September 27, 2013

Escherian Visions

If M. C. Escher were still with us, you would find him perched on a stool across from the house, with his easel set up and pencil in hand. As the painting continues, the house has become buried in a crazy retinue of ladders. Up down, in, out, every way you can imagine is now available.

The redwood gutter is about to go up on the front of the house, along with all of the trim for the front porch. Columns are completely stripped of paint, sanded and sculpted, primed and ready to be filled.
Fiber glass column bases are on their way from back east (they will never rot again!) and molding for the new column pedestals are being cut as I write. Two new capitals will join three originals, and we will finally be ready to finish the porch. Got to hurry! Halloween is coming fast and we need to decorate!

Pick a ladder, climb on up and sit for spell!


August 20, 2013

We have the house painting Grays

It all began seven weeks ago, and the forecast is easily another four to six weeks to go, and we are only doing the three story section of the house this year. We certainly have hired the absolute, with out a doubt, correct person for this job, Timothy Hilton, Earthtone Painting, is in charge of the sealing up and painting of the house. Seven weeks of burning paint, scraping, sanding, burning paint, scraping, sanding, priming, sanding, filling, sanding, priming, filling, sanding, priming, caulking, priming, filling, sanding.... Will it never end? But, the work is impeccable and for one hundred and forty three year old surfaces, it is looking better than we could have hoped for.

We are personally doing all of the rebuilding and are barely keeping up Timothy. It began with once again removing the front porch from the house, and then all of the quoins from the corners. Quoins are the trim blocks that make the corners appear to be made of stone blocks, very Italianate.

Ladder up, and ready to take her down

Porch parts everywhere

Columns waiting their turn to burn

And burn we are, with a blow torch!

The porch restoration, the paint removal from the columns specifically, is part of what we agreed to do ourselves. We have both used chemical stripper, and heat guns in the past, but the job of removing all of the old paint from the columns would never get done with either of those methods, so out came the blow torch. Fire up, don't be timid, and use a handy high tech tool for scraping away the burned paint, an old large tablespoon. Work fast and watch for smoldering! As we work on the porch, we also stripped away moldings from the bay windows, and the quoins from the corners of the house. The front of the house is southern exposure and the sun has destroyed so many of the small pieces due to the negligence of the former owners. The moldings and quoins are being copied in redwood and cypress.

Here we go, Timothy begins the burning

Timothy and his part time helper

Just before the quoins are removed from the house

Layers and layers of paint burned away, and now the sanding begins

New Flashing for the bay windows

ANd did I forgat to mention a ridge vent?

Gray primer and the filling commences

All of the plants surrounding the foot of the house are about to be seriously cut back

New skirting finally on the lower sides of the house

A closer view of the smoothing of the old siding

Another close view

Electric and gas lines finally exposed for the lighting

The East side in case you thought we were missing it

Timothy has been using the battleship gray primer as it really helps him to see the flaws, and this of course is making everyone in town confused and crazy.

The final colors are still somewhat in flux as our original gray looked, well, simply wrong when sampled. We now have a color pretty firmly in mind, but with the "White Faction" practically picketing in front of the house, we are keeping it a secret. Just know that the house will not be white.

Now it is back out into the yard for me. I have columns to burn, and quoins to install!


May 17, 2013

Got Up and Went

The spring has found us moving at a snails pace. Perhaps our "get up and go", got up and went!
We are both trying to get in gear, but at the same time we have been having a lot of fun! And that is a nice change. That is not to say that we have been completely idle. We have still been working on the deck - the wrap around porch.

With all of the super structure complete and the deck boards laid, we turned our attention to the upper layer. It has seemed for a long time that we would never complete the upper deck, but at long last we added the joists and (cursing every step of the way) covered it with T&G pressure treated plywood. Before winter comes we will install a water proof, aluminum decking that will keep the underside 100% dry and allow us to walk out onto it from the Master Bedroom.

At this point it is about creating the reality of that grand hotel porch. That means a ceiling! I received a few quotes for new tongue and groove beadboard, and like most lumber quotes, I had to have a little sit down after reading them. $1200-$1500 just seemed a bit high for a ceiling. It is true that for a fraction of the cost we could have done an artificial beadboard by using sheets of plywood that look like beadboard... but I couldn't do it

So we marched ourselves out to the salvage pile. An afternoon of sorting and piling left us with what we hoped would be enough 1 x 4 tongue and groove flooring from a section of the house we tore down. Another few evenings and afternoons of de-nailing and planing we were ready to begin the ceiling. Now mind you that this lumber had been rather hastily removed from the old section of the house and the tongue and groove that should allow you to nail it in place with no nails showing, was in poor shape at its best. Hours of fussing and surface nailing bought us finally to the last board, and it looks pretty damn good. A decent priming, sanding and nail hole filling, and we will be ready for paint!

Joists in place and ready for covering
The last shot looking up and through

Batons being applied so that the ceiling boards will run perpendicular to the house
The finished ceiling, and the boxed beams, next... columns!
Temporary seating so more fun can be had!

If you happen to see our "get up and go" wandering around somewhere, please phone us up!
It's time for the boys to get their proverbial butts in gear!


It has been reported that the missing "get up and go" has been spotted! It is being returned, and just in time! This reporter has learned that a new rendering has been presented at 227 North Street, and a beginning date has been chosen. Healdsburg hold your breath...  Starting July first 2013, the home at the corner of North and Fitch will no longer be white as it ALWAYS has been. Using our own private investigators, under cover agents, and a secret source at WikiLeaks, we present to you the future!


March 06, 2013

A shameless plug

I thought today I would take a different route in my posting and let you know what it is I do, besides working on this big old house.

Mostly these days I am a graphic designer specializing in branding, logos, print material and website/email images. Most of my work is in the wine industry, but I have branched out into medical, theaters, and the food business. I am always looking for more clients, so if you need my services let me know.

I also am a paper engineer... a what???   a paper engineer, or one who creates popup books. I have a small line of popup books that are photobooks, and we sell them directly to the consumer. These are some shots of the books that are available and if you find you can't resist please visit...

The Baby Book

Add yourt own pictures to the popups

Toys and your photographs

A teddy bear to love

Climb on!

A mobile and more photos

The Memory book

Place your own photographs in the frames and add information

More space for photographs

Lots of space for adding memories

and more

This is where Phillip said he came from... "Found in a Cabbage Patch"

Locks of hair and more photographs

This where I was told I came from... "the Baby Store!"  The blocks are small photo frames to track growth for the first year

Family members go here in small photo frames, some that are part of the popup

The first birthday page

There are two more books available at sale prices on our website, and two that are out of print and out of stock, except a couple of each from my private stock. Check them all out at....

March 05, 2013

Lifts, Beams, and Bells

Is it spring yet? The sun has been paying us an ongoing visit, the daffodils are in bloom, and the trees are beginning to flower! Still chilly at night, but this weather has finally given us a chance to get some work done. Up the ladders to build the second layer of our deck. The structure is almost complete, which means that this weekend we will be able to unbolt the upper master bedroom doors for the first time since we installed them, three years ago. Once the upper structure is complete we can begin the trim out, railings, columns, and finishes. The concept is loosely inspired by the porch of a Grand Hotel, but on a much smaller scale. Beadboard ceiling, flat baluster railing, weighty railing posts, columns, boxed beams, clean moldings,  and a twelve foot wide staircase will all combine to create the effect. Add a flock of white rocking chairs and tall iced teas and we will be ready for summer!

The porch of the Grand Hotel

The lower decking is installed and when the weather warms up we will be able to clean, sand and stain it. The posts for the railings are bolted inplace and ready for boxing in. The three main support uprights for the upper deck are in place, bolted down, and the simpson buckets are screwed on top awaiting the twenty six foot long, four by twelve, cross beam. To the rental company we went and came home with a gizmo called a beam lift. Simple contraption that allowed us to balance the beam on its two forks, lift it sixteen feet in the air, slide it forward and gently lower it into the simpson buckets.

Our weekend help, Brent and Fabian, making sure the lift is centered on the beam

Beam going up!

Phillip at the helm

Keep going

Fabian to the right

Brent to the left

Fabian to the right, Brent to the left, I was in the center. We pulled the beam forward on the lift and settled it down into the buckets.

Easy does it

Ready for securing

Time for the floor joists

We move on to the joists for the floor above.

Ready for inspection and surfacing

The master bedroom doors that have been sealed up

Dining room doors and Office doors

Around the corner, outside of the kitchen

Also around the corner, looking back toward the two layer end

Tomorrow the inspector comes and then we can begin the fun part, trimming it all out! We have some of the elements already and but we have a lot of things to conceptualize, details to consider, and pieces to locate and buy. But the next steps are my favorite part of the process. Making it pretty!

An Aside

A side note for today. We all watch Downton Abbey and marvel at the grandeur of an existence like that. I particularly love the opening shot of the servants bells. I would love a row of them in our kitchen and be able to ring them whenever I wanted something. Of course I would have to get up and get whatever it is myself, but its a fun thought. I just really like the look of them. Then I discovered that the kitchen scenes in Downton Abbey are actually shot on a set in a studio, and the bells are not actually real. Well they are real bells, but not actually in the house. Kind of sad. I have wondered for a while where the scenic designer found the bells and today by accident I found them!

How fun! They come with a mechanism that will pull the cord and ring the bell using a push button wired like a doorbell. Now I just need to figure out how to do that wirelessly and we would be good to go! I want to install eight of them in a row above the Kitchen triple window, with buttons in the dining room, living room, library, master bedroom, and the four guest bedrooms.

Now all we need is to import those people necessary for making this all work...
A Butler, a footman, a valet, an upstairs maid, a downstairs maid, and a cook!