Saturday, May 17, 2014

Two houses into one....and counting.

Construction is complete. There are still boxes to open and deal with, guest rooms and whole upstairs is in the works. Major artwork is hung, but the smaller pieces are here and there on the floor leaning against walls I've yet to commit to. They say moving is one of the top stressful experiences to go through. Well, as I canvased my house this morning after consuming copious amounts of fine red wine last night, a groggy panic set in. I realized that while I've accomplished a lot, there is a woeful amount left to deal with. But, after receiving a request for a blog update from my dear friend May Hay, I decided to take a few pics that I'm pretty happy with. I didn't straighten anything, just pointed and shot as things are, including a glimpse of my irish setter, the one and only Scarlett O'Hara. She thinks this house was built just for her.

 Breakfast Room with beautiful pink peonies.

Living Room

Living Room with kitchen beyond, not completely cleaned up from last nights dinner gathering with that fine red wine..... those pillows on the sofa are from One Kings Lane :-)

This is the view as I walk from my bedroom toward the entry/dining hall, living room beyond.
The large french biblioteque at left belonged to my mother in law, Virginia Samford. It had been painted many times and has been in storage for almost 22 years. I saw a beauty in this, contrary to my husband John who had never liked the piece when his mother brought it home when he was 13. But after stripping most (I left a few traces of turquoise) of it's paint, and painted the interior white, it cleaned up just fine. The original woven wire is in the doors and it holds my beloved architectural and design book library. See also the photo below where it's on the right.
 The photo below is our bar. The featured artifact on the back wall are ancient doors of carved wood and metal details we believe are from a ship of possibly Moroccan origin, but we will never know for sure.

Close up of bar. Things aren't quite in their place yet. Some of these glasses will go in our china cabinets that needed a little work before being put in place. 

So that's it for now. I'll post more photos as the house takes shape. How's that May Hay?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Finally a new post. We are about a month from completion of the new house. A majority of the trim, a good bit of cabinets and as of yesterday some of the box beams made from reclaimed heart pine are in. Most of the lighting is in and most of the surfaces have at least one coat of paint. So many details are still being tweaked and confirmed. It's a little like Christmas seeing everything unboxed and unwrapped, and voil'a there it is. No matter how many times I've sketched, measured and planned on things, you're never really sure how it's all going to turn out. Mostly though, it's all a delight to see unfold. Here are a few photos to date.

View to the front from the master study. It's interesting to finally see the quality of light in this space. I believe I'll look forward to going to work here!

Above- view of fireplace with Tabby using whole oyster shells.

I spent a few days on local Ossabaw Island a couple of years ago with some artist friends (45 minutes by boat from here), and I became really intrigued with the tabby structures still standing there. Here are a few pics below. The more commonly seen of this material in current times is the tabby with crushed shells. The original form though was a true structural almost modular form, not just a coating. On Ossabaw, I was taken with the more whole oyster shell version seen below. I'm sure it took years of exposure to the elements for the shells to be revealed like this. But it inspired me to look into finding someone who might could create a similar look in my new low country home. It's worth going to the the link above for Tabby's entire interesting history.
After finding the craftsman to build the tabby, and after he made 3 samples, I was hesitant that this would work out. I could easily have left the beautiful brick, painted white as seen on the adjacent walls. But Omar, our tabby craftsman, did the most meticulous job of constructing the tabby surface. I don't think one drop of water got on the heart pine floor below. Now, I can breath better (as well as my contractors) that it turned out so well and nice to show a nod to the local building history. Although it's not used as a structural element, it's become a work of art.

Old tabby structures on Ossabaw Island, GA.

This photo shows a little of the scaffolding for constructing the tabby wall.
Thank you Omar!!

This photo shows freshly painted shutters, arranged here to let dry. When these are in place, the house will take on a different look. 

Terraced brick steps, the full length of the front porch allow a gradual, easy stride into the house.

Entry hall, new boxed beams in place, and view of the ancestral lumber in place in the ceiling. I wrote about the ancestral lumber being delivered here earlier this summer by way of a 27' Penske truck I drove myself. It's been very gratifying to see it actually in place. This was another material we all had our doubts about. But so glad and grateful it turned out beautifully. It had to be run through a plainer at least twice to sand most of the various colors of paint off.

View looking toward master bedroom with main entry door to left. Shown here are two of the 
passageways aligned with boxed, reclaimed heart pine material. I decided to use just the outside of these beams, knowing that Harley Ashbaugh could assemble them maintaining their original authenticity. We used most of the inside meat of the beams for other uses in the house.

Here is one of the master bath vanities. It has liming wax as a finish with beautiful white marble counters. The house is still under construction so things are still a little messy, but it's getting there!

 The famous tub from NYC showroom Waterworks, is in place finally.

Another view of the study, showing the beauty of these large, double hung windows.

Last but not least, here is a front view of our Carriage House. Although those doors are beautiful, they were made to be painted.

To be continued……..

Friday, October 11, 2013

Worth Writing Home About

I know it's been since July that I gave my blog an updated post. There was simply "nothing to write home about". The roof on our new home is complete which is the feature where we get most compliments. It's pure and simple. Most of the sheet rock has been installed and now the interior brick is being laid. I take a good bit of pride in the wood being used in this house. As I've mentioned, the flooring is beautiful heart pine which I got from Easley, SC. which arrived back in June and had to be stored over the summer. I like to get material in ahead of time because in this business you don't want to be caught waiting on anything to get delivered in order to get work done. All of the wood was stored in a nice, dry space, even though we had heavy rains awllllll  summer long. We stacked most of it carefully  with cross pieces of other wood to lift it off the floor, with one exception. Some of the nice 12" x 16' x 5/4" pieces were sitting flat on the concrete right on top of a crack. So a few weeks ago we moved it all out to go to a local mill and low and behold as we got down to the bottom 3 boards, little white nasty, slimy bugs, yes termites, were feasting on my mighty fine pine lumber. So, we had to load it all up to get zapped with some vile poison to kill the bas*ards. I tell myself, it could have been worse. We really only lost 50% of just one of those boards. 

So in the photo above is the impressive 26' Penske truck I rented to go fetch ancestral lumber with my trusty nephew Jones. That lumber has been in storage for some time. It's from a cottage that we tore down on the family farm I've mentioned earlier. That cottage by the way, was where my Mother's parents lived in the first couple of years of their new marriage back in about 1932. We decided to tear it down, very carefully because the structure was starting to go and the house would need restoring or removing, the latter of course is what we decided. There is a lot of nice wide boards I'll be using on some of the ceilings of my new dwelling.  Driving one of these trucks through the streets of Savannah, GA with all those low lying limbs of the live oaks lining the streets is a little unsettling. You earn a serious judgement of what 12'-6" looks like, in height! Needless to say, we had this load treated just like the pine flooring in case there were any bugs lurking about.

I'll be glad when we get to the phase where the dumpster is removed! 

To the left is some of the heart pine flooring we had gauged at a local mill so that it won't cup once it's installed.

At first glance, I didn't think some of this lumber was going to be worth much till I  started unloading it (with lots of help) board by board. I looked at a sample with the mill owner who ran it through to remove a thin, thin layer, leaving just a spec of paint. That's how I knew I had some interesting material. It's going to work, and I'll have some nice boards left over to use for something else. And by the way, I can't go on another word with out mentioning how accommodating and helpful my contractors, Brian and Scott Grant of Grant Homes have been in all these extra special steps in building this house. They've tolerated my old wood and termite issues with a no worry "we can fix this" attitude. 

The things I haven't written about are the planning, budgeting and procuring being done for the interior furnishings. John and I have our lives stored in several storage facilities. We were in Birmingham a few weeks ago and went through most everything, reorganizing items that: 
1. will go to the new house 
2. Will be available for our children to go through if they can use something 
3. Good Will or similar 
4. the upholsterer or refinisher.

So while at The Lexington Junior League Horse Show this summer, I found a beautiful side board and mirror which have since made it safely to storage in Birmingham awaiting the big move which will probably be in early January. Here is a glimpse.

As always, stay tuned.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

It's Getting There

June was a blur. But I was waiting for a little more progress before my next post. The doors are in and are beautiful. They are solid mahogany although I am painting them. After being a boat owner for many years with my dear husband John and dealing with the constant revarnishing of the wood rails and trim, I didn't want to deal with that again. Plus we had a pair of beautiful Cypress doors at a previous residence and they were a constant night mare to maintain. I'm going for low maintenance as much as possible with this house. The climate here is a real test to any product man made or natural. The Life Pine shingles are being installed, the brick for the skirt of the house and fireplaces has started. All HVAC ducts, electrical and plumbing lines have been run. The wiring for the audio visual was put in too by Kevin Likis and his team from Birmingham, AL.  It won't be long before we are able to enclose the house and start the gypsum board installation. I hold my breath when that starts hoping I haven't missed anything.
We have a Big Ass Fan to go with our big ass fire place. The Big Ass Fan company is producing some amazing products transforming the typical ceiling fans for the screened porch. The fan going in our screened in porch is 8' in diameter with 21 settings. Wow.
Also, my builder kept asking me if I was sure about the 5' wide fire place going in our living room knowing he thought it a bit much. But nope, I was sure. Here are a few photos to note the progress.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Heart Pine and Windows

Windows for our new home arrived at the site last week. We were especially excited to see the rather large ones, 4' x 9' , double hung, put in place. There are 12 of these impressive windows which were highly inspired by similar ones in our Cherokee road house I have previously mentioned. I watched as our installation crew was coached by a Marvin specialist on the installation of these large windows in particular. I held my breath as the sashes were installed in the frames. This is not something the owner usually witnesses but I didn't want to miss any thing, knowing I might learn something.

Today, the heart of pine floors arrived from Easley, South Carolina. All 4001 feet plus 10% for contingency. Impressive beams and 5/4" boards for the stair treads. It is beautiful material to say the least. Getting it removed from the large rig that brought it was made possible by the amazing crew at Ford Plantation I hired. It took about 4 hrs total because of no side access to the trailer just in the back. Some had to be removed by hand, some was done by creative use of a fork lift and other miscellaneous tools at the maintenance shed. It is being stored there briefly before being taken to the site.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

That Roof!

We had dinner at Marker 107, great restaurant over looking the lee side of Ossabaw Island and the Intracoastal Waterway down the road from The Ford Plantation. Here are a few of the breath taking views from there, of which I never tire. We've had high tides and an unusually cool spring. Today the temperature was 80 degrees at it's warmest and 66 in the evening, low humidity and the bugs haven't come out in droves......yet.

The most comments about our house at the moment are about 'the roof'!
All positive.
Right now, it's hard to get a good picture of the house with out the dumpster or port-a-toilet in the foreground!
We do have an upstairs, so there are dormers on the back side of the house. We are in the throws of finalizing the exterior door order. Being cursed with an obsession for detail, the exterior doors are really important, from the oil rubbed bronze thresholds (such as j-hooks or flush threshold with a mortised sweep) to being sure the doors that are being priced really match the door scheduled details in the drawings. My builders have been extremely accommodating through this process, down to the dog door that needs incorporating into the laundry door.
The Plumbing schedule has been finalized and ready for purchasing. Given that the house is mostly framed in, the plumber will be on site soon and any in wall valves will be ready for installation. Plowing ahead, so far so good!!!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


At this point of the construction phase, a lot happens in a short period of time. So today my husband John and I just returning from out of town, couldn't wait to swing by the construction site to see the progress. Finally we now see a complete roof line on the main house (a very nice perspective). We can even see a complete roof line on the carriage house. We were able to climb the stairs to see how the upstairs spaces looked and felt of the main house. Today we could rest, however I have alot to do to stay ahead of the builders. Hardware for all the doors was ordered last week. Windows have been ordered. Now I am finalizing the plumbing and electrical selections and plans, although preliminary work had been done. They will soon need the plumbing valves that are installed before the trims are. I have to anticipate what all needs to be at the site before the drywall is installed. It's important to stay a bit ahead of the builders so that at some point they aren't waiting on selections from me, which is usually the case in residential construction. 

We are entering my favorite season in the low country, the summer. Most of our members are from up north and will be packing up. Yes it will be hot here soon and the bugs will come out in droves to welcome us. But right now sitting on the screened porch we can hear a faint sound of the crickets and tree frogs. It will become a symphony by the time June arrives and we will see way more progress on the house. Stay tuned.