9. Cobwebs

I was determined to get back to work, come hell or high water. But it was alarming how much damage sitting idle for several months had caused my body. I'd get winded just walking from the cabin to the house, and I could barely lift things I used to handle with ease. And reacquainting myself with the house was a rather curious experience: the upside of having left it alone for nearly a year was that it allowed me to take a critical look at things with a fresh new perspective, and it inspired some changes. Here are the revisions I made.

Redesigned the Kitchen Lighting

The original plan was to illuminate the open counter space and the island with pendant lamps. I went to considerable trouble and expense to accumulate as well as modify (convert from halogen to LED) almost a dozen pendant lamps. Upon seeing them after a time, they had the effect of a forest of metallic icicles, and I wasn't especially keen on the look. Not to mention the fact that I found myself bumping my head on some of the pendants.

So, I tore out all of the electrical fixtures, then installed just two boxes for a pair of track lighting strips, one over the counter and peninsula, and one over the island. A series of inexpensive, compact LED track spots will provide light in a much less intrusive fashion. I also thought about converting some of the pendant lamps for track mounting (a very simple process) to use in select areas for a less-cluttered visual effect; the nice thing about the track is I can experiment and freely move lights around, rather than be stuck with whatever I'd built.

Above left: a forest of pendant lamps. Above right: empty space, ready for simple track lighting. See lighting for more details.

Moved the Kitchen Lighting Control

Originally there was a bank of dimmers in the hallway adjacent to the kitchen to control the hall lights as well as all of the kitchen lights. After redesigning the kitchen lighting scheme, I moved the dimmer bank into the kitchen itself, and split the lighting circuits into three: one each the lights over the island, the countertops, and the peninsula. This would afford much more control of how the space would be illuminated. Meanwhile, the hall light control was reduced to two normal switches for the hall and living area sconces.

Above left: the dimmer bank in the hall. Above right: the dimmer bank now in the kitchen.

Removed the Glass Block Wall In the Shower

When I was originally framing the shower—seemingly eons ago—it occurred to me that I could bring some natural light into the space by making the wall between the shower and the bedroom a glass block wall. But I'd since reconsidered the idea, mainly because I had a glass block wall in a shower several homes ago, and it was a pain to keep clean.

Above left: framing for the window is just left of center. Above right: the framing for the window is gone—it's now a solid wall. Incidentally, that odd-looking bit of square framing just above center in both images is a recessed shelf in the shower for soap and shampoo.

Changed the Bathtub Lighting

The soaking tub originally had a single ceiling light, while the toilet alcove had a fancy wall sconce. It occurred to me that I'd be spending much more quality time in the tub than on the toilet—or ought to be, one would hope—so I moved the ceiling light over the toilet, and installed fixtures for two nice wall sconces in the soaking tub corner.

Above left: the original utilitarian light over the tub. Above right: two new blue boxes for the sconces.

Added a Skylight Over the Tub

I'd been on the fence about a skylight over the tub since my first drafts of the house plan. What finally settled it for me was taking out the shower window, and the fact that the skylight will admit considerably more light than the glass block would have. Plus, a friend made a good argument for it: watching the snow fall while soaking in the tub is a uniquely satisfying experience. It was surprisingly easy to do; I spent more time deciding exactly where to place it than I did reworking the framing.

Above left: a dark corner. Above right: lots of light!

Modified the Office Air Duct Enclosure

The main air return duct forced me to frame out a somewhat awkward bump-out in the corner of the office. I'd originally designed an angled corner that echoed many of the other angled corners in the house. However, as I thought about how I'd arrange things in the office, I realized that the angled corner was right where my computer would go. And I couldn't shift the computer to the left because that would place it right in front of a heating vent. So I reframed the corner with the smallest square bump-out possible.

Above left: the original angled corner framing. Above right: a new shallow bump-out that starts at desk-height.

Rebuilt the Heat Pump Blower Enclosure

Perhaps not surprisingly, the heat pump system I'd originally chosen was superseded by a better model, and the dimensions of the internal blower unit were different, which meant rebuilding the enclosure I'd constructed over the laundry. The old unit was nearly square, and I'd built a relatively deep enclosure with an access door at one end. The new unit is longer and narrower, so the enclosure now runs the full width of the laundry, with an equally wide access door in front of it. Also, as a consequence of the blower deck enlargement, the laundry area became darker, so I added two new lights.

Above left: the original enclosure. Above right: the new enclosure.

Retrospect

I fully realized that, had the commercial property sale concluded in a more timely fashion, I might not have thought of, or had an opportunity to make, these revisions. That's perfectly fine; I would have been OK with things the way they were. I made these changes principally because I could, and I felt certain I'd make more. At the same time, revisiting the project also revealed a surprising number of loose ends, all of which I'd have to address before moving on to the bigger stuff.

Chapter 8 çè Chapter 10

Copyright © 2017-2018 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
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