Thursday, September 17, 2015

Architectural Bling: Copper Gutters, Cedar Gables and Wood Trim

Earlier in this year, we finished off the exterior details of the house structure.

Firstly, cedar was installed in the gable ends.   The contractor worked with us to get the bell curve (under windows) just right!

Next, (much to the dismay of the family of squirrels making a home up there), the architectural trim (soffit, fascia, crown moulding, etc.) was installed.

Below is a soffit and crown moulding detail.  The space between the stone and the crown is to allow fresh air into the attic.  There are venting strips in that space to keep critters out.

We considered dark trim but decided it would give a more formal look to the house than we wanted.  After I sampled several colours and received a few 'brush outs' from the supplier, we chose Benjamin Moore Stone Hearth (CC-490).

Finally, the copper gutter was installed.  Love it!  It's currently still the warm and shiny colour, but in a few more months will oxidize to a bronze colour and in many, many, many years turn the minty green colour (think roof of parliament buildings in Ottawa).

(The first set of gutter clips put on were very ornate.  Luckily we had a first class contractor who changed them out for these simpler clips.  Much better.)

As a friend of ours put it:  "It's like jewellery for your house!" 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Reclaimed Ontario Barn Timber Porch

Our first porch is now complete.  We started the structure late last fall so we're really looking forward to using it now that the weather is starting to warm up.  Here's a look at how it all came together.

From the beginning, we planned to have a porch so we included a foundation for the concrete pad in our house plans.

After the foundation was in place (way back in 2012), the form work was placed for the concrete pad:

Next, we added a simple, low cedar deck to extend the living space adjacent to the house.  This deck was designed after the house was built - we weren't sure how high or how large we wanted it until living in the house.

For the porch structure, we contemplated building a traditional mortise and tenon timber frame structure but felt that look would be too heavy and that new timber wouldn't have the right effect.  

We decided on a traditionally framed structure, but with reclaimed wood.  After months on the hunt, we located a barn in Eastern Ontario that had posts and beams in the sizes we needed.  These were used which in addition to four posts salvaged from our old house.  

The roof trusses were also salvaged from our old house.

After the roof trusses were put in place, plywood roof decking was installed.

Next, a layer of ice and water shield was installed and finally, cedar shakes.

The final piece that the porch needs is a steel beam at the end to stabilize the structure (there is a 2" x 4" and strapping there now in above photo).

Josh designed and built this porch structure - talented guy, he is!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Polished Nickel Faucets and Black Hardware

Part two of the finishing details is an overview of the faucets (or 'trim' as it's called) and hardware we've installed to date.  (You'll find part one Brass and Black Light Fixtures here).

Kohler Margeaux in master bathroom:

Hansgrohe Metris in kids' bathroom:

Kohler Pinstripe in powder room:

Kohler Pinstripe in basement bathroom:

Emtek door hardware in basement:

Emtek door hardware on all exterior doors:

Egg shaped knobs in master ensuite.  Will have similar in kitchen.

Antique hardware on second floor antique doors:

Faucets purchased at
Emtek door hardware through local supplier.
Antique door hardware from Legacy Vintage.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Brass and Black Light Fixtures

Since we started building, I've been posting about big projects like framing, the floors and the stonework.  Now that most of the major elements are done, I find myself waiting and wondering what to post about next.  

We've been working on the last 10% of the project:  finishing details like cabinetry and furniture.  This is the most time consuming part of the project but the most important since it's ALL about the details.

Here's a roundup of some of the lighting I've collected for our new home.  Some new, some vintage.  All natural brass, black or glass.


Vintage lamp, new shade in the front hall:

Vintage angel wing sconces in powder room:

Schoolhouse electric pendant in pantry:

Schoolhouse electric pendants over island:

Etsy pendant over kitchen table:

Target lamp and shade in living room:

Visual comfort sconces in ensuite:

Visual comfort floor lamp in master bedroom:

Vintage desk lamp in master bedroom:

Schoolhouse electric sconces in kids' bathroom:

Vintage lamp in girls' room:

Schoolhouse electric pendants in basement bathroom:

I still have many key fixtures to buy:  living room pendant, front entrance, master bedroom... I'm a little over half way done the house for lighting!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Old House is Gone

I am a foundation of cedar logs and crumbling rubble.
I am sloped ceilings and wood beams.
I am cold air flowing through the west wall.
I am walnuts tucked under the bathtub and mice weaving around the traps.
I am a bush cord of hardwood and rolling flames.
I am an ancient GE stove churning out meals.
I am three laughing, crying, fighting children.
I am Aiden thumping down the 'too steep' steps.
I am Jessie twirling on the honey stained hardwood.
I am Stella Jane poking tiny fingertips into broken floorboards.
I am bathing the kids while washing the dishes.
I am open windows and strong breezes.
I am a century of shelter.
(Written during our last winter in the old house.  In the style of 'Where I'm From' by George Ella Lyon.)

When we bought this farm eight years ago, the house was considered a 'tear down'.  Nevertheless, we fixed it up as best we could and started our family there.

There were so many things that drove me crazy about that old house.  I don't seem to remember them now.  It was a charming old place built in 1860.  The memories from our brief time there make me wonder about the many other families that grew up there, played there, ate there, worked there...


Because of our township by-laws, we knew from the beginning that building a new house on the property meant that the old one would have to come down.  So, two years after starting the building  process, her time had come.

(Thankfully, I've been assured that our kids will indeed keep growing and that we'll continue to make new memories in the new house!)

We started by peeling back the layers of vinyl siding, asphalt shingles, board and batten siding and fibreglass insulation to reveal and salvage the beautiful original wood plank sheathing for future projects.  Some of the aged deep brown boards are 22" wide and 3" thick!

The integrity of the original mortise and tenon framing was impressive and solid.

As we moved through the demolition process, I surprised myself by being sentimental about watching it go.  While living it, I couldn't wait for it to be levelled!

It's certainly a strange feeling to be cooking dinner in your shiny new house, while just outside, the old one is slowly being torn down; its dust floating in through the windows.

A few days into demolition, I realized that I forgot to save a particular corner of drywall where we had marked all the kids heights over the years.  Luckily, I managed to find it in the rubble, a bit damaged. 

A day later and it would have been long gone.  It will be pieced back together and mounted in the new house.

The yard is cleared now and, although it's still a strange sight, we're getting used to our new view and wide open space, feeling a little lighter.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

We Have a Stone House*

He who works with his hands is a labourer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.  
{St. Francis of Assissi}

Over the past month, the stonemason has been here finishing the last side of the house.  This is definitely a turning point in this process.  He started in May 2013 and completed three sides of the house, including the mammoth chimney, and broke for the winter in mid-December when it became too cold for the mortar to set properly.  It was a good day when he started back at it this Spring!

He works alone.  These hands lifted, carried and placed 90 tons of stone and 22 tons of mortar onto our home.    

They are rough like sandpaper, scarred and sewn up, callused, thick and worn from years of working with stone.  

Ours is the last full house he will stone; his craft has weighed heavily on his body.

We are so fortunate:   his skill, care, strength and artistry gave us a stone house.  It is the defining feature of our home.

He suggested that we create a time capsule to place in one of the last stones to go on.  

1.  Family photo
2.  Letter about our family, our time on the farm and the history of the farm
3.  Blueprints for the house
4.  Coins 
5.  Toys!

He carved out a niche in the back of a stone to fit the glass jar.

In the mortar next to the stone with our time capsule, he placed a coin and his stonemason's symbol.  He also placed his own time capsule in the last stone, as he does for every project.  (A coin was also placed in the mortar "for your kids, somewhere they can reach."  Haven't found that one yet!)

What an unique and fascinating experience it has been to have this stonemason work with us on our home. 

* Our house has a 4" thick layer of stone applied to the exterior structural timber walls.  This is called a stone veneer.  A true stone house is actually supported by 3 to 4 foot thick stone walls.