Acid Etching, Tin Lighting, Loft Railing and Floor, and, Of Course, More Snow–Feb, 2010

February 8, 2010

We are pulling together loose ends and finishing projects at Bunny Vista. Erin has been a frequent worker and has painted, cleaned, and helped push us forward as we try to make practical decisions to get the house ready to pass the occupancy inspection. Nick worked to clean and prep the basement floor for acid etching. The radiant floor heating is operational and is finally using the geothermal system instead of the on-demand hot water heater. The electrical work is also nearing completion. Here are a few photos of recent work.

John Boody gave us some amazing spalted sycamore for the loft floor, which also forms the ceiling for the dining area. Kelley is putting finish on the prepared floor boards.

John Boody kindly gave Kelley some spalted sycamore for the loft floor, which adds another unusual element to the timber frame room.  Spalted wood has been discolored by fungi or rot. The discoloration can form amazing patterns. Kelley says that the spalting of this sycamore looks like an oil painting. It is particularly wonderful looking up at the loft floor from the dining area, where it forms the ceiling.

The basement floor during acid etching

Kelley, Nick, and Erin painstakingly acid etched the basement floor, using muriatic acid to change the color of the concrete floor to this leathery brown color. Kelley decided to acid etch the floor for several reasons. First, it is a permanent finish with little upkeep. The lime in the concrete reacts with the acid when it is applied, changing the color of the concrete, so it never chips or wears, although it will need to be waxed once or twice a year. More important to Kelley, finishing the concrete rather than applying another layer of flooring on top of the concrete allows the radiant floor heating to work most efficiently.

Acid etching the floor required many hours of research and consultation, followed by countless hours of hard work. Nick and Erin spent several days scrubbing the floor to remove every trace of paint, dry wall mud, and dirt. After Kelley, Erin, and Nick tested a couple of different acids and a couple of different application methods, they felt at least a little confident that they had achieved the best color they could. They began applying the acid to the floor. Kelley sprayed two applications of acid onto the surface and Nick brushed it with a long-handled brush. Erin removed all of the residue, another process that sounded easier than it actually was. Kelley and Erin sprayed on three coats of sealer and spread the sealer with paint rollers and a lambswool mop. Finally Kelley applied two coats of wax. There are apparently a number of YouTube videos showing the ease of this process. None of them are to be trusted. It was a labor-intensive chore, but the results are beautiful. Thanks, Nick and Erin. You are invited to watch TV in the TV room and spend the night in the guest room. But you may not store any items in the storage room. Sorry.

Yes, the floor is beautiful and shiny with the lovely color and leathery look the Internet sites promised.

We ordered some tin lighting fixtures from Michael Walsh, who is the person behind Early American Tin Lighting. We have ceiling fixtures for the dining area and the hallway between the log rooms. We also have three pierced tin pendants for the kitchen, some sconces for the log rooms, and three exterior lights. Mike’s work is beautiful, and I was really happy to find a local craftsman. Mike lives and has his workshop and gallery in a wonderful log home west of Dayton.

This fixture hangs in the hallway between the two log rooms.

The ceiling fixture at night.

The master bedroom has two sconces and the office has one.

Master bedroom sconce

The second master bedroom sconce

Kelley is working now to complete the loft railing. He is using Atlantic white cedar boards left from building the deck.

Kelley set the boards for the railing in place to check for size and placement. The center board will be wider, and our plan is for Kelley to saw a decorative cutout in it. Kelley has taken the boards out, and today he worked on putting finish on them.

And, of course, we have had more snow. About a foot of snow fell this weekend. Kelley and Erin spent much of the afternoon today getting the truck unstuck and shoveling the driveway. I am trying to remember that the snow is beautiful. Here are some snowy views from the front porch.

Standing on the front porch and looking toward the southwest.

Icicles on the log section

Front Porch

December 19, 2009

Lewis and the crew built the front porch this week and finished putting the poplar bark siding on the front of the timber frame. Bunny Vista is so different now–it begins to feel like home. From the road that runs along the ridge just west of us, the house is so intriguing. The porch roof and cedar posts somehow tie the house to the ground so that it looks as if it’s part of the landscape. As Erin said, “it looks so snug.”

So here are some photos from the building of the porch and from the second snowfall of December.

Aaron and Braxton scamper along on the rafters. Kelley says they were like Tigger bouncing up there. The rafters are hemlock, which Kelley bought several years ago and stored at John Boody's sawmill. The beam that supports the rafters is cypress, left over from the timber frame.

The bark shingles await.

It is such fun to stand on the porch and look at the log section--there is snow on the windows and logs and stone and even on the poplar bark siding.

Standing on the front porch watching the snow. I hear that the light fixtures are done, and I'm anxious to see how they will look beside the French doors. The porch rafters and roof are hemlock, which Kelley says is resistant to boring bees. Thank goodness for that.

From the top--hemlock roof, hemlock rafters, red cedar posts from Aaron Tammi's property, cypress rafter-bearing beam, Atlantic white cedar decking, cypress deck frame, hemlock deck joists

Let's see. . . from the top: hemlock porch roof, hemlock porch rafters, cypress rafter-bearing beam, red cedar posts from Aaron Tammi's family property, red cedar posts, Atlantic white cedar decking, cypress deck framing, hemlock deck joists.

Kelley says there is enough poplar bark to finish the work on the front--the basement entrance and the little porch between the two log rooms. The door for the basement is here, and Kelley is going to make a door for the little porch. Someday we will say goodbye to all the Tyvek.

Cypress Paneling and Poplar Bark

December 13, 2009

Kelley and the crew made cypress paneling for the hallway and the small office nook, which, along with the master bathroom and the kitchen, are in the shed addition at the back of the house. The paneling runs horizontally and is an amazing complement to the logs. Kelley took the photos of the paneled walls November 14.

On November 24, Lewis, Braxton, and Aaron started siding the timber frame with the poplar shingles. They had stripped the bark from poplar trees in the spring, and John Boody dried it in his kiln in the early fall. Once the bark was dried, the workers sawed it into shingles. The bark itself is very rough in texture, and some parts are covered with lichens. The rough vertical lines of the bark make an interesting contrast with the very regular horizontal lines of the siding. I think it is perfect with the stone foundation and the log walls.

At the left, the doorway in the log wall leads to the guest bathroom and laundry area. The doorway in the paneled wall nearer the camera leads to a closet, and the third doorway is the main entrance to the house.

I love this shot of what will be my office, which was taken from the dining area near the top of the stairwell. There will be lots of room for books and a great window above my desk. And there will be lots of electrical outlets. Just count 'em.

The crew began to put the poplar bark siding onto the timber frame section of the house on Nov. 24. Here's how it looked after a couple of shingles went on. Other shingles are in the foreground.

Here are the first few shingles, juxtaposed with the limestone at the bottom, the sandstone at the right, and the Tyvek at the top.

Aaron Tammi, Lewis Wright, and Braxton Wood

Once the porch is completed, the crew will continue siding the house with the poplar bark shingles.

Snow at Bunny Vista

December 11, 2009

The stone and log section of the house--see the retaining wall at the left and the remains of the Pufferbellies Christmas float in the foreground.

The work on Bunny Vista continues, and I’m excited that Lewis and the crew have put some of the poplar bark siding on the timber frame section of the house. They finished the deck of the front porch today, complete with posts made from cedar trees cut from Aaron Tammi’s family’s property. The joists for the porch deck are hemlock, which Kelley bought a long time ago and stored at John Boody’s sawmill. The decking is Atlantic white cedar. On the interior, the heating and cooling systems are complete, the drywall is nearly all installed, there is beautiful cypress paneling on the back hallway, and the ceiling is almost done.

Kelley walked around the house while it snowed and took these photos, so here’s a virtual visual tour of Bunny Vista as it looked last weekend. Just pretend you’re walking in the snow all the way around the house. Then come inside for a cup of coffee.

The cedar posts for the front porch with their little snow caps. The crew was able to put the decking on the porch after the snow melted this week.

At the right, under the porch, you can see the poplar bark siding. It transforms the house.

The gable at the bedroom end of the house has a temporary siding, which will be replaced with poplar bark.

The main entrance, at the right, will also have poplar bark siding. The kitchen is at the left. I love its big windows, which give such a clear view of the wooded area behind the house--also of what seems to be miles of mud, when the ground is not covered with snow.

Poplar bark siding is under the porch. The entire timber frame section will have poplar bark. The white doors, which lead to Kelley's workshop, will be painted red to match the other doors and windows. The porch will have a roof, and the crew put the porch deck on this week after the snow melted. The cedar posts supporting the porch are set on big stones.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 5, 2009
Bunny Vista. Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bunny Vista. Sunday, October 4, 2009

Coming this week:

Lewis’ crew will begin installing the board and batten siding on the shed addition at the back of the house.

The last casement window for the kitchen will arrive and may be installed.

Lewis may finish the last bit of chinking on the exterior bedroom wall.

Kelley is going to saw the battens for the siding.

Nick may come and continue working on the retaining walls.

Work will continue on the electricity and the heating and cooling system.

Windows, Walls, and Loft Stairway

October 5, 2009
Kelley worked hard to select the windows for Bunny Vista, and he was excited to see the sunset reflected in them.

Kelley worked hard to select the windows for Bunny Vista, and he was excited to see the sunset reflected in them.

The crew has installed most of the Bunny Vista windows. They will wait until the drywall is in the timber frame room before they install the front windows and French doors in that room. I think the windows are beautiful, and when Kelley showed me how easy they are to remove for washing, I thought about my mother sitting on the window sill struggling to wash the double hung windows in the house I grew up in. I am so glad Kelley picked windows that are beautiful and energy efficient and ones that will be simple for him to keep clean.

The kitchen has casement windows. The one at the left was damaged on arrival, but the replacement is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. The cypress siding is here for the shed addition, and

The kitchen has casement windows. The one at the left was damaged on arrival, but the replacement is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. The cypress siding is here for the shed addition, and the crew will start installing it this week.

Lewis has almost finished chinking the log section.

Lewis chinks the office office.

Lewis is putting a layer of Permachink on the office wall. He put the first exterior layer of chinking on this wall early in the summer.

Kelley has finished building the staircase for the loft. It is beautiful. The treads are cypress and the stringers are white pine. He and Lewis worked hard to design a beautiful staircase that would not be so steep that it would be difficult to get to the loft.

If you stand between the kitchen and the mudroom and look through the timber frame, you see the loft staircase against the interior log wall of the office.

If you stand between the kitchen and the mudroom and look through the timber frame, you see the loft staircase against the interior log wall of the office.

The treads are protected with paper and tape, but you can see the beautiful cypress wood on the underneath edges. I love the staircase.

The treads are protected with paper and tape, but you can see the beautiful cypress wood on the underneath edges. I love the staircase.

The View from the loft

The view from the loft

Another view from the loft, including a look at the hearthstone.

Another view from the loft, including a look at the hearthstone.

Sandstone Fireplace Photos

September 8, 2009

The fireplaces are almost finished, and the crew has removed the inside scaffolding. The fireplaces are looking more beautiful all the time.

Here's the fireplace, sans hearthstone.

Here's the fireplace, sans hearthstone.

The top of the chimney goes behind the timber frame's cherry braces.

The top of the chimney goes behind the timber frame's cherry braces and a principal rafter.

Center section

Lewis and crew will put the hearthstone in place after the flooring is in.

Lewis and crew will put the hearthstone in place after the flooring is in.

The large stone will be the hearthstone.

The large stone will be the hearthstone.

Lewis has laid out these stones for the chimney top. He will finish the chimney with limestone.

Lewis has readied these stones and laid them out for the chimney top.

Building the Fireplaces

September 2, 2009
This fireplace will be on the screened porch

This fireplace will be on the screened porch

For the past few weeks, Lewis Wright and the crew have been building the stone fireplaces. The fireplaces, which share a chimney, are back-t0-back on the south side of the house. One fireplace will be in the timber frame room, and the other will be on the screened porch. Lewis is using sandstone from an old barn in Middlebrook, which he also used for the foundation of the screened porch.  There is also some limestone in the outdoor fireplace.

The large stones framing the sides of the fireplace center section came from Goshen. You can also see a large stone running horizontally near the top of the section Lewis has completed. This stone also came from Goshen.

The large stones framing the sides of the fireplace center section came from Goshen. You can also see a large stone running horizontally near the top of the section Lewis has completed. This stone also came from Goshen.

This stone is a fantastic color, which is extraordinary with the cherry and cypress of the timber frame. I love the curved lintel.

This stone is a fantastic color, which is extraordinary with the cherry and cypress of the timber frame. I love the curved lintel. And, of course, the stonework is intricate and fascinating.

Lewis and Braxton sawed an opening in the roof for the chimney, which will extend several feet above the peak. Here, Lewis is cutting and shaping the stone.

Lewis and Braxton sawed an opening in the roof for the chimney, which will extend several feet above the peak. Here, Lewis is cutting and shaping the stone. Braxton is posing, and Kenny, who is filling in for Aaron, is sending up mortar and supplies. The large, lighter stones are limestone.

This section is right above where the mantel will be.

Kelley and Lewis are planning to build a wooden mantel, which will be at the base of the section outlined on the sides and top by the large stones.

The fireplace is very beautiful. The stonework is amazing, and the colors, design, and proportions of the work are perfect with the timber frame. The chimney and fireplace will also be wonderful to look at from outside the house, so harmonious with the foundation of the screened porch. I am trying hard to avoid the over-use of superlatives.

Yellow Cedar Roofing Shingles

August 17, 2009

Although we had thought we would have a metal roof for Bunny Vista, Kelley always believed that a cedar shingle roof would look best on the house and would complement the stone, log, bark, and cedar siding. After lots of research, he found an incredible price on yellow cedar shingles; a couple of weeks ago, a truck arrived from British Columbia filled with our shingles. Since then, Robert Wilfong and his crew of roofers have been working steadily, hand-nailing the shingles with stainless steel nails. The roof over the log section is finished, complete with roof caps. The roof over the timber frame is about two thirds done, so we expect the most of the roof to be finished mid-week. The roofers will return once the chimney is done and the porches are on to finish the job.

Here is what I learned about the cedar shingles:

Yellow cedar is actually not cedar–it is cypress. It grows only in the mountains of Alaska, British Columbia and Washington. Because of the short growing season it has very tight growth rings, making ie exceptionally strong, heavy, and dense. Its concentration of natural oils make it resistant to decay, and it weathers naturally to a silver gray. Right now it is, well, yellow, but when it has weathered, the color should be wonderful with the logs, stone, and bark.

The botanical name for yellow cedar is callitropsis nootkatensis. It is also often called Nootka cypress. Its name is derived from Nuu-chah-nulth, one of the indigenous peoples of Vancouver Island, Canada, on whose land the tree was first discovered. The Nootka people often used the wood for totem poles, canoes, and utensils. It is often used for boat building and for siding, shingles, and decking.

Roofers start nailing cedar shingles to the front of the log section.

Roofers start nailing cedar shingles to the front of the log section.

The roofers placed the shingles on the shed addition closer together because of the lower roof pitch.

The roofers placed the shingles on the shed addition closer together because of the lower roof pitch.

Nailing the roof caps at the peak of the log section.

Nailing the roof caps at the peak of the log section.

Bunny Vista with its crowning glory. The roofers will finish the back of the timber frame this week. At the right of the timber frame section, they have left a section unshingled--this is where the chimney will be. They will complete this part after the chimney is done.

Bunny Vista with its crowning glory. The roofers will finish the back of the timber frame this week. At the right of the timber frame section, they have left a section unshingled--this is where the chimney will be. They will complete this part after the chimney is done.

I am really excited to see the color of the shingles when they have been on the roof for a while. Kelley expects them to change in six months or so.

Rumford Fireplaces

August 11, 2009

Kelley has been on his toes for the past few weeks, keeping up with all the activity at Bunny Vista. We’ve had crews of electricians, plumbers, and roofers, in addition to Lewis, Braxton, and Aaron, and sometimes the area between the house and the trailer looks like a big traffic jam. The plumbers have finished the roughing in, and the plumbing passed inspection with flying colors. The electricians have wired the log rooms, the hallways, and the kitchen; with the log rooms wired, Braxton has been able to finish chinking the office, hallways, and guest bathroom. We continue to consult about wiring for the timber frame section, while we wait for the electrician to return.

The roofers have arrived and have begun laying the cedar shingles. The roof is gorgeous. I have another post partially written about the cedar Kelley found for the roof, and I’ll post it as soon as Kelley takes a few more photographs.

In other construction advances, Eric Thompson arrived with drawings for the heating and cooling system and lots of ideas for placement for the cooling ductwork and vents. The insulation guy has given us an estimate on the non-log portions of the house. Kelley has painted the walls of the mechanical room, and we are expecting the crew from the electric company to be here soon to run the line to the new house. The meter is in place, and the electrical panels passed inspection. Kelley says that John Boody has the kiln just about ready to dry the poplar bark and the flooring wood. Kelley has ordered the windows and doors from a company in Harrisonburg, which required much price comparing, compromising, and hair-pulling. I can hardly wait for the windows to arrive. The rest of the skylights are on order and should be here tomorrow or the next day.

Yesterday, Kelley and I went to look at tin lighting fixtures at Early American Tin Lighting, which is a small shop in the basement of an amazing log house several miles west of Ottobine. It was my first visit to Ottobine, which is about six miles west of Dayton. There is a large Mennonite community in that area. We spent several hours talking with Mike Walsh, the owner of the shop. We picked out three tin sconces for the log rooms, a chandelier for the hallway between the log rooms, two triangular exterior lanterns, a chandelier for the dining area, and three pendants for the kitchen. My heart is still beating pretty fast, and I am contemplating the purchase of a lantern for the lamp post, another sconce for the entry, and two more triangular lanterns for the big front porch. Kelley is trying, without much success, to calm me down. I had not intended to choose so many fixtures, but they were very beautiful and just seemed to fit the character of Bunny Vista so well.

Lewis has been hard at work on the two Bunny Vista fireplaces, which are back-to-back with one fireplace in the the timber frame room and one on the screened porch. He is building them of the same sandstone he used for the foundation of the screened porch, and I have been slipping up to the house every evening to check on the progress. The fireplaces are unbelievably beautiful, even in their unfinished state.

When Erin saw them a couple of weeks ago, she noticed immediately that they are very shallow. And Kelley was very happy to explain that the fireplaces are called Rumford fireplaces and are of a special design developed in the 18th century by Count Rumford. They were common from the late 18th century until the mid 19th century, when fireplaces were the main source of heat in many houses. They are tall and shallow and have narrow throats with curved and streamlined throats. Thomas Jefferson had Rumford fireplaces at Monticello, and I understand that Henry David Thoreau called them modern conveniences that everyone “takes for granted.”

Count Rumford was born Benjamin Thompson in Massachusetts in 1753. He was a British loyalist and left Massachusetts in 1776 to live in Europe. He was employed by the Bavarian government for many years, where he was given the title “Count of the Holy Roman Emperor” and was known for his work on the nature of heat. He also lived for some years in England where he published papers on his ideas for improving fireplaces. His fireplace design, tall and shallow with widely splayed sides, allowed more of the fire’s radiant heat to actually heat the room rather than escape up the chimney. To keep smoke from pouring into the room, a particular problem of this design, he redesigned and streamlined the throat of the fireplace so that the smoke shoots up the chimney.

Kelley ordered the Rumford components of the fireplace from Superior Clay Corporation, and Lewis set to work.

Kelley and Lewis bought these large stones from the same place near Goshen where they found the poplar bark. The largest stone is for the hearth.

Kelley and Lewis bought these large stones near Goshen from the same place they found the poplar bark. The largest stone will be the hearth.

Lewis moves one of the fireplace stones.

Lewis moves one of the fireplace stones.

 Lewis saws a fireplace stone.

Lewis saws the hearthstone.

Starting the fireplaces

Building the tall and shallow Rumford fireplaces

Building the tall and shallow Rumford fireplaces

This curved piece will form the front of one of the fireplace throats.

This curved piece forms one of the fireplace throats.

Rumford fireplaces are tall and narrow with widely splayed sides to help radiate heat into the room.

Rumford fireplaces are tall and narrow with widely splayed sides to help radiate heat into the room.

Back-to-back fireplaces.

Back-to-back fireplaces.

Both fireplaces have gorgeous curved lintels. This is the inside fireplace.

Both fireplaces have gorgeous curved lintels. This is the inside fireplace.

Braxton shares his new knowledge with Lewis and Aaron. I can't wait to see what's next.

Braxton shares his new knowledge with Lewis and Aaron. I can't wait to see what's next.


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