-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Friday, March 31, 2006

thoughts on staircase

We're about to get new drawings from Eric. One of the main things he's been working on in this iteration (besides the mudroom saga!) is the staircase.

Email from Eric (March 31)

I just had a good couple of days working on detailed drawings. It was fun to get back into it. One of the main things I've been working on is the staircase. It's a pretty major design feature, and I needed to get it to work with building codes as well as be an appealing place to walk up and down. Anyway, I'll have some drawings ready to send to you early next week.

My reply (March 31)

In case it helps any, some specific thoughts on the staircase (sorry if have mentioned them already, I have lost track!) are:

- Idea of the bottom few steps being suitable for sitting on, ie: doubling as seats as well as steps. As per pattern language: "Flare out the bottom of the stair with open windows or balustrades and with wide steps so that the people coming down the stair become part of the action in the room while they are on the stair, and so that people below will naturally use the stair for seats"

- Idea of there being a landing area midway up, as a place you could pause, look down on the action, perhaps a chair in corner, low bookshelves, etc. ie: the landing area would be wider than the stairs.

- I have a vision of the stairs being wide enough for 2 people to walk up side by side without it being cramped. Like the nice stairs you find in old manors (but not ridiculously oversized like in palaces).

- would love love love to use the old oak wooden bannister railings and scrolled ends here(not necessarily the iron/copper bits though)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

revisiting the mudroom

Back in February, Eric came up with yet another alternative for the mudroom shape to address my previous concerns. It took me until the end of March to comment on it properly! Here's a catchup on the email discussion:

Email from Eric (Feb 15)

Here's another idea for the mud room. It involves going ahead and letting it project out as sort of a bay window next to the main entry. If we liked the idea in principle, the actual shape could be refined and developed. What do you think?

closeup of mudroom floorplan with bay extension

elevation view with mudroom bay

My comments (Mar 29)

Overall I really like the concept, and it's a hell of a lot better than
messing with the pantry position etc. (although at some stage I still want to get a better feel for the kitchen layout, but that's separate). In no particular order, these are my comments:

I don't like how the mudroom isn't symmetrical anymore, it has the corner cut off one side. I would rather make it a square wall without the diagonal bit.

Where you have marked as Coats in the new bit, I'd like instead to call it a cupboard... like you had in the original version way back when. Maybe it will be for coats, but more likely will end up being for all that cleaning stuff - shoe polish, brooms, blah blah blah that feels like it should belong in / near the mudroom. Maybe there will be space in the waist height units in mudroom proper but who knows. I'm envisaging instead that there will be hooks for coats in the entrance hall bit along the mudroom wall, and we could also have hooks on the wall in mudroom for messier things, behind the door.

I liked the stairs a lot in your first version coming up onto the verandah with matching curved handrails on either side. I don't like there being handrail only on one side and that it is curved if the other side is straight... Ideally I'd like to be able to have both sides curved, but that's not possible unless it moves over so it's not opposite the door (which would I think feel odd) OR perhaps the verandah base could extend out further? So that it comes out to be level with how far the new bay bit juts out? Now, I know that might mess up the amount of sunlight going in on that side? If so, perhaps could have the base of the verandah jutting out but the roof staying back? We could for instance then use the bit that isn't undercover as being for plants in pots... (cacti etc?) Not sure how it would look but it's an idea to throw out there.

Now, onto the Projection view...

One of the things I liked most in the first version was how you had the sequence of 5 small square windows on this side... I would like to get back to that. Perhaps we could just have one square window in the middle of the mudroom bay of the same shape as the others to get it back? We could still have windows on either side of the bay to let more light in but without spoiling the symmetry?

I really like the way you have moved the triangular bit (gable?) on the roof over to be above the bay area rather than above the entrance door. I like this better than the way it was originally even because it is more symmetrical. I also like how it is shingles (I loved the sunburst motif thing too but we still have that about the breakfast area side, so happy to have something different).

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

diggers and decks

It's been a while since I've updated this, so thought I'd catch up on a few developments while I have a spare minute.

We have decking!

dad taking decking materials to amherst

This is for the verandah for the Cottage. Dad saw it on sale at a special knock-down trade price so bought it even though we don't need it for a little while yet. The decking is made of Merbau Kwila, and according to Dad "makes a very good and longlasting deck, much better than treated pine and cypress when exposed to the weather".

We also have some big holes. Dad hired an excavator to level out an area around where he wants to build the hobbit hole. Here's some pictures, which also show the caravan he's set up as a place to stay on-site.

dad excavating for hobbithole

dad and the little digger

Monday, March 20, 2006

Idea: doors with windows that open

This old door was for sale on Ebay. We're not going to buy it as they want way too much money for it, but I really like the style of having a section with opening windows. Maybe we will repurpose some other doors to get the same effect.

idea for doors

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ebay: giant clock & stained glass

We recently got an amazing deal on a giant clock. It was built 25 years ago by the guy we bought it from as an Art college project. He put it together from all kinds of junk gathered at Portobello Road market (back when it was still a flea market). It is as much a sculpture and work of art as it is a clock.

From the description:
"This is a very tall clock, eleven foot high with a high visual impact. It was a college project from twenty five years ago. It was constructed from various components found in a cabinet makers workshop. It was fitted with a modern electric movement but hasn't run for some time"

To give you a sense of the scale, here's Dave standing next to it at the guy's house before we took it apart to transport:
the clock assembled

Here's a closer look at some of the detailing:
clock features

Around the same time we also came by a lovely piece of art deco glass. We're probably going to use it here in London but wanted to note it down anyway as a possibility for Amherst in future.

From the description:
"It is a beautiful piece of stained glass but is in need of restoration. Almost all of the damage is to the flat pieces of glass that have either come away from the lead or have cracks but not all of the flat pieces.The main part of the design the flowers and leaves are undamaged. as one can see from the images the design and glass are of a high quality. Size is 99cm across and 48 high in the middle.

stained glass panel

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ebay: stove, chair, doors

We recently came by a few architectural salvage items which had the great benefit of being already in Australia:

An old oak framed armchair. I got it from Ebay even though it needs restoration as it shouldn't be TOO hard to do and it'll be a great chair for the verandah and a good partner for the oak chair we already have.

great old oak chair to restore

An old gas stove that Dad got, which we might use in the kitchen of the cottage.

more pics of progress in the life of Amherst 166

Some great old french doors, described on Ebay as "in good usable condition... combined width 972 height 2000, 35 thick... one door is 435 wide other 537 can be widened or cut to suit"

old french doors