Monthly Archives: March 2010

pac heights paint!

The painting has started and the colors are looking great.  This is the Dining Rm / Library with shelves on most of the walls, in a purple-grey color.  My designer pal I’m working with, Ian Stallings, has chosen a palette of deep, bold colors throughout.  This room finally received its south-facing, fire rated window – positioned with a centered view between two adjacent buildings seen below.

The front hall and stair walls are a deep brown-plum color.  (names to come soon) The soon-to-be-installed rail curls to a finish, as seen below.

The Kitchen/Family Rm at the back of the house is painted a more neutral tone to go with the carrara marble and walnut.   The new plate shelves in front of the windows were built slightly thicker than drawn. . I don’t love them yet but they may ‘soften’ once the kitchen is completed.

The north-facing windows have no view beyond a neighboring wall 4′ away so the shelves don’t block anything.  More to come!

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walnut slab table

interlude: my walnut slab coffee table.  In 2008 I became enamoured of live-edge tables a la George Nakashima and decided I could (try to) make one of these.  I called around the Bay Area and found a place that stocks slabs, mostly Claro Walnut, kiln dried and ready for a project.   Here are some photos of what I found there, gorgeous slabs of all shapes and ‘figure’ level (grain/pattern).

Not having a shop or any real tools, I selected a slab that needed only some good sanding and finishing.  This was all going to take place in the basement of my building!  I chose this slab below – resting on the old table in front of the couch to see how it would look.

I liked that this slab had an asymmetrical shape, some ‘burl’, good color tone, nice irregular edges – with bark still on – and the size worked for the room.   Walnut has a unique smell, and over the course of weeks sanding it down I got to know it well…  I did a lot of research and found the people on the Sawmill Creek forum to be really helpful – lots to read there!  [My biggest mistake was starting with a low-grit sandpaper, which etched the surface and probably tripled the time it took me to achieve a really smooth surface..ugh..]  For finishing I chose to go with Watco Danish Oil rather than a lacquer/polyurethane finish.  I found that oil brought out better color, it could always be redone in the future, and after talking to some woodworkers I was convinced that this was a more ‘true’ treatment for wood.  Poly would essentially encase it, not enhance it.

This is before and after the oil.  I applied 3 coats.  In the beginning I was paranoid about watermarks, spills, but now I’ve come to accept that these marks will add character and tell a story.  I had a local metalsmith make the ‘legs’ out of 2″ wide 1/4″ thick steel, shaped into rounded rectangles, which I screwed into the slab bottom.  So far, it’s held up well!  Some completed photos below –

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