Sunday, December 30, 2007


Random images of holidazin'...


Holi-treein'. (You can see up its skirt!)



Cute small humans.

This is what happens when you let cute small humans hold the iphone.
Yes, the above photos were taken upside-down.

Swedish Sausage Party Attendees.
BLB attendee & bloodees.

Ok, here's it all in a whirl.


This is where the house used to be, one day after the pictures below.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


What I really wanted to write about today was not remodeling, but demolition. I had to finish the remodel blog entry, because I can’t get in the habit of leaving blogs hanging, and yet here I am much more interested in something else at the moment. Demolition.

See this house? It’s a nice duplex, built 1903, great hard wood, relatively level floors, good floor plans with a cute pantry (with a window!). Maybe you didn't notice that giant yellow machine idling next to it in the alley...
But maybe the litte guy will get your attention. That cute, sound house has a bad mortgage and no one paying its taxes, and, well, you all know what is coming.

This is all we've been talking about at architecture-work. It's an absolute waste. It's an offense to the universe, to tear down this perfectly sound, well-designed house and put it in a landfill. Why? All because some big lending companies and the real estate lobbyists drop-kicked the economy.

My Mentor Architect (we will call him AM) spent a good part of yesterday and some of today prying the birch trim and removing brass fixtures from the house. Once he showed interest, suddenly the Demo Man saw $'s and then he took off the big booty: two built-in birch buffets, two birch ice boxes. The demo man got tired though, so he sold the birch archways and balustrades to AM. Our side garden at the office is now a refuse lumberyard, but we already have one project in which the homeowner wants to use the birch baseboards.

We should start advertising how hip & sustainable we are, eh?

ReMod, ReTold

In the interest of clarity, and longevity, of story, I am going to start this tale anew. In the beginning, there was a wall. The wall was at a 45-degree angle to vertical, and had several large cracks along it, like roads through a rural area, in some country other than ours that has non-grid-pattern rural roads. The crack-roads followed the topography of the wall, which swelled outward in several places, like a bit of flesh around a mosquito bite. One day, as a demonstration of the doughy quality of these swells, I poked one with my finger. The swell, however, had grown beyond the doughy stage; it simply collapsed. A clump of plaster fell to the floor. Behold! My new wall:

And this was the state of the room when work began, a few moons ago. My previous post was a little misleading, as it shows a mixing together of living room and turret. In real life, however, the living room was worked on first, exclusively, while the turret was left untouched (and was in fact filled with furniture). So here is where the story more properly left off:
This view: looking South, toward the front of the house and the street.

I had advised my carpenter to use his judgment and patch where he could, remove and replace with sheetrock where necessary. Well, you can see where that led: nothing patchable above the knee-wall.
This view: looking North, toward the back of the house and the rest of the apartment. Please do note the lovely (and useless) 80s vintage light fixture in the center of the image. For the record, plastic "walls" do not actually contain sheetrock dust, contrary to popular belief.

Wall with new sheetrock! Living room! What a happy result after having to rewash clean dishes every morning. The white dust, it's everywhere....
Wall with new sheetrock! Living room.
A little sideways window repair.
Now with paint! And for the very observant--without carpet! Actually, maybe that's the other way around. That dark surface you see is what we found under the lovely beige carpet: surprise! a stained floor. The subfloor is a rough but lovely wide-plank variety, which unfortunately will have to be covered again at some point, in the interest of dulling the sound transmission to the apartment below.
Living room, in a moment of relative presentability. In summary, what's been done as of this photo: bad plaster removed, insulation filled in as necessary, windows taken apart and put back together, new sheetrock, new paint, bye-bye carpet hello shiny, rough floor boards.

And with that stage of the mess completed, we will move onto the turret. For those who might be new to the story, I live in what is commonly called a Queen Anne Victorian, which among other features (asymmetrical craziness and a roof that makes a grown roofer cry), prominently features a tower to store princesses in. Since my tower's (former) princess decided to move to NYC, I decided to tear it up.

To start with, the turret is a 10' x 10' octagon in plan, and had a somewhat oppressive 7'-2" ceiling height. No wonder the princes fled--her turret was a cramped box. The ceiling was in good shape, so it was with a small amount--only a small amount--of remorse that we cut into the flat, crackless sheetrock to reveal... plaster. So we cut through the layer of plaster to reveal... what can that be?

So, yes, this is the inside of the turret's "witch's hat" complete with beams. Yes, those lines on there are plaster lines from the former ceiling, which was, once again, at 7'-2" from the carpet. Somewhere in this time period I began referring to the beams as the turret's "snowflake." And though the carpenter (and his father) thought I was crazy, but I would not let them cut them out. No, I insisted that he cut the sheetrock around all eight-times-three of them.

It feels a little more lofty in the turret now. The sheetrock (slowly, and perhaps a little painfully) was puzzle-piece fitted around the beams. J made a custom (star-shaped ;) ) face plate for the joint of star. The dark little shapes are where fixtures will someday live. The moulding is just to look fancy.
The princess even came to visit, so we had a little party:

Oh turret fun.
This is the first snowfall. Someone didn't get their leaves cleaned off their roof. Bad homeowner. OK. this has nothing to do with the reMod.