Sunday, December 31, 2006

Fear of Commitment

I’m having some serious relationship issues with the new bathroom. I’ve been having cold feet about committing to the design. I don’t really think there is anything seriously wrong with the design, it’s just, you know, once it’s done, it’s done, and what if there is a better design out there I haven’t seen or thought of yet.

Fear of commitment is not something men usually deal with {cough}, especially not me {cough}, so I just had to muscle through these strange and terrifying emotions, and I did. Today I built the new wall in the bathroom. This is to hide the plumbing, electrical, and telecom chase to the upper floors. It will also house all the new plumbing. The wall is only about 6-inches from the existing wall but it solves a lot of problems.

I realized one flaw in my design just as I started to build the wall. I originally wanted to have floor to ceiling cabinets in the corner near the door. This turned out to be a bad idea because the wall is so narrow the light switches would have ended up being inside the cabinet. Oops. So now I have two options. One, I could make a single 36-inch high cabinet with a small counter on top. The switches would then be on the wall above the counter. The other options is to have an open compartment in the middle of the cabinet. The switches would be in this open space. I’m leaning towards option one.

I actually didn’t finish the wall because I ran out of nails and apparently there is some stupid holiday today and all the hardware stores closed early. Grrrr! To further delay the wall being completed, they will most likely be closed tomorrow as well, so that means I’m in bathroom-wall-limbo until Tuesday.

Of course, I know it’s New Year’s Eve tonight, but I’ve decided not to do anything this year. Last year I went to a martini party and got so shit-faced drunk I regretted it for days. There was an over-eager bartender pouring Lemon Drops and Appletinis and my glass was never empty. The drinks were so sweat and delicious I didn’t really notice I was getting drunk, and by the time I did notice, I was so drunk I didn’t really care, so I kept drinking. It was unbelievable. I haven’t been that drunk since my early 20s.

The party was only a few blocks from my house and was barley able to walk home. I woke up the next day around 1:00 still in my clothes with both cats staring at me with worried looks on their faces. I think they were just hungry, but they’ve both seen plenty of dead things before, so I can imagine what might have been going through their furry little minds.

Mort: The gravy train’s over, Sadie. It looks like we’re back out on the street.
Sadie: Yep. It was good while it lasted. Let's get out of here before he starts to stink.

The next day one of my friends from the party was forced by his wife to call and apologize to me. Neither of us knew what he was apologizing for, so I graciously excepted his apology, and we both agreed never to mention that night again.

Friday, December 29, 2006

You Can Thank Goth Girl of the Week

That’s where I got that annoying piece of code that scrolled the title of my blog. A few weeks back I was looking at the referring URLs to see how people stumbled on to my site and one of them was Being that I’ve always secretly liked woman that dress in the Goth Style, naturally, I had to take a look. I imagined that dozens of beautiful Goth Girls were fascinated by the work I was doing on my house, and were hanging on my every written word. I mean, an 1895 Victorian does sort of go a long with the whole Goth Thing. It could happen. It could.

As it turns out The Goth Girl of the Week site does not link to my site. There aren’t dozens of Goth Girls out there reading my blog. Sigh! I think someone was ogling the Goth Girls and clicked on the “Next Blog” link that appears at the top of all Blogger blogs and that lead them to my blog.

Any way, Goth Girl of the Week scrolls their blog title and for a few brief minutes I thought it was cool, so I cut the code out and tried it. It is very annoying, but here’s the code if anyone wants to be annoying. Just change where it says “The Petch House” to the name of your blog and then past the code in to your template.

Remove the 2 asterisks before the words "script"

<*script language="javascript">
// (c) Premshree Pillai
// Use freely as long as this message is intact.
var msg = " The Petch House ";
var pos = 0;
var spacer = " ... ";
var time_length = 100;
function ScrollTitle()
document.title = msg.substring(pos, msg.length) + spacer + msg.substring(0, pos);
if (pos > msg.length) pos=0;

Another annoying thing you can do on your blog is to have blinking text. I mean look at this sentence. Is this annoying or what? Adding blinking color text is even more annoying. If you really want to piss people off have an entire paragraph blink. Oh man, who could stand to look at it.

Both of these things – the blinking text and the scrolling title bar - fall under the category, “Just Because You Can Do Something, Doesn’t Mean You Should”. If you really want to annoy people with blinking text then use the <*blink> and <*/blink> tags on your blog. From Blogger you would use these while you were writing under "Edit Html" while creating a new post.

Man, that makes my eyes hurt trying to read that.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Warming Up To Motivation

Here I sit broken hearted
The house is so cold
I can hardly get started

Now admit it, after reading the limerick above, everyone is thinking about another little limerick they learned in grade school. It’s ok, you can admit it. Well, you’ll be happy to know, the other little limerick doesn’t apply here. No, I’m as regular as a $10,000 Patek Philippe pocket watch. I’m sure that’s more information than you wanted to know, so let’s move on.

My house is a meat locker. I don’t run the heat during the day because I’m at work, and I don’t turn it on immediately when I get home, because the goal is to get started working on a project. Once I start working on a project I warm up a bit and I don’t notice the cold as much. The problem is getting started. It’s just so damn cold. Even on relatively warm days this house is cold during the winter.

I’ve sort of stalled on the bathroom for now. The damn holidays have something to do with. I think we need to get rid of one of them. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years all bunched up together is a real pain. I don’t like being that sociable, but I don’t want to seem like a scrooge if I don’t attend every single gathering, so I go and I eventually get sick and tired of the whole thing. That’s where I’m at now.

I think Christmas and Easter should be combined in to one holiday. From what I understand, December 25th is not really the official birth of Christ. As legend has it, the date was co-opted from a Pagan Winter Solstice holiday. There are now rumblings that that isn’t so, but I think that is just the religious right trying to validate the holiday. So I say, move Christmas to Easter and Christians, and people who like to shop, can celebrate Christ’s birth and Resurrection at the same time. Or celebrate it on the Thursday before Good Friday. It’s a nice, neat little package of holidays to celebrate Christ. You have the Birth, Crucifixion, and then a few days later, the Resurrection. It would make for a nice 4 day weekend. I think I’m on to something here.

Anyway, there’s my holiday rant. But back to the meat locker issue. What I do is try and warm myself up without turning on the heater. I start by filling up the tub with the hottest water I can stand. It’s so hot I have to ease myself in to it. The skin under the water line reddens within seconds of coming in to contact with the water. The water is so hot, it takes a minute or so before I can fully recline in the tub. The tub is long enough that I can get everything but my head under the water. I lay there with the steam rising off the water’s surface and beads of sweat trickling down my face. It feels sooooo good.

While I’m being parboiled in the tub I lay my work clothes in front of the space heater and thaw them out a bit. After 5 or 10 minutes the water has cooled slightly and I take a regular bath and then get out of the tub a new man ready for some serious work. The trouble is, as I said earlier, I’ve stalled on the bathroom for now. So instead of vegging out in front of the computer I’ve decided to hang doors.

There are a total of 10 door ways upstairs, but only the bathroom has a proper door on it. One of the bedrooms has a door, but it’s wrong and needs to be replaced, and one of the closets has a correct door, but it hangs funny and needs some help. I’ve been hoarding doors for a few years now and I have more than I need. These are all the Eastlake style doors. Some are in much better shape than others. The plan has always been to buy any Eastlake door I could find, use the best, and then sell the rest.

So I’m going to get started on doors. I can’t say how far I’ll get before work on the bathroom resumes, but it will be something to keep me busy, and hopefully warm!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Zeroing In

When I was driving back from The Society last week – oh, and when you say “The Society” you should say it with a haughty accent, while sipping a cup of tea, with your pinky finger sticking out. Anyway, as I was driving back, I was not in a good mood at all. I had begun to think I had exhausted all my resources for a marble vanity for the bathroom. I had ruled out the 2 that were available locally. The guys at DEA Bath, who said they had 20 to chose from, had pissed me off and I couldn’t go crawling back to them. And now my last hope, The Society (accent/pinky), was a wash. What to do? What to do?

I started to think that I needed to expand my search area. There was Portland to the north and The Bay Area to the south. As I’m thinking about all this, I’m driving home empty handed from Upper Lake, so another road trip does not seem all that inviting at the moment. Not only that, but I’m sure I would pay more in both of those areas. I don’t know how prices are in Portland, but I can plan on adding a minimum of 30% to the cost of the vanity in The Bay Area, and that doesn’t even take in to account the gas money for a round trip. That’s another $75, easy. So if the vanity is $300 here, then I’m looking at $500 or more in The Bay Area. Ugh!

There is always Ebay. As I’ve said before, I don’t relish the thought of buying something like this on Ebay. I would need to get it for a $100 or so, because shipping would be expensive. I also have to worry about it arriving broken. A real possibility. Once I had to deal with UPS insurance on a broken Ebay item. The process took more than 6 weeks start to finish. It was a huge waste of time.

So I started thinking again about the two that are available locally. The first one I tried to use had some issues with the faucet. That and the staining proved to be insurmountable. The other one was the right size and in good condition, but the problem with it was the color of the marble. It was sort of gray in color. It’s not that it was unattractive, or anything. Quite the contrary. I thought it was unique looking and I liked the way the darker veining and the gray color worked together. The problem was, I have the sink legs that I’m going to use.

The sink legs require a 5-inch marble apron under the vanity. The plan has always been to find a white carrara vanity and then get the marble apron locally that will match the vanity. I know I can get it from the same place I got the slab for the kitchen. With the gray color vanity though, I don’t think I can get marble to match it. Even if the guys locally could get it from their supplier I’d probably have to buy a huge piece of it just so I can cut out some 5-inch strips for the vanity. It would be absurdly expensive, and it’s just such a ridiculous idea that I never considered it for a second.

Then on the long drive home I came up with two plans that might enable me to use the gray vanity. First, I could get the 5-inch high strips of the white marble and stain them to match the gray marble. The apron is only viewed on one face. It basically wraps around the vanity underneath. I have a few scraps of marble left over from the slab in the kitchen and I played around with it a little. I think this is doable. The other option is to do away with the sink legs and go to sink brackets or a wooden base. If I did that, I wouldn’t need the apron, and so I wouldn’t need to worry about matching marble.

I like the second option the least, mainly because I really, really like the sink legs I got. They are just really very nice and I really want to use them. If I don’t use them I would need to sell them because they were far too expensive to just tuck away some place. Not only that, but I would then need to find a pair of sink brackets. I’m not interested in a wooden base at all. A pair of cast iron sink brackets are pretty easy to come by, but I would want cast brass. I’m trying to do something nice here, and while painted cast iron can be nice, it’s just not the look I’m going for. I used painted cast iron sink brackets on my kitchen island, which you can see here. They’re nice, just not what I want. And that is really what it’s all about at this point: Getting what I want. It's all about Me, Me, Me.

The huge potential problem with the gray marble vanity is that it is a corner vanity. If that’s the case, the whole idea is sunk. The reason I don't know if it's a corner vanity or not is because the building next door to the antique store where the vanities were for sale burned down. Because of water damage to the antique store in question, the vanities are now in storage. I working with the owners to get it out of storage so I can look at it. The suspense of whether it’s a corner vanity or not is killing me.

Isn’t restoration fun!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Search Continues

Last week I drove down to Upper lake to see a man about a vanity. The guy’s name is Sheldon, and he's the owner of The Antique Plumbing Society of America. The name should have warned me as to who I was dealing with. Without question the guy had the biggest selection of antique plumbing supplies I have ever seen in my life. And this wasn’t the everyday stuff either. He just had a stunning array of super high-end Victorian plumbing parts from the 1880s and 1890s.

Ever seen a Victorian cast iron Bathroom Pool? Picture a super fancy cast iron tub that is 4-feet square and stands about 3 feet tall with huge furry paw feet. I didn’t even know such a thing existed, yet there it was sitting in his showroom. Most of his stuff is mansion quality and is so far out of my price range, it’s not even funny. I called him asking about marble vanities and he said he had a few, so I made the drive down anyway.

He is only open Friday through Monday, but I told him I could only make it down on Thursday so he opened up special for me. I thought that was very nice and I had high hopes of finding a vanity. It started out well enough. He seemed a bit talkative, but I was so star struck by his inventory that I didn’t notice at first. After about 10 minutes of talking to him I noticed he interrupted me almost constantly. There is nothing more irritating than to be constantly interrupted by someone who talks like they’ve had 2 too many cappuccinos. On top of that, the vanities he had wouldn’t do, so my mood turned sour quickly.

He was really a high pressure salesman. When I started to mention the problems with his vanities he would cut me off with some ridiculous ways to change them or fix them. He would pepper his comments with expressions like, “What’s the matter, you don’t want to spend the big bucks to do it right?”. To which I would snap back that I didn’t care about the money I just wanted what I wanted and what he had wasn’t it.

The type of vanity I’m looking for is rather common place and would not have been in the mansions that most of his stuff came out of. The simple marble vanities he showed me first may sound high-end, but they were middle class for the day. We moved over to the expensive stuff and he showed be a stunning 4 foot long, 2-inch thick marble vanity and again gave me the, “Uh, you want to do it right and spend the big bucks? How about this?”. The vanity was leaning up against the wall. It was in pristine shape. I had seen one of these before and I knew it should have 3-inch thick glass legs with nickel/brass feet. I asked if he had the legs for it. He said, “Oh, I can get them”. To which I replied, “Yea, well, when you get them, give me a call”, and I walked over to the next one.

The next one was another monster marble vanity only this one was pink marble with the original hand painted sink and all the hardware. It was beautiful and I asked how much. He said $4,500, to which I said, “I don’t like the color. What else you got.” At this point I knew I wasn’t going to be buying anything from him, but I was enjoying strolling through his collection, while at the same time giving him a hard time about his stuff. The guy was unbelievably annoying.

Again, he started egging me on about not willing to shell out the big bucks for a proper bathroom. He showed me a very nice faucet, but badly in need of replating. He wanted $750 for it. I didn’t flinch at the price, but just waved it off as if I was unimpressed. His most ludicrous statement was when he told me I should be willing to spend $20,000 on my bathroom, and if I do, I can expect to get an additional $100,000 for my house when I sell it. I told him he was nuts and I asked him to show me some embossed toilets.

He had about 30 antique toilets in the shop but only 4 of them were the really nice embossed toilets. Of those, 3 of them were the wash-out variety (old technology) and one was the wash-down variety. The wash-down works like a modern toilet. He again started in with the, “So, what do you think? Are you going to spend real money on a proper toilet, and do it right?” I was really getting sick of this by now. I looked in to the bowls and asked, “Is this all you’ve got? I don’t want a wash-out bowl”. He pointed to the last one and said it was a wash-down. It had a bad break around one of the bolt holes with an absolutely horrible repair job with silicone adhesive. All of the pieces where there but it looked like a 2 year old made the repairs. I looked at him with a disgusted look and asked him if that was one of his repair jobs. He told me he didn’t do it, but he could repair it good as new and I could have it for $1,700. Again, I didn’t even blink at the price and just said, with an air of irritation, “Yea, well, I wanted something today. What else you got?”

I don’t think he listened to half of what I said , but finally he was starting to show a little irritation of his own. He started to get a little animated and said, “Ok, ok, you want to see the good stuff now. Uh, you want to see the museum. These are my private pieces. Come one, I show you the good stuff”. His shop was in a huge red barn and there were stairs that led up to a loft. As we walked up the stairs he kept muttering about how this was his private collection and none of it was for sale.

We got up to the top of the stairs and there were about 12 of the most stunning toilets I’ve ever seen in my life. Each one was made from fine china, hand painted, and over-the-top with a capital T. This is the stuff that the Vanderbilts and the Carnegies crapped in. A lot of them had their original toilet seats and some of the plumbing was still there. It was just an amazing collection. I walked down the row and back and all the while he was saying stuff like, “Uh, come on, you ever see stuff like this before?” I tried to tell him about an 1880s HAJOCA toilet that sold on EBay 2 weeks ago for $2,200, but he kept interrupting me. Finally, I looked down the row once more and then back at him and said, “Yea, these are pretty good, but you should see the one my friend Chuck just got. Now that’s a toilet!”. He went on with more of his blustering about how his was the finest collection on the west coast. He’s probably right, but I would never give him the satisfaction of hearing me say that.

As I was about to go downstairs, I pointed to one of the least ornate toilets in the group and asked if it was for sale. It was something I’d never seen before, but it could almost be considered common when grouped with the others. It was made by JL Mott and was just stunning. He looked at me with a big smile and said once again, “These aren’t for sale. I told you, this is my museum”. I said, “Don’t tell me that. Everything’s for sale”. He said, “Nope, not these.” I said, “You mean to tell me, if I offered you $4,000 for that bowl, you wouldn’t sell it to me?”. He blanched and almost choked. His eyes bugged out and he asked, “Are you offering me $4,000 for that bowl!?”. I said, “No, of course, not. I just saying, everything has a price”, and with that I turned and headed down stairs.

At the base of the stairs was a small room with shelves, soap dishes, and toilet paper dispenser. As a parting shot I went in a picked up a very nice nickel plated toilet paper dispenser and asked how much it was. He couldn’t just give me a price, he had to sell it to me. “Well, that one’s only $40 because it’s missing the wooden roller. If it had the roller I’d want a lot more for it”. While I was looking at it he grabbed another one out of a box and once again started giving me shit about “not willing to spend the big bucks”. He holds it up to me. It looked brand new and he says, “How about this one? New old-stock: $150”. It was stunning. I looked at it and said, “I don’t really care for that style”, and then I held up the $40 one and said, “But I’ll give you $20 for this one”. That was the last straw. He started saying stuff like, “All right! What do you think this is a garage sale? This isn’t a flea market here”. I headed towards the door. When we both got to the door I politely thanked him for his time and thanked him for opening up for me. We had our moments, but I think he kind of enjoyed it. I know I did.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Present From The Neighbors

While it’s true I’ve made some powerful enemies in this town, and some of those enemies are very immature, I do not think this is their work. No, this looks more like the alcohol fueled mayhem of local teens.

I have a corner lot with no fence and these two tire marks go across the front quarter of the lawn. Fortunately I haven’t mowed the lawn in 6 months, or this could have been much worse. The photo was taken after I did my version of a comb over. Mostly the tires just flattened the grass and forced it down in to the dirt.

I used a small, 3 pronged pick to try and bring the grass back up and aerate it to promote growth. The worst part was right at the sidewalk. The tires really dug in and there was a trench a few inches deep for about 3 feet in to the lawn. Most of the dirt that was excavated ended up in the form of a rooster tail going across the street.

But enough of this, let’s enjoy some more Snow Art…

Friday, December 22, 2006

More Vintage Bath Pics

This is 2 views of the same bathroom. If you look in the mirror over the sink you can see the towel hung over the marble wall that separates the toilet from the tub in the other photo. I assume the walls are all solid marble was well. It’s interesting, what ever stone it is. The shower enclosure is definitely marble, but the walls look a little different. Maybe the shower enclosure came with the shower and that’s why it looks different.

The photos were taken in 1907 from a house in Utah. It looks a lot like a real bathroom that was displayed in the 1904 Standard catalog I showed pictures of the other day. In fact, except for the toilet, it looks a lot like all the items in the first bathroom drawing. In the drawing it is a low tank toilet, but in the house it is a high tank. Another interesting thing is that the toilet in the photos looks a lot like my high-tank.

I think I may steal that tile boarder. I really like it, and that way I won’t be stealing from anyone I know. It’s practically a victimless crime. Also, now I’m thinking I should do away with the subway tile idea and go with marble walls. What do you think, too much?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Oops! Almost Forgot the Snow Art

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

I’m No Longer a Virgin

I went in to my first Big Box store today. Actually, I just went there to use the rest room, and I didn’t buy anything, so maybe that only counts as foreplay, and on some level I am still a virgin. I drove to a town called Upper Lake to look at marble vanities and passed through Ukiah, CA on the way. I really needed to use the bathroom and I saw a Home Depot just off the highway so I pulled in.

The store was big, but really, not as big as I thought it would be. Ukiah is a mid sized town, so I’m sure there are bigger Home Depots. The selection was very nice. I spent some time in the plumbing area since I have bathroom on the brain right now. I was impressed with the display of Kohler toilets. Very nice designs, but they have the stupid exposed trap. I really, really, really don’t understand why most modern toilets have this. The rental bathroom I used for the first few years I lived in this house had a new Elger toilet with the exposed trap. It was my first experience with that and the damn thing was almost impossible to clean.

Of course, selection is important, but being the worlds biggest cheapskate, what I wanted know about was pricing. The problem was, even though I’ve been buying a lot for the bathroom lately, it’s all been used and salvage. I haven’t started rough-in plumbing yet, so I haven’t been buying copper and ABS. For the kitchen I bought the faucets new and the copper sink, but that was about it. I bought those on-line, so it’s not a fair comparison to our local stores. I didn’t see the exact same make and model, so I couldn’t make a comparison anyway. They didn’t have my fridge, either.

I looked for subway tile, and I was amazed that I couldn’t find any. I thought that stuff was oh-so trendy right now. I walked down the tile isle twice looking for it. I would have asked, but there was no one around. Later, when I saw a clerk, I was too lazy to want to go all the way back over to the tile isle to be shown where it is.

I did buy 3-feet of 1X6 oak for the high-tank a few weeks back. I paid $2.20 a foot locally and HD had it for $1.95 a foot. I think that’s 13% less. Of course, I had to drive 300 miles round trip to get that price, but I can see saving a lot over the cost of a whole project if we had one local and I bought everything there. This assumes that those savings are across the board on most items.

I wanted to see if they had the 3M 5200 Marine Adhesive Caulk I want to use in the bathroom. Once I found the caulk isle, though, it was blocked off! They had these stupid orange gates blocking the entrance at both ends. It said something about cleaning the isle, but I didn’t see a mess. I saw several other isles blocked off with the same gates. I’m not sure what was going on. I never saw anything on the floor, and it seems there was never anyone close enough to ask about it when ever I encountered one. It was about 8 AM on a rainy morning and the store was deserted. I saw only one other customer and about 5 clerks the whole time I was in the store. The real challange was getting out the place. I couldn't find the exit. {blush}

As for the marble vanities, the whole trip was a bust. They guy had 3 to chose from, but for one reason or another none of them would work. On the drive home I was really getting bummed out about the whole thing, but it gave me time to think, and I think I may have come up with a plan. More on that later.

Some may recall how I had a plan to trade a bunch of old toilets and sinks to DEA Bath for store credit. The credit would then go towards an antique marble vanity and other plumbing supplies they offer. We had a tentative deal for about $600 in store credit, but the whole thing fell apart last week. I’ve had good dealings with them in the past, but this time it was one delay after another. I was dealing with a guy named Mat and it was terrible trying to get questions answered and to get him to follow up on things. After about 6 weeks I told them to go to hell. Well, not in so many words, but the deals is off, all the same.

After I fired off an angry email and told them to forget the whole thing, John, the owner or manager, I’m not sure which, called me but I wasn’t home. I never called him back. There are still some things I’m going be buying from them, because I just can’t get it any place else. When I do call in an order I’m going to ask for John and he is going to get an earful.

Just to give you some idea of what I was dealing with. About 3-weeks in I asked Mat if he could give me some idea when the order could be put together. I explained that I needed to arrange a day off work to drive down. Mat’s reply: “It’ll get done, when it’s done”. I should have asked for the manager right there and then.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More Thoughts on Tile

Just when you thought I’d made up my mind, I’m pulling the old switch-a-roo. When I last spoke about tile, I had just received the tile samples from There was a selection from Iron Gate and a selection from Subway Ceramics. At first, I thought made the Iron Gate tile, and that they only distributed Subway Ceramics. Now it seems that it’s the other way around, but this is still not entirely clear.

Originally, I liked the tile better because it offered the cool Victorian Profile of the base tile. The more I looked at period pictures of Victorian bathrooms, though, the more I realized that the fluted Victorian base was not all that authentic. I fell victim to this perceived notion that all things Victorian were always very, very, fancy. It’s true, they did go over the top on a lot of things, but before I really saw a lot of period interior shots of Victorian homes, the picture I had in my head of Victorian style was more that of the Rococo style of the 18th Century, and not so much of, say, for instance, the Aesthetics Movement or Art Nuevo styles that have their roots in the last 2 decades of the 19th Century.

At any rate, the point I’m trying to make, in a very long winded fashion, is that the Victorian base that I liked so much is not really all that Victorian. They might have gone Ga-Ga over it if someone had massed produced it in the 1890s, but from what I can tell they didn’t, because it wasn’t. The 6X6 tile with a cove at the bottom is what appears in most of the bathroom pictures I’ve seen.

Secondly, there is the quality of the tile. I originally said the quality was similar between the two. Having spent more time with the samples (I take them to bed with me) I’ve come to the conclusion that the Subway Ceramics tile is superior in quality. There is a roughness along the edge of the Iron Gate tile that I think comes from the way the glaze drizzles over the edge a bit. The edges have subtle bumps on them that might be hidden under a thick grout line, but I won’t be doing that. I also recently got my hands on a real live 1902, 3X6, salvaged subway tile. When comparing all three, the Subway Ceramics tile is a closer match. The only real difference between the two, is the original tile has the natural crazing that comes with age.

Furthermore, I have discovered that the Subway Ceramics ships out of Los Angles instead of some desolate location East of the Rockies. This means, I will pay less on shipping for the Subway Ceramics than I would for the Iron Gate tile. Oh, and finally, I’m in negotiations with Subway Ceramics to advertise on my site. More on that later. In the mean time, enjoy some more Snow Art.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Vintage Bath Photos & Snow Art

I found some vintage bath photos on-line. These are a little late for my house, but not so late that I can’t use some of them for ideas. The top 6 are from the 1904 Standard catalog, and the bottom 4 are from the 1925 Kohler catalog.

First, notice the size of the rooms from the first 4 from 1904. Obviously, these bathrooms were not designed for small houses. They even put the toilet in a separate little room. In the last one from 1925, notice how the sink faucet and levers are attached to the wall. Put a vessel sink under it and it would look a lot like a very modern design. I also like the way all of the plumbing seems to be contained in the large bump-out with the sink, tub, and toilet on opposing walls. Just think how easy it would be to fix plumbing problems if you had access to the bump-out from the other side.

Finally, there is the snow art. What can I say, these are timeless classics and I’m a bit of a sentimentalist for the season. {sigh}

Snow Art

More Snow Art to come over the next few days.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It Would Seem, Mine’s Bigger Than I Thought

Well, isn’t my face red. Here I thought I was going to perform some engineering marvel by cramming a full bath into what I thought was a small space, and it seems a lot of you have already done that (or have had it done) in an even smaller space.

This little exercise in reality was not all for nothing, though. It proved that a full bath can easily exist in 63 sq ft or less. Well, OK, easily may be a bit of a stretch for some of you, but it can be done. That’s the important thing. Also, the fact that it can exist in less space is really important, because my bathroom is about to get smaller.

In the back corner of the room there is a chase that takes plumbing, electrical, and telecom to the second and third floors. I could box this in to space a of about a half of a square foot. The problem with that is, I would have a little box in the corner of the room. It would just look odd. My plan is to build a new wall 6-inches out from the existing wall to hide the chase and everything else. Basically, all plumbing for the bathroom, along with all plumbing, electrical, and telecom for the above floors will run in this little 6-inch wall space.

By doing this, I will be reducing the room by about 5 sq ft, but it will really make things much easier. First off, the toilet would have ended up being right over a joist. By adding this wall, it pushes the flange out past the joist. Second, the original wall space was a load baring wall for the second and third floor. I’m embarrassed to say that I already damaged the joist when I ran the new gas line and had to sister another one to it. This means I essentially have a 4X6 beam just under the wall that I was going to have to run all the drains and supply lines for the bathroom. It was just going to be a nightmare.

So, by building a new wall 6-inches in to the bathroom space, I won’t have the odd little box in the corner of the room, and I can simply come up through the sub floor for all supply and drain lines, and bypass the 4X6 beam. Thank you all for living with small bathrooms and making me feel secure in creating what may be considered a mid-sized bathroom.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Assume the Position

The temperature dropped a bit this weekend.

This is where he spends the daylight hours.

This is where he spends the evening hours.

I hope he doesn’t singe anything.

Is Yours Smaller Than Mine?

That’s not too subtle of a question, is it? Well, regardless of what you’re thinking right now, this a Poll Question about the size of your bathroom. In this instance, I’m willing to bet the answer is “No”, yours is not smaller than mine.

I pushed the claw foot tub in to the room over a year ago and it occupied most of the floor space ever since. On paper, the bathroom appeared to have enough space, but with the center of the room being taken up by 300 pounds of cast iron, it has been difficult to judge whether that is true or not. Yesterday, I finally pulled up the rest of the flooring and was able to shove the tub up against the back wall and in to the space it will eventually occupy. Suddenly, the space doesn’t seem so cramped. Still, by any measurement, this can not be considered a large bathroom.

So, I’m wondering how this measures up against other bathrooms out there in the Blogosphere. For the sake of this discussion, only full bathrooms will count. Powder rooms need not apply. Also, if you have more than one full bathroom use your smallest bathroom when answering this question. For instance, my upstairs bathroom measures in at a luxurious 106 sq ft, while the new downstairs bath will have a finished floor space of only a paltry 63 sq ft.

So the question is….

Is your smallest full bathroom smaller than 63 sq ft?
Free polls from

Saturday, December 16, 2006

They Don’t Bite. They Don’t Even Light.

No, I’m not talking about mosquitoes, it’s powder post beetles. And I guess that’s not entirely accurate, because they do bite a little. When I removed the finish floor in the bathroom I found evidence of some beetle damage. It was very limited because they only eat the sap wood and not the heart redwood.

The sap wood is the outer inch or two of wood on a log. As I understand it, this is the part of the tree that is still living and growing. The sap wood supplies nutrients to the upper reaches of the tree. The sap wood is white or yellow in color. The heart wood is the red wood in a redwood tree. It is the tannic acid in the wood that gives it it’s red color. This also makes the wood unpalatable to the beetles.

Notice in the shots above how the beetles devoured the sap wood but left the redwood alone. I have a 15-foot 6X6 beam in the garage that I salvaged from the addition. It has a thin vein of sap wood running along one of the corners. Just as in the board above, that thin vein of sap wood is gone and the rest of the beam is untouched.

This is why I go ape poo-poo over redwood, and why I get so steamed when people knock down the old buildings around here and grind the wood in to saw dust. Even pressure treated wood has it’s failings because the chemicals don’t penetrate the piece of wood after a few inches. If you cut a piece of pressure treated wood, and expose the center, it must be retreated or you have given the bugs an opening.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Stand & Stare Phase

This is the point when I’ve finished most or all of the demolition and it’s time to start the rebuilding. I may spend hours over the next few weeks just standing in the room and staring. I’m trying to both envision the final product, while at the same time figuring out where to start.

This is a first for me in that I’m changing a rooms function, and it’s probably the most radical change you can make. I making a bathroom from scratch. I’ve done a lot of plumbing, but for the most part I have replaced what was already there. This time, I’m doing it all from scratch. I’m not worried about the supply lines, but the drains are what are giving me pause. I’ve never done drains from scratch and I will need to tie in to the 1985 cast iron drain.

Because a lot of the plumbing will be visible I want to get all the parts before I start the rough in. I should be picking up the marble vanity next week (fingers crossed). The tub has exposed supply and drains. The toilet is a high-tank and I’m going to put the supply 4 or 5 feet up on the wall so it’s a short run to the tank. That will be very visible. The vanity will sit on the sink legs I got and all of the supply and drains will be visible underneath. I’m going to do rigid, nickel plated, copper supply lines as opposed to the modern braided supply lines for the toilet, sink and tub. You will see everything, so it’s important that it all be nicely centered.

It’s all very doable, but it needs to be planned, otherwise I’m going to be staring at it for a long time and it will drive me nuts. In the upstairs bathroom I got the off-set for the high-tank supply line off by a half an inch. No one notices it but when I lay in the tub I see it and I notice. I noticed it an hour ago the same as I noticed it 2 years ago. If I were more ambitious and more wealthy, I might be tempted to spend $120 for a new supply line for the toilet. It bothers me that much. I don’t want to have any of those things happen with this next bathroom. I’m going to be doing a lot of Standing & Staring.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

1909 S. F. Examiner

I was finishing up the last of the demo in the bathroom and I found some parts of the August 12, 1909 edition of the San Francisco Examiner. I had always speculated that the room was first modified in the teens, but it seems it was a few years earlier. There was a sink of some sort in the corner of the room and when they pushed the back wall out 1-foot the sink was removed. The water pipes came up through the floor and they plugged the holes with rolled up pieces of 1909 newspaper.

In the images above, you can see that the newspaper is still in the hole on the right, and then the plug after it was removed. I only got two good pages, and using the word “good” here is a bit of a stretch. This is not anything close to the good condition of the 1915 San Francisco Chronicle I found in the house. The two pages, one sheet front and back, are mostly readable, but there’s not much worth reading really. One side is the sports page and the other is the society page.

I can tell you that Ralph Myers has signed up with the Senators to play for the rest of the season. Johnny Murphy is in the last stages of The White Plague. The popular local fighter has been in Ukiah recuperating. Finally, Los Angles wins it’s first game of the series with the Seals.

The best things are a the 2 full length comic strip on the sports page, and a racy drawing on the society page. The most readable comic has 7 panels and it’s about a man who is trying to quit betting on the horses and is afraid to tell his wife. The language is great.

Man standing on said walk: Well, my horse was scratched yesterday so I didn’t get any action on my coin. I’m gunna quit racing and go home to my spouse – Right now!

Now he’s at home in the kitchen with wife and child.

Man: (Holding a shield in front of himself) Now my dear, let’s arbitrate before you crown me with that rolling pin. You lay down your weapon and I’ll drop my shield. Just one minute, please.

Boy: Give the old man a chance, Ma.

Woman: (holding rolling pin)?

Man: My Dear, I admit that I have been dallying with the races but I’m done and I want you to forgive me. I have $657 and you can take care of it yourself.

Woman: Oh Augustus. I believe you are on the level with that talk.

Boy: (Hiding to one side) She’s falling for it.

Woman: (By herself in the kitchen) I really believe Augustus has quit for good this time. Poor old boy. I’ll hide this bankroll in the sugar jar.

Man: (crawling through the kitchen window) I love my wife, but oh you bankroll.

Man: (Grabbing the sugar jar) Hither, little cuties. Come back to papa.

Man: (racing to his bookie) $50 bones on “Personal” and $50 on “Stanley Fay” to win!

The image on the other side takes up almost a half page. The title is “Marooned” and there is a story that goes with it. There are 6 beautiful young woman in bathing attire, scantly clad for the time. They are on a row boat rowing away from shore. There is a lone man sitting on the sand of a tiny island. The caption underneath says, “I want to see the pirate crew maroon the bloody chief of the pack on a sandy island, a yard square, when it’s low tide, with his arrows left beside him for a mockery”

The first paragraph of the story is ruined, but the second one is in quotes like it is someone talking. It reads, “You see, what with the Suffragettes and the girls getting in on all the jobs there are, and the cleverest ones, too, by gee! and the way she’s coming to boss the whole earth and sky and the water and the land, the crown of the ruler growing right out of the curls of her silken head, maybe, when the stars are a little older my debonair Lady will be getting to see something funny and pitiful of the Love that you know she has never been able laugh at yet or pity or defy.”

The rest of it pretty much reads like that. I think it is a serial story about a band of woman pirates.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dumpster Diving

There is an 1880s Cottage exactly one block away from my house that was bought by the son of some friends of mine over a year ago. Up until a few weeks ago, he has done almost nothing to the place, but that’s fine with me. At least it wasn’t bought by a developer who would bull doze it and build apartments. That is the big fear of all the home owners when ever a property goes up for sale around here. A few weeks back I started to see some activity at the place.

It wasn’t much activity. It looks like they removed some sheet rock and old vinyl flooring. My friends, the parents of the new owner, are really into old houses and have a pretty spectacular one themselves. The woman is on the Historic Preservation Committee, so it’s not like I expected the son to be ripping out any historic details or putting in all new vinyl windows or anything.

Today, though, as I drove by there was another truck and tailor out front filled with debris. There has been a guy there for the past week doing some foundation work on the place. Sticking out of the top of the pile of debris was an old pull out wooden bin from the kitchen. It looks like one of those you would store some sort of dry goods in.

I parked my truck at home and walked back down the street. The workman was under the house and we had a brief, and sort of surreal conversation through one of the foundation vents. All I could see were a pair of muddy knees at the base of the skirting and then I could barley make out a mouth and a pair of eyes through the vent. I asked if I could have the bin and he said sure. So I pulled it out of the trailer and hauled it home.

I’m think maybe I could incorporate it in to the yet to be built bathroom cabinet and use it as a laundry hamper. We’ll see.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Muuuuch Better

It started raining Friday afternoon and hasn’t really stopped but for a few hours here and there. The longest stretch of dry weather was Saturday during the day from about 10 to 4. That’s when I decided to reside the back wall of the bathroom and put in the new window. The only trouble was, that it took me until about 5:30 to finish up.

It wasn’t too bad, really. Around 1:00 the wind really picked up and you could smell rain in the air. The first couple of hours were spent getting things set up, removing the old windows, and starting to remove the old siding. To refresh your memory, I wanted to go from 2 big, double hung windows, down to one small stained glass, single sash window. After I removed the two big windows I found “T Petch” written in pencil on the back side of one of the jambs. This confirmed my suspicion that the windows were original to the 1895 construction, but they were moved during the 1920s apartment cut-up phase. Thomas Petch and his wife were divorced in the teens and he no longer owned the house after that, so the windows must have been from 1895.

I decided to remove and replace siding as I go, rather than remove everything and then start rebuilding. My fear was that I would have a big, gaping hole in the side of the house and then it would start to pour. That didn’t happen, but, as I said, I did have to work in a light rain for the last hour and a half or so. It was those big, widely spaced rain drops you get on the leading edge of a big storm. And it was a big storm. It just poured hard from about 6:00 Saturday evening until early Sunday morning.

There was a Christmas Truck Parade Saturday evening and the people in the parade just got soaked. At this point, you’re probably asking, “What is a Christmas Truck Parade”. Well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. Remember, this is a small logging town, and people make do with what they have. A lot of the logging trucks, and other kinds of large commercial vehicles are decorated to the hilt by their owners and they drive through town in a long procession.

My friends own a big 1910 Four Square on the parade route and they throw a party every year. I used to think the whole thing was hokey and stupid but now I think it’s kind of fun. The Four Square has a huge front porch and after eating a drinking for a few hours we all pile out on to the porch and hoot and holler as the trucks drive by at 5 miles an hour, each one playing a monotoned rendition of a Jingle Bells on their truck horn. It’s a lot of fun, and after a few glasses of wine it sort of does start to sound like Jingle Bells. {HONK HONK HONK     HONK HONK HONK     HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK} I keep hoping one of the truckers will get ambitions and try to play “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” or “The 12 Days of Christmas”, or what’s the fast paced one with the tubular bells. That would be a hoot!

Anyway, the new window is in and I really like it. It really changes the little bathroom room a lot. The space seems smaller and bigger at the same time. I kind of screwed up on the siding I bought. I only needed a little bit to fill in what I didn’t have in the way of salvage. I was using an adjacent wall with an identical window as a pattern to determine how much siding I needed to purchase. What I didn’t realize was that the adjacent wall has an extra row of siding because of the way the porch roof slants down further over the bathroom wall. So I now have an extra 12-foot piece of siding that I don’t need. There’s $41 down the drain.

I was able to get everything caulked and puttied so it is water tight and ready for the winter. Now I just need a few days of dry weather so I can paint. I’m thinking…..early March.





Saturday, December 09, 2006

It Could Have Been Worse

After looking at these pictures, it’s hard to imagine that it could have been worse, but it could have been. First off, no one was injured in the fire. Second, the gray and white Victorian building to the left that didn’t burn to the ground last night houses my friends antique and salvage store. There is extensive water damage, but the building is still standing.

The one that burned was an 1870s building that had been remuddled so many times it looked nothing like an 1870s building. It was basically a stuccoed shell of what it once was. Still, it was not an entirely unattractive building, and it is sad to see it go.

The building housed 3 business, one of which was all set to open in the next week or so. The owners spent a lot of money turning an old video store in to an upscale deli and wine tasting bar. Something tells me it won’t be opening in the next few weeks.

While it’s true there is a silver lining in all this, the fluff piece I wrote yesterday seems all that more fluffy and shallow today.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happiness Is….

I don’t really remember where this came from. It seems like some 70s, cutesy, positive affirmation thing. Does anyone else remember the “Happiness Is…” thing? Well, I thought I’d update it for HouseBloggers.

All of us go through moments where it’s hard to find the silver lining. Some of us have those moments in a more brutal fashion than others. Somehow, though, you must find something that you can look to and say, "That could have been much worse". Or even if it is as bad as it gets, you need to trick yourself in to thinking that some good will come out of it. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up in a clock tower with a high powered rifle.

So here is “Happiness Is…” HouseBlogger style.

Happiness Is…
Burping in your respirator after a good lunch. Hmmmm!

Happiness Is…
Stepping in dog poop just before you climb a ladder and not realizing it until your on the way down. It’s like a little treat waiting for you on each rung.

Happiness Is…
Waking up to find that the septic tank has not backed up in to your house, but has only backed-up part of the way under your house.

Happiness Is…
A contractor who only shows up one hour late. He's practically on time!

Happiness Is…
Realizing a lot of the wood for the floor is milled wrong and can’t be installed. This means you get to quit early for the day!

Happiness Is…
Getting the cast iron beauty from Ebay delivered broken in to 5 pieces. You get your money back!

Happiness Is…
Windows that let in fresh air even when they’re closed.

Happiness Is…
Toilets that never stop running. If only your car was that good.

Happiness Is…
Knowing that you can answer the question, “What’s plaster taste like”.

Happiness Is…
Knowing that because you own an old house, or one going through major renovations, you always have an excuse to drink.

Happiness Is…
The sweet smell of lead paint bubbling and burning.

Happiness Is…
Having a complete mental map of every isle at the hardware store. Why, most of the employees don't even have that.

Happiness Is…
A plumber that over charges you, but does do good work.

Feel free to add your own.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rib Not Lest Ye Be Ribbed

Yesterday I ribbed the 1920s carpenters for their apparent shoddy workmanship when they installed the 2 big windows in the then remodeled scullery. They didn’t nail the windows to the framing of the house. Instead, they nailed the casing to the windows, then installed the windows, and then nailed the casing to the house. The windows themselves aren’t actually nailed to the house.

After I posted that, a few people commented that their windows were done the same way. That got me to thinking that maybe this was a common way to do it. For all I know, this was the most common way to do it. Not only that, but the windows did stay put for 80+ years, so who am I to say it’s wrong.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to install the new stained glass window the same way. It will help out incase the weather is less than perfect on Saturday, which it probably will be. It will just be one less thing I have to do outside. We are scheduled for rain to start Friday evening with showers Saturday and “Few Showers” Sunday.

Today I scrapped, sanded, and primed the bottom three rows of siding that will be staying put on the outside of the house. I can use the interior window casing that I already removed to use as the new exterior casing for the stained glass window. It’s obvious it’s from the 1920s because it is clear, heart redwood, and it is not High Victorian fluted casing like the rest of the house. It’s just flat 1X6 stock. This of course means I have to strip off the googles of layers of paint. It’s probably a good thing I do some paint stripping because I’d almost forgotten what burnt paint smells like. We wouldn’t want that, now would we?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Weather Woes

So there not the same weather woes that others are experiencing, they are still woes, none the less. All week I’ve been demo-ing and prepping with nice weather in hopes of installing the "new" stained glass window on the exterior bathroom wall, and now it’s supposed to rain starting Friday.

The plan was to do all the grunt work on Saturday, but if it’s coming down in buckets, that’s not going to happen. A light sprinkle I can deal with. The occasional cloud burst, you know, not the end of the world. Sheets of water coming in sideways – that would be a problem. So, what are we going to get? I wish I knew.

At this point, I’m still moving ahead as if I have a Go for window replacement. Of course, it’s much more that just a window replacement because I will be pretty much residing the whole wall in the process. Only the first 3 rows of siding are staying, and everything else is being replaced.

All the new siding is now prepped and primed and sitting in the shop straddled across the table saw and miter saw. The window is in the butler’s pantry, and all the new 2X4s are waiting in the utility room. I removed all the floor to ceiling beadboard in the bathroom to expose the windows that I will be removing. In doing so, I discovered they weren’t installed very well in the first place.

This is a 1920s hack job when the place was cut up in to apartments. The only thing holding the windows in place is the exterior casing. They just stuck them in the hole and nailed on the casing! The windows aren’t attached to the house at all! A stiff wind could probably take them out. Sheesh! Would a few nails have killed you?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Shopping Spree

Ok, what do you get when you cross a drunken sailor with a mad man? I’ll give you a hint. His name is Greg. He lives in The Petch House. And he spends money like a bizarre cross between a mad man and a drunken sailor.

Naturally, I’ve been buying things for the bathroom, but it’s gone beyond that. As I scour Ebay for bathroom things, I see things that I want that aren’t necessarily bathroom related, and I feel compelled to bid on them because they are such a good deal. It’s not like I have money to spare right now, yet I bid anyway. Maybe to some this is normal behavior, but I’m not much of a shopper. I have the restraint and patience of a Nun when it comes to not buying things I want. If anything, I’m The Anti-Shopper.

I watch items in My Ebay sometimes because I’m just curious as to what they will sell for. It’s things I’m not really shopping for, but things I wouldn’t mind having, so I click on the Watch This Item in My Ebay link. Twice over the past few weeks I’ve logged on to Ebay only to see that some of those items were ending in a few minutes with no bids SO I BID ON THEM. This is not normal behavior for me.

Anyway, here are my bathroom purchases of the past few weeks. I'm piling everything up in the dining room so it doesn't get broken or lost. Some of the bedrooms are still a chaotic pile of doors and molding. The attic and garages are completely out of control. Most of these were Ebay purchases, and some were purchased at local shops. The Ebay purchases were all low-ball bids, so I got great deals on them. For me, it doesn’t necessarily have to be exactly what I want, I just have to get it for a good price. It’s the thrill of the hunt that excites me.

A pair of 1890s Swing Arm Wall Sconces with etched glass shades. I’m not sure if the shades are original, but I like them.

Nickel plated, cast brass, 3-arm towel rod. This thing is heavy and solid. The plating is passable, so it will be hung as is. To the left are a set of 4 Victorian swing arm curtain rods. This is one of those items I don’t really need, but they were less than $10 each. I couldn’t afford not to buy them.

In the back is a cup holder/soap dish. Again, it’s nickel/brass. This will need to be replated. In the front are a pair of nickel/brass shelf brackets. There will be a piece of plate glass that will make up the shelf.

This is the ceiling fixture. Not sure about the shade, but it’ll do for now.

These are the brackets that Don at Vintage Plumbing made me. They will need to be plated. Below that is another purchase that I don’t really need….but at that price…..It’s a locking door set that doesn’t fit any door I have. It’s just in beautiful shape, though. It’s like a giant cast iron cabinet pull. Honestly, these may end up going back on Ebay

Some porcelain escutcheon for the sink and tub supply lines. A dollar a piece! How could I say no?

This is the medicine cabinet for the bathroom. You need to use your imagination with this one because it still looks pretty ratty. I bought 2 of them for $35 a few years ago. They came out of a 1880s hotel that was remodeled in 1902, so who knows when they are from. If you can’t use your imagination the next picture is of the other one that is now in the upstairs bathroom.

Still in transit, or to be purchases are a long towel bar, some faucets, and a toilet paper holder. After that, I can start to seriously think about buying tile.
Oh, and I think I've come to an agreement with DEA Bath on the marble vanity and a whole bunch of other bathroom related plumbing crap. More to come on that.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sorry DCI, I didn’t mean to steal.

As I mentioned a week or so ago, I was down at Almquist Lumber to buy 3 feet of oak for the high-tank toilet frame. While I was there I was amazed to see that they had 1X8 redwood shiplap siding in the same profile as my house. I’m going to be needing a total of about 80 feet to fill in on the back wall of the bathroom after remove the two big windows and put in the small stained glass window.

I have some salvage left, but it’s really the bottom of the barrel stuff, and I knew there would never be enough. I had visions of paying huge sums of money to have 30 or 40 feet custom milled, so you can see why I was thrilled when I saw this stuff at Almquist. They didn’t have much, though. The guy told me they only keep a little in stock for people who need to make repairs. This profile was very popular at the turn of the century and you see it on a lot of homes in the area. Some refer to it as Rustic V Groove Shiplap.

I calculated that I needed 6 pieces 12-feet long, and 10 pieces 5-feet long to fill in after I removed the windows. From the wood shed I was able to get three 12-footers and eight 5-footers. That left me a deficit of three 12-footers and two 5-footers, so today I drove out to Almquist to get the remaining pieces.

I took in a sample and told the guy at the counter I saw some just like it when I was in here last week. He said, “Oh yes, the old redwood stuff. We don’t have much.” To which I said, “Well, I don’t need much”. We went back and found it and it seemed there was even less than before. There were two 14-footers and a few 10-footers, and then some scraps that were no longer than 6-feet. I was getting a littler nervous. I could always put multiple short pieces on a row, but it would look odd on such a small wall. Suddenly, behind some pine siding he found a whole stack of 12-footers. Very nice. We grabbed 3 off the front of the stack, and I grabbed one of the 10-footers, and we headed out to ring it up.

The price was a little less than I was quoted over the phone. It came to $3.21 a foot, and while that’s not cheap, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than getting it milled. When I got home and started priming it, I found some writing in chalk on one of the 12-footers we pulled off the hidden stack.

Oops! Sorry DCI.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

3D Sketch Up of New bath

If you haven’t tried Google’s Sketch Up, you should. First of all, it’s free, and second of all, it’s pretty damn cool. It took 10 minuets or so to watch the on-line tutorial videos and that’s pretty much all it took to become proficient at making 3D models of the new bathroom.

Above is a 3D mock up of the proposed bathroom. After I did this, I thought about doing it over, because I learned a lot about Sketch Up along the way. This is pretty much to scale, and you can see how tight the space is.

If you have Sketch Up, or if you download it, you can click here and download the SKP file of my bathroom. You can then load the file and twirl it around and play with it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

More Tile Samples & More Questions

I ordered a sample board from and it arrived yesterday. The box contained a thick cardboard display board with 5 tile samples on it. There were 4, 3X6 field tiles, and 1, 3-inch hex tile. Each of the tiles has a label on it indicating which finish it is. There is Pure White, Porcelain, Meringue, and Sand Dollar. The hex tile is also in Meringue. On their web site it says there are 5 sample finishes on the board and the 5th one should be “Alabaster (glossy crackle warm white)”. I don’t see the Alabaster on the board, but that’s fine because I doubt I would be interested in it based on the description.

Also in the box there was a thin, paperboard mailer with another tile sample in it. It was wrapped in bubble wrap and there was some literature along with it. I thought this was the Alabaster, but this tile does not have a “glossy crackle warm white” finish to it. It is the most glossy of all the samples but it is not “crackled”. The Porcelain sample on the sample board has crazing, which I thought was what they meant when they said “crackle”.

To confuse matters more there are 2 price lists. One was for and the other was for Subway Ceramics. I went to the site and finally figured out what I got. The display board is tiles, but the Alabaster sample is just not on it. The other tile sample is Subway Ceramics tile. It is a different company, but it is distributed by, or at least that’s what I’m guessing.

If you go to there is a Subway Ceramics logo on the right sidebar. You click on that and you go to the Subway Ceramics site. There are no prices on the Subway Ceramics site, or at least I couldn’t find them, and under Information/Ordering it says: Subway Ceramics accepts orders from dealer/showrooms, architects, restoration contractors and designers. Notice it doesn’t say anything about normal people like me. Well, ok, an argument can be made that I’m not normal. Normal or not, though, it doesn’t seem that I can buy directly from Subway Ceramics.

Subway Ceramics offers more colors than, but I’m only interested in the white. offers a lot more in the way of decorative boarders. Subway Ceramics field tile starts at $14.95 a sq ft, as opposed to the $10.95 a sq ft for the tile. Subway Ceramics prices for trim pieces – base, cap, etc. – are very nearly the same as A 3X6 Victorian cap is $11.65 at Subway Ceramics and it is $12.66 at There is only a one cent difference in the price of the 6-inch base tile, but the base is much nicer. The Subway Ceramics base is mostly flat with a simple cove at the bottom, while the base has a much more detailed profile to it. One odd thing I noticed at Subway Ceramics site was when you are looking at color samples they show what looks like a 6X6 fancy Victorian base tile, but that tile is not listed anywhere else on their site, nor is it on the price list.

Finally, there is the quality of the tile itself. Both are very nice. It is difficult to judge an entire line of tile based on a few samples. If I had to pick one and say which one is nicer, it would be tough. The glaze on some of the tiles sort of oozes over the edge a bit. I don’t think this would have any impact on the installation, it’s just something I noticed. Also, the Subway Ceramics tile is pure white under the glaze, where the tile looks grayish brown with little specks of impurities in it. Does that have any impact on the quality of the tile? Who knows.

In the plus column for, the glaze on top of the tile is flatter. It looks like the glaze on the Subway Ceramics tile has pooled slightly at the edges. It is very subtle, and it’s not really something you would notice once it’s installed. Since I only have one sample of the Subway Ceramics tile, I would say that it is best compared to the “Pure White” sample of the tile. When comparing these 2 side by side, I like the tile better. Both are a gloss tile, but the Subway Ceramics tile looks to be a little more glossy. The glaze looks a little more generic. Even though the tile is glossy it looks to be half way between a matte finish and a standard gloss finish of other tiles I’ve seen. It’s glossy without being really shiny.