Saturday, April 11, 2009

Trim, Tile, (x)Trees

Good progress this past week. The trim carpenters are installing the windows sills and door casings. Baseboards are probably next week.

Trim stock (Poplar):

They also got the pocket door at the laundry room installed. It uses a really high quality track system (Hawa) so it rolls beautifully and doesn't go rattle-rattle-bang like typical pocket doors. We don't love pocket doors for that reason, but this one seems really great. Money well-spent.

The cabinet guys are still installing all the cabinet boxes. The latest one to go in is was the "floating" one in the master bathroom. It basically hangs on the back and side walls and floats about 12" above the tile floor. This one will get a custom dual-bowl concrete countertop. The wood (hard to tell from the picture) is "vertical grain" bamboo. All the cabinet boxes are 3/4" certified, no-formaldehyde-added, Apple plywood. Jonathan's work is really nice - very precise joinery and quality construction.

The tile floor is also going down in the master bath too (yes, the trades are taking turns keeping out of each other's way).

They also floated the master shower walls too in order to make them perfectly plumb, square, and flat so the tile goes in perfectly.

The custom, large-format wall tile also got here last week, so that should probably go in next week as well. Hopefully. These things are a bit scary to have rattling around - they are only about 1/8" thick (much thinner than normal tile) and HUGE. It will be nice to get them safely stuck to the walls.

We had a couple of drizzly days last week, so stucco still hasn't started. However, the sand and cement were delivered, as was the mixer. They are scheduled to do the scratch (1st) and brown (2nd) coats next week. Then we'll let it "bake" for a few weeks to control the shrinkage, then apply the final, integral-color (no paint) finish coat.

We met with our landscape designer, Keith Willig, on Friday. He's done a number of Ana's (our architect) houses before, so he knows how to work with her design sensibilities. Keith's office is also across the hallway from Ana's, so that makes it pretty easy.

The design is going to be really cool, though we are still working out the details. One issue we've seen coming from the beginning was that some, or all, of our existing trees were going to have to go. We had 3 major trees out there - one Japanese Maple, one Cherry, and what we think is an Acacia. The Acacia is our "Dr. Seuss Tree" - kind of a gnarly, wild-growing thing, but with lots of horizontal "sitting branches".

We had planned to keep the Maple, but take out the Cherry and Acacia. However, after framing, it was painfully clear that the Maple was way too close to the house - growing underneath the front overhang and only about 2-3 feet from the front porch. So, we've been resigned to having to remove it, despite the fact that it was a gorgeous, healthy tree.

We looked into moving it to the back yard, or giving it to anyone who wanted to try to move it. We asked 4 arborists - everyone said the same thing "tricky", "too big", "wrong time of the year to even try". At best it was going to be a 50/50 proposition, plus the attempt was going to cost us anywhere from $1000-3000. So, sadly, we said goodbye to it this weekend and uncermoniously cut it down. Here are the girls (with good friends Emily and Molly) saying their last goodbyes:

And here is Rebecca giving it one last climb (it was a great climbing tree, but now they've outgrown it, so that made it a tiny bit easier).

And here is Lizzie's last climb (in flip-flops, naturally):

The good news is that we are saving "Rebecca's tree" - the Acacia - which is a much better climbing tree anyway. Rebecca has been lobbying hard since last summer to keep it. At least she won't have to resort to the "Julia Butterfly Hill" sit-in now...

Here she was, back in the summer, when we broke the news to here that it may have to go:

Cathy and my mom helped out too, cutting and stuffing all the tree-branches from both the Cherry and the Maple into 4 green waste recycling containers. It still didnt' all fit.

Cherry (we saved the 5' long, perfectly straight trunk...for something):

Maple - Cathy's brilliant idea to use the "come-along" to winch out out of the ground:

But, after all the sawdust had settled, the front of the house looks really great - you can see it so much better now. It's still a bit of a stark change, but I think we'll definitely like it better.


(whoops, not sure where these pix went too...I'll try to re-post them...)


Those trees did provide us with a lot of privacy, filtered light, and shade, so we are going to have to find a way to get some of that back with the new landscaping.


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