In the Park City house, we have three bedrooms that all are set up nearly identically with wall-mounted TVs. We fed the wires through the wall, but then have the pesky cable box to contend with. I wanted a shallow media shelf of some kind that would accommodate a cable box and a DVD player, but be relatively small and unobtrusive. The main problem with some of the products on the market is that they are too deep. I really wanted something about 11 inches deep, which is plenty for the items to be stored. So, I designed a shelving unit that could be assembled from tubing and flat shelves. Here’s what I ended up with. It’s 32″ W x 11″ D x 21-1/2″ H.
I originally wanted to do it in MDF with PVC pipe or galvanized pipe, but my wife thought it was too raw. Here’s the prototype I whipped up of that concept using about $15 worth of Home Depot parts. (I used white “Sharkbite” PET tubing and particleboard shelving, with plumbing strapping on the diagonal in back for stiffening.) I kind of like it as is, and in fact, used it for a year in the house with no complaints.
My architects like hanging shelves and I do too. They often take the “cowboy” approach of using galvanized threaded rod and nuts and washers to support the shelving. I wanted something a little more refined, but didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for fussy little European hardware bits. Here’s a solution I came up with, which has proven to be excellent in all respects.
The building materials supplier had promised hemlock stair parts would be delivered two days before our target completion date. Eric, the finish carpenter, was ready to install the stair in a day. Then, they flaked out on us, saying it would be two more weeks. We needed Plan B.
We found that MacBeath Hardwood had clear, vertical-grain douglas fir in stock in rough 4/4 thickness. So, we bought a couple of hundred board feet of the material and planned to set up our own mill to make the flooring, treads, and risers. MacBeath delivered the material to the job site in FOUR HOURS. The wood was beautiful and mostly in 14-16′ lengths. Had I known how nice this material was, I would have used it for door/window casing too. (However, it was expensive…about $6/bf for the rough material.)
Making blank walls visually interesting is a challenge. Here’s one idea that worked out very well. I was inspired by the arrival in the mail of my son’s thick catalog of skateboard decks. We found a cool collection of Warhol images on decks and bought five of them for a total of less than $200. Here they are on his wall.
A surprising amount of work lies between getting a certificate of occupancy (i.e., technically finishing the house) and moving in. In my case, the C.O. was issued on Tuesday and my family was scheduled to arrive on Thursday. I had ordered a house full of stuff which was piled in boxes everywhere as we were finishing the house. But, first, the layers of dust had to be removed. A hardworking crew of husband, wife, and 17-year-old son came in at 5pm on Tuesday and worked until 1am on Wednesday to clean the house. They vacuumed up a lot of dust, wiped down all surfaces, did a quick wash of interior window surfaces, mopped floors, and cleaned bathrooms. Wednesday and Thursday I sealed floors and unpacked boxes.
Eric and Spencer, the finish carpenters, have been highly versatile contributors. They banged out the obvious jobs like hanging doors, installing the wood ceiling, and finishing stairs. But, they also have been willing to do a lot of the interior steel work, they are installing all the door hardware, and they built all the closet interiors (which I’ll feature in a separate post).
One of the cool details in the house is an 18″ wide bench that essentially runs the length of the house. Here, is the bench in progress, along the section of the great room in front of the fireplace. The wall around the fireplace will be 10 gauge steel panels with exposed fasteners. We’re installing those over landscape fabric, as we did the barnwood and ceiling.
Here’s the bench in the more-or-less finished space.
Whoa. It’s crunch time. We’re trying to finish this house in the next 10 days. There are about a dozen guys scrambling all over the place. The great room is still a wood shop, but the painters are trying to work around everything.
I suspect if you have a 12-18 month construction schedule you can avoid this. But, we’ll finish this house 7-1/2 months after breaking ground. That requires some overlapping of tasks.
Of course everyone wants to “go last.” More precisely, the painter, electrician, and plumber all declared that they should be the last people on the job. I suspect that if I had wood floors, the floor guys would also want to go last. The reality is that everyone ends up iterating a bit at the end to work around each other.
I saw a nice wall made by the Lucky Dumpster which was a mosaic of barnwood pieces. I had Trestlewood mill up a variety of colors of barnwood into tongue-and-groove “flooring.” Eric, my finish carpenter, then installed the pieces on the family room wall. It’s excellent.
The baseboard in this house is 1/8″ x 3″ hot-rolled steel strip. It came in 20 ft. lengths and was installed with McFeely’s washer-head combo-drive screws centered on the strip. The finish carpenters did it. They were curious if not skeptical initially. By the end, they loved this stuff. There is only one seam in the entire house (on a 25 ft. wall). It went up easily. I plan to do nothing to this. Everyone likes the way it looks too. Did I mention it is super cheap ($0.60/ft or so)?
Tile is hard to choose. Paint not quite as bad. Still, there are lots of choices.
I’m going with the Benjamin Moore “Affinity Colors” which allegedly can be mixed and matched arbitrarily. Here I’m trying out a few options. Home Depot will mix 8 oz. jars of paint from the Benjamin Moore fan deck chips for about $3 per jar. So, I had a bunch of colors made and tried them out. I knew this, but forgot: don’t test really subtle differences; they don’t matter much, and are so subtle it isn’t clear the small swatches would tell you much. Just test the really distinct alternatives. However, you should definitely test. In my case, I decided that these reds were just too red. I’m not going to use them. I’m using variants on the khaki and two shades of the “pumpkin.”