Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mistakes, I've made a few...

Hello everyone. Today I wanted to give you a quick update and highlight some "mistakes" that turned out to be perfect in the end. One was our plaster living room ceiling. To do this ceiling we used an inexpensive veneer gypsum plaster and mixed it with watered down joint compound. The joint compound had been sitting around for....oh..... maybe a year? Not sure. But the plaster when mixed looked like kind of a funny color. And on the ceiling it looked like kind of a funny color. And even the next day.... this ceiling looked ruined. Case in point:

This is after a day of drying. Most ceilings are dry and white by this point. 

So I started freaking out. My husband said it wasn't dry yet. But did I listen? No. 

I had our painter Sam start applying some glaze in a small spot. We decided we could cover up the damage with a little bit of glaze but we didn't have time to do it that day. 

The next day Levi went to the house, and this is what he saw.  (OK this pic is like a month later... but you get the idea.)

Once it was all dry.... this was our favorite ceiling. It has more movement than the others. It is beautiful. So the moral of the story is..... chill out Lauren.... let it dry..... and listen to your husband. 

And I got the unpleasant job of sanding the glaze off that Sam had applied. Have you ever sanded a ceiling? Ugh. 

And then we had ANOTHER little plaster.... EXPERIMENT. 

In our last blog post Levi mentioned the plaster for the walls we had ordered for downstairs was not the right white. We went through a color match process with Stucco Italiano (  and found the perfect white. This involved their color guy Leonardo custom matching a sample of plaster... applying it to a sample board... and mailing us the board. Once we decided the color they custom matched 10 buckets of plaster and sent it to us from Seattle. We started applying it and LOVED it. We got the dining room and living room done. And then we realized we didn't quite have enough of the new white to do the finish coats for the foyer. I make an executive decision to use the old peachy white for the first and second coats and the new white for the final 1/2 coat. I was worried the peachy would show through but I just wanted this room done! In the end..... the peachy white shows through just enough to create a little visual texture and this room is my FAVORITE. This plaster is a coarse plaster that looks like stone. It is called Intonachino.

Here it is wet..... not sure how it would look.

Here is is dry. BEAUTIFUL

Someday soon our slate mantle will be installed. Checkout our plaster ceiling medallions and Serge-Mouille chandelier

All white-white
Mixed peach white in foyer and all white white in background

This is the ALL white-white. 

All white-white

All white- white with antique sconces from Architectural Salvage in Louisville

Our bathroom is also coming along.... no mistakes here! We did a grey tadelakt, also from Stucco Italiano. It is a plaster that is traditionally found in Morroccan Bathhouses. It is waterproof. It's sealed with olive oil soap. It is environmentally friendly and can be cleaned easily with a sponge and water since it is sealed with soap! I could bore you with all the installation details... but I won't. The plaster is smooth to the touch. Check out the pics.
Toilet nook on left, shower on right. Heated limestone floors, bench will be marble. Hopefully calacutta marble but I can't find a source for it locally. A tub will be far right under the window with the wall mount faucet, you can see the pipes coming out. 

The corners on the shower nook were tough! Also you can see our BADASS linear drain in the shower. The floor is slanted in the shower. 

We like clean workspaces. 
A couple pics of the kitchen
Installed some more lighting and a fridge

Did the backsplash in Ardex feather finish, a concrete veneer I've always wanted to try. It's cheap and easy. Search it on pinterest for tutorials. I sealed it with marseille wax from Stucco Italiano. 

Now Levi has turned his attention to our stairs and they are moving right along.... he is so good at this stuff! 

Also.... if you like our house, SOMEDAY (not quite yet) you will be able to hire my husband. He started a company.  And hired an employee. EEK! And made a logo!

I foresee good things for the future. Ciao!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sometimes It's a Rocky Road...

We just returned from a sojourn to Utah, the land of many rocks and much dust. We took our Landcruiser out into the desert with lofty goals and high hopes.

Don't ask what the bucket is for. Leave No Trace, y'all

Our trip felt more like this, however. A series of unfortunate uncontrollable events with a stunning backdrop. We lived through a real life sandstorm, snow, mechanical surprises, bruised and scraped shins, warm beers, and family. Now back to the house!

We had some plain jane door openings in the kitchen. They are narrow enough that we didn't want to do a full wood casing. I got on the internet's and ordered some steel and welded up some very lovely very thin jambs and painted them black.

I hadn't welded since 9th grade shop class, so I had to call my brother and dad a couple times. I'm not going to show you the welds. But those casings aren't coming apart.

I think they turned out pretty well. I just glued them in place with construction adhesive. I pre drilled a few holes and filled them with brass screws just for a little variety.


That is one fine view.

Then we began tiling. and tiling, and tiling. 

We went to Norway one time, and were in a museum in Oslo. And I'm sure there was some cool stuff, and pretty paintings and famous things. I think the only picture we have is of a mechanical closet that had been tiled over blend it into the wall. I thought it was so cool. So that's what I did in my kitchen. Thanks, Norway!

And then we tiled more.

Tiles for miles! This pic below is weird. It's the whole kitchen, if we lived in a Dr. Seuss book.

We are buttoning up the kitchen quickly and it's the highlight of the house. I infilled the spaces up by the ceiling with the same material we built the ceiling joists with.

AND THEN...We started on the floor. We laid this herringbone floor a few months ago with the assistance of a few good friends and family and promptly covered it up. It was a huge deal to pull the protective cover and start the finishing process. I put Lauren on the big sander with some headphones and turned her loose.

Is she listening to that new Lamar jam? a lecture on existentialism? The soothing sounds of the mandolin?  We'll never know.

We used a product called Rubio Monocoat. I wiped it on and let it sit for a bit and then wiped it back off. Pretty boring. It turned the floor really white. I followed that up the next day with a wax sealer that brought a lot of color back to the floor and made it really similar to the original wood. I am really impressed with that product. Our floor is white oak, and we love the natural color. Most finishes tint wood darker and tend to be glossy. We really wanted a matte finish and a light floor. This stuff nailed it. The most noticeable difference is where the wood had a yellowish hue to it naturally it was a more pink hue now. Love it. 

Of course, the first thing I did was screw up some plumbing and get water all over it. It held up fine.

I can imagine drinking my coffee here. Sooner than later...

So then we get into the main rooms of the house.  We had ordered plaster from a company in Seattle called Stucco Italiano. Lauren picked a neutral warm color and after a lot of wall prep we did some walls. Once we covered our 11 foot tall walls with it, the color felt a lot less neutral. I immediately did not like this color. It felt really old fashioned and stuffy to me. So we started playing with tints and tried to take some of the color out of it 

Have you ever heard someone say "I couldn't find the right shade of white!" Well I always thought that was kind of lame. My tune has changed. The further down the rabbit hole of whites we went the more frustrating it got. My eyes were crossed and my head hurt.

Every sample here is different.  Like a flite of beers. I need a beer. A flite of beers.

This was our mad science laboratory. Our painter, Sam has a ton of plaster experience, and worked diligently to bleach out that peach/pink tone. But to no avail. We eventually went back to Stucco Italiano and had them send new samples that match our trim white. So this project is still unfolding. 

The chimney on this side of our house was looking pretty rough, so Daren and I got up there on Easter and repointed it and sealed it with masonry sealer. Or as they call it around here, masonary sealer. Yes that's six levels of scaffolding. Yes it was terrifying up at the top.

So next up: We got our fridge in, tankless hot water heater is in, range is going in today. Real time updating tends to occur here. We are finishing up the kitchen this week. Gonna start in on the master bath, and we may even SLEEP IN OUR OWN HOUSE! 

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Where Is This Water Coming From?!

Right where we directed it to come from,
 via modern plumbing techniques and a spirit of marital cooperation. 

There will be another post about Lauren and I and our mad plumbing skills. But the long shot of it is this. Running water. In our house. Coming out of the pipes we wanted it to. Un-&^%$#@-believable.

I was poking around the nooks and crannies of the internet and found an old blog of Lauren's. You can check it out here if you'd like fodder for teasing her later.

What I found was a bunch of pics from before we started tearing the house apart. One picture caught my eye because it was followed by the line: 

"Dining room. I'm thinking some fancy plaster crown molding. Levi is thinking I am crazy." 

This is before we found the arch. Before we tore down the wall bisecting the room.  Before I lost my mind.

I'd say she got her fancy plaster crown.

We've gone from this:

To this:

There's a few more, but I'll save them for emergency blog posts. And we ain't done yet! We are on the home stretch and the end is in sight. We are slashing through this punch list in the hopes of living IN our house soon. Keep coming back!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

While You Were Sleeping

I picked that title only because of the creepiness of my plaster covered face. Thankfully that washed out.

A whole lot has been happening at the Grey House Revival. There have been comings and goings, duckings and dodgings, and even a couple shenanigans. We even did a little skiing. 

What we did not do, however, is find any laurels to rest upon. So for lack of rest we worked real hard, and made some Revival Magic happen.

I was informed that I did not lavish enough attention upon our front door. It exists. When we purchased this house we didn't know there was a door hole in the current location. I discovered it with an axe and we proceeded to fill it (a year later) with a door. In all its glory:

Still don't have a knob on it. Whatever.

We also got our marble installed! Whooooo! It's so pretty and shiny honed! Sometimes I just lay myself on it and pretend its an incredibly uncomfortable, yet costly, bed. Just kidding, I don't do that.

This is a picture of us, staring into our future. Or inspecting the grout.
But seriously. That sink looks great. I built the cabinet, @ljax designed the counter, and we both harassed the marble guys into actually finishing the damn thing. Teamwork!

This is the Master Bedroom. Lauren flew to Seattle when she had a couple days off and took a Venetian plaster course from a company called Stucco Italiano. She flew home with a head full of knowledge and wild eyed dreams of what our house could become. And than she made it reality. I don't know what this style of plaster is called. It's really shiny and has a fancy Italian name like cappucinorino or something. All I know is that it looks badass and feels like glass when you touch it. Sometimes I just lay myself on it and... nevermind. When you come to visit, though, you'll find it's really hard not to run your hands over it. It's crazy. 

The brick to plaster transition turned out flawless.

This is Sammy. He's from here, but happened to move to Toronto to do fancy plaster for a fancy plaster company. He just so happens to be willing to assist us in our en devour. He's also our age, is an impeccable craftsman, and is always down to get a beer after work. Does it get any better? We are like a triumvirate of plaster nerds.

Damn! it's so glassy!


Lest you think we are developing sanity and maybe thinking of just enjoying our house for a while when it's finished, fear not. We are insane. Drumroll.......... We bought this other house:

Ok, no picture yet. I need to give all four of our readers a reason to come back and read some more. I'll just say that its terrible. It's dirty, it's scabbed together, it's full of garbage and squatter refuse. But it has SO MUCH POTENTIAL. So keep checking back, ya'll. You seriously never know when we'll drop another post...