Sunday, February 28, 2010

Little updates make a big difference

Having cabinets strewn about the great room is one thing, but having them hung in place is something else entirely.

Gary Burton, our cabinet maker, has been busy installing, leveling, trimming, and tweaking the cabinets all over the house.  The entertainment center is now in place against the wall.

Abby approves.

The kitchen island is now mostly in place.  We have a small island in our current house, and the long dimension from the old island is the same as the short dimension of the new island.  In other words, this new island is big.

We had some extra room in the island to add bookshelves.  You can also see the corner of the bar seating, which should seat three.

Upstairs the laundry room cabinets are in place.

We have built in pedestals for the washer and dryer, including a big drawer under each.

And there is plenty of storage above and below the counter at the other end.

Tom Ricks, our carpenter, has also been busy.  Door trim is up all over the house.  The stairs and bookshelf in the great room are fleshed out.

The closet under the stairs has a few details now.

And my favorite part of the house, the cell phone alcove in the downstairs hallway, was given a miniature version of the window trim.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Article about our house

The Earth Advantage Institute published an article about our house in their February email newsletter. The newsletter goes to about 12,000 people, who are mostly builders and industry professionals. As I have said in a past post, Earth Advantage is a green building program, and we hope to earn their green certification on our house.

We feel very honored that they wanted to feature our project. I hope that many people will read the article and become interested in Passive Houses!

Here's the article:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More big changes are afoot

All that beautiful Oregon white oak from Zena Forest that I showed you last week is now installed on the first floor of our home. For the first time, the floor does not look like a construction site. The floor still must be sanded and stained, but these photos should give you an idea of how beautiful it will look.

This week our cabinet-maker delivered the kitchen cabinets as well as our built-in entertainment center, so now we're starting to get a better sense of what the completed living room and kitchen might look like.

This is the entertainment center, which will be painted, most likely white. Under each window is bookshelves, and the middle section, which will be pushed back against the wall, will hold the TV and related components:

The kitchen cabinets have not been put into place yet, but we can now see what they look like. These will be stained a medium brown color. Here I'm standing at our future kitchen island, which is actually sitting upside down at the moment. It will have drawer and cabinet storage, a bookshelf on one end for holding cookbooks, and a bar for seating on one side:

Our future pantry:

Kitchen sink area:

Oven area:

Upper cabinets:

Upstairs, the bathroom cabinets have been moved more or less into place. Here are the cabinets in our master bathroom:

A quick side note here about the wood in the cabinets and inside the closets: whenever the cabinet-maker and carpenter used MDF (medium-density fiberboard, commonly used for inner parts of cabinets and for closet shelves), they bought a special type that is free of urea-formaldehyde. Urea-formaldehyde is a type of resin that is common in MDF, but it can release toxic vapors that affect your air quality. By using MDF that is free of this resin, our air quality will improve.

Our new neighbors are seeing some dramatic changes on the outside. The painters came by this week and started painting the main body color. We chose a dark slate-like blue. It looks very different depending on the light. With sunlight shining directly on it, it looks a bit more gray:

When it's more shaded, the blue really comes out more:

No matter what lighting we see it in, we love the color! The trim around windows and doors will be white, which will really pop against the blue. We can't wait to see the whole house this way.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Busy busy busy!

We hadn't been over to the house for a few days, and when we checked it out today, we found so many new things! The builders haven't been slacking after all.

Outside, they installed a wooden beam and knee braces under the story breaks. These will support the breaks and keep them from sagging over time:

One of the most amazing things that arrived in our house is our wood flooring from Zena Forest. You may remember that we're getting the wood from a sustainably managed forest just outside Salem. The wood arrived yesterday and will sit in the house for about a week to become acclimated to the temperature and humidity before it is installed. This will allow the wood to settle and prevent it from changing size after installation. Here are several photos of the beautiful wood, which is Oregon white oak:

The floor boards will be several different widths, rather than a uniform width. This allowed us to get more boards out of each tree that was cut, creating less waste:

The finish carpenter has also been hard at work. He built the tread caps for the stairs and started installing the railings:

We will be installing carpet on the main part of the stairs because wooden stairs can get slippery. The entire upstairs of the house will be carpeted. We chose a carpet this week. It's brown and is made of wool. When we brought home the sample from the store, our dog turned around three times on it and laid down. So I guess we made the right choice.

Upstairs, the most exciting development is that some of our cabinets have arrived! They're made out of cherry and will be stained a medium-brown color -- we're still deciding on the exact shade. These cabinets are identical in style to what will be in the kitchen. Here are the cabinets that will go under the sinks in the master bathroom:

Pippen tested out the cabinets that will go in the smaller upstairs bathroom:

Here's a short video that demonstrates one of our favorite features of the new cabinets:

The finish carpenter started building the frames around the doorways, which mimic the style of the frames around the windows:

He also began building the shelving in the closets of our two smaller bedrooms. We have a combination of built-in shelves, removable shelves and rods for hanging clothing:

It was overwhelming seeing all the new things that happened in the house this week. Everything is really starting to come together. The wood flooring will be installed soon, as will the linoleum we picked out this week for the mud room and the bathrooms. We have to decide on our cabinet color so that those can be stained. Hopefully the rain will let up soon so that the painters can paint the outside of the house (although it is February in Oregon, so it might be a while).

Sunday, February 7, 2010

More details

The finish carpenter has been hard at work framing out all the windows. He also has started finishing the stairs. Here's our stair post now wrapped in hemlock:

Outside, the posts on our front porch are wrapped in a similar manner:

Our garage doors came this week, so now the house is completely closed, including the garage. We'll be painting the garage doors a light brown:

We have finalized our outside paint colors, so the house should be painted fairly soon, if we can get a few days without rain. Stuart and I also went to a flooring store and started making some choices on carpet, linoleum flooring for the bathrooms and mud room, and Formica for our countertops. These are not easy choices -- there are about a million different colors and designs.