After making the trip with me to pick out lumber for the table, the clients (recent retirees from the mid-west) remarked that Portlandia has more of a basis in reality than they realized. The book-matched western walnut pieces in the table top came from a farm near Peoria, and the western maple centerpiece from the eastern Coast Range. They joked, "can we visit where the tree grew"...was it a joke?...yes, it was a joke. We had been looking for something else for the table top; but then Clifford (http://curlyburlymilling.com/) showed us the book-matched sets of western walnut and they immediately knew it was right. By itself, the walnut set was too narrow for a dining table; and, the western maple centerpiece was a graceful way to incorporate the walnut into a larger top and preserved the book-matched effect. The trestle style base gives lightness to the large table (7'+ long) and complements the open, modern feel of the home.
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.
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.
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.
Three elements- concrete, stone and wood - work together on this fireplace surround. Okay, concrete is essentially stone, so maybe its only two or possibly two-and-a-half elements. Whatever the math, the fireplace is anchored by the dark, cool texture of the concrete hearth, surrounded by a sandstone veneer, and capped by a live edge big leaf maple mantle. The original incarnation of the fireplace in marble tile and painted mdf was still in good shape, but was on the other side of the spectrum of the clients' aesthetic sense. The goal was to create a fireplace with materials that emphasized their natural characteristics (split-faced sandstone and live edged maple) without feeling too rustic, while fitting into a fairly contemporary house at the same time.
The concrete hearth was assembled from four sections poured off-site. The design of the interlocking sections was to a large degree influenced by the difficulties of either pouring off-site as a single, #350+ piece; or pouring on-site and working with wet (and dusty when dry) concrete around carpet and interior furnishings. I felt it was important that the exposed faces of the heath have a fairly uniform texture (so the geometry of the concrete sections would be a dominant feature of the hearth) and if poured on-site it would have been difficult to produce a top surface with the same character as the sides and face by using a hand trowel. The concrete sections were only lightly polished in order to remove the subtle texture imparted by the melamine forms, but not so much as to grind through the cement cream layer and expose the aggregate. A handful of air pockets, intentionally left unfilled, add a nice smattering of shadows to the face of the hearth.
For the mantle, a hefty slab of big leaf maple from Curly Burly, with just a bit of spalting that adds an interesting pattern and contrast to the corbels. There were several iterations in sizing the mantle. The slab was nearly 16" wide, but after three or four rounds of test fitting, contemplating, and cutting down, it finished about half the original size. Two overhead spotlights cast a prominant shadow over the fireplace, and in the end we found a good balance between the light-accented mantle edge and its shadow across the face of the stone; and at the same time paying attention to the proportions of the three elements of the fireplace surround.
Much like the rug in The Big Lebowski that "really tied the room together", this breakfast bar unites the kitchen with the living room and outside spaces. Viewed from the kitchen, the big leaf maple breakfast bar glows with the abundant natural light that spills through the living room windows from the surrounding forest. Even on a typically grey, rainy December day in Eugene, the natural light in this home provide a surprising amount of warmth, (even if that warmth is in the form of light, rather than sensible heat). Live edges on the bar top and corbels with the highly figured grain show off the natural beauty of the wood. Really, I just cut it to fit the space, the wood is the real star on this project.
Besides making a fine macchiato, Vero Coffee is a friendly neighborhood espresso house with great outdoor seating and an eclectic mix of tables and chairs throughout the converted Victorian era house. Sunny, the owner, was looking for a large table to place at the end of the main room, and she liked the idea of somehow working a concrete panel into the table to function as a trivet.
There is a distinctive "V" in the Vero logo, and we decided on a white "V" set in a rich red-brown concrete rectangle. I first poured the "V" in a simple plywood form covered with packing tape and used a mixture of quartzite pea gravel, dolomite sand, and white cement plus a little color; but even the tiny amount of yellow added to the mix yielded a too off-white color. The second pour omitted the color; and combination of the white cement with the white-opaque sand and gravel yielded a warm white "V" that contrast nicely when set against the surrounding red-brown. The base of the table was a simple farmhouse table design made using reclaimed old-growth Douglas Fir lumber from Bring Recycling and was painted to match the background color of the logo. For the top, I found some two-inch thick chinquapin from Curly Burly in Cottage Grove that was almost entirely knot free (surprising, for chinquapin).
Stop by 205 East 14th Avenue and check out the table with your favorite caffeinated beverage!