000 to complete all this and hope to use recycled items in good shape when needed. We will do all the restoring but will most likely hire a professional floor sander to come in and do all the rooms at once

So far, we spent about $100 on paint scraping materials and found an used double hung window for $65 that will fit just right in the large window section.  I did order a brand new small double pane window from Home Despot but that will take TWO WEEKS to be delivered.  Why buy new when I can find a good salvage one at a fraction of the price and within a day or two??

We had paint leftover from the previous work and found a few old floor pieces to replace the plywood section near one of the walls.