The fireplace had been through a couple stages of upgrade before I met the homeowners. The original brick fireplace had been updated to gas and was given a veneer of slate tile prior to their purchase of the home, but the mantle and fireplace surround were left bare. After moving into the home, they picked up a nice live edge black walnut slab from Urban Lumber, and they mounted the slab with the idea that it would be part of the final design.
Though the mantle was temporary, they got the most out of it. I first met clients in October and it was decorated for Halloween. They already were gravitating towards a craftsman styled fireplace, and when I returned in November to go over the first round of designs, the mantle was decorated for Thanksgiving. We further refined the design and looked at wood samples in December, with Christmas stockings hung (by the chimney with care). They took the President’s Day holiday off.
The final design was based on something they had found online, and it incorporated craftsman themes that would play well with the existing slate tile. We realized early in the process that the black walnut slab was a bit too short for this mantle (and it was subsequently used as a shelf above a coat rack in the entryway); and locally harvested white oak seemed the perfect choice because it takes stain well and would tie in with other similarly styled furnishings in the living room. The quarter-sawn white oak was treated with a wood dye process followed by a coat of stain to achieve a color similar to the diamond-shaped accent tiles. End grain black walnut plugs provide a bit of subtle geometry to the piece, and a shadow line below the mantle top adds levity (and hidden in the shadow is a groove to hang decorations for the next holiday).
Thankfully, Harry Potter had more room under the stairs than this; and though the space is fairly small and asymmetric, it needed structure. This nook had been used for stereo equipment, but as the homeowner pointed out: a stereo system composed of multiple components connected by wires is quickly becoming an anachronism. Nothing against solid state electronics.
The design is a balance between making efficient use of a relatively small space and creating something that gives the impression of symmetry in an asymmetrical space. The nook is in a hallway, but is adjacent to the kitchen and adds a bit of needed storage for things that don’t need to be close at hand. The layout is a mixture of double drawers (one big drawer with an over sized drawer front and a small drawer tucked in above) and a couple doors with adjustable shelves.
Certain purchases stand out because they in some way symbolize reaching a milestone. A house is an obvious and big one; but not far down the list there are more mundane items, such as a washer and dryer or a first never-been-slept-on-by-another-human bed, that mark another rung up the ladder to adulthood. In this case, it is a dresser set of Oregon white oak made for a friend that had recently reached another adult milestone of a first job after college. Technically, a real job.
Curly Burly supplied the quarter-sawn white oak and black walnut lumber for the two piece dresser set: one short and wide with a vanity mirror and the other tall and skinny…and somewhere inside is a removable hidden compartment.
Who puts carpet in a water closet? Not the current owner, but it was like that when they moved in and it must have been original to the house. The master suite has a open floor plan and the bedroom and bath spaces share a room, but are separated by a bank of closets. The floor plan gives a spacious feeling to the room, but the lack of more obvious boundaries (such as doors) to delineate the various spaces within the suite made it difficult to decide where to draw the lines. The project budget ultimately decided how far to go with the tile; and I replaced the carpet with tile in the water closet and in front of the vanity for a nice update to the master bath, not to mention a more sanitary and practical floor covering for such a location. The layout of the new maple cabinets was basically the same, but tweaked to accommodate a second sink with drawers worked in below the plumbing for added storage. The client and I picked a manufactured stone remnant at a local yard and had the sinks under mounted.
Dining room table and chair set made from ponderosa pine accented with black walnut. The live-edged table top is a single slab, approximately 42″ wide; and its 250+ pounds is supported by a variation of a trestle style base, joined to the top by dovetail grooves that allow the top to freely shrink and swell. The chairs are upholstered in leather, and a book matched pine panel accents each chair back.
The slab was milled from a 280+ year old ponderosa on the edge of the Middle Fork Willamette River valley. The big ponderosa pine forests in Oregon are found mainly on the dry side of the Cascade Range at relatively high elevation; but known locally as valley pine (or more officially pacific ponderosa pine), this subspecies grows at low elevation along the margins of the valley and is well adapted to the areas mild winters and seasonally soggy clay-rich soils. This particular tree came down in a wind storm in 2009, and the property owner was a friend of the client and had milled the tree by chainsaw. No small feat for a tree of that size.
Pine is generally soft, and ponderosa is no different; although, because it is old growth and is made of hundreds of growth rings tightly stacked together, it is significantly harder than the plantation grown pine found at the home improvement store. It may not be ideal for a heavy use table top, but given the uniqueness of the wood and the clients connection to the property and owner, that limitation was easily accepted.
As part of an expansion of the outdoor deck seating at Vero, I added a chinquapin bar top in the hallway seating area. Although chinquapin is not a commonly used in woodworking, for this project it was the perfect choice: locally harvested, a warm-toned wood that would blend nicely with the Douglas fir floors and doors, takes a finish and will wear well in a coffee house, and relatively economical. Chinquapin is often a smaller tree (in comparison with the big leaf maple, Douglas fir, and other trees that live in its neighborhood) and yields lumber of relatively small dimension and abundant knots; but Curly Burly had some larger material with few knots and was perfect for this project.
A before and after image of a small bathroom remodel (pictures taken from different perspectives). The homeowner wanted to update the look of the small guest bathroom by adding tile to the floor, wainscot to the walls, and custom vanity cabinet and medicine cabinet trim. To the left of the vanity, a panel door on a push latch opens to reveal a bit of hidden storage.
The homeowner liked the look and space saving of using a one-piece vanity sink/top, but we were both unimpressed with the quality of the off-the-shelf cabinets. The cabinets we found were made overseas using materials that would not hold up well in the moist conditions of a bathroom. The prefab cabinets look nice in the show room, but after a few years of being exposed to normal use in a humid environment, the mdf (or whatever the fiber press board material) begins to swell and flake the paint, and the hardware begins to loose its grip and pull out of the doors and face frame. As they say, the cheap becomes expensive. This vanity cabinet was made with poplar grown right here in Oregon, and finished with a high quality, low-VOC alkyd paint that will wear well in a bathroom. All three drawers are usable to maximize storage capacity, and the top two are U-shaped to accommodate the the plumbing drain assembly.
In a small space like this, sneaky storage goes a long way to making things feel bigger than they really are.
The former fireplace surround was porcelain tile and painted mdf, and the homeowner was looking to make use of local materials to update the focal point of the living room. The tile was replaced with travertine, and the nicely figured black walnut was milled by Curly Burly. I used a hand-rubbed Polyx Oil finish to really help the figure pop. Often, some of the more muted violet and grey tones in black walnut will become less distinct when finished; and I was pleased that the color variations remained so prominent in the finished piece.