Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Copper on headhouse is nearing completion

And it's lookin' good!  The metalworkers just have one or two pieces to apply to the facade:

Then they have to hang the copper gutter on the headhouse and attach the scupper that will catch the water the rain drives into the gap between the redbrickbuilding and the neighbor behind us. 

 (The copper hangers for the scupper are already in.)  One more day should do it and the work is scheduled for this coming Monday.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Tenants' staircases and the thinbrick has arrived

Our carpenters have shifted their focus to the finish work on the five staircases in the red brick building.  Last week they focused on the simplest staircases - the ones in the tenants' units.  Here's what Unit 1's stairs look like now:

And this is Unit 2:

In other news, I chose and bought the thinbrick for the master bathroom's walls and floor and it was delivered late last week. 

After much internal debate, I got the more expensive of the two products that were available and I'm already glad I did.  In a project with so many new materials and finishes, anything that can add some texture and age will be very, very welcome.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Copper progress on the headhouse

The red brick building's sheet metal workers have been busy bending copper around the wood framing on the exterior of the headhouse.  It's very shiny now but is supposed to patina quickly.

One more day's work should see the job completed.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Starting the finish carpentry for the windows

The majority of the wood trim arrived at the red brick building late last week so our GC's crew has been working on the finish carpentry for the windows.  They're not adding the actual window casing yet, just finishing off the boxes, putting in the stools and sills:

The basement level's windows don't need trim (it's all drywall around the windows) and they're mostly finished the first floor (tenants' kitchens and living rooms) so nearly half the floors are done.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Form for headhouse copper facing

Late last week our carpenters added the wood trim pieces which determine the shape of the copper facing on the exterior of the headhouse.

Now the coppersmith is in the process of bending the sheets of copper around the wood form on all the walls that have windows in them.  (The remaining wall will be faced with thin brick tile.)

Saturday, 21 May 2011

First photos of the wood floors in our unit

The wood flooring installers reappeared at the red brick building late in the week and began cutting and laying the chevron pattern floor on our living/dining/kitchen level.  They warned us several times that it's going to be much slower going than the work they did in the tenants' units because the pieces of wood are much smaller, need to be but at 45 degrees on both ends and are then routered at the ends so that there are tongues and grooves on all four sides.  We spent a couple of hours in an intense discussion.  First we asked which way the pattern should run (the stripes emphasizing the long length of the open space or from side to side across the much shorter width of the building).  Once we settled that question, we debated whether they should be perpendicular to the front wall of the building or to the back wall, or whether the installers should split the difference.  (Remember, none of the red brick building's walls are parallel to each other.)  In the end, we decided that they should split the difference so that the area rugs don't look so crooked at one end or the other.  Dealing with these peculiarities of the RBB are definitely not my favorite thing.  I really wish it had less freakish proportions since that would simplify decisions immeasurably.

Here's what the floor looks like now:

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Photos of the bathroom tile in Unit 1

 I finally took some snaps of the tile work in Unit 1's bathroom.  It's done, except for the grout for the floor.  I'm planning to use a light gray.  The tub area with tub/shower valve lower left:

Below is the tiled alcove at the foot of the tub.  It's going to have a couple of glass shelves cut to fit inside.

The wall where the pedestal sink and toilet are going to be: 

The floor, pre-grout:
The blueboard at the top of the photo is the tub skirt.  We're going to have a mirror cut to fit it.  Top right is the opening to a tiny closet for a cleaning product and toilet paper stash.

The tile guy moved over to Unit 2's bathroom part way through the day.  It looks like we're going to have juuuuust enough of the 3x6 to do Unit 2, which is great, cuz I could live without another trip to the tile store and without another cash outlay.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Paint colors: Round Two

I have a confession: I didn't take photos in the red brick building over the weekend so I don't have new ones to share with you.  Bad, I know, but I forgot.  In case you didn't notice from the image quality, I'm not so into photography.  Anyway, I'm sorry and I'll try to take some soon.

This morning was all about picking up Round Two of paint color samples and applying them in (what feels like) two dozen rooms.  I think I'm getting closer, though there will definitely need to be a Round Three for some of the spaces.  One interesting thing I'm noticing is that even if a color isn't right in one room, it might still be very appealing in and of itself and I can move it around and try it in another room.  I did that a few times today with Round One colors.  Keeping in mind that the colors on the screen look almost nothing like they do in reality, here's what I have so far:

Common Entryway Floor (the walls will be navy blue silk dupioni):

It's Benjamin Moore Old Navy.  I wish it was a bit darker and with a smidge more purple, but it's the closest color I found to the silk fabric.  I might swing by Home Depot and see if one of the brands they carry has a closer match than the specialty paint store.  Or I might brave the color matching system at the paint store.  The problem is that they don't sell pints of color matched paints - only gallons, which seems like a crazy price simply to test something.  I asked the paint guy how I could know if would be right and he said "trust me".  With something this subtle? Yeah, right.

Owners' Entryway:

I'm looking for a pale but bright blue to give me a light, sunny jolt after passing through the navy common entryway.  (There's no natural light in our entryway.)  It needs to have some gray in it to harmonize with the porte cochere curtains of the coat closet doors, but not clash with the more jewel-like tone of the navy.  I've got it down to three:

Farrow and Ball Cabbage White:

Farrow and Ball Borrowed Light:

C2 Kind of Blue:

Next is our open concept living room/dining room/kitchen level, which I want to paint all one color (except the powder room, which I'm planning to cover with buff pheasant feather pads.  Seriously.)  I had the perfect color in my living room in London and want the same thing here, but it's a bear finding just the right match.  Maybe the light is very different? Everything looks either dull and washed out or waaaay too cold and dark.  The three I haven't ruled out yet are:

Benjamin Moore Icicle:

Farrow and Ball Pointing:

Farrow and Ball White Tie:

For the walk-in closet in the master bedroom, I'm going with Farrow and Ball Red Earth:

The master bedroom itself is trickier. I want a light nude/flesh tone that's not too pink (girly), not too brown/grey (muddy/dirty), and not too yellow (then it's just cream).  Benjamin Moore Pompeii is nice, on the more yellow side:

Benjamin Moore Colonial Cream is nice on the pinker side:

Bu to complicate matters, all along I'd been thinking about painting the master bedroom and bathroom different colors, even though the wall between them is glass so they're pretty much open to each other. (I'd been thinking of painting the bathroom cream.)  Today I started wondering whether they should be the same color and whether it would be distracting to even subtly vary the paints.  The cream I like best in there is Farrow and Ball Tallow:

If I do go the all-one-color route, I could still use Tallow in the tiny cubicle where the toilet is. 

I'd like to paint the exercise room/guest bedroom a blue that's warm enough to be energizing but that's not wimpy either.  The thought being that I want the room to be decorated, even elegant, and not some no-man's land that's just a box with weights in it.  (Undecorated workout spaces are one of my pet peeves.  Just because you're sweating doesn't mean you want to be surrounded by ugly.  On the contrary, you want something beautiful that entices you to linger and thus sweat more.)  I'd like to make the space a little masculine so that it's got a slight gentleman's study atmosphere, so there's that to keep in mind as well.  All the paint colors in the first round seemed either too sweet or too light.  In Round Two, I swatched Farrow and Ball Borrowed Light (see above) and it looks pretty good.  If we don't go for it in our entryway, maybe we use it here.  I was thinking about getting a pot of Farrow and Ball Stone Blue but chickened out, worrying that it will be too dark and definitive.  Now I might go for it after all.

I've tried more colors in the headhouse than anywhere else (about a dozen).  It's tricky without the roof garden in place, since that's what will determine much of the look.  The room itself is almost all black aluminum windows, with very little wall area.  I could see maybe wrapping the wall color over the ceiling, as long as that doesn't further lower said ceiling.  So many desires: I want to make a color statement (while staying sophisticated).  I don't want to negate the brightness of the space (which it its entire point) but on the other hand I don't want a color that will make the room feel bakingly hot when the sun is shining either.  On the subdued side, I've got Farrow and Ball Pavillion Blue, which looks so little like this in real life that I'm hesitant to even post it:

Honest: in real life it approaches an extremely pale turquoise and I get a kick out of its aqua tone.  On the bolder side, I've got Farrow and Ball Mahogany:

(It's warmer/more red/purple in real life.)  I think anyone would worry when painting a room dark brown.  It is after all a neutral, though, I do like dark brown, and I'm intrigued by the idea of picking up the color of the soil in the garden as a way to further integrate the indoors with the outdoors.

I painted swatches of Farrow and Ball Calluna and Farrow and Ball Dorset Cream in my boyfriend's daughter's room:

 We're going to narrow it down to a few choices and then ask what she likes best.  I like Calluna a lot, though it has too much purple for my boyfriend to be thrilled about us using it in more public spaces.  I feel like I'd get tired of Dorset Cream, but it's not bad in itself and maybe she'll want a yellow.  Later in the color selection process, I want to try a few blues in her room that we like but nix for other places.

Speaking of trying things in one place that we like but ruled out in another, the close calls from the master bathroom and second floor living room/dining room/kitchen are ultimately destined for swatching in the guest bathroom, the sole remaining unswatched space.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Tenants' bathroom tile and owners' paint colors

Lots of little emergencies cropping up at the red brick building over the past couple of days, mostly relating to tile, iron roof railings and tenants' kitchen cabinet installation. 

Our wonderful tile guy started work yesterday and we realized that we have dramatically less 3x6 polished Carrera subway tile for the tenants' bathroom walls than we thought we had.  The problem seems to be primarily that there's a new alcove at the foot of the tub, with glass shelves, and apparently it's going to eat up more square footage than we'd realized.  Oops.  The plan is for our tile guy to do the Unit 1 bathroom and then we'll see what we have left for Unit 2.  The stuff is expensive so I don't want any leftovers.   We're also stretching it out by mirroring the tub skirts instead of tiling them and not tiling 2 of the walls (the ones that have neither tub/shower nor sink/toilet on them.

After deciding that yesterday, I ran out and bought 80 square feet of mini-Versailles marble mosaic to go on the two bathroom floors.  Pricey but gorgeous.  Afterward I had buyer's remorse for getting a mosaic at $15.59/sq ft instead of more 3x6 at $9.90/sq ft and laying it in a different pattern (herringbone or basket weave) on the floor.  I know the mosaic will look better but they are after all rentals and I'm not sure that's an area where I should have splurged. 

On the up side, our tile guy is done all the bathroom walls except in the shelving alcove.  It looks i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-e!  I will try to get in there over the weekend to take photos.  It's so elegant that *I* want to move in there!  It's so exciting to see something turning out beautifully.

Meanwhile, I helped one of our GC's guys paint some of the sample paints around our unit.  That was fun, though if I'd known I was going to be so excited that I wouldn't be able to resist pitching in, I would have worn less beloved clothes and put my hair up.  I love seeing all the pretty colors.  We will definitely need at least one and maybe two more rounds of swatching before all is said and done.  This is a good start, though, and should help narrow things down.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Brimfield bargains

I went to the Brimfield Antique Show yesterday and I cannot tell you how much I love that place!  I wish I lived closer so I could go back for two or 3 days out of the week, since some of the fields are open Tuesday through Sunday and others only open later in the week.  I got up at 5am to be parked around 7am.  I took the old wood-sided Jeep - which kind of terrifies me and which doesn't like going much over 60mph - because I wanted to be able to haul back larger finds.  Dealing with its quirks and worrying that it would break down or cause an accident added an extra frisson of excitement to the excursion.

My main mission was to find an antique chest to serve as the vanity in our guest bathroom.  It's a mission that's becoming pretty urgent since the finish plumbing installation needs to start within the next 2 or 3 weeks and all the materials need to be on site by then, including the undermount sink, which needs to be ordered after the vanity is chosen to be sure it will fit.  Also, some sort of waterproof countertop would be necessary and of course the fabrication takes time.  I was looking for something in a very dark wood to go with the dark gilded mirror that I'm planning to hang above it and to contrast with the stark white of the rest of the room.  (This is the room we're planning to finish with white tadelakt in the tub alcove, on the tub skirt and also on the floor.)  I guess you could call part of my difficulty in finding the vanity a moral one: I'm really bothered by the thought of cutting up a good quality antique in order to retrofit a sink into it.  At the same time I don't want a totally boring/ugly chest of drawers in there.  Under the gun, here's what I got yesterday:

It's a bit of a heavier/more Victorian piece that what I had in mind, but it does have some nice features:  I love the modified bow front and the marble top is a beautiful color (it's dark in the garage so you'll have to trust me that the white is brighter than it looks here):

It was hard to argue with the price, too: $125.  I quadruple-checked the measurements at the red brick building this morning and it looks like it should have plenty of room.  (The toilet's not in yet, so that makes measuring a little less precise.)  My biggest concern now is practicality: I wish there were three separate drawers running across the width of the chest: a big one where the bow is, and two smaller one on each side where the handles are.  There might be a way to do some judicious cutting there, though).  My next task is to choose an undermount sink and then get a hole cut to fit in the marble.

My other large purchase was this armchair:

We need more chairs in the living room and this one is well-made and extremely comfortable (down-blend cushions) so I couldn't resist picking it up for $150.  Though I'm sure there are many people who would adore the lattice slipcover fabric, it's too modern for me and the black doesn't go with the room's color scheme.  The upholstery underneath is beige but in rough shape. so my plan is to reupholster it with one of my growing collection of fabrics.

Speaking of that collection, my third, final, and I think best purchase was two partial bolts of this fabric:

It's a woven damask that feels amazing.  I'm virtually certain it's a silk background (the silver) with a cotton raised pattern (the gold/mustard) - that's what it looks and feels like anyway.  I didn't unroll to count the yardage but conservatively I'd say it's 10 yards, maybe as many as 20 yards.  Guess what I paid for it.  $35!  Total!  Not even per yard!  Is that the steal of the century or what!  So was a pretty thrilling day.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Toilets continued, and kitchen faucets

I made that much-need trip to Home Depot over the weekend to reality check prices.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Toto Promenade Suite is very reasonably priced for what's out there, if you set aside the dirt cheap toilets and sinks that look it.  So those are a go for the tenants' units and I'll place that order through one of the local plumbing showrooms when my saleswoman returns to work tomorrow.

I did find a new toilet that I like a lot: the Kohler Bancroft.
I actually like the matching pedestal sink a lot too (more than the Promenade) but for some reason, although the 24" version is about $250, the 30" version (which is the one we need) is over $500.  Why is something that's 6" wider more than twice the price?  If it wasn't for that bizarre pricing, I'd be going with the Bancroft in the tenants' units instead of the Promenade.  At least the toilet is reasonably priced, so I'm leaning towards it for our 3 bathrooms.

I checked out kitchen sink faucets at a third showroom this morning and have a short list of options.  (Incidentally, though I came *this close* to ordering the Iron/Tones cast iron sink, I splurged a little and got fireclay instead.  The cheapest I could find that would fit the base cabinets was the Rohl Allia:

I think fireclay has a nicer feel than cast iron but more importantly, the dimensions of the Allia are more generous than those of the Iron/Tones and I really want to maximize the use of space.

For the tenants kitchen faucets to go with the above sink, I'm looking at this:

It's the Grohe Concetto Dual Spray, about $315.  A smidge more expensive than the other options but still reasonable.  It's also somewhat more modern than what I had in mind but the lines are undeniably sleek.  I'm also a little concerned about having such a high arched shape on a peninsula in an open kitchen.  Next, there's the American Standard Reliant, which is half the price of the Grohe and has a lower profile, so it wouldn't be as visually prominent on the peninsulas:
It's pretty boring, though, and the base plate would make me crazy.  Not sure if it can be ordered without it of whether there would be leakage problems.  Finally, this Opella Empire Series faucet is a bit of a dark horse:

I'd never heard of the brand before and it doesn't feel quite as substantial, but the styling is pleasantly traditional, without too many flourishes, and the price is great - similar to the Reliant.

For our unit, we're working with the giant 54" salvaged cast iron double sink that's got 3 pre-drilled holes.  If there were four holes, I'd definitely opt for something with 2 separate handles, a center spout and a side spray.  Also complicating matters is the fact that I need a finish that will play nicely with our copper countertops, so some version of oil rubbed bronze or brass is in the cards.  Those finishes also happen to be not widely available and usually cost a huge premium.  Frankly, some of the cheaper ones look kind of painted and fake, so I'm a bit leery of that too.   That said, the front-runner is this Rohl Country faucet:

A hair under $700, it's definitely not cheap, but the Tuscan Brass finish is gorgeous (the saleswoman said it also patinas beautifully) and Rohl is a respected enough brand that I'm reassured about the quality.  I'm also eyeing the Opella Empire faucet again but in the oil-rubbed bronze finish.

It's crazy-inexpensive ($110) but quite possibly also cheaply made, so I don't know whether it's worth the risk.  Thoughts?