Saturday, September 25, 2010

Renovation Update 9.25.10

I came home from work one day this week and found they had started the siding on the front of the house.  This would be exciting if it weren't the wrong siding.

This is a closeup of it.  Remember when I was talking about my conceptual sculpture class and how forms (shapes) and materials have the ability to communicate nonverbally?  Well, this siding says Adirondack cabin or maybe country cottage to me.  It's all about the bevel between each piece.  The difference is really subtle but it communicates very differently.

You might use it here it you were trying to create this look.

Or you might remember the horizontal paneling from the bedroom of HGTV's Sarah's House. 

It's perfectly lovely in these rooms, but it's not the look I'm going for.

This is what it should look like...

...or this.

I put in an emergency call to the contractor.   The architect didn't specify what it should be and he made an assumption because this is the only kind of tongue-and-groove cedar that's available.   

The problem:  the material I want isn't available; $1000 of the wrong material was already primed, cut and partially installed.

The solution:   take down what was already done, cut the bevels off both sides and then route new tongues and grooves on both sides.

This is the end result.  It's a little difficult to see with the natural grain but if you go back up to the first photo, you'll see the difference.

This shows it a little better.

(You can't imagine how great all this freshly cut cedar smells!)

And here's a close up.  Once it's painted, I think it will perfectly replicate the original siding found on many of the local Greek Revivals.  

I'm pleased with how gracefully the contractor dealt with this little misstep.  Sam admitted that they thought the choice was a little odd and that he should have asked.  In the end, they wanted it to be correct and getting to the solution was pretty easy.  And we're both really pleased with the outcome.

Meanwhile inside...

I pretty much cleaned the living room out so avoid plaster dust getting on everything and, as I mentioned, the new windows give a whole new classical, elegant feeling to the room.  In fact, now that I'm getting a feeling for what the outside is going to look and feel like, I'm not so sure my vintage cottage look is going to work at all.  

So I started to pull a few things from around the house that sort of "fit" the vibe I was getting from the windows.

This is what I started with.  The charcoal gray sofa stays.  I pulled this table from the bedroom upstairs.  I recently bought a pair of large cast iron pineapple finials on eBay and I put one of them on the table.  (I love architectural salvage!)

I added a mid-Century abstract drawing on the wall and threw a little cubist drawing in a gold frame into the mix.  The placement might change but I'm just looking for things that fit my vision.  I think a few Snug Harbor Farm topiaries would be great too.

I also love the combination of gray and brown and I think a little wood would warm up the gray and cream.

I'm really loving these Louis chairs...

...maybe with something modern and graphic like this Kelly Wearstler print.

The backs of the chairs would face the wall and would almost never be seen so I'd be tempted to do something totally unexpected on the back of the chair like this print from Wendy Lewis' Textile Trunk.

...or maybe I could cut the front off of some Paul Smith shirts and have the buttons go straight down the back.  That would be unexpected!

I can also envision the walls paneled out with mouldings...

...and a pale grisaille mural inside the panels...

...with rusty industrial pieces hung right over it.

That's what I'm thinking today.  Tomorrow it could be this...

I think I need a designer to reign me in.


  1. Ok kiddo I'm with you all the way but the finials, sorry baby. Are they repro's are the real thing I can't tell from the photos? You are so right on the mark on everything the house is looking amazing. Oh, be careful of topiaries, think harder. Again, the place looks great, love the surprise behind the chairs. Yours truly, Your Unoffical Designer

  2. No offense taken, Kevin. The finials are real, 1920s, off of some huge street lamps somewhere.

  3. hey steve,

    i'm no designer but please do not go for that last pic you put up. please.

    i love all the other choices instead and the siding, wow, out of this world.


  4. Hola Steve, I remember when building our house, which took one and a half years, it happened so many times we had to turned down things that were not supposed to be there, delaying the building and costing us much more money. I can see that this happens all over, not only here in Chile.
    Hope it doesn´t happen again to you!!! Be there as much as you can, watching over everything!!!

  5. Not the first time I've been impressed with your incredible attention to detail. That's really wonderful that the contractor and his crew were able to fix the siding. You're right, too; it was well worth the extra effort! I know what you mean about windows changing the feel of a room. I now have so much light in my dining room that I'm thinking a simple, white roman shade may be all it needs.

  6. love the siding choice - you are so right, little change in the bevel changed the entire look. I am loving this transformation take place before my eyes. All the best, Lori

  7. Ah, the Urban Cottage is in good hands. It looks wonderful and I know that the final photo is a joke. (And you're having too much fun yourself to call in a designer.) But I don't know how some people can just hand over their house keys to the workmen and disappear 'til it's all done. We always seem to have had experiences similar to yours.

  8. Do you have any idea how LUCKY you are to have such a great contractor?? Clone him and you could make a mint! It is amazing isn't it how the little details make all the difference.

    And Yes, Yes, Yes to all your collected items from the house (I 'love' the pineapple finials, as we love iron architectural pieces too!) and all your inspiration photos (except that last one... if you start to do that call me and I can be there in an hour to stop you!!) I love how the new windows have totally changed your design aesthetic for that room- again, it's the details!
    It's all coming together beautifully!

  9. It's amazing how important those "little" details are in the whole scheme of things. Now I'd be so disappointed if you didn't do up your room like that last photo!

  10. Well, swoon. This is all perfect and lovely. The difference in the siding is amazing.

  11. Aw yes, memories...Bravo for your contractor to right the wrong - he's a keeper! And love what you've put together in the 'new' room. It's so fascinating how the details of our homes inspire us to create complimentary designs. I love it.

  12. Hi Steve
    I think the crew working on your home have done an amazing, and quick, job. I Love the idea of the shirtfront for the back of chairs, so unexpected yet what a detail! The house really looks amazing. I'm so excited and it's not even mine! I really think you must be joking about the hiring a designer thing, you could teach a lot of them a lesson or two. When do you think they'll get around to slapping some paint on those boards?? I think the end result will be stunning. You may want to give your contractor a head's up, I think his phone will be ringing a little bit more. He seems to be more craftsman than GC.

  13. The siding is perfect - thankfully you were able to get it corrected. I would, personally, think twice about using the Kelly Wearstler fabric. Much as I love it, I think it is going to look dated very soon. I would go for something similar but not so recognizable.

  14. Love the direction you're heading in, inside! What an amazing difference it made, to have that siding corrected. karin

  15. What a great post. I have a chair like yours and I'm on the fence about doing it in leopard next. Pick a fabric you love! The siding looks great, too. Love love that gray sofa.