Friday, November 1, 2013

Adventure on Walnut Farm

Two new friends visited Walnut Farm this week to explore.  We toured our farm and the one behind us, which has a fantastic abandoned farm house on it.  These two ladies are pretty savvy with their iphone cameras.  Thought I'd share some of their photos.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Belgian Style Steel Door

Although it's been quite a while since I've posted, we have been making some progress over here so I thought I'd better update you.

The stone mason (Storm Stonescaping) was away for about six weeks but is back now and more than half complete (working on back and other side).

Below is a photo from last week.  The chimney is a significant amount of work!  I wish it was more visible from the front of the house.

We've also installed the front door and I love it.  

About six months ago we came up with the idea that a steel & glass door would be the perfect combination of modern and traditional to work with the stone.  Most often this type of door is used in climates when single pane glass is used, making them very thin and elegant.  Of course in Canada, that doesn't cut it.  You need double pane, insulated glass.  We visited the only supplier in the province (and country?) and were disappointed with their product (and pricetag).  Their door systems were clunky.  Josh decided he had a better design to make it thinner, more energy efficient and easier to build.  I told him that "when you need a new watch, you don't build it yourself.  There are just some things that you let 'the experts' take care of."  Well, long story short, he built our door.  And, man, am I ever glad he did.  I absolutely love it.  

All I needed to do was provide the sketch.

Which I had also mocked up in full scale to ensure the arch would match the arch inside our front hallway.

From there, he had the metal machined.


After that it went to be galvanized (to protect from the elements) and powder coated in black.

Install day:

In the photo above there is still plastic behind the door.  The glass panes were ordered from a local company and made in Montreal.  Here's how they look installed:

A few finishing details still needed but it's so close and gets me every time I walk by it.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Progress Throughout

Lately, we're in that last 10% of the project that is the most detailed and time consuming:  finishing.  Although we seemed so close to moving in a few months ago, we're still working away at getting all the fixtures installed by the plumber and electrician, choosing and installing carpet in the bedrooms, tying in the HVAC system, installing appliances, choosing and installing shower and bath thresholds, and the list goes on and on...

A few photos to show some of the progress:

The whole house was painted in Benjamin Moore Simply White.  Eggshell on the walls, semi-gloss on the trim and flat on the ceilings.  It took the painting ladies (all five of them!) about two weeks to complete.

The STUV wood burning fireplace has its front cover installed now. 

We've put a few appliances in place.  The fridge is so nice, I don't think I want to put my leftovers in it.

I'm very excited to have an oven!  The oven in the old house has been on the fritz since last summer so it will be great to be baking with the kids again.

For now, we put the dining table that will eventually be on the screened porch in place of the island.  It's approximately the right size and who knows when we'll get to designing the island so I think it looks great there for now.

We also moved the wall unit into the living room.  Josh found it at a local auction.  It's very large so I'm still trying to get used to it but it is a pretty striking piece.

Josh has been working hard on the front door that we designed.  He had sheets of metal cut by a water jet, then welded the various components together.  The door system is currently at the galvanizer (to protect from rust) and will go the powder coater next.  The windows were templated and will be fabricated soon.  

The stone mason has been working away for about six weeks now.  He's almost done the front of the house.  What a process to watch him work away at his craft.  More to come on this!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Trimmed Out

Last week, the finished carpentry team installed the baseboard, door casings & trim, antique doors and hardware.  It was impressive to see how smoothly this team of brothers operated, each with their own specialty.    

The wood trim and baseboards you see in the photos above are paint grade and will be painted white.

The antique doors and hardware installed upstairs weren't straightforward to work with since they're about 150 years old (i.e. doors not square and hardware a little rickety) but it didn't seem to phase these guys.  (You can read about how we found and refinished our antique doors here.) 


We decided to use old fashioned rim locks since new hardware wouldn't fit properly after we trimmed the doors to fit our openings.  The lock box is surface mounted on the interior of the room so that all you see from the hallway is the handle.

{antique rim locks from Legacy Vintage Building Supply in Cobourg}

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Floor are Finished

{extreme close-up of floors}

It's been a long while since I've posted an update because, for a while there, there was nothing to report except:  still working on the floors.  I couldn't bear to post another update of the concrete floors in progress.  

So, at long last, I'm happy to report that they're done and look great.  I don't, unfortunately, have anything positive to say about the process since it took FOREVER and everything that could have gone wrong did.  Let's just leave it at that, shall we?  

Believe it or not, I didn't take any good photos of the finished floor in a whole room before we covered it in paper (to protect it); we were so thrilled that it was finally done and excited to be moving on to the next trade!

 {brown paper covers the floors throughout the house}

Moving on!  Trim is happening now.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Concrete Floors Make me Crazy

If there is one element in this house construction project that has most contributed to me losing my mind, it is the floors.

I'm not sure who's idea it was to install concrete* floors but it seemed like a good one.  In our old house, we have a hodge podge of flooring styles (hardwood, bamboo, linoleum, armstrong tiles, slate - all visible in the same space) so I'm really looking forward to one continuous material throughout the new house.

Although I do love the look of hardwood, it's not the low maintenance option I was looking for.  I think the clean-lined industrial look of concrete will modernize the rustic elements of the house.  And with several exterior doors opening up into the main room and hallway, I wanted to avoid cutting in small tile areas at every door, which would be needed with hardwood.  All in all, concrete seemed like a no brainer. 

Boy were we in for a ride.

 {collection of samples}

We quickly found an installer with a product that was exactly what we were looking for:  a brown-grey mottled colour, finished to look aged and worn.  We were set to go ... except that installer turned out to be a bust when details of their poor reputation started to filter in.  Back to square one.  We then found our well vetted and highly recommended installer.   

Working with our new expert, it took us three long months to replicate that original (proprietary) sample that I fell in love with.  We worked with three different brands, experimented with levels of grinding, researched burnishing, sheen options, epoxies and coatings, combined various proportions of white and grey bases, added carefully chosen tints, produced sample after sample and FINALLY GOT IT!

About a month ago, the installer started the process.

The screed subfloor that the heating tubes are incased in was ground down with this machine and vacuum combo:


to create this rough surface:  

Next, they dumped, rolled and smoothed epoxy over the entire surface.  Sand was hand thrown into the wet epoxy.

Once dry, the excess sand was removed.  The remaining layer felt like sand paper and created a rough surface for the concrete to lock into.

Except it didn't work the first time and looked patchy like this (below) because our subfloor 'drank in' the epoxy.

So the sand was scraped off and another layer of epoxy and sand was put in place.  It worked the second time and looked like this: 

Next the form work was put in place to contain the concrete (photo below) at doorways, stairwell, around floor outlets, gaps at perimeter of room, etc.

On install day, a mixing station, tint quantities (photo below) and concrete were carefully prepared; once they start mixing, they need to move quickly before concrete starts to set.

Here's what the wet concrete looked like upstairs (where they placed first).  We created a bridge from the mixing station (our laundry room) to the stair well so that the installers could exit the area without walking in the placed concrete!

The mixing station for the main floor was outside on the porch (photo below).  The day of the install there were eight installers, each with a specific task. 

Below is a photo taken through the window about an hour after the concrete was installed. 

18 hours after.  Starting to lighten in colour.

24 hours after.  Dark areas started to appear over heating tubes!  Not good.

Dark lines became even more apparent at two days.

After much panic, we were given the ok to test an area to see if the discolouration was thoughout or just on the surface.  We were relieved to see that beneath the the surface 'cream', the colour matched our sample (photo below).  But still had to wait several days for the product rep to see it first hand to ensure it wasn't compromised.

We got the OK from the product rep and the finishing started last week.  They're looking good so I look forward to posting photos of the finished product!

*I should point out that it's not actually concrete.  It's a 1/4" thick polymer induced concrete micro top.  We couldn't pour regular concrete and then polish because it would be too thick (and we wouldn't be able to open our doors) and it would be WAY too heavy for the house to support.)