the job site & the volvo

once upon a time there was a 1991 Volvo 240 that sputtered 3,000 miles from New York to California. I’m talking about my clunker, affectionately called NormaJean. over the past 15 years she has inadvertently appeared in many photos of projects (before, during, and after) I’ve worked on in San Francisco and beyond. as embarrassing as it may have been to screech up to a half million dollar project in that, she’s still around. I decided to dig through the archives and post photos. she’s not always at center but see if you can spot her in there, smiling for the camera 🙂

2004, Cole Valley SF:DSCN0934

2005, Menlo Park:IMG_7447.JPG

2006, Pacific Heights SF: pre-construction.jpg

2009, Foster City:IMG_2452.JPG

2010, Mill Valley:IMG_4860.JPG

2012, San Francisco:IMG_0507.JPG

2012, San Francisco:IMG_0998.JPG Continue reading

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the cabin bathroom

bathroom makeoverfrom earlier 2017: ah, that 60s-paneling enclosed bathroom – so cozy when you’re doing your thing, smells great when the shower hits it, probably harbors zero germs – butttt, we decided to tear it out and tile the room. plus the floor was soggy and the toilet would tilt when you sat on it. old panelingi appreciate that the grooves align perfectly, and that everything is brown, brown, brown, (it is a bathroom after all). as we know from the previous demo, a wonderful pine ceiling is hidden above the paneling. so down it went. bathroom projectsee? much nicer already, with the ceiling gone. adds good height to the room. Below, we next tackled the floor. A couple layers of linoleum and then the subfloor. The floor framing of this cabin is 4×6 @ 48″ o.c., and the toilet needed some additional new framing below it. we brought in a contractor friend for this ‘heavy lifting’ work.

kohler bellwetherwe slid the new tub – Kohler Bellwether – into place on a piece of carpet, much better than lifting! the cast iron tub weighed 300lbs! and did a good job of weighing down our truck in the snow. we chose this over an acrylic tub because they retain heat better and i read that acrylic can crack – although i’ve never heard of this from any clients. meanwhile, we did find time to break away and hit the slopes at nearby Bear Valley in the continuous epic snowfall: bear valleyit was the most snow in many years and hoping for more this winter! hardie backernow that the tub was in and hardie backerboard installed, time to start prepping for tile install. *disclaimer, this is an informal blog, NOT an instructional story – do not try any of this at home!! we’re not experts! DIY DIY keep reading below for tile fun 🙂  Continue reading

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boomerang farmhouse update

farmhouse front door

A belated update on our Calistoga ‘boomerang’ (-shaped) farmhouse remodel. During the recent devastating wildfires in this and other areas, our clients were evacuated. With luck, the property was spared as the fire was contained to the west of town.  Our hearts go out to others whose lives were forever changed. wood sidingcedar sidingThe entrance above with sidelights is reflected in a door on the back of the house, creating a see-through effect. This is the transitional ‘knuckle’ of the house, and is clad in wood vs painted board & batten or siding. calistoga farmhouseThese photos are from earlier this year, and much progress has been made since. spray foam insulationWhile the exterior was painted, the interior was insulated. Spray-foam insulation solidified the vaulted ceiling spaces, batt insulation in walls elsewhere. vaulted ceilingFast forward to the walls and ceiling being enclosed! 🙂 The cabinets are seen being installed in this photo; kitchen on the left and bar on the right. The ceiling is painted v-groove 1x6s. The rafters are 4x6s; they are non-structural and were installed below the v-groove boards, which run continuously above the rafters. tongue and groove ceilingexposed raftersOther views in the main great room as walls and ceiling were being painted, and a ‘landlocked’ bathroom with new skylight above the shower. board and batten sidingWe will be sure to keep things updated a little more regularly – stay tuned!

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castro corner house

mannequin phone niche plaster detailabout a year ago we were on location shooting a short film at this construction site of our castro project. above is a stunt double taking a break during filming. (our film was nominated for 6 awards, and won best musical score). painted stucco sidingwe had so much fun with this project: great clients we worked closely with to see each nook through to the final details. we are scheduling a professional photo shoot soon … the following is a look back toward the end of construction.  painted window trimabove photo shows the options of painting the slim wood trim the same color as the Marvin window cladding (dark bronze) – or white. we chose the option on the left. enclosed tv cabinetin the living area we selected an Ortal corner gas fireplace, above which we had a challenge to locate a TV.  the goal was to hide the TV but also to disguise the cabinet as much as possible so it didn’t scream ‘doors here!’. we designed a bi-fold / pocket door cabinet that operates on a Hawa track system. the very talented ‘wood whiz’ carpenter JB customized the track to fit the cabinet depth and built the doors with planks that wrap around the sides.hardwood flooringrandom width hardwood floorthe owners wanted the floors to have a rustic quality. we worked with Restoration Timber and settled on reclaimed plain sawn white oak, that has knots and worm-holes through it. they loved the look. we ordered an even mix of widths 3″ – 5″ – 7″. redwood slabhere is a thick redwood slab that the contractor had lying around, and the owners purchased from him for a bathroom sink counter. it worked perfectly in the room and contrasts well with the other finishes.custom wood countertopthe same wood worker JB who built the tv cabinet was originally brought in to build this wood slab counter for the island. it’s composed of solid 3″ thick white oak, also sourced by Restoration Timber. JB perfected it in his shop and installed it on site after the cabinets were in. white shaker cabinets are from Cabinets & Beyondnative trails sinkthe concrete farmhouse-style sink is from Native Trails. rocky mountain hardwareother details, like the cabinet pulls from Rocky Mountain Hardware above. rustic doorwe found the new entry door at a local door shop, and it works with the exterior (it did get stained darker) and has a small peep-door built into it, to replace the one that was in the original front door. on the right, in a gabled part of the ceiling over a bay window, we clad the ceiling in painted lathe pulled from the house.

stay tuned – more to come!!

 

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the cabin in early winter

I blame instagram for my lethargy with this blog…but here’s why I continue: people find it and they call me. no one has ever called the office and said “i found your mcelroyarch.com website”…but very often people say they found me via the blog. the following content is from December – January (!!) snow on roofour first snowfall at the cabin the first weekend in december…it certainly was the tip of the iceberg. cabin remodelsomething that bugged us a bit was walking in the front door there was a view straight into the bathroom, and a vast open space for … doing a pirouette? maybe, but we decided to add a closet that would do triple-duty: create a defined entrance, block the bathroom door, and provide storage since we removed the only 2 closets in the house 🙂 there’s Scott pulling up the carpet to reveal this:asbestos tile floorthe stickiest-ever vinyl floor tiles, beneath which was the original layer of most likely asbestos 8×8 tile in appropriate forest green. ambitiously we thought we could scrape it up with ease: not so fast, because it was stuck beyond fast. I asked around and everyone said ‘just go right over it’, so we did.  new closetcloset constructionthe time-stamp on these is about 8pm. fun! tbh this was the first wall either of us had ever built, in tilt-up fashion. the Jim Beam helped us celebrate afterward. why is the 2-stud header over the door stacked horizontally? I saw it that way in a frame-construction book. even dad in NY questioned it. but it only has to hold up bi-fold doors, who cares? don’t try this at home, it’s not an instruction guide! even after framing it was super wobbly, with no shear to steady it. hallwaya view from within the ‘hallway’ looking out toward the great room, new closet on the right. wall insulation Continue reading

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boomerang house continued

farmhouse-front-doorhere’s a peek through the front door and out the back – the entry will same size doors at both sides to keep it open, breezy, and quick access around the long house. there is a deep, flat roof over the front door to give the stoop shelter in the rain and break up the roofline and alert people “here! this is the entry!”calistoga-farmhousewalking up to the front door location, here’s the view through the foyer and out the back door. you can see there is a roof overhang on the wall to the right out the back door – we ended up cutting this back to the wall = no more overhang there. the challenge of working on a boomerang shaped house! napa-farmhouseonce inside the entry ‘foyer’ (such a formal word…) you turn left through a short passage and this is the view into the vaulted great room: the kitchen will be to the right, and a small den area to the left. the existing wood burning fireplace will now get a gas insert, a change from the original plan.napa-remodelwalking across the room, standing in between the living and dining areas and looking back; kitchen on left, entry foyer is through the passage to the right. the ceiling was previously flat with a roof truss system: the webs and lower chord were removed; the top chord remains but with new sistered rafters alongside. farmhouse-ceilingthe side walls are 9′ tall; the high point of the room is 16′ tall to the ridge beam. this is a view out through 16′ sliding doors of the living room side; there are matching doors on the dining room side as well.  Continue reading

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the cabin

drop-ceilinglong overdue for a post on our progress at the cabin: this Fall we did a good amount of demolition…I always say demo is the easy part: anyone can tear down a wall! it’s fun, a good way to get in some exercise and get out some stress. reminder: the main living spaces of the cabin have beautiful open wood ceilings. but as seen above, the two bedrooms had dropped ceilings, making the rooms feel cramped. I was convinced that there was the same wood above, in an enclosed attic….there was no access so we just had to bust through. and… demo-ceilingwhat was up there? we found .. knotty pine tongue & groove, woo-hoo!! exactly what we hoped to find. we continued to pull down the tiles. in one corner, we found what looked like an old hornet nest. I knocked it over, and heard the sound of dripping onto the floor…what the hell liquid could be dripping? it turned out to be….ANTS by the hundreds:antsScott ran out to buy Raid at the local market while i sprayed them with clorox or whatever cleaner we had. not fun. but we bagged them up and pushed on. knotty-pine-ceilingthis is our first peek up into the ‘attic’ over the bedrooms. wood ceiling untouched since 1963. the gable exterior wall had no insulation in it, not surprised to find.
closet-demolitionwe also removed the small funky closets that were built into the bedrooms. our thought is we’ll never really need bedroom storage in a cabin, and they took up valuable floor space in the cozy rooms.  Continue reading

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