Wood Stairwell Screen Is Going In

Probably the biggest architectural design statement in our house is our staircase. A big part of that is a wooden “screen” that extends over 30 feet creating a bit of a wall in the stair hallways as you go up. It’s made out of the old floor joists from the building, so it’s our stab at “original details”, since we had none to start with inside the house.

stairwell screen out of reclaimed lumber

Clearly it’s the rustic element in the stairwell. Here’s another shot looking from the other side…

wood stairwell screen

(The electrical cord wrapping around it is temporary.)

There are still curvy/organic frosted plexiglass panels that have to be installed. The architect went over proper installation with the contractor today – so they’ll be in soon.

Master Bathroom Is Pretty Much Done…

We’re at a stage where rooms are starting to be complete, but they don’t look complete ’cause they’re dirty, so today I cleaned all the windows and cleaned up the master bathroom while Dan spent time vacuuming… We’re getting there…

The master bathroom is pretty much done – here’s what it looks like…

Master bathroom

We’re not 100% convinced we picked the right color for the wall – it’s a bit purple, which wasn’t our objective. And clearly, we still need a toilet seat on the toilet.

While some people do elaborate “spa” bathrooms, our bathroom is pretty basic and functional. There are a few little things we added… There’s a handheld shower nozzle that still has to be mounted on the wall, but that’s minor. And you can just see the linear shower drain in the shower. In the shower there’s a little inset with shelves where we can put soap & shampoo…

shower shelves

The glass in the window is wire glass, but the window is plastic (since it’s in a shower). I’m hoping we don’t have a problem on inspection with not having a sprinkler head in front of the window (since it’s on a lot line). Our architects researched it pretty well and we were told either wire glass or a sprinkler head was what was needed, but friend just had DOB tell them they needed both. Fingers crossed on that one!

We don’t need any frosting on the window since there’s no one who can see in – just a brick wall a few feet away. But as you can see in the picture there’s still a fair amount of light that gets in despite the window being in a narrow alleyway.

Looking at the bathroom from another perspective (from inside the shower), you see this…

Sink & Toilet in master bathroom

There’s a few things to notice. First is the green handle on the flushometer… It’s a dual-flush flushometer. If you pull up it puts out less water than if you push down. But we had to find a wall-hung toilet that could be flushed with 0.9 gal of water – that wasn’t easy.

Next is the positioning of the faucet… The sink is off-center of the cabinet, so we were a bit worried how that would look, but I think it looks OK…

Off-center faucet

Another thing to notice is the overflow on the sink… NYC requires that or else you can’t have a stopper on the drain.

So at some point we’ll change the color of the wall, but that will be after we move in. Otherwise, it’s pretty much done as soon as we get a toilet seat and the handheld shower head and some towel bars get installed.

Higher End Marble

The Carrara counters we got were far from being super expensive – they’re pretty generic Carrara. If you’re wondering what else is out there that’s better, here’s a few pictures I snapped at HG Stone that show just how beautiful marble can be. If we had a high end European kitchen we might have shelled out the money for one of these…

There was a bluish slab with wavy veins…

bluish marble with wavy veins

And a gray marble with a golden vein running through it…

gray marble with gold veins

And then there was this light colored marble with golden veins – very pretty!

striated marble with gold veins

And then there was this light colored slab with a big dramatic gray vein running through it…

marble slab with a big, dramatic gray vein

And sometimes it’s not about linear veins at all – you get big round patterns in the marble…

marble with round circular patterns

By comparison, our Carrara slabs are rather humble. But they’re perfect for our purposes. 🙂

Picking Carrara Slabs For Kitchen Counter

The last post was about the rental kitchen, but we’ve made progress on our kitchen as well. The cabinets are gray lacquer – Ikea’s Abstrakt Gray. Here’s a picture of the kitchen, but realize that most of the cabinets have a protective blue plastic on them. The only area in the picture that’s the correct color is to the left of the range, on the side of the fridge.

parlor kitchen cabinets

Picking a counter material was tough. Black counters look really good against the gray cabinets, but the stairs and the range hood we picked are all about white – black would have just been wrong. A color would have complicated the design, and a busy grain would have been distracting. So we settled on Carrara since we’re using it as a reoccurring material throughout the house.

The problem with Carrara is that most of the Carrara these days is really gray. And gray Carrara next to gray cabinets would just look muddled. At the same time it doesn’t make sense to spend the big bucks on primo Carrara to go along with Ikea cabinets. Ikea kitchens are decent these days, but not that good. So the challenge was to find Carrara that was at a reasonable price point but still pretty white. Luckily we found some at the second stone yard we went to – but just barely. A new shipment had come in and we picked it while it was still in the shipping container – there was just one block that looked right and we only saw about 18″ of it, but when we saw it two days later it was pretty close to what we were hoping for.

Our fabricator had to buy two slabs to do our kitchen since the slabs are smaller than the granite we bought for the rental. (This afternoon when we saw him he was grumbling a bit about the cost of the slabs). Here’s the one we’ll use for the island…

carrara slab for kitchen island

The template for the island is the big one to the right. The bottom is towards the door, and you can see where the sink will be on the other side. We are a little worried about the cantilever portion breaking since marble isn’t as strong as granite. Since marble is most likely to break along veins, we kept the heaviest area of veins over the dishwasher where the marble will be most supported. The veins are much less in the cantilevered area.

The little template to the left will be the piece that goes under the microwave in an area that’s not too visible.

We almost went with a stainless counter along the wall since stainless is a lot more practical than marble next to a cooktop. But I’m not a big fan of different counter surfaces in the same kitchen (in most cases). And a white counter will look better than a stainless counter, so we went with the Carrara. Plus stainless cost a bit more. This is the slab that will be used along the wall – on either side of the range…

carrara slab for kitchen island

The two slabs are neighboring slices from the same block – so the veining is pretty much the same. But instead of using the bottom of the slab, like on the island, along the wall we’ll use the top part of the slab (where you see the tape). The big template will go to the right of the range, the little template will go to the left.

One other thing – 90% of the time people say Carrara in the kitchen should be honed, not polished. Apparently you can seal honed marble better than polished marble, and polished marble gets scratched up pretty easily in kitchens. But as Dan pointed out, honed marble next to high gloss cabinets would be a bit odd. Since the cabinets are high gloss, the marble needs to be polished (visually). We’ll just have to work harder to keep it looking good. And if we hate it, apparently wiping it down with vinegar and letting the vinegar sit for 20 minutes or so will dull the polish and make it look more or less honed.

Believe it or not, the fabricator is working over the weekend on the counters and they’ll be installed on Tuesday. It will be great to see that final piece really come together – the kitchens will look so complete.

Colonial Gold Won For Counter In Rental

[UPDATE: I’ve swapped out the pictures of the slab we got with a new better one that shows how the pieces will be cut…]

After my post the other day we decided against Rosewood granite for the rental – it just competed too much with the brick wall. Yesterday we went back to the stone yards and looked for other options. This time we took samples of the cabinets with us and it really helped. Some of the granite slabs just went better with the color of the cabinets. The one we chose was “Colonial Gold” granite.

On the slab below the peninsula will use the lower half of the slab. It’s reversed from the picture of the kitchen below… So the darker side will be next to the sheetrocked wall and the lighter side will be next to the hallway and brick wall.

granite slab for rental apartment

Since it’s a light colored granite, it’s going to be a pretty light/bright kitchen – almost white on white. The good part is the Colonial Gold won’t compete with the brick wall, but the dark bits are still strong enough to stand up to it (hopefully). Here’s the picture of the cabinets and and the wall again…

rental kitchen cabinets

There’s a slightly darker more yellow version of Colonial Gold called Colonial Creme. When we went to a different stone yard earlier in the morning they had slabs marked Colonial Creme that were as light or lighter than the Colonial Gold we bought – so the naming seems to depend on the source.

Here are few other slabs we saw that were either contenders or generally interesting. I gotta say, there’s so much cool granite out there – but of course there are a lot of factors that make each one best for a particular use…

Here’s one Dan really liked and wanted to use in the rental kitchen. It’s cool, but I’m not sure if it would have been as successful as the Colonial Gold…

varigated granite

Here’s one that looks like wood – it would be pretty overpowering as a kitchen counter, but I think it would make a great coffee table…

wood like granite

This was another that might have worked as the counter in the rental – light color with dark rust-like spots. But it didn’t work quite as well as the Colonial Gold.

granite with rust-like spots

Today we’re off to meet the architect at the house, then we’ll go see the stone fabricator and discuss cuts so we get the most interesting bits of the slabs in most visible location. Then after that it’s back to the house for a meeting with the ironworker about the rear deck/pergola.