Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Place to Call Home

You've met the parents; now take a look at the little nest that Carol and Dave have feathered for when they're in town. It gives you an idea of how rough it is down in the basement, and you will see how resourceful they are: the bed consists of an air mattress resting on three courses of plastic storage bins plus backerboard of some kind to stabilize it all. Nice, isn't it?

Back in January they stayed out at The Nest even though we had to return to Chicago for a few days. They blessed us so much with their work on our behalf.

Here they are patching up the floor which Paul had to tear up for the new drain. They, too, are a gift that keeps on giving. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

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Nave Cabinets

A unique space requires unique storage, especially if we hope to host people in the same place we work and live. Stuff that is used on a daily basis needs a place to hide, and there isn't a lot of room downstairs to store essentials like fabric, the microscope, recording gear, and LEGOs.

The solution will be massive, custom-designed cabinets and hutches, engineered to our specific storage needs, and built and installed along the perimeter, much like the drawing above demonstrates. Both sides of the nave will feature the same basic layout.

One key element of this design is the modular nature of the tables. They are intended to be pulled out from the wall without messing up the integrity of the overall design, and having a 2:1 length to width ratio, they can be placed in many different configurations, depending on our need: a square, a skinny rectangle, a fat rectangle, a hollow square... Purposefully flexible.

To get an idea of how well my theory might work in reality, I recently pulled out the measuring tape and a roll of painter's tape. Now that I can see the outlines on the wall and the floor, I'm still quite happy with the size of the future furniture and how it fits the scale of the building.
But that means that the top of the hutch comes to 9 feet tall! At that height, I'll need to plan to store one more thing: a short step ladder for reaching items on the top shelf!
The depth of the cabinets will be 30 inches instead of the traditional 24. This will create a smoother line to unify the tables and the cabinets, increase our storage below, and give us a more roomy and comfortable work space on top. And again, it fits the scale of the room. Then to complement the extra-deep base cabinets, our upper cabinets will be 15 inches deep instead of the traditional 12.
My inspiration for thinking about custom cabinets comes from Ana White, a woodworking mom who, in her words, likes to put the "make" back into "homemaker". Visit her site and see if you don't begin to feel inspired and empowered to create some great things yourself!

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Moving In

I should probably clarify that we don't actually live here yet. For just one more month we'll continue living in the inner city of Chicago, driving out to The Nest for a few productive days at a time as we can. But only for one more month! It's time to start setting up a home with the things we already have as we wait and work to accomplish our dreams and goals.

The bookcases came out of storage, and with it, some of our books. After a year and a half, it was like a reunion with old friends.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

From the Floor to the Table

Remember the stack of floor boards that had been left behind when we moved in? Measured and counted, they rested along the side of the nave. They served well to contain the plastic bowling ball for our New Year's Eve 5-frame bowling tournament, but other than that, they've just been in the way.

Over 17 feet long, they couldn't make it down the stairs in one piece, so in the interest of making the most of what wood we had, I needed to decide how short or long each piece would need to be for us to make, in this case, the tops for our tables.

For this, I turned to my print publishing software. After creating a scale model of each floorboard, I was able to cut and assemble them over and over until I had them in the right dimensions and configuration to create four of the six matching, modular tables we have in mind.

The wood is pretty rough, and while I'd love to retain as much of that character as possible, I do need the surfaces to be smooth so the tables can function as a place where we can write, eat, and sew, to name a few essential activities. And they need to be easily cleaned up.

So now that they're cut, we'll have to plane them down, rip them to equal widths, fill in the holes, and glue and clamp them together. By then, perhaps, we'll have figured out how to make the table base. This is the look we'll be aiming for:

Camden Trestle Table
Restoration Hardware

And oh yes, I cut them all myself. With the help of my handy hubby, of course.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Toilet Installation

An old church building, an old septic system. The Nest requires a completely new system, but until we can manage that, we never know when the next flush will be our last.

It sounds dramatic, and we hope never to experience that drama, so we're installing fixtures that will reduce the amount of water going out as waste. The toilet we chose, then, features two different flush options for the two different flush needs, if you know what I mean. =)

The kids are concerned that our visitors won't know which button to press, so let me inform you that if we ever experience the joy of your company long enough for you to require using our facilities, look closely at the two buttons on the top of the tank. One button features a full circle, and the other one features a circle divided in half. The full circle means a fuller flush.

And just for fun, here's a little video of the final installation and inspection on January 25. The unpleasant-looking water you'll see went into the tank that color; we were recycling water that had been sitting in the pipes somewhere.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Hole in the Floor

Do you remember when I said that the prospect of taking out the toilet unnerved me somewhat? I had so little to fear. After writing this, we received two different offers from friends of ours who own their own camping potties and who wanted to loan us this primitive convenience. Thanks so much, Norma and Lori!

We picked up Lori and Kevin's porta potty at their son's homeschool graduation party on New Year's Day, and this is Paul trying to figure it out.

It worked so well. We are so grateful!

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Meet the Parents

This is Dave. He's Paul's dad. He's most recently been living and working as a missionary in the beautiful, sunny island of Guam, but is now on sabbatical in the icy cold of the North American continent. Catching him with his hot tea while standing in front of the woodstove was just too perfect to pass up.

This is Carol. I wish I had a better picture for these introductions, but she's Paul's mom and Dave's uber-dedicated wife. I think she's catching up on emails while the kids are doing their schoolwork.

We've had the pleasure of having Dave and Carol stay with us while they lend experience and assistance on the work we've had to do in the bathroom. What a blessing for us to have them join us in our work, our family worship, and in our fun. If it weren't for them, I don't think we would yet know how happy Happy Hour at Steak-N-Shake could be.
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