Thursday, June 07, 2007

Much progress.

I haven’t been keeping up with entries because Janet and I have been busy. Winter wasn’t too bad but now I know what to do for next year thanks to Barb Yankie with Homes+, Inc. She took infrared photos of the house to discover where our home "leaks" energy. Through her images we learned our major loss comes from the mitered corner glass. We plan to reset them this year to "tighten" the glass-to-glass connection, meanwhile I’ll use a piece of optically clear tape over the seam. I didn’t realize that corners present the most problems.

We've been making progress with interior painting. The color “Pine Needle” from Valspar has made an enormous difference. If I can describe it -- it's more the color of weathered concrete block -- a medium greened gray. Because we want to continue it on the outside block, we first need an okay from the Cincinnati Preservation Association. We're fairly confident in our choice and the finished effect will blend the home into the hillside just as Wright had originally envisioned. I hope the house paint sprayer I got last fall to paint the roof will make speedy work of the vertical surfaces.

Of course, first impressions begin at the door and we've made progress there are well. We've found a new doorknob! Actually it's 50 years old and relocated from the meter room door. In addition to daily and routine maintenance, we've added architectural salvage to our list of activities. Thanks to Janet's brother, who works for a locksmith, he located a vintage Sargent lock set that matches. The former lock set -- not original to the home -- was literally falling apart. Of course, just inside the door the new paint color has made quite a difference and we've "retired" the original Wright-designed drapery and replaced with a four-panel screen of grass-like material. The effect is shoji-like and we like it too. What Janet likes best is a little art project we did together that hangs at the entrance. We used three 12-in. square canvases to represent the different colors that Mr. Wright called Taliesin Red. One is terra cotta red, the second canvas is a deep mahogany-toned wood, and the third is a mixture of the two. Actually our inspiration came from the last Wright Building Conservancy meeting where we saw something similar.

The little paintings and overall paint job are impressive, but our latest big project is now installed. Yes, more than a year after deciding we wanted more built in cabinetry, we've got nearly 22-ft. of 'em in the carport. Made from a wood that closely resembles ribbon mahogany (found in the great room), we are enjoying the look of the cabinetry as well as the extra storage. One neighbor who stopped by to have a look asked if they'd "always been there." Just the response we hoped for -- they look as if Wright personally designed them. It was a test of all his talents says our cabinetmaker Dan Kreimer, who veneered and edge-banded every door panel. He also had to deal with a 3/4-in. slope in the floor. On a sustainable note, we reclaimed wood from the room's former closet and reused in the new cabinetry. While the rest of the room is not finished, we have upgraded and simplified the electric. Next is to build the lightboxes and finish repairing and re-coating the concrete floor.

Plans for the addition bath are coming along with sketches for the addition as well. We'll do the bath first. Probably sometime this fall. Dan will again handle cabinetry and tells us that he learned much about how to construct cabinetry for the rest of the house thanks to the carport project.

The yard is going natural this year. I’m recycling all yard clippings and also starting a vegetable garden with tomatoes, bottle gourds, pumpkins, corn and sunflowers. More for color than anything else.

Oh, one last thing. Cincinnati State’s horticultural school senior class is doing some landscape plans for the home. I hope to get some ideas for the service area and tree placements out of them. My most recent revelation is to use the rocks as a couple of paths down the corner hill and as crescents below the flowerbeds so I can walk up and down the hill as well as service the gardens. I’m also adding a mulch path. As always, every year, trying to control and sculpt the grass hillside id the big problem. I keep trying to reclaim some more of it each year. I enjoy painting with rocks, mulch, flowers, plants and grass.

It Is Finally Sinking In

What is the meaning of life? If you Goggle it you will find a wonderful site that explains it beautifully. The meaning of life is to live it in the present. Some say it is a Budda concept but you will find it in Thomas Jefferson’s “Rules of Conduct.” If this house was meant to teach me something, that is it. I like the house a lot but the American culture of constant consumption, storage, warehousing, forgetting, and throwing away is not living in the present. Really the reason I love the house is the 48’ x 10’ glass wall to the south. There is something about nature that is so calming and relaxing and thoughtful and meaningful. Just seeing it everyday is enough. I had a terrible day last week, lost a new account, a client fired me and a gardener stood me up. Eating my lunch at the southeast corner in the sunny noontime, I was made happy by the house. Only my racing glider can lay claim to that emotion. You can fly your house.

Janet and I experienced La Corbusier’s Villa Savoye last month. I learned a lot. What other homes are like that? Monticello? Paladin’s signature work? Each climate has it’s own house. Tropical shelter. Southern NA plantations. Spanish South American Villas. Temperate stone work. Northern fireplaces. Far north insulation earth/log homes. Igoos. But those aren’t really the reason. Corbusier rejected the tree, which Mies’ Farnsworth clutched, but couldn’t ignore the sun, wind and car, which he embraced beautifully.

Window Repair Decisions

Well, I started exploring what the problem is on the front window stills. The small piece of wood (7/8" x 3/8") that was used as a windowsill was very soft and not sealing the lower wood window support or footer. I'm replacing it with a tapered section to help the water run off (7/8" x 3/8" x 1/2"). Water comes in under the window when the rain blows from the south. Most of the time the windows don't even get wet because of the roof overhang.

View to the east on the terrace. The bottoms of the windows and two sets of doors have a 1/2" x 1" piece of redwood glued with a black or gray caulk. It was very hard to remove and sealed well where the caulk was still good. In the corners and around the window joint the caulk has failed. The two sets of doors, one shown doesn't open because of this strip. Here is a view of one of the window footers with the small sill removed. This view shows the moisture meter indicating over 28% moisture.