Posts Tagged fir flooring

Complete remodel of Rousseau home – restoration, reuse and daylighting

Here is a journey for you – a tale of complete remodeling of the interior and exterior over 11 years, by Katrina Roussea. This home is featured in Sustainable Connections’ 2013 Imagine This! Home and Landscape Tour. Get your tickets today for 9 homes full of green building and landscaping inspiration!

rousseau remodel collage

“When my husband and I purchased the house 13 years ago, there were elements of the Victorian design from 1905 and a major Colonial Revival renovation in 1941. We were lucky to have photos so that we could see how the house looked over the years. Apparently the house was originally located on Chestnut St near the old St Josephs Hospital location and was moved to the current location in the mid 1980’s.  Because the house had been altered so much through the years we felt that we could do a “semi-historical” renovation.  We felt that we had the flexibility to use whatever historic features we wanted to and not be constrained by any particular historical period.’

‘We have so many great resources here in Bellingham and the Pacific NW.  I also did lots of research online. Over the last 13 years I have been to many older home open houses getting ideas and asking questions.  I have also taken and collected lots of photos that were really helpful when we started to design.  We were also careful to pick a contractor who would be open to re-using old house parts and who would get what we were trying to do.  Bellingham Bay Builders has gone above and beyond in that regard.’

‘We have lived in the house for 13 years, and the house did not seem to “flow.”  Our kitchen was chopped up, passageways were blocked.  Upstairs was one tiny bathroom and two large bedrooms (one was 22 feet long) with 2 closets and one tiny bedroom with no closet.’

‘Going into the remodel we had several priorities.  

  1. Reconfigure the floor plan without adding much additional square footage to make the house flow better.  We studied the “Not So Big House” books to achieve that.  
  2. Try and re-use everything that we could from the house.  
  3. Find historical architectural artifacts and re-use those where we could
  4. Make any new materials look original. 

‘We actually started the process 11 years ago.  Once a year I had Jim Gunsolus (of Craftsman Woodworking) take out a window and I then had it stripped at the Strip Shop in Ferndale. The Glass house Co.in Ferndale would restore the leaded glass. Gunsolus then restored the ropes and weights and re-did the trim using old fir that he got from The RE Store.  The effect was stunning and the cost about the same as if we had replaced the windows with new good quality wooden ones.  At about the same time we wanted to put in a gas fireplace, which we did after I found a 100 year old mantle piece that came out of a house in Texas.  The fun for me in these previous projects was that people thought these things were all original to the house.

‘In preparation for the current renovations, I have spent the last year looking for house parts and finding homes for the house parts that we were not going to use. The best items included:

  • 7 vintage doors, at Second Use in Seattle, that came from a house in the Queen Anne neighborhood.  I needed exactly 7 doors and there they were!  I then advertised the doors that I wasn’t going to use on Craigslist and a lady from Blaine who was restoring an old farmhouse was delighted to get them.  
  • A classic 3 panel door that was the exact size that we needed in the kitchen from The RE Store. We also found a nice glass doorknob and lever door set from The RE Store but we are re-using most of our old door hardware.  
  • A pair of antique leaded glass French doors from Second Use in Seattle
  • Vintage hemlock flooring from Earthwise in Seattle – some of the boards were 14 feet long from an old house in Wallingford.  
  • An antique newel post was scored from Skagit Salvage. Gunsolus was able to make a smaller one to match it upstairs.  You can’t tell which is old and which is new.

Surprises in the house included:

  • Historical memorabilia like a child’s homework project that was dated 1908 behind a cupboard. 
  • Stripping the built in cupboards revealed beautiful old growth fir beneath all of the layers of paint. 
  • We figured out how to re-use my favorite door as a pocket door. 
  • Structural beams that had to be added upstairs became a wonderful part of the house. 

The project also included a full replacement of the siding and bringing natural light into the home. Dylan Hicks of Bellingham Bay Builders shared more about the project.

“Designer Deborah Todd worked closely with John and Karina to conceive of the remodel and produced detailed permit drawings. Daylighting was a prime goal of the interior remodel, removing light-blocking interior partitions on the top floor.   New modern windows, multiple new skylights and a creative light plan will ensure a bright interior environment. We removed the three existing layers of siding, replaced windows that were beyond repair and weatherized the shell. We applied new exterior trim and siding to closely match the photo from 1927.”

Karina concluded, “I think my biggest piece of advice to anyone working on their old house is to figure out a way to stay true to your house, even if it means that you have to do things slowly.”

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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Striking Salvage Gold in Own Backyard – Notes from the Field

by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew Member

Working on The RE Store’s field crew is a lot like digging for buried treasure. It’s a dirty, dusty, splintery business, and it’s often done at a fever pitch. While we travel to many exotic locales in our never-ending quest for architectural gold, there’s nothing better than striking it rich in our very own backyard.

This September, we unearthed a treasure trove of vertical grain Douglas fir tongue-and-groove flooring just blocks away from our Ballard store location. It was buried deep under a musty layer of avocado green shag carpeting. Thankfully, the previous owner saw past the luxurious fad of that deep pile rug and didn’t bother to tack it down. This single visionary action left the fir beneath it in as good-as-it-gets condition. Eternally thankful, we set to work with our trusty Burke bars in hand (top left in image above).

Unlike today’s wood flooring, which is typically installed with the benefit of pneumatic nail guns, this stuff was done ye old-fashioned way. Imagine if you will, a carpenter setting each nail in each board by hand with a hammer. Every time we pull up a floor of this vintage we give thanks that we weren’t the ones who had to install it. However, removing fir flooring is no picnic either.

Flooring of this type is nailed through the tongue when installed, and it must be removed by prying at each nail from the tongue side. Fir is a soft wood that often becomes brittle with age, so special care must be taken to avoid breaking the tongue upon removal. Take it from someone who knows, breaking the tongue renders the piece unusable again as flooring. Listening to the sound that the board makes during removal is actually one of the best indicators of whether or not it will come out intact. The more screeching nail sounds the better.

After listening to the soothing sounds of the fir floor, we moved on to unearth a number of other treasures from the Ballard house, including: cast iron pedestal sinks, divided light windows, cedar fence boards, and even some Volkswagen Beetle windshields. While our mission is to salvage reusable building materials, we’re always on the hunt for re-purposeable treasures to bring to you, the RE Store supporter. This time around, we managed to dig up pieces of Ballard, which we hope have found new homes by now. The VW windshields, however, are still available as of this writing; please inquire at The RE Store in Seattle for more information.

And remember to give us a call to schedule a free pick up from your renovation or project!  More info here

Posted in: Notes From the Field, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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Gourmet locavores and reclaimed materials at The Willows Inn

The Willows Inn on Lummi Island has leapt into the national gourmet food limelight in the last 18 months, under the culinary guidance of Olympia born, 25-year old acclaimed chef Blaine Wetzel. A 2011 article in the New York Times, titled, “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride”, placed the Willows Inn amongst the great gastronomic experiences to be found in New York, London, Barcelona, Singapore, and Sydney. Read more about it’s philosophy and remodel project with reclaimed and local materials below the video.

West Shore Hospitality, a group of Whatcom County and Lummi Island-based investors, took notice of The Willows Inn’s publicity, buying out former owner, Riley Starks, in the fall of 2011. This local investment group opted for a full remodel of the entire facility, restaurant and the on-site accommodations. Nettles Farm lies behind the Inn, still owned by Starks, and is leased by the new owners as a part of the haven for gourmet locavores, growing greens, vegetables and flowers within a stone’s throw of the kitchen. With the restaurant’s focus on locally-sourced food and farm-to-table approach, they applied those same principles to the contractors and artists involved in the project. Many of the tradesman and contributors to the project were sourced from the Lummi Island community, known for its artisans and craftsfolk.

The RE Store’s own Eberhard Eichner lives on Lummi Island and contributed furniture and decor to the project along with others woodworkers Alan Rosen, Tom Lutz. Other locals involved in the project included: Pier Bosma doing fireplace stone work, Houston Foust’s stone and concrete work, ceramics by Ria Nickerson, Mark Bergsma’s photography and digital artwork, and resident artist Ria Harboe. Almost all of The Willows’ staff are Lummi Island residents as well.

As a part of the remodel, they hired Carol Beecher with Boston’s Saltwater Consulting, to be the “designer helping the Willow’s transform itself” for the remodel. Carol is a long-time fan of reclaimed materials, natural materials and old stuff. She wanted the interior of the a 102-year-old Inn to mirror its natural settings. She lobbied successfully for the restoration of the original fir flooring and brought out the original character hidden beneath the many layers of paint.

Carol saw Eberhard’s furniture in The RE Store and was compelled to get him involved. “The RE Store is my favorite place. That is where I always look for cool, funky things. I saw some furniture that Eberhard had done and I said, ‘I’ve got to reach out to this guy. He’s got what is in my mind and he can make it happen.”

The RE Store installed a set of sliding double doors between the main dining room and Blaine’s kitchen, a single sliding door unit made from cabinet doors that can partition off the private dining room, and a side table made from salvaged lumber and glass.

And so The Willows was renewed: the remodel was completed, the geoducks were dug, the local fish were caught, the farm out back produced prolifically, wildcrafted ingredients were harvested from the native forests, and the table was set.

For a truly local, gastronomically incredible experience, contact The Willows and leave behind your previously conceived notions of eating local.

Posted in: Green business, RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry, Video posts

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New and Better: Utilizing The RE Store for residential remodeling contracting

Bob Penny helps The RE Store install windows in it's Bellingham facility

Bob Penny helps The RE Store install windows in it's Bellingham facility

by Bob Penny
Hawk Meadow Homecraft
small contractor in Bellingham

Something that has bothered me for many years is the infrequency with which local contractors utilize The RE Store to create win-win arrangements for their remodeling clients.  Hopefully what follows can inspire and promote this incredible local resource, and

illustrate some of the various strategies to bring The RE Store in as a helpful partner for contractors and clients.

I offered a $200 gift certificate for my services at a silent auction, with the proceeds to benefit The RE Store. The couple who won the bidding

used the certificate to get an initial price reduction off of a multi-faceted remodel for an older home they had recently purchased in Bellingham’s Lettered Streets neighborhood.  They presented to me a project with a variety of options.  Floors needed to be refinished, windows cabinets and doors replaced, a porch floor needed to be rebuilt, framing needed to be changed – the list went on.  It was a multi-faceted list, and certainly not all of the items would make the inevitable budget cutting process.

How should the project be approached?  What factors could help determine the cost effectiveness of various elements under consideration?

I wrote a comprehensive proposal that broke out all the costs involved for each item on the list.  Included was the cost of removing,

hauling away, and disposing of an entire set of perfectly good, but medium quality, kitchen cabinets and half a dozen newer, but not stylistically correct, interior doors.  In the contract I inserted a clause allowing for a further $300 price reduction

if The RE Store choose to remove these materials.  The RE Store sent a field crew leader to the house to preview the materials, and agreed to do the work.  The work proceeded quickly and efficiently.  Within four hours the entire set of cabinets and all the doors were gone – I had done no physical work and had expended little organizational time.  The rooms were

left clean and neat, the plumbing items to remain and be reinstalled left neatly collected together.
For making this “donation” of materials to a registered non-profit the owners were given two options – receive a tax-deductible receipt, or a trade credit at the store.  They elected for the trade credit, worth $183.  Additionally, The RE Store

had the right salvaged tongue and groove flooring to help patch damaged areas of the house’s floors.  There was enough to do the whole front porch floor.  The porch floor had been initially eliminated from the project because of cost – new fir flooring is extremely expensive.  But The RE Store material was about half the price of new.  And with a further $183 price reduction it was a steal.

Another benefit was to the environment.  I always insert a statement in my contract that enumerates any old growth materials to be used in the project, and recommends alternatives.  The biggest old growth item in this project was the porch floor.  But now all that material could be had without cutting any new trees.  Additionally, the elimination of the porch from the project had reduced my potential for earnings and profit.  Reintroducing this item back into the project at a reduced cost gave that earning potential back to me, at a savings to the clients.

A final tally of benefits from this participation with The RE Store:

The RE Store received:
A $200 donation from the auction
A half day of salvage work

Over $1,250 worth of highly attractive sales items for the showroom
An additional sale of about $750 of flooring

The client received:
A price reduction of $200 on the project

Another price reduction of $300 on the project
A tax-deductible receipt from The RE Store for their $200 bid donation
A savings of about $1000 on a purchase of flooring over new prices
An additional credit of $183 on the flooring purchase

I, the contractor, received:
A job that keeps me busy and employed for over two months
A satisfied client who could provide good references for future work
A portion of the work done without hardly any effort by me

A portion of the project eliminated by the budget reintroduced to the project

The Earth receives:
The continued existence of one huge old growth Douglas Fir tree.

~ Another win-win-win-win situation, courtesy of your friends at The RE Store.

Learn more about Bob Penny and Hawk Meadow Homecraft

Posted in: Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry

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