When I paint a painting I spend very little time planning.  I may have an idea in my head but the first thing to do is get paint on the canvas.  The painting then tells me where it wants to go, what it wants to look like, and ultimately when it’s done.  At least three out of every ten or so times I do that, the painting turns out okay.  One in a hundred even looks “okay” enough that a complete stranger will buy it.

Unfortunately for me (and at times society as a whole) I tend to live my life in that same manner.  All you have to do is talk to me for thirty seconds and you’ll realize that, whatever I am a) doing, b) planning, or c) correcting has very little, if any, pre-planned thought involved.  

You should have been there when I first uttered an ulterior motivated monologue in the direction of the woman who is now my wife.  I knew I needed to get from point A to point B, but to work out the details?….sigh….so much work.  Best to just wing it and make it up as I go. I’m pretty sure I rambled for ten minutes talking about the weather, geographic non-sense and god knows what until, much to both our relief, I asked her out.  (She was relieved only because I’d stopped talking, I’m sure of it.).  Build it up, ramble on like a train wreck, save it in the end.  Repeat.

I’ve been making it up as I go for the better part of nearly forty years.  Envision something grand, start out grand, turn it into a train wreck and then work to save it in the end.

For this project we have an architect’s master plan to work off of.  Beyond that though, the details aren’t really figured out.  Good and bad, we have a lot of room to get creative.  Much of what we’re doing will be done completely on the fly.  Yes, our seatbelts are fastened.

The family room is the toughest design problem in my opinion.  We have a 28′ long wall that has a door, window, fireplace and needs to house an entertainment center and dining room hutch.  I’m working day and night on computer models and creating hand sketches.  Pouring through magazines, imagining shapes, and drawing lines.  There’s a 50/50 chance at best I’ll come up with something worthwhile aesthetically. 

For those of you keeping track at home, the fireplace is a Quadrafire EDGE60 which is about the most awesome pellet burning fireplace in the world.  It looks like a fireplace but burns sawdust pellets (or sunflower seeds and other assorted plant-based fuel sources).  The fireplace will knock the edge off of the winter nights.  It will also supplement our gas furnace / geo-thermal heating system. (Yes, we’ll have three distinct heating systems (four if you count passive solar)…..I may be the most remarkable (and fiscally insane) person you’ll meet in your lifetime).

The next difficult design problem will be the staircase.  We had to rely on our lumber yard to do our structural plan and it turns out we have to put a post at the bottom of our stairs.  Bleh.  This messes up our staircase plan aesthetically.  I have not started sketching for that yet.  We did find another railing we may steal from the Estes Twombly architect book so that makes me feel better.

Rough framing continues.  HVAC work has begun in my studio so they can get that done before the concrete goes in.  I have no idea what they’re doing except they ripped up my foam I installed.  I get to do that all over again.  As best I can tell, the large green tubes will be a loop running around the perimeter of the studio with some floor vents inserted into the top.  I’ll infill will stone, foam and cement.

Much of what we have to work with is cast in stone (literally and figuratively).  Now we work with what we have, avoid the complete train wreck and try to turn it into something remarkable.  In a way looking for our project’s……..


Of course over the years I’ve painted over a fair number of canvases when the painting was unsalvagable (sp?).  Best not to think about that though.

Pictures for your enjoyment:

Studio floor with HVAC tubes.


Studio HVAC tubes from inside basement. The first penetration into our shiney new Superior Walls. I'll caulk / foam around all penetrations in the foundation.


Second floor framing. 2x4's interior walls. 2x6 exterior walls. Grace Vycor flashing on top of all gable end walls.


Staircase post 😦 You can see the three structural members that intersect in the ceiling. Ugh.




Planning the Family Room wall.


Some of my sketches for Family Room wall


model I created of the staircase sans posts

This week will be busy planning the cistern, rain water collection system and finishing up the framing.  Also doing a lot of ordering and preparing for next wave of trades including the roofer. 

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