Tuesday, 15 March 2011

In progress ironwork

Most days I feel like there will never actually be any decorative ironwork attached to the red brick building.  Then our architectural designer sends me this in progress photo from a visit he made today to our ironworker's workshop.  Thank you!!!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Roof garden inspiration

Yesterday we met off-site with a green roof company that we're thinking about hiring to install the drainage layer, drip irrigation system, soil and some of the hardscape for the roof garden.  They asked me to send them some images to convey what I hope our roof garden will look like.  I thought I'd share.

 This picture sums it up in a nutshell.  The only thing it's missing is an abundance of flowers and specifically of white flowers, since I intend for all of them to be that color.  Savannah, Georgia, comes closest to my garden ideal: a certain European formality overtaken by lushness and wild disorder.  The most important element in the red brick building's garden, I think, will be rampaging climbing plants, spilling over the parapet wall and iron railing, climbing up the brick wall of the headhouse and helping (along with some architectural elements) to camouflage the wall of our neighbors' building.  The level of green below is out of the question because we won't have enough soil depth to sustain plants of that size, but it certainly conveys the right feel:

Here are some climbers with the kind of form and vigor that I imagine:

We'll probably need to plant any dwarf fruit trees in pots scattered through the landscape, like so:

I imagine the garden paths to be made of stepping stones leading across a carpet of vegetation:

For frustrating drainage reasons, the patio needs to be made of a solid surface.  I'd much rather have this:

Or even something suspended over still water, like this:

Instead, I think this is the best we can hope for (sigh!):

The steps leading from the patio up into the garden would look gorgeous planted with groundcover, like these:

 In terms of outdoor furniture, I picture a high-top dining area.  This is my favorite outdoor bar table right now:

And for lounging in the garden, I'd like a daybed, probably an iron one with a canopy, so that shade-loving groundcover can grow beneath it and climbers can be trained up the posts and over the canopy to provide dappled shade:

I'm off to another meeting with the green roof company again right now, this time on site at the red brick building.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The fire escape and balcony doors are in

 The doors are in, but our sales guy made a mistake: the divided door that's been installed on the fire escape is supposed to be a single pane of glass, whereas the door that's installed on the second floor (where the balcony will be) is supposed to have a vertical bar in it.  Oops!  Our contractor has a call in to him to try to get the problem resolved.  Meanwhile, I actually think I might like the divided door at the fire escape better than a single pane door for that location.  Thoughts?

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The heat is on! Plus, Unit 2 kitchen cabinet framing

When I visited the red brick building this morning, I could smell something burning and it felt a bit warm when I walked in the front door.  No, our money pit had not caught on fire.  Rather, the HVAC guys had sodered some copper pipe and the heat was finally working!  Two members of the GC's crew were upstairs installing the door to the fire escape.  I should have a photo of that very soon.

In the meantime, here are a couple of photos of the recently-built framing for the kitchen peninsula in Unit 2.  The backs of the kitchen cabinets (lowers only) will be attached to the metal frames.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Inspiration for the built-ins in the living room

High on my list of "dislikes" for interiors is built-in cabinetry for storage.  I don't have a problem with seating or sleeping nooks, or with bookcases that are used to house books.  I just find that built-in cabinets look boring and generic 99.9% of the time. (Hence my horror of a kitchen-y looking kitchen.)

Nevertheless, we are on a quest to design some built-in storage around the living room fireplace.  It's pretty much a necessity given our open floor plan and two walls with a total of 12 windows on them.  Add that to my insistence that there be plenty of wall space to display art and you end up with nowhere to store anything while keeping it easily accessible.

Our two biggest worries are the T.V. (which we use to watch Mad Men once a week for the 13 weeks it's on and the occasional football game during football season - we watch most of our sports at restaurant bars) and the printer/scanner/fax.  We considered trying to hide the printer away in the closet in the exercise room/guest bedroom, but my boyfriend understandably wants it near where he'll be working and doesn't want to have to go upstairs to retrieve printed pages.  For some reason, the idea that in an alternate and completely counterfactual universe to the one we actually live in, we might invite people over to watch T.V. (the Superbowl!) suggests that the T.V. should be in a common space rather than a bedroom.  That pretty much leaves the living room.  (The headhouse has virtually no wall space 'cause of all its windows.)

I ransacked my files in search of possible styles for built-ins on either side of the fireplace.  Here are the results.

I love the height of the cabinets above: higher than a table but not so tall that you can't have art above them. (I also like the idea of resting it on them, as above, rather than nailing it into the wall.  That way it can be rotated more frequently.)  Glass doors won't work, though, because we need to hide our ugly electronics.

I like the idea of have a drawer above a cabinet door, as on the sideboard above.  I think it's a bit less predictable than what you usually see.  Or, for that matter, the idea of multiple drawers of wonky shapes and sizes, as in the image below.

Yes, yes, I know that the picture above is of a sideboard again, not a built-in (noticing a theme here?).  But I like the way it's on legs rather than going all the way down to the floor.  Might be a good way to make the space feel more expansive but give it greater structural strength than just hanging the cupboards off the wall.

Finally, here's my most traditional pick.  It's full height and maybe I only like it because it's styled with firewood.  I still worry that a row of doors like that would get old fast.

For now, it look like I'll be exploring options of a sideboard-like height or somewhat taller, with unusually-sized doors/drawers and perhaps with legs.

Progress on the rough work in the master bathroom

A couple of changes to the look of the master bathroom:  Prettiest, I think, are the two copper pans (one for the tub, one for the shower) that have been installed on the floor. 

They are, of course, going to be covered up with tile and are there for waterproofing rather than for aesthetic reasons.

One of our carpenters also built the framing for the hot and cold water taps and the tub filler.  You can see it, above, in front of the window with the thin white PVC lines run for hot and cold.

Finally, the thermostatic and volume control valves arrived for the shower after a two and a half week wait, so our plumber was able to install those:

Next up in the master bathroom, we need to agree on a sketch of the vanity area so it can be framed.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Framing the staircase to the headhouse

Our carpenters at the red brick building have been busy framing the staircase between the third floor and the expanded headhouse.  Other than the half-flight of steps just inside the front door of the building, this is the only staircase that is keeping its original footprint.  That means it's really steep and narrow and of course wouldn't be acceptable to modern building codes.  It took a while for us to work out exactly what the newel posts should look like and since the newel posts in this case double as the structural supports for all the stairs, nothing could be built until their look and dimensions were finalized.  In the end, we chose something simple, with a routered out arch design that echoes the arched shape of the panels that will be alternate with the spindles.

They even were at the red brick building on Saturday, working.  Here's what it looked like around noon:

All of the vertical components (risers, newel posts, spindles, panels) are going to be painted white.  The treads will be made of the same red birch as our floors.  It's so exciting to at last see progress on this part of the project and it will be great to be able to get up to the headhouse and roof again, especially since we've had a few days of warmer weather here.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Electrical layouts

This morning we spent two hours walking through the red brick building with the electrician to further solidify and specify the electrical layouts.  (We of course had to submit electrical plans to the city before they issued our building permit and we also had a long-ish meeting with the electrician at the architects' office to go over things around the time we hired him.)  Needless to say, two hours were not long enough to finish the entire building.  We did our whole unit but stopped before doing the tenants' units because it was freaking freezing in the RBB.  Hopefully another hour should do for the tenants' spaces, since they're smaller and less complex.

So no, we still don't have the two last doors in and no, the gas heat isn't on yet.  With regards the doors, I got a call yesterday telling me they were missing some frame expanders that they need in order to do the installation.  I ordered the expanders, which we'll hopefully have those by Friday.  In terms of the gas, the company did come to turn it on, but the plumbers hadn't done something they were supposed to do, so the gas company made a wasted trip.  Grrrrr to the plumbers.

Other than making the red brick building super-cold, this might not matter all that much since we got an email this morning from the wood flooring installer telling us that the hardwood floors - which, oh by the way, should have been delivered by now - aren't going to be here for at least three more weeks because the mill they were coming from went out of business.  Really.  And now the installer needs to source our wood from somewhere else.  All I can say is that we'd better get it for the same price, if we have to swallow this delay.