about 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). we 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. above 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. in 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.the 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″. here 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.the 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 & Beyond. the concrete farmhouse-style sink is from Native Trails. other details, like the cabinet pulls from Rocky Mountain Hardware above. we 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!!
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 (!!) our first snowfall at the cabin the first weekend in december…it certainly was the tip of the iceberg. something 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:the 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. the 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. a view from within the ‘hallway’ looking out toward the great room, new closet on the right. Continue reading
aptly named for its existing plan shape, this ranch sits at the edge of vineyards in northern Napa County. This is the youngest house we’ve ever brought to the studs – built in 1988. Back then I was walking to the corner store with a friend, buying Cool Ranch Doritos and hearing Sweet Child O Mine croon from the radio as I passed by fields of the upstate NY type. (maybe this should be called Cool Ranch?!)the house is well-built and was cared for, but it just needs a little jolt from us to kick up the dust and bring it to 2016. Axl is still trying to make it happen but that doesn’t mean this house has to. one of the cool things about this ranch is that it came with original blueprints. hand-drawn plans and details! as you can imagine, one of the first things we thought of was to vault the ceilings and really appreciate / experience that gabled roof shape, from inside. that means removing a ton of trusses, 24″ o.c. … it’s a lovely location. the first thing you see from the road is the garage door, none of us like this but it has stay – only getting a makeover. below are a few more shots around the outside. where’s the front door?!tons of butterceam yellow, eek – I really only like this on a cupcake. it’s really weird to me to see massive roofs leaning on spindly little posts. like I said, the house is ‘nice’ but isn’t living up to its potential in this location. out in the back is the water tank building. around wine country you often see old water towers, with the tank at the top. this property has two wells. we’re looking toward the rear yard, from where large doors will be located. inside is just, blah. finishes aren’t amazing, flat ceilings throughout, gigantoid fireplace and concrete hearth. sidenote: there are some brass faucets that were hot in ’88 and despised until a few years ago. it’s all cyclical. here are a few proposed renderings, showing the new entry and vaulted ceilings with rafters. below are some more recent shots of what’s been going on: from underwhelming entry to chopped off entry! the cupolas are staying, a client decision that I think is a good one. photo on the left above is a slice through the house, at the boomerang ‘elbow’ where the new main entrance will be. see one of the wells in the foreground. on the right, to the studs: the future dining / living area and soon to be removed trusses. at the back / north end of the house will be the master bed & bathroom. the photo below is the stunning vineyard view directly across the street when leaving the driveway. this is why I’ve always said I feel like I can finally breathe when I get into the country – air, space, light, views, nature. stay tuned, more to come!
a huge thanks to our photographer Melissa Kaseman for pitching our project to San Francisco magazine. They picked up the story and it’s in the November issue.
flip through their entire online issue here, or check it out in images below. Or better yet buy a hard copy, cut those pages out and put them on your wall for inspiration 🙂 and call us when you’re ready to do your own to the studs remodel!
this project was a fun collaboration with really great clients. we can’t thank them enough for being open to 99% of our design ideas. they wanted a sense of whimsy in the house and I think we achieved that feeling.
we like to think of this house as a bright, inviting, energetic series of spaces with bold patterns and textures. it has plentiful windows to grab distant views out the front and a 17ft wide multi-panel sliding door to connect to a cozy garden in the back.
take a look ———–>
at long last we have a place of our own for a to-the-studs project! we could not be more thrilled. this woodsy little confection was built in 1963, at the tail-end of the mid-century era, in the California Sierra foothills. after a 3-month search through the pine forest with our realtor, we settled on the one: it was the right size (800 sq ft) not oversized like some ski-houses tend to be; in a good location we’ve visited with friends – it has access to a lake; and most importantly because it hadn’t really been touched much since the 60s and needs work – nothing major, but work that we’re anxious to do. a real vintage fixer-upper. below are photos of the other sides. it was affectionately referred to as ‘cigarette house’ by our realtor because it was beyond saturated with the smell. but that only ‘fueled’ our interest more – we knew we could do a job on it. I like the board-and-batten siding but not the lemon color. so un-woodsy! it’s nestled into a gentle hill with a deck in front and a cute guest cottage / toolshed out back – perfect for our unwanted guests lol! I assume it was used for sleeping because it’s insulated, carpeted and has lighting. Inside the house, it’s wood-on-wood-on-wood. another big selling point was the vaulted, knotty pine ceiling….which we love and think really makes the cabin. there are three truss-beams running through the living area. my engineer colleague took one look and said they’re not structural. but we’re keeping them, of course.the kitchen is quaint, and came with no refrigerator. that’s OK – we have coolers, for now. seems like a mircrowave was taken too – but we don’t care – less things to throw out because it would probably not been one we liked the look of. the cabinets are not original, maybe one of the only things updated in the house, but they’re OK for now. we have plans. in the bedrooms, the vaulted ceiling disappears….WTF. why are these ceilings flat / dropped? the first time I saw this, I was certain that the vaulted pine must continue above, and this is only a cosmetic lower ceiling. we also did not love the built-in closets that took up floor space in the cozy bedrooms. how about those faux-wood accordion doors? oh my vintage! there’s no way they’d make the cut. The Bathroom…pretty basic…you can’t tell but the toilet is on an angle – we’ll call it the V8 toilet. I’m glad there’s a wall-hung sink, I often prefer them over vanity cabinets that can make a small space feel cluttered (like that shelf!). even the toilet seat was wood-grain. the entire bathroom was paneled, ceiling and all. I actually like this curved-corner medicine cabinet and think with a little spray-paint it can stay. that outlet is not GFI = good thing I don’t use a blowdryer 🙂 some fun light fixtures. old-west scalloped realness above, and the lower one is the same as was in my childhood bedroom – and I’m sure many bedrooms across the USA.. the original wood wall paneling: to keep or not to keep?? it’s ‘real’ wood, as in very thin sheets of plywood. not plastic printed woodgrain that came along later. this is genuine wood..and wood makes the CABIN. we are at once charmed by it, and yet could also see painting it white to brighten the place up. for now we’ll keep it, other things to do first. we’re also unsure if all exterior walls are insulated. the ‘Woodsman’ fireplace is so damn awesome. we’ve already built many fires in it. we like to think we are becoming woodsmen…ha. vintage moment: maybe we should keep the paneling in the bathroom? she doesn’t seem to mind it.and as for this short, but obtrusive wall: I suspect there is a structural post within it, supporting the ridge beam. but it’s in a bad spot. we think this is where a refrigerator once was (on the kitchen side) but we don’t plan to put it back there. this wall irks us but I have a solution.
your homework is to think about the paneling! should it stay or should it go?! more to come!