While many of you follow us for tiny house related information, there are a lot of people that reach out and ask for more updates pertaining to our new home and other fun shenanigans and milestones we experience, liiiiike the fact that Samantha is pregnant again! 🙂
We are beyond excited to be expecting another addition to our family and I am interested to see how our experience the second time around in this new to us (but really old) house compares to our amazing experience of becoming parents in the tiny house.
Which provides a timely transition into the bulk of this post, an update on the progression of our major ongoing remodel of the 106 year old home we moved into one year ago.
If you haven’t read them yet, the following three posts provide chronological context to the discovery, acquisition and substantial remodel:
Our last update in February left off with the mostly complete three main spaces of the home (living room, dining room, and kitchen) after stripping the core of the house down to its old, shiplap 1″x 8″ sub-floor. Since moving into this house we have lived in under 700 sf of ‘finished’ space, sharing the one finished bedroom and bathroom.
Shortly after the last house update the weather got nicer and we shifted our focus to outside projects for a while to create some outdoor space that was functional and we could be proud of. We’ll spend some time below touching on each project with text and photos.
SANDBOX: We kicked off the backyard projects by finishing up the ‘garden sand’ box started the fall prior. Grandpa Sweger packed his work overalls on a cross country visit and helped put the finishing touch on the slat-wood trellis before putting in some sandbox time with Aubrin Sage. I love this project so much because it has become a relaxing and enchanting spot to spend time with Aubrin sage, allowing her imagination to run free amidst the blooming flowers, climbing vines and ever changing light and shadows.
HOBBIT HOLE: Yes, that is what we are still calling that peculiar backyard structure so eloquently described as “something you’d find at a prohibition era moonshine operation in the backwoods of North Carolina.” Aubrin and I took on the task one week of removing the old sagging and rotting floor boards and replacing them with some reclaimed apple prop wood found on a friends orchard. The result is a beautiful and sturdy reclaimed floor that will, as part of the hobbit hole, likely host a wide variety of things in the coming years, including my dream of a ‘spookeasy’ bar at a future Halloween party.
COURTYARD: Perhaps the least enjoyable and most time consuming, yet potentially my favorite project to date has been the transformation of the courtyard. When we first saw this house I stepped into this unused space tucked between the dining room bay window and carport and immediately saw an opportunity. So, last Fall Aubrin and I began spending some of our days together driving around the Yakima Valley salvaging bricks with intentions of weaving their disparate pasts into a new common existence on our property.
Some days we found ourselves next to an orchard, digging through a pile of brick rubble from a demolished structure on Craig’s grandfathers property. Other days we loaded up bricks from Beth’s old interior chimney that David disassembled by hand, brick by brick during their remodel. And lastly we ended up in the backyard of an Instagram stranger, slowly digging bricks previously used as pavers around an old garden bed, and before that, who knows.
One brick in particular was discovered deep in the cascade mountains of our adopted home state by my mother and brother on a recent visit. Mostly covered by decades worth of organic matter fallen from the forest above, a small smattering of bricks were all that was left from an old bridge that supported a now defunct railroad line connecting the mines at Monty Cristo with the smelters in Everett along an incredibly precarious section of the Stillaguamish river. My mom popped that brick in her backpack without hesitation and carried it for the rest of the hike, knowing from personal experience how these memorable anecdotes add to the value of a project.
I remember sitting at the fire place of her brothers house and being able to point to any random stone in the surrounding chimney and he could weave a story about where it came from and how he had acquired it. This tradition continues into my mother’s custom built stone chimney and now, that brick in the South-East corner of our courtyard holds similar value.
Month after month the pile of bricks slowly grew in size in the corner of our carport while we began removing a significant amount of dirt from the courtyard using a single shovel and shoddy wheel barrel that came with the house to make room for three cubic yards of crushed stone (thanks again, Craig!) that we spread and hand-tamped until blisters formed. When one task got too tedious I would switch over to hours of cleaning the mortar off the bricks with a hammer claw and wire brush.
With gravel compacted and sand base leveled I began laying bricks energetically but the enthusiasm quickly waned when the project that I thought would take days, turned into months as I learned of the significant size difference not only between the bricks from different locations but also between the bricks from a single project which varied up to 3/4” in both axis depending on where they were located in the kiln. I began to recognize the density and approx size of a brick based on its color tone; a lighter red/orange brick was more porous, fragile and larger where as the darker red bricks were denser, stronger and significantly smaller.
Had I known the extent to which I would be cutting bricks [to keep a tight herringbone pattern] I would have invested in a wet saw. Instead I naively pushed forward, cutting/trimming approx 75% of the bricks with a 10$ masonry blade affixed to our high speed angle grinder while living behind safety glasses and dust mask.
I have never been more happy to be finished with a project than I am with this tedious and time consuming endeavor. Sure we could have paid someone to do this project in a matter of days but the uniformly manufactured paver bricks would have lacked the beautiful aesthetic texture and memories of father-daughter collection, not to mention the finished result being void of personal pride. It was a pleasure to gain a new appreciation for one of the original building blocks and all of the hands that have touched them and applications served throughout their individual histories.
VEGETABLE GARDEN PLANTERS: It was in this unused corner of the property that we decided to grow some food. last fall we built these planters in anticipation of spring planting but also as a place to put all of the dirt we needed to remove from the courtyard area and judging by the last photo , that must have been some very fertile dirt…In hindsight, I don’t think we need to plant 12 tomato plants this coming year…
GEAR ROOM: Off of the studio on the back of the house there is this small room/large closet addition that we decided would make the perfect gear room so we spent a couple days outfitting it with all of the proper custom built in plywood shelving and totes and moved our stuff in. There is a place for everything and much more room (empty totes) when needed for our growing family.
PAINTING: We had one piece of left over plywood after the gear room project so Aubrin and I created a triptych mountain silhouette painting for Samantha’s birthday!
STUDIO: This is easily the longest ongoing project to date and has progressed in many stages but we are thrilled to announce that is officially finished. At some point, just months after purchasing this home Brandon helped kick off the transformation of this space by tearing down all of the existing drywall on the ceiling as well as the giant cabinets that were bolted to the block walls.
The weird ceiling form was caused by an old girder truss that was required to reduce and support the long roof span composed of just 2″x 4″ rafters. To get rid of this girder truss and create a single pitch, single span ceiling, we sistered 2″x8″ rafters alongside of the existing 2″x4″ rafters in a slow and delicate process in which the girder truss was cut back 2′ at a time as each individual rafter was reinforced before moving on to the next.
And then this happened…
In an effort to create a more inspired and enjoyable space, better connected to the back deck and yard we knew we needed to create a wall of as much glass as possible. The solution was to removed the existing wall and replace it with an 8′-0″ wide french door unit and sloped transom window to allow a visual and physical connection between inside and outside.
The final stage was one last multi-week push to finish the inside, including hanging drywall on the ceiling (thanks again Brandon!), installing the false beams, cable lights, painting and trimming the space and putting down new flooring.
The finishing touch came when we finally replaced the solid door leading into the kitchen with a beautiful oak 10 lite door that allowed view out into the studio and a lot of light from the skylight into the previously dark corner of the kitchen. Also, a bonus mini project next to the door: a micro pantry out of the unused space under the stairs!
UPSTAIRS: I wish we could say that a break is in order after all of that progress but our impending April addition is putting the pressure on to finish the upstairs master bedroom and bathroom ASAP, and it currently looks like this….
One of our splurges during the kitchen project was using hand made ceramic tile from MERCURY MOSAICS. the intimate connection between the hand and mind of the artisan and the tile allows for variability unmatched by large machine made tile. We loved the product and the service so much that we could not imagine using anything but in our Master Bath and we have been conversing with Mercury Mosaics owner, Mercedes for months now, hashing out an incredible one of a kind tile installation that shows off what their capable of producing. our goal is to create a sweeping floor to ceiling three wall tile gradient that evolves from hexagons to diamonds, from grey to white, and from gloss to matte finish.
We have put in extra planning to create a truly curbless shower design with frame-less glass to really allow this tile install to be the focal point. And then there is the spa nook; a hybrid bedroom/bathroom space wrapped in a slat wood and backed by a tile feature wall with a free standing soak tub and tub filler as the focal point. We are really making up for all those years living in a tub less tiny house!
Below is a sneak peak at some tile samples and fixture choices as we gear up for a dramatic transformation. Be sure to pay MERCURY MOSAICS a visit if you have a cool tile idea and if there is enough left overs you may see a new Mercury Mosaic Backspash in SHED tiny house in the future!