Thursday, November 21, 2013

DESIGN IDEA: Mix & Match Plumbing Trim

I have mentioned in at least a couple prior posts the vast amounts of brand new, super high end Waterworks plumbing I have picked up cheap on Craigslist.  Anyway, now that the plumbing is all roughed in, it is time to figure out which trim kits we are going to use.  The problem is, we don't have enough matching trim kits for all the various locations in our master bath -- not even for the shower alone.  By itself, the master shower requires five different trim items - 3 controls and 2 outlets:

  1. thermostatic valve control
  2. overhead shower volume control
  3. overhead shower arm and head
  4. hand shower volume control
  5. hand shower wall outlet and hand shower assembly
So, while we have an abundance of great parts, they aren't going to match.  And, keep in mind, there are two ways they can match or not match: style and metal finish.  I am pretty comfortable with the handle styles not matching, but having dramatically mismatched metals might be a little harder to get okay with (e.g., vintage brass and chrome, or polished nickel and brushed nickel).

So, what do we think of these two mismatched lads for spots #2 and #4?

They are both polished chrome, although the one on the left is a little warmer in tone as a result of the way the nickel was applied to the brass before it was chromed (newsflash (to me at least): a layer of nickel is commonly used underneath other metals when plating brass because it gives better connection - basically, nickel is the primer of electroplating).

And then we would use one of these vigorous gentlemen for spot #1:

and this frolicsome lass for spot #5:

And finally, looming overhead will be this friendly 10 inch (and 10 pound) rain shower on an 18 inch arm at spot #3:
Yes, we are going to get there.  One way or another, I am going to shower up in that house by next Spring.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

B&B Reads Our Brains, Steals Kitchen

Am I wrong, or is this what we are talking about? Everything on legs, square sink, I've even been digging wooden counters, pipe shelving, subway tile, vintage stove, EVERYTHING!
At some point I will post more kitchen inspiration images to show what I mean by "moody", but I just saw this on Remodelista and had to post. From a recently opened B&B in Hudson, NY whose aesthetic is right up our alley. 

I love this tile. They link to American Restoration tile, which sells this hex in patterns. Cool! I know we have our kitchen floor, but I love this. Good to know.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

ACQUISITION: Fortuny Chandelier - it is ours

We drove out to the Jerz today to see this light fixture I found on CL.  The seller agreed to drop the price down to a number I was comfortable with so we bought it.  I had to get up on a ladder and uninstall it from her ceiling, so that was a tiny adventure.  Overall fairly simple.  

Here it is in the trunk of our car.

This thing is really big and really cool looking.  It is about 33 inches across and has a three-bulb fixture that hangs down in it.  Basically, it is awesome.  It is going to look amazing hanging from the center of that high vaulted ceiling in our master suite.  Hooray!!

Now we have to figure out where to store the thing until it is time to install it - although that time is not more than a month or two away! Indeed, we could install it now if we weren't concerned about it ending up covered with dust from ongoing work.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

DESIGN IDEA: Master Bedroom Light Fixture (Oh, hello again, Mr. Fortvny)

I mentioned in a post a couple years ago that I was fond of the Fortuny hanging silk light fixtures.  I didn't realize that they do the same shape and style fixtures in Venetian glass.  Anyway, here are the offerings at this very moment from ebay and craigslist:

This one is glass and is on Craigslist for $499.  It takes three bulbs, which is good since our ceiling is high and the room large and oddly shaped.  Methinks it very very pretty.

This one is silk and does not have the ornate designs like the one I saw at BIG  years ago.  A pair of these are on ebay right now for $2000 for the pair.  they only take one bulb so not as much light, but I do like the simplicity.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Painting the Subfloor

I am beyond okay with the idea of painting our subfloor in the bedroom and main room, while putting off doing the reclaimed-wood-floor-of-our-dreams thing. We're just gonna put down rugs anyway! Psh! We save money, get to do some diy but not the really hard stuff JUST as winter approaches, and we get to keep our eyes peeled for the flooring of our dreams that is out there somewhere.

One thing to keep in mind -- the bedroom is all full of nails from the floor getting ripped up. Ouch.

People paint their subfloors all over the internets. There's a million of these, but check it out:

DESIGN IDEA: DIY Fireplace Veneer - Reclaimed Roofing Slate

For three years now I have been waiting and looking for ways that I can do some work on our house myself.  Up until now everything has involved big power tools and some knowledge of construction (or so it has seemed) so I have left it to the "professionals" (quotation marks intended!).  What's more, we have been looking for ways to use reclaimed materials and so far we have had no luck getting any contractors to jump in and embrace our vision.  But the moment has arrived.  This fireplace veneer project is clearly a DIY opportunity and any DIY opportunity is an opportunity to try using reclaimed materials. 

With that in mind, I have been looking for reclaimed slate or bluestone tiles.  What I have discovered is that used roofing slate has three qualities that make it a good candidate for this project:
  • abundant
  • cheap
  • easy to cut
At this very moment there is a woman in Queens selling old roofing slate tiles for fifty cents a pop.  Here is the pic from her posting:

I emailed her and she says I can pick through the pile and take the ones I want.

I also watched a few videos on how to cut slate roof tiles and it is so simple that a 7 year-old can do it!  Here is my favorite video: 

And look! Slate is so easy to cut that this person made a slate moose mosaic on their roof:

Traditional Roofing Magazine #8 - Ornamental Slate Roofing

The one thing I can't find online is images of examples of other peoples' reclaimed roofing slate veneer projects.  Mostly, people who seek uses for reclaimed slate seem to just paint a border on a big tile and then write their dinner menu on it or some such quaint thing.  Bummer.  If we go this route, we might be the first to write about it.  No promises.  Just an idea.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

DESIGN IDEA: Stone Face Hearth

It turns out that these two stone options which we like are both sold as 6"x24" tiles with glue backing holding the pieces together.  They cost $12 @ sq. ft. and we need to cover approximately 64 Square Feet.

I am told this one is probably slate.  The hearthstone is a honed and polished bluestone or slate - we still need to get the hearthstone.

And this one is something like quartzite or some other stone.  Dunno what for sure, but it isn't bluestone.
One advantage of this stuff is that because it comes as tiles it can be installed as tile with quick set tile adhesive, so we we can have our tile guy do it and won't need to hire a stone mason -- and that is a good thing because the last thing I want is to have to find and deal with yet another contractor.  What we spend on the tile we will probably save on the install.


From The New Yorker, October 14, 2013, pg. 87

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

DESIGN IDEAS: Fireplace/Hearth Veneers

There is still a lot to do on the house, but on the top two floors we have finally come to the point where we need to pick out surface finishes (as evidenced by all the recent posts about flooring tile and hardwood.  Despite being at that point, we are putting off a lot of finish work and trying to just focus on those elements of the house that need to be finished before we can get a C of O (the Certificate of Occupancy is the Building Department's stamp of approval for people to occupy a building and a prerequisite for getting normal homeowners' insurance and a mortgage).  So, for instance, we don't actually have to put down flooring to get the C of O.  Instead, we are allowed to just paint the floors and then put down rugs - which is probably what we will do in the bedroom and living room.  

However, there are certain places where putting down the finishes is necessary to get the C of O.   Examples: (1) we need a working bathroom but you can't use an untiled shower so we have to tile the shower and we might as well tile the rest of the bath while we're at it; (2) we need a working kitchen but you cannot have a stove in a room without fire-rated sheetrock walls and ceiling so we have to decide what kind of stove ventilation and lighting we will use in the kitchen because vent and lighting rough elements must be installed before the sheetrock goes up.

And then there is the fireplace.  Although we are not required to have a working fireplace to get a C of O, it is a priority for us since we want the extra heat source so we can avoid big bills from using the electric baseboard heating.  It will be easy enough to have a fireplace installed since we are going to have a woodstove insert fireplace - all we have to do is call the store and have them come out and install the chimney liner and the stove of our choice.  The problem is that we don't want to pay to install the nice new fireplace insert before we have finished the fireplace surround/hearth.  Otherwise, we risk that the insert will have to be removed before the veneer is done or, worse, the insert could get damaged.

Here is the fireplace we need to finish:

Although we don't have photos of what it looked like before the fire, the bottom surface of the fireplace and the bench/ledge in front is a large bluestone slab so we assume the whole thing was faced in a bluestone veneer.  We have discussed just going with that again but, as with most things, the word "just" has no place in this process.  There are dozens of different shades of bluestone and even more styles of veneer.

Here are some examples:

I believe this is called "snap edge".  I like it, but not as much as the smoother finished looking stuff.
I like this A LOT!  What is this called?

Here are a few I like a lot, although some may not be ideally suited for our overall aesthetic.

This one I think would work well.

I like this a lot too - not sure we could do that break between snap edge and smooth.

One big slab - great looking but too contemporary I think.

Probably perfect for us.

Lovely but too contemporary.


I like this shape and size - but I want to keep it in a tighter blue/grey spectrum.
I like this style, but I don't really care for the gold and red stones.  I would prefer to keep it well within the grey/blue range.

Heavens, no!
Absolutely not.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Long Day Upstate

Wow! What a long day.
I took all that slate up to the house today.

I also took the stained glass window that I picked up at the same stoop sale yesterday.

While I was up there I began chipping away at the old tiles on the kitchen floor.  Unexpectedly difficult.  I spent around two hours hammering away at these things and I didn't even finish 20%. But I did manage to put a massive bruise on my left forearm from where I hit myself several times when the sledge hammer glanced off the top of the chisel I was using.  So, yeah, I hit myself in the arm repeatedly with a small sledge hammer.  What about it?!

One of my goals for today was to start cleaning up the old maple factory flooring that I bought three years ago and which has been sitting in our shed taking up half the floor space ever since.  I took rough measurements and now I need to figure out if we even have enough to cover the floor.  I think we might come up short.  And even if we do have enough in gross, we will net much less once I have ripped all the dirty edges off.

Remember this stuff?

What else?  I don't remember.  I'm really tired.

[UPDATE: This day's exertions resulted in a backache that lasted about three weeks.]

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Design Decision: Gauged Black Slate Kitchen Floors

To be clear, at the time of the last post, I had not yet purchased any slate.  I had only located a nice heap of it and negotiated a good price.  I then brought home a piece for consideration.

After some discussion and some web surfing, we determined that black slate is actually pretty fantastic looking for a kitchen floor. 

Some background: V has said a few times over the past month as we discussed kitchen floor material choices that she imagines something a little "moody" for the kitchen floor - "moodier" than honed white marble.  When I asked what "moody" means she said, basically, darker.  Then she put together that post of slate floors.  I get it now.
So, what did I get?

How did I find this slate? Simple.  I went out to check out a few stoop sales this morning while the baby was napping.  Notably, one of the stoop sale proprietors had advertised on Craigslist that she had some black slate floor tiles.  So, I went to her stoop sale and, after buying a stained glass window (to be featured in a subsequent post) and a large part of her collection of old photographic equipment, I remembered to ask about the slate (to be honest, I almost forgot about it - too distracted by the photo stuff).  

I was expecting her to say she had maybe ten to twenty 12"x12" slate tiles leftover from a renovation, but her answer exceeded all expectations.  At first she didn't know how much she had, but she said it was enough for the kitchen renovation she and her late husband had been planning 40 years ago and never got around to.  She explained that they only re-did their bathroom floor and then left the rest of the slate in the basement.  How much was there I asked again? She said she would check.  She went down to her basement and came back up with a single sealed box of black "gauged" slate tiles in various sizes which, all combined, added up to 10 Sq. Ft.  

I asked how many boxes she had and she said 27!! 270 Square Feet!  More than we need.
Anyway, the tiles are in a variety of sizes and the box includes two alternative layouts for arranging them in a repeating pattern.

I prefer this layout.

I don't like this layout as much because it will result in two 9x12 tiles being stacked one on top of the other in repeating pairs.
So, I took one 6"x6" tile home to show V.  But at this point I am thinking that I really like how this slate looks.  It is much smoother than the slate I am used to seeing.  The stony surface of it does not have the deep irregularities you often seen in slate but it still has plenty of character.  Apparently, "gauged" means that it has been ground down to a relatively regular thickness so it ends up smoother.  And it can be oiled to make it even deeper/richer looking.

Here is the sample tile I took home.
Once V saw it, she confirmed that it looks great.  Suddenly, we were both very excited about the slate - and not just because it was only $1 per Sq. Ft.  Actually, it is not such a huge discount since slate seems to sell for between $2.50 and $5 per Sq. Ft.   We just really like it.  

Anyway, I hadn't actually bought the slate at this point.  I had only brought home the one sample tile you see above and the seller had assured me she would hold it all for me.  Still, we wanted to be certain.  So, just to make sure we were positive, we drove down to Classic Tile to check out what else we might be able to get new in a reasonable price range.  We looked at a lot of tile and, in the end, there was nothing in or even close to our price range that we liked as much as the slate.  So, we pulled the trigger and bought two big bags of grout in a contrasting color (grout color choices to be discussed in a subsequent post).

I drove V and S home and then I went to pick up the slate.  It took more than a dozen trips down to the seller's basement to bring up 24 boxes.  I left the last 4 boxes behind - I can go buy them if I want, but I didn't want to overload my car too too much. 

Before I left with my haul, the seller showed me her bathroom floor, installed 40 years ago, made of this slate:

Nice, right?

So, now we have 240 square feet of gauged black slate quarried in Canada some time in the early 1970's.  A stone can't really be vintage though, can it?

Whatever, it is ours and tomorrow I meet with the tile guy.