what we should for wood (floors and sills)

Getting close to having to choose wood for the wood floors on the stairs and second floor. Probably ideally we would choose cypress for the floors to match the wood elsewhere in the house. However, I don't think cypress is that great a wood for floors since it's kinda soft.

So the wood we're really lusting after is hickory. It looks very neoplastic (and we dig neoplastic):

According to the Lumber Liquidators, those liquidators of lumber, hickory is the hardest North American wood. That sounds like it would be good for floors. Now hickory ain't no Australian Buloke with a janka of 5,060, but it comes in at a respectable 1,820 (white oak comes in at 1,360 calling into question the claim hickory is "North America's hardest wood").

We also need to chose wood for the window sills. The builder says that it's unusual for a modern house to have window sills spec'd for it. Usually windows in modern houses have drywall returns; however, our architects have specified unpainted wood for the sills. The architects originally spec'd ipe, a super dense wood (janka = 3,684) that would be great for sills, especially if some yahoo sets their beer on one. However, ipe is quite dark, and we prefer lighter wood, especially since the installed cypress is lighter in tone. The builder was a little concerned about mixing too many types of wood (we were concerned too), so the architects suggested oak stained such that it evokes the other wood. We're cool with that.

Speaking of window sills, the question came up on how them sills needed to look. There are several options.

The aforementioned drywall return:

(image from here)

The Mies-van-der-Rohe-rolling-in-his-grave sill:

(image from here)

The you-got-a-real-purdy-mouth sill:

(image from here)

The stick-out-a-wee-bit-on-the-sides sill:

(image from here)

And then what we will be doing: The sticking-straight-out-,-dude! sill:

(image from here [German; how appropriate!])

Nice and clean (and neoplastic to boot!). Rietveld approved, we reckon. We likes.

Why fret about the sill? They can be important features for certain occupants...

(image from here)


week 32: cabs and touches

The big news this week is built-ins, cabinets, and some finishing touches on the outside.


The carpenter stopped by over the past week to carpent. He put in rods and shelves in all the closets.

One side of the master closet:

The other side of the master closet:

We didn't do anything fancy (we're not fancy people...): Single pole for half of each side and double-pole for the other half.

We also requested a single pole/double-pole split for one of the upstairs closets:

With access needed to the ERV, couldn't do double-pole on both sides (and probably wouldn't have gone that way regardless).

We had single pole installed in the other upstairs closet:

Forgot to check the coat closet, so hopefully there a pole in there as well!

The other thing the carpenter installed were the built-in cabinets in the living room:

We spec'd 'em to be painted white, but they sure look good wood when paired with the cypress ceiling. They could probably still be sealed natural, but, as the carpenter noted, he chose less savory wood, especially for the back, since they're supposed to be painted. Nonetheless, we're thinking we'll leave the fronts of the drawers sealed as natural wood to add a wee bit o color on that wall and visually tie the wall in with the ceiling.

Speaking of the drawers, they soft close!

Whoop! Whoop!

One thing that we weren't able to do was have the shelves extend across the space without center support, something the plans called for:

This would have been ideal since the horizontal dimension would have been emphasized with the dimensions of the shelves echoing the dimensions of the windows above. However, the carpenter felt that wooden shelves that long would warp over time, especially since we plan to put books and antique electric fans on those shelves. I wasn't completely pleased with that, so I requested that the center supports extend the minimal possible distance out from the back to support the shelves. Unfortunately, that got lost in translation, since it didn't happen. And if anything, the completed product emphasizes the verticality of the support (it extends out farther than the shelves). At the end of the day, no big deal: They still look nice. But it does cause a problem other than not obliging my unhealthy fixation on the horizontals: LEDs are supposed to run across the entire length of the upper shelf.

That thar wire connects to LEDs that extend to this side of that center support...

Someone's gonna have to drill a fair-sized hole in the center supports to get 'em to work.


The cabinets are here! The cabinets are here! The cab installer (no, not a bartender...) spent a chunk of Friday putting cabinets together (what needs to be put together) and arranging them in the appropriate parts of the house. They look nice!

Cabs in the buds-n-suds room:

Cabs in the kitchen:

There's a bunch more boxes in the master bedroom (not shown). I suspect they'll get all arranged and ready over the next week...

floors revealed

You may have noticed from several of the photos above that the floor protection is up. The floor is pretty dusty, but we're getting more of a sense what the final floors will look like. The sealant unexpectedly (for us, at least) darkened the floor more than we thought it would. But it's still pretty nice. There are a few cracks already in the slab (to be expected, sadly...), but they've interacted with the sealant in a weird way:

Where there's a crack, the concrete is light gray. Not sure what the final finish will look like, but this is what the floor looks like at the moment...

dat art wall

I don't think we highlighted it last week, but the art wall came out great clad in cypress.

Those black pillars will get silverized to match the anodized aluminum (if not covered with anodized aluminum).


The doors are back in. They will all be painted white...

cypress to impress

We are just loving the cypress on the house. It really makes the place pop! And we really dig how the inside and outside visually connect via the cypress. All those early machinations with those huge beams allowed this detail.

white walls

They finally painted the walls on the "front porch" white (been driving me crazy...). Looks nice-nice-nice!

last of the limestone

Earlier today (7:15 according to an angry neighbor...) the cladders finished the limestone around the corner. They had to chip off the base quickset and then directly quickset the lime directly to the mesh. Seems to have worked...

plucking eyebrows

The builder removed the scaffolding out front so we now have an unadulterated view of the front eyebrow:

Frida Kahlo would be proud!

The plans call for anodized aluminum to visually connect the windows to each other. Not sure if that's going to happen since the builder was concerned about sealing issues....

 it's green again

The trees have really greened up over the past few weeks, so it's neat to see how they impact sunlight on the house. This one back yonder by the master bedroom is already doing a nice job of shading that side of the house.

I took a few minutes to check out how much direct sun was shining through the southern windows. Some, but not much. It will be interesting to see how much comes in once summer is fully upon us. 

tile for awhile

The tile work, for whatever reason, has stopped. However, the floor tile has shown up. I played around with how we should arrange 'em. The tilers were playing with having them laid out like brick work, but I think a quarter offset will be better:

 can I see you pee?

 The square window in the powder room located over the toilet peers out onto the front entry area:

That has me wondering: How much of that window do we need to frost to keep peering eyes from seeing peeing (or pooping!)? Some of it? All of it? None of it?

Some pals that live around the corner engaged me in conversation on this matter, which prompted several bouts of simulated urination and attempted (accidental?) peeping tommage. In daylight, at least, it seems difficult to see in the window, although things might be different if a light was on inside. In darkness, I think, it will be easy to see right in when interior lights are on. Not sure you would be able to see a squatter (will need to test that...), but you would definitely see a stander.

View out the window if you were (ahem) taking care of bidness...

We'll wait until everything is in (pooper, lights) before making a decision, but I'm thinking a partial frosting (half) will be in order.

orphaned outlets and plugs

Spent some time today somewhat methodically looking for orphaned outlets and plugs. By orphaned, I mean they were drywalled over and not cut out. I reckon the electrician will do this once he re-enters the building-the-house picture (I hope he has a master plan...), but I've found three orphans so far: An orphaned can light in the kitchen, the doorbell chime box, and a plug in the laundry room. One of the things I haven't blogged about yet is documenting everything in the walls before insulation goes in. We did this with a video camera. Good thing, because I wondered if a plug was missing in the laundry room, and I was able to confirm it with the video.

Orphaned plugs are concerning because if no one notices one, once the power is turned on, there's a good chance of fire. That would really suck at this point!

coming up...

Fencing: Should get started. Several convos over the past week on design and materials and whatnot.

Cabinets: They should be getting done.

Countertops: Once the cabinets are in, the countertops will get measured.

Horno: Is done and should be arriving next week.


Remember the Borg? From Star Trek?

The Borg were these part human-part machine things (and they were not good things). For example, they tried to take over Captain Picard:


While recently checking out a Modern addition to a more traditional house at Modern Austin, the term "Borgitecture" came to mind: Assimilating the old into the new (whether you like it or not).

It's not an easy thing to do, and oftentimes (by our eyes) the results aren't good (to be fair, we believe making any addition, especially substantial ones, are difficult to do well). However, in the hands of a capable architect with the right source material, it can be done.

Here's the house I was looking at, a place that just came up for sale in Austin:

In my opinion, that doesn't do too bad fusing Modern to proto-bungalow. Nice job.

Here's another photo I came across of what I would consider a successful fusion:

The addition swings off the exiting house. Borglike, but perhaps a better Borg.

There are others that just (hmmmm....) don't do it for me. I call 'em ploppers: modern additions plopped next to or on top of the previous structure:

One common approach for modern additions is, well, let's call it mulletecture: Business in the front, party in the back.

In mulletecture, the house maintains its original street presence (important if the house is in a historic zone) but goes all spaceship in the back:

exhibit A:

exhibit B:

At one point, when we gave up on finding a lot we could afford (before we expanded our search radius), we considered adding onto our house:

The second story is the would-be addition...

Ultimately we couldn't do it. The designed addition didn't do it for us aesthetically, it wasn't moneying out (losing a bedroom to a staircase to add a bedroom and a bathroom), and we couldn't bring ourselves to do it to a 100+ year old house (as goofy as it sounds, we wanted to "honor" the house, the same reason we didn't want to scrape the house to build a new one).

In the end, as with pure modernism, the result has to be honest. Honest Borgitecture.

Does that even exist?