Garden Update: Soil Prep

It was a bit of a rainy weekend, so there wasn’t too much major gardening going on. Albo installed a new hose reel in the back (got to keep that hose clutter under control), and his mum brought a gift of two tomato plants (Sungold and Pruden’s Purple) and gigantic containers to grow them in. Looking forward to some colorful salads this summer!

every day I'm shoveling

The step gardens are settling in nicely, and I started doing some soil prep on the west side for a future peony border. This involved digging out some very sandy, rocky soil and filling in with 75% topsoil and 25% composted cow manure. That’ll be a much happier environment for our plants!

Carpet Install

After 8 months or so of living with the rough and ready OSB floor, we thought it was about time to get the carpet installed. Of course it took that long just to prepare for it, since essentially everything should be done before you put it down.

We did a lot of research before we chose this carpet. Originally we wanted hardwood, but the expense of prefinished and the laborious installation of unfinished made us look toward other choices. A lot of people dislike carpet for various reasons, but we love how cozy it makes a room feel, and we take our shoes off at home so it stays clean. At less than half the cost of hardwood, it was financially the best choice, too.

Albo’s parents have a Berber style wall-to-wall that still looks great after a dozen years, so we knew we wanted something similar. We explored several alternative fibers – “green” carpets made of recycled soda bottles, corn fiber, renewable Nylon 6, or natural wool – but unfortunately they were too expensive, or didn’t come in the durable Berber we wanted. We found a local company who steered us towards this Shaw carpet (called “Asteroid”), which can be reclaimed by the manufacturer at the end of its life cycle, will last a very long time, and has minimal offgassing. The installers used carpet pads of recycled material and tacked (rather than glued) the edges to further reduce nasty chemicals.

Tack tracks or whatever they’re called¬†

Padding

Unrolling and positioning

How to put everything in the kitchen

Heat seaming

Edge finishing

Finally seeing all the details come together

Next day was bedrooms so everything had to be moved out

Did we really live with that awful floor for 8+ months?

Seams very well

Gardening: Containers and Step Gardens

Remember when we built these? It’s finally time to fill them in! Inspired by a Japanese house design book, we built these “step gardens” to provide a beautiful view from our downstairs windows. Eventually we’ll be able to enjoy them from our soaking tub, but right now those rooms are our storage and workshop areas.¬†

First step: get topsoil and moo-doo to fill in the wooden retaining walls! Two days of hard work with the wheelbarrow – topsoil may be the heaviest substance in the universe.

Went shopping for plants with the Garden Designer (aka Albo’s mum – she’s a genius!)… picked up our perennials from Rocky Dale Gardens, and annuals from New Leaf Organics. Also got a few transplants from our folks- a little bit of home.

The west side is very shady – we laid out woodland plants that don’t need much sun:

Dug in everything this morning.


[Click to View plant “Notes” at flickr]

Hostas, thyme, saxifrage and more for the sunnier side:


[Click to View plant “Notes” at flickr]

Containers for the front entry:

And a few for the sunny back garden –¬†calibrachoa, impatiens and coleus.

We can’t wait to do more, but we don’t want to get in the way of building the deck and front steps – so the gardeners will tread carefully for now!

Even more floor…

Continued work on the floor by the sliders…

Gluing the elements just looks like a bunch of stuff everywhere!

Had to redo an area of the master bathroom floor since the piece we used had a non-removable crease in it.
This is from manufacturing as the giant rolls of marmo are hung when drying, and are usually cut out before being shipped. We knew this but still went ahead since it was in the middle of the floor. Never settled, so after the kitchen floor was set, Bernie the Installer worked his magic in the bathroom.

Finished the entry floor! Four separate pieces installed together. Had fun in the closets with some left over black.
Oak threshold finishes the edge and allows the soon-to-be-installed carpet to butt against it. Mats are simple indoor/outdoor from Shaw carpet that will protect the marmo in this high traffic area. Will play a larger roll in the VT winters.

More flooring!

Working on the entry floor now…

Had to take off the already installed baseboard (our mistake to put it on), but damage was minimal.

Maple plywood subfloor measuring and cutting.

Once again Marmoleum is going down since it’s inexpensive, “green”, and quick and easy to install now that we’re done it a bunch of times.
Here you see the marmo attached to the plywood and just set in place. The mats will be fairly permanent to keep the surface looking nice and keep dirt/grit/ice/snow etc. contained.

Testing the oak threshold with our little carpet sample.

In addition to the entry, we’re also working on the “staging area” by the sliding doors that will take us out to the currently non-existent deck.

Finishing is in the details…

Spending a lot of time with the tiny detailing around the windows, casing and baseboards.

Due to imperfections in the sheetrock, when you add some baseboard you sometimes get gaps here and there. You think slapping some paint on will do the trick, but it doesn’t. It dries and then cracks.

So the solution and the biggest godsend for painters is white silicone caulk. This stuff is the greatest. A nice thin bead along every edge in the house, then wipe away the excess with your finger. Takes a bit of practice, but it’s worth it.

I’m even experimenting using it on the window returns. Here’s a nice “with and without” example.

Speaker Bench

We wanted something that looked nice, hid the speakers, and could possibly be used for seating, and a bench seemed to fit all three. Cushions might come later.

Simple plywood construction of some verticals, pocket-screwed to the osb flooring, combined with another Marmoleum countertop. The black is another remnant piece (1/3 of the cost), found at a local construction company.

Vent box extension. Our third now, showing how things have changed since the original design of the heating system, and placement in the floor.

Top installed and edge scribed into place. The wall was fairly straight which surprised us.

Already a nice place to sit and enjoy the sun

Nice clean edges

All tidy, with just the covers remaining. These will be just like speaker grills – stretched black fabric on a frame – hiding the components underneath.

Here it is finished. Built four front frames and wrapped black speaker grill cloth. Held in place by magnets for easy removal.

Dining Room Built-In Drawers

The drawers (like the bedroom doors) are recycled from a previous project (where Dad works), and we were able to take our pick from a number of different sizes.

Designing the layout to fit to our given space.

More edge banding for the carcass that the selected six drawers will sit in.

One (of the two) semi-finished units in place under the office. Drawer fronts and kick will come later.



A second mirror-imaged unit will sit to the left, leaving a 22″ gap between, and there we will install a small door leading to John Malkovich’s brain, as well as cables under the office.

The amazing thing is we picked out the drawers this morning, and were installing the unit after lunch! How lucky we are in having Dad’s amazing skills available to us.

Here’s both sets of built-ins for the dining room.

And here’s the finished kick and casing around them.