Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mid Century Modern Recessed Bullet Ceiling Lights

While we wait out this rainy weather pattern that rained on our painting parade this past weekend and has continued all week, I thought I'd share a small past 'guerilla' project. Before beginning please refer to my very first blog post 'Time to Begin' with a good photo of our living space. About a 1-1/2 years ago I attacked replacing some ugly surface mounted 3-way ceiling fixtures with some vintage recessed fixtures.

A little backstory, we salvaged these light fixtures out of the Woody Garber designed Moore Residence that was being demolished (long stoy). Finally a day came with the wife and then 'kid'
away. With a borrowed saw-zaw, and a full intended mess on my hands, I took to a ladder and started cutting into the plaster ceiling. Before going through the hole procedure, pun intended, I cut out for one light first to see what I was getting myself into.

The first photo shows the intial light installation adjacent to the old lights. Note the clean look of the fireplace, previously covered mostly with a brass insert. The lighting layout has three lights along the end of the room, and two lights in the center of the space. I felt best we keep the existing electrical locations. The new
salvaged lights are recessed swiveling aluminum bullet lights made by Litecraft. Litecraft made some pretty cool MCM stuff and it's worth an Ebay search to see what the current market for some of their lights is.

Second photo, project was a full go, and all the existings lights have been removed. Third photo is a closeup of my unique archeological quest. Legend has it, our house once sat for awhile in the early 80's, prior to the 'Gene it up' era, the plaster ceiling had somewhat collapsed onto the floor. The reason for this is our house had radiant ceiling heating originally installed throughout the
house. Flexible copper pipe is embedded throughout our plaster ceilings in the house, remnant of the old heating system.

Since this was experimental technology in its day, I'm sure the a lot of heat was wasted heating the sky above our house before the system was abandoned. Eventually the coefficient of expansion proved the plaster not worthy to encapsulate the varying temperature in the water lines. Nonetheless, Gene installed another layer of drywall over the damaged plaster to give a total ceiling finish thickness of 1-1/2". This would call for several more saw-zaw blades.

I should admit, standing on a ladder, holding machinery over your head and being rained on with dust is no fun task. I made a nightmare of a dust mess, and had prepared by covering all the upholstered surfaces and quarantined most of space. Fourth photo shows the post hole cutting dust mess which still makes me cringe when I look at it. The lights were somewhat simple to install with the rough holes cut out. The body of the lights fits snuggly into the ceiling cavity, and I ended up mounting the light housing into the plaster.

Fifth photo, the lights are in and wired, most of the mess was cleaned up at this point. The new lights look most period appropriate, very minimal and unobstrusive to the sloped ceiling. Additionally, with the swivel feature we are able to point the the lights straight down. Eager to test, all the lights worked and it was time to wait for darkness. The final photo shows our living room furniture and artwork back in its place. Darkness settled in and our new grid of recessed lights illuminating our living room 50's style.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thrift Store Scores - Lane Tables

A couple weekends ago, I came across these two 'fraternal' twin Lane end tables at a local thrift store. They are fraternal because one of them has been refinished with Formica on top (doh!), the other is original. Lane has made some pretty nice Danish style pieces in their day. The chair and bullet planter next to the tables are future craigslist 'for sale' items. Our 'under construction' studio, with freshly repaired flat roof, has become a temporary storage room as we continue to work outside.

These two are very delicate in appearance with a ladder style rack for magazines. The legs have an exposed round peg mortise and tenon detail along with the exposed dowel connection on the rack to the legs. The top has rounded corners and a reverse bevel edge, the legs are tapered, a very Danish inspired overall aesthetic. For a mere $6 a piece we are thinking to maybe use them in the baby's room along side our Ikea couch.

Flat Roof Watch

Meteorologists often forecast rain, snow, wind, and sometimes even sunshine. They should add to their repertoire 'acorn showers'. With our MCM under a huge 50 year Pin Oak tree, we must succumb to the seasonal fall showers. It starts with the paradrop of caterpillars in the spring and ends in the winter as it drops its canopy slowly through fall and winter. In the beginning of fall we roller skate across our driveway as the Oak tree bombard acorns everywhere. All this proves to be bad news for our flat roof.

Current conditions indicate heavy acorn dropping patterns followed by repetitive roof brooming with potential slippage and irritation. The great shade our house enjoys comes at a cost. A couple of months have gone by since the roof repair band aid was done, so I decided to see how it was fairing. I had already gotten up a couple weeks ago to sweep the water and then 'baby' acorns off the roof and install some drain strainers.

We had some rain a maybe a little over a week ago, and there were only a couple of small puddles left on the band-aid area. A couple hundred acorns lay scattered across the roof. The strainers were surrounded by acorns aching to get in the drain lines. About this time every year we get a
drain clog in our utility room during a rain storm. When unclogged a ton of acorns come shooting out the drain. Apparently our roof drain, exterior drain, and interior utility room drain all tie into the same line.

Operation 'keep acorns out of drains' has been in operation for almost two weeks. A quick sweep and drain cleaning had everything on the roof cleared off and dry. It has to be a humorous sight to see someone sweeping off their flat roof. Our patch job has proved to keep it dry with no sight of any water penetration inside. Dreaming of tapered insulation and no pools of water on my
roof has not yet come to fruition. Future forecast calls for acorn showers to lighten up and flat roof homeowners a final sweep of relief.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mid Century Modern Curb Appeal Part 1

Our latest and greatest project has been our ever ongoing work to enhance the exterior 'curb appeal'. As mentioned in an early post, the outside of our MCM had a fun 80's exercise in the school of 'Gened up'. The first photo is our first look at the house on a very rainy day in May of 2005. Note some of the Gene interventions: fake green shutters; new electric meter on the front of the house with hideous galvanized pipe; angular lumber enclosed planting beds; vertical slatted blinds; and a lovely glass front storm door, complete with beveled glass and brass detailing.

We have had our work cut out for us with a complete 'curb appeal' overhaul, having done most of the completed work in 'mini-project' approach. A couple years ago, I pulled out all the front landscaping, including the wood enclosures and white gravel. We then poured the front concrete porch, a maturation of the original exterior concepts. I left the existing concrete landing and wrapped it with a new slab and inset step to match. The new concrete color juxtaposes nicely with the old weathered landing. Most likely the landing will get painted dark grey to match the house.

The large air conditioner was removed last summer, with glass replacing it's huge chunkyness on the front of the house. Last summer I scored an awesome 1950's MCM front storm door from a local salvage company, Building Values. It took 6 months to come across the right door, but this one might be a duplicate of the original. The door is simply trimmed with a removable glass frame, even the color almost matched our original maroon color.

This past Spring, a bad storm caused the next door oak tree to drop a huge limb that ripped out our entire electric service, meter and all. Long story short, we lived for almost a week off a generator. In the end we had the new meter and service installed on the side of the house, the required piping, etc was installed very cleanly next to our downspout to conceal it from the street view, photo to come in follow up posts.

We also installed two lines of aggregate pavers that were sitting stacked out back when we bought the house. The smaller ones are set in gravel next to the porch and along the entire front of the house with aluminum landscape edging. The larger ones are offset parallel to the porch. Part of our larger idea is to have a long rectilinear planting bed between these two walkways. Currently we are debating on whether to pour concrete or to set some patterned pavers for the landscape enclosure. The jury is still out. The outline of this new enclosed area can be seen in the fifth photo. Currently I've dug the trench for the concrete or paver enclosure.

With the studio roof recenlty fixed we've shifted gears to working outside while the weather is still nice. Painting the front of the house and getting the landscape enclosure finished is the goal before fall sets in. We've decided to go with a dark grey for the front color of the house (see sample in the third photo). We think this will compliment the red of the brick and keep the color scheme simple. The existing tan is going to remain on the flat roofline until next spring, unless we get our act together and go painting bonanza.

Around the new front storm door, we have patched all the gouges and nailheads from the installation. Since I reused the original redwood, I knew I had this tedious chore coming, much of the jamb face had damage, insert wood putty. A lot of ivy once covered our house, a ton of its remnants have left their mark on the concrete fascia and soffit. We decided not to paint the concrete finish, but to clean it and patch as necessary.

We certainly have had a few good laughs at how our house has looked, oh, for the past year or so. With a red front door, a white primed window, the other windows sage green, and chicken pox on our front door, how can you not laugh? The antique house numbers on the mail chute door have been removed and its come time to work on the windows. I have re-glazed several windows on the house and have to say, reinstalling new glass in a metal casement window is no easy task. We are focusing on painting the front 'wooden rectangle' face with a lot of window prep work before painting. We are going to extend around to the redo the two studio windows in the next phases.

This past weekend we scraped all the old caulk around the wood and windows in preparation to re-seal all the material connections, currently the front wall is quite drafty. I started reglazing with the largest window, you can see some process in the last three photos. Basically, you warm the glazing up in your hand, roll out small ropes and finger apply the glazing compound into a 45 degree angled profile from the glass to metal frame. Followed with several passes with a 1" putty knife, you work the putty to a nice smooth finish. It took me 4 hours from start to finish on the large window and the smaller adjacent window. The fresher the window glazing the smoother the job.