The House: Features

In renovating the house, we have had a chance to put a lot of ourselves into the design. This has taken the form of several built-in structures and a few unconventional solutions to design problems. Here I’ll take a moment just to highlight housing features that some might find interesting.

Kitchen

Kitchen: Lots of space, lots of light, concrete countertops.

Counter tops

This one is all my wife. I helped a little with the brute force of mixing cement and installing the finished countertops but otherwise my wife took care of all the research, building the moulds, staining the mix, pouring, unmoulding, polishing and sealing the counter tops. They look fantastic, are functional and the kitchen island even includes a built-in drainage pan for drying dishes.

Lazy Susan

A large lazy susan occupies the back corner of the kitchen.

Lazy Susan

Definitely the largest Lazy Susan I’ve ever seen. In kitchen design you always have the issue of corners. Deep corner cabinetry can work for some things but in our case we found that building a large Lazy Susan in the corner between the refrigerator and a deep wall containing the spice rack on one side and aquarium on the other was the solution we were looking for.

Shower

Shower

Shower. Metal walls, cedar floor.

When we first built the bathroom, we purchased one of those pre-moulded shower sets off of someone who had purchased it new to put in their basement and only later realized the troubles with building a bathroom below the level of the sewage lines. We installed the kit but found that it was more difficult to clean the seams than we liked and that it eventually started to crack. In replacing the shower, we settled on using steel roofing for the walls and cedar planks over a tray for the floor. Our original plan had been to use untreated cedar and then replace the flooring every year or so — re-purposing the grimy floor to the construction of outdoor objects and purchasing new wood. We have found, however, that with the occasional cleaning, the wood has lasted without problem and without building up significant grime, for longer than we had originally estimated. The warmth of the wood in the winter and the ease of cleaning of the steel walls has proven a very functional combination.

Water dispenser

Water dispenser

Water dispenser: open for refilling on the left, revealed through an opening in the cabinet door on the right.

Although we collect rain water in a cistern and use that for showering, laundry etc., for drinking water we use 5 gallon jugs which we refill with treated town tap water as needed. The problem with the dispensers meant to work with those jugs is that the taps tend to be plastic and prone to breakage and the flow rate is incredibly slow. In response to this, I built a custom dispenser that uses a large valve for control. This allows us to fill pots in a matter of seconds. Because it is a lever valve instead of a tap, you can turn the water off in an instant. To facilitate the loading of new jugs, the entire assembly rotates forward, allowing you to seat the new jug without pouring any water out and then rotating the entire assembly upright for use.

Plant rails

My wife likes plants — like, really likes plants. In order to accommodate the large number of plants she wanted in the South windows, I hung some bamboo rails along the bulkhead from which she can hang things like orchids. I also installed rail lighting in this area, though we found we almost never needed to turn the lighting on with the amount of sun we get in our location.

South windows in the "great room."   ... and it goes on like that.

Plants hanging from plant rails in the South windows.

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