All it Needs is a Lick of Paint

Well, that’s not quite true, but the paint sure helps.


From the white siding and green trim it’s had for at least 35 years (and who knows how much longer) to gray siding. And it’s quite the process on a house this size. I wouldn’t want to be up on that ladder.


Yeah, the green’s really not working with the gray. How about white, instead?


Much better. Clean, crisp, and classy. What an interesting arrangement of window shapes, too.


The white also shows off the details in the trim.


And the warm lights of home glow welcomingly against the gray.


The carriage house is being painted to match.


Still useful for storage even if this is the only horse calling it home now-a-days.


A preview of the finished paint design. The addition of the black really makes everything pop.

Published in: on September 25, 2014 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Roof in the Making

The difference between a patio and a porch is the roof. This is definitely a porch.


On the stair overhang you can see the bones of the eaves, currently resembling a stylish pergola. This also offers a different view of how the porch will interact with the other architectural elements of the house. I love how the temporary views offered during construction give you a chance to see things in a way you haven’t before, and probably won’t again. Plus the play of line and shadow in this picture is just cool.


The porch roof supports are designed to miss the corner pilasters, even though the eaves will cross them. This minimizes the damage to these important vertical design elements, something for which the smaller-porch-that-was builders must have been thankful for. Remember, the house wasn’t re-sided until later, so the pilasters were still exposed after the smaller porch went up. In fact, they were more prominent at that point than ever before.


The groove caused by the porch eaves in the left-hand pilaster isn’t too bad. And it’s important as a guide for the new construction. There’s a lot the designers learned about the original porch from the traces it left behind.


The permanent floor of the new porch will be much more attractive than the temporary.


I’m not sure the same can be said for the ceiling. But I’m sure it’ll be better protection from the weather.


You can see how the new roof joists are nestled right up to the 2nd floor bay window, working their way around it.


And here you can see the complicated interaction of the various roof elements, accentuated by the play of light and shadow, and in stark contrast to the organic chaos of the trees beyond. I’d like to say something about the juxtaposition of the milled wood and living trees, of nature bent to humanity’s needs, but I’m not sure what. So I won’t.

Published in: on September 25, 2014 at 3:19 pm  Comments (1)  
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Built on a Foundation of Stone, Old and New

A grand porch must have grand supports.


Solid cement pilings, partially buried, and the visible portions clad in the very same stone pieces that made up the original porch’s buried pilings, excavated to make way for the new. The same local limestone makes up the house’s foundation; one bit of natural material that didn’t escape the mid-20th-century paintbrush, sadly.


The same ancient stone is used in hundreds, if not thousands, of structures in this part of the city, including the walls of what’s reputed to be the oldest extant house in St. Paul, located on W 7th St. It’s now in the courtyard of a restaurant.


The other completed limestone-clad piling with the roughed in pillar support on top.


One of the pillar supports by the stairs. You can see here how the bit of floor leading to the stairs extends beyond the general front line of the porch, adding square footage and more opportunity for pillars. The more pillars the better, obviously!


Although most of it is gone, there are a few bits of the porch-just-removed that are staying, mainly because they don’t interfere with the new construction, and are not worth the trouble of getting rid of. One such are the porch supports, that bit of cement block you can see through the floor joists here.


Another, surprisingly, are the old porch stairs. Cast out of solid cement and made to last, you’d need a jackhammer to remove them.


Why bother when they fit so nicely under the new design? Also, as Bill says, it’s something for future owners and renovators to get excited about when they find them. It’s important to leave a legacy.


You can see that the support structures that will be hidden are plain cement block, not nearly as attractive as those that will be exposed, but equally strong.

There’s something appealing about that last picture. Harmony in the chaos of construction. Permanent and temporary elements working together to create a solid, beautiful final product. And a domestic construction site on an autumn day with sunny summer still reflected in the windows.

Published in: on September 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Porch Fit for a King

The porch is coming along nicely.


The shell of the bottom of the old porch with the ghost of its top. That stunted porch served the house and its occupants to the best of its ability for decades, but it’s time for it to retire in favor of something better. Farewell!


The poor old porch is gone, leaving just its stairs. All around it you can see indications of something new (and better) to come.


There’s now a bridge from the old stairs to the door, cleverly ensuring that guests always have safe access to the B&B. There was some question as to whether a permanent drawbridge and moat might not be an option. Alas, ultimately not. The outline of the new porch has been mostly framed in.


Look! New stairs! And floor joists! Enticing to kids playing in the gloaming with lit windows glowing around them.


A more workman-like view of the progress. Frame and stairs, with one pillar support post roughed in and another in process nearby. As soon as the joists were laid, a temporary floor was put down between the stairs the the door. Safe,  solid, and easy access to the B&B is always a priority.


The roof! And the second pillar support completed and installed.


A more definitively framed roof with some rafters. See how the roof going all the way across nestles right under those oddly shaped bay windows above and makes them fit in with the completely flat windows below? You can already see how the windows are going to make a lot more sense architecturally when the porch roof is completed.


For a sense of scale, here’s Bill, using his new stairs. He asked, “Do I deserve such a regal porch?” The answer is yes!

The new porch is the previously missing element that’s going to make this house’s architecture sing.

Published in: on September 25, 2014 at 1:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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More Renovation News

Here are some more pictures from the renovation.


Here’s the house with the porch stripped down to its essentials – no siding or skirting – preparatory to its being taken down all together.


Up close the rough boards that make up the core of the porch smell like a historic log cabin; old wood and time.


These stones were part of the infrastructure of the original porch and will be reused to clad the supporting piers for the new porch.

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They’re patching up the holes and filling in the gaps in the old siding left by various incursions over time, including insulation, rot, and removal.

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Color is also starting to come into play. Due to the scraping, you can see old layers of paint on siding – buff – and trim – white.


And here’s someone’s opinion on either the new paint color or the entire process.

Published in: on September 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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