Happy Halloween

October 29th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

Hand-carved Jack-O-Lanterns

Let VIVUS be the first to wish you a happy halloween.

For an interesting story about Jack O’ The Lantern, click here.

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A Hole

October 29th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

A hole

I was delighted to find upon my return from the office today, a large hole in my yard. This hole will become the happy home of our new footings and foundation around our new and much needed mudroom.

Awaiting the pour

We came across a large rock next to the existing basement wall, but fortunately, the new wall will just miss it and the old cistern north of it. The underground electrical feed to the garage defied logic and did not show up under the backhoe’s bucket, thank the Lord. These unknowns make remodeling an adventure.

Speaking of such, we spend a fair amount of time discussing the best way to blend the new construction into the sloping, sagging floor of the existing house. it is an art to handle these uncertainties gracefully and cost-effectively. With our contractors Gary and Matt, we reviewed several options to deal with the irregularities.

While we were at it, we decided it was prudent to save the porch walls from the wrecking ball; the existing headers can be augmented to do the job. Since we’ve decided to go with foamed in place insulation, we will get satisfactory performance from the existing 2×4 studs. This trade off will save us some money up front and won’t be too bad down the line, since this room can be shut off from the rest of the house when the weather gets cold. We are aware that this room will have some temperature swings; that is part of the package.

Saving the walls will require less time for the framing effort, too. That is important, since we would like to insulate the shell before the worst of the winter strikes. The low-slope roof must come off, to be replaced by new floor trusses. We’re going to see if the truss manufacturer can give each truss “feet” that can be trimmed as necessary to level the new floor. This will allow us to get the ceiling height we want without demolishing the porch walls.

Xcel Energy’s crew came by today to discuss burying our power, phone and cable wiring. They, too, have been set back by all the rain. But it looks like they’ll have the job done this week, clearing the way for removal of the roof and second floor walls. We asked Xcel to run the cable deep as it approaches the house so we can decide what landscaping needs to happen in the spring. Our plan is to install an egress window in the basement, which will require some dirt work. Now we will not have to worry about the wires.

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Tub Makeover Begins

October 28th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer


This weekend, Mary and I took our salvaged clawfoot tub to be freshened up. We found a guy is St. Paul who has spent the last seven years rehabbing old tubs.

The Tub

Despite the peeling paint, we were delighted to hear that the tub was considered in good shape. Although some of the glazing had been worn away near the drain, the tub was the second best tub he has ever seen.

We liked it for its length and depth, a true soaking tub. It came out of a second story apartment in Waverly, Iowa, when a fellow architect and I traveled down to pick up a pair of tubs. (That adventure is a tale for another day!) The outside of the tub will be sandblasted and painted; minimal work to keep its service life going.

The tub will find its new home in our master bathroom. We look forward to seeing it restored to its former glory.

Alas, but we don’t plan on painting the toenails red again!

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Sponge Justice

October 28th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

Joe faces the Sponge

Thursday was the ArTech Charter School Renaissance Festival, and Mary and I went to take in the fun.

We witnessed a stage-fight between two dueling students, we bought a rock to prevent the black plague from getting us, talked with a fortune teller (good things will happen!), and saw a bearded lizard man in a cage. There were also presentations of science and art projects to view.

Before the camera battery died, I caught a rare moment. Above, Joe Parr prepares to dodge a sponge thrown by a student. Yes, that’s it blurring through the sunlight on the right! For a penny a pitch, students could try their aim.

Check out ArTech at http://artech.k12.mn.us/.

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2nd Street Residence cabinets and concrete

October 28th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

2nd Street kitchen cabinets 02

The cabinets are in place on Second Street, waiting for the countertops. Nerstrand Custom Cabinets built them based on our concept design, and they look good. In the background is the window seat that will be part of the Dining Room, flanked by bookshelves on both sides. The foreground is where a high counter will allow stools and informal dining.

2nd Street kitchen cabinets 03

2nd Street kitchen cabinets 04

2nd Street kitchen cabinets

Van Haren Construction poured the front walk and the driveway this week also. We reviewed the plan together before the pour and they did a nice job with the details. The kids added their touch, too.

Northfield Construction’s carpenters are working away at the custom stair and guardrail and the other finishing touches. Completion is approaching quickly! Certain items will wait until spring 2008, like exterior painting, finishing the screen porch and landscaping.

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Elvis visits Premier Bank

October 28th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

Elvis and Architect

I shared a rare photo op with the King when I stopped in at Premier Bank last Friday.

No, I’m kidding. It’s not really Elvis. It’s Travis Nettum, the Bank Manager. He was dressed up to raise money for charity; about an hour later, they held a karaoke contest. (I was conspicuously absent at that time.)

Stop by and tell Travis what you think of his impersonation!

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Quote: Phillipe Starck

October 14th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

“Designers should define their role broadly as agents of good in the world, and limit their work to ‘legitimate’ products: those that are needed, and those that can be made without damage to nature or — through the unethical actions of manufacturers and investors — damage to people.”

Industrial designer Phillipe Starck, on the purpose of design
via Treehugger

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