Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back of Our House: A Photo Chronicle

Here's a shot of the back of our house as we began our renovation. It seriously needed work! You can see the foundation for the new square footage. We decided to make the house square to the sunroom, which is the white portion to the right in this image. This is giving us a little extra room in the kitchen and the new kid's bathroom.

Here, you can see we're moving the electrical box. We were not happy with how the panel was moved the first time. So, our crew had to redo what was done by the electrician. It was much neater when completed as you can see in the next pic.

Here, the new square footage addition is framed out and we've added our doors and window. They've not yet started the concrete landing yet, so it was a little tough getting in and out of the house, especially with a new baby. Our dog Loretta had the worst time, though. She's 17 years old!

Here we have the plywood going up. Originally, we installed the French doors European style, which means they were opening in as they are meant to be. But, we regretted this install immediately. They took up too much room from our new bathroom space. Ugh!

Here's what's left of our old concrete back steps. Good thing we could use this concrete in the front yard. It helped to build up what will later be our veranda. 

Ahhhh, the concrete back steps. This required so much cement, we had to bring in a cement truck with a hose. That was an exciting day! These are so much easier to walk up and down. Our dogs love to lay on the top deck and sun themselves. By the way, that single three-lite door enters into our kitchen. Notice the roof is gone!

Here's a shot of the new roof going up. Always worried about the next rain, we couldn't get this on fast enough.

So many decisions when building a house: What did we want to do above the concrete back steps? We opted for  a small awning with corbels. We had to sacrifice a little bit of sunlight. But, it provides some nice rain protection should we need it. And the corbels are pretty.

Here's a shot with the black paper and lathing. Who knew there were so many steps?

Here, you can see the nice detail work on the rafters peeking out. The corbels were installed later.

I was getting really excited by the time I took this photo, but I admit I did start doubting my color choices because I do like the modern look of this gray coat. It's called the scratch coat. It still required a brown coat on and then, the final stucco or stone treatment on top of that. I could imagine a nice gray exterior with lightly stained doors. Modern, clean and nice.

Another view of those corbels.

One more shot. Stay tuned: We're not yet finished with the back of the house. Getting there!

Friday, November 9, 2012

In Love With Stone Houses

We just ordered the stone for our house facade this week. It's not actually real stone, but concrete made to look like stone—what's known as cultured stone—from the manufacturer Eldorado Stone. There is something about stone that I just love. Growing up in upstate New York, I've seen plenty of beautiful stone homes, many of them farmhouses like this one shown above. While I'm partial to Provence-style stone homes or those stone farmhouses of Tuscany, stone is a building material used for its practicality and is beautiful in any location. It's sturdy. It's timeless. This beautiful house is located in St. Lawrence County in Northern New York and it's constructed of Potsdam sandstone. This particular house has been for sale for a few years now—one of the many houses I dream about owning. It's located on more than 500 acres, which contains a former dairy farm and robust hunting grounds in the heart of an old order Amish community. This house, like many stone homes, looks like it will be standing for a long time, passing through many generations and lifetimes.

Here's another stone house, Colonial style, in upstate New York. Named the "Horton Sayer House," this historic beauty was  built in 1766. It's been around for more than two centuries already and will likely be around for quite a few more. How many other homes will live longer than a 100 years or so? Stone weathers time like nothing else—and looks fabulous while doing it.
I used to fantasize about buying an old stone church and converting it into a house. But, finding one for sale in an area you actually want to live can be a challenge! This stone church with a breathtaking view to boot is located on New Zealand's South Island. (And to my knowledge is not for sale.)

Nor is this one for sale. But, wow, if it was, I would seriously consider moving to Romania, which is where this church, called Densus, is located. This towering structure feels immediately protective. So, even though it's not far from Transylvania,  yes, that's home to Dracula, its sheer solidity seems strong enough to quell even the discontented spirit of Vlad the Impaler. 

Here's one in the South of France. A great place for inspiration is looking for villas for rent online, which is how I came by this enchanting stalwart facade.

The vibe on this stone house is vacation getaway, well, because it is. You can rent it if you like. I think vacation getaway is the feeling I like to have most of the time, even when I'm not on vacation. Wake up: Be on vacation. Come home: Be on vacation. It's a great way to live.

Another lovely getaway in the South of France. This one is called Lumiere. I guess if you live in such a cool house, you can give it a name without sounding pretentious. Note to self: Come up with some cool house names. Maybe Little Caw Cottage or Lavender Farm or Rosemary Ranch. OK. I'll keep working on this. ...

Is this the entrance to heaven? In my version it is. : )

You gotta love the French. They have the nerve to paint their shutters such funky colors. The stone facade and shutters here are not even the same value or chroma or hue, but they just work. Like star-crossed lovers with a big age gap, they say "unorthodox, never boring and I'll do whatever I please, merci beaucoup."

This incredible image, which nicely depicts the juxtaposition of stone and red roses was taken by Michael  Cosgrove. It's such a striking contrast between that which is unyielding and fixed with something so soft and transient that I suspect this visual metaphor is working on my psyche at a level so deep that I truly can't fathom consciously its full effect. I guess that's why they call Houzz house porn. Do you feel your breath hitching a tiny bit or is it just me?
(Oh, it's just me.)

Another image from Michael Cosgrove. The villa is in a hamlet in the Southern region of France. I do like the pancake cobble by the way.

Another villa for rent in the South of France. But, with the delightful palm tree it looks like it could be in Beverly Hills.

This 400-year-old chapel is actually in Southern California. But, it was moved here—stone by stone—from Dijon, France by the owners of Cal-a-Vie, a spa in San Diego county.

Here's another view of the chapel. I can see why people like to get married here. 

My ode to stone houses would not be complete without a nod to the location used in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. This house, where the movie was shot, has apparently been completely renovated and is now available for rent.

Here is an inside shot of the Under the Tuscan Sun house. When a house is really made from stone (not the cultured kind), you get some great architectural details like this stone arch.

Another interior shot. I do love the bright, airy feeling of this space. Too much stone would be overpowering, but juxtaposed with the white walls it lifts the spirits.

An exterior shot of the renovated Under the Tuscan sun house.

Another interior shot. I could look at images from this house all day. Better get back to work.

Lastly, this is a house from the Eldorado Stone website Imagine gallery. This is Veneto fieldledge, which is the style of stone we'll be putting on the exterior of most of our home. We already used the Veneto on our guesthouse and garage, so we'll continue with it to remain consistent on the main house. It does have some nice dusty terra cotta tones, which are rather hard to spot in this image. But, it is lovely.