Saturday, September 17, 2011

Stairs very close to completion, at last!

Much of my spare time the last two weeks has been spent on the stairs. In fact, this project despite looking small has been the most time consuming of all so far for Arnie. There's a lot of detail in making a spiral staircase like this from scratch especially bearing in mind the exterior walls were never meant to be load bearing and it's the first time he's made a spiral staircase (A lot of angles to work out and engineer, etc).

For those of you that have followed the build from the beginning you might remember replacement of not just the exterior wall's wood, but also ripping out and rebuilding of the totally bug-eaten pantry area. Before, for 200+ years there was a steep ladder to get up & down stairs. There were some nasty old wooden doors that barely slid any more and plywood covering worn out old exterior walls.

This is the finished product, which certainly feels like luxury by comparison!

For the last few weeks Arnie had been varnishing and sanding down the components of the stairs.

At the beginning of September Carlos, my designer friend kindly gave up one of his days off from Toshiba to come over and help me clean up the stairwell beams and stain. He also taught me the basics of wall-papering. I'd thought it was easy to do, but with so many irregularly shaped spaces to fill, working late at night mostly on my own and not having done this before it was easy to make mistakes.

Fortunately the textured nature of the wallpaper makes it quite easy to hide joins completely and there's colour matched caulking to blend corners & edges together.
But about half way through I decided I really don't like wall-papering at all and so the children's bedroom's going to be eco-walled too.

Glad the entrance / genkan & stairs are nearly finished now, at last. Just the wall next to the entrance doors to finish next week. A few hour's work at most. Well, that and flagstone flooring in the lower entrance level, but that's a job for after we move in. The current compressed earth floor's been there a very long time, so a bit longer will be fine.

Below are pictures of the newly papered paneling going up the stairs:

I wallpapered everything first, then Arnie fitted the stairs during Thursday and Friday. It's all very strongly bonded together and screwed into place. No way these would ever come out without ripping away the corner of the house. The glue's stronger than the wood!

There's still some faux beams to be made either side of the entrance to the stairs (Which will help protect corners), plus a wooden panel with a vertical hand rail (For children!) half way up the stairs - stained black of course.

The grey rectangular area on the floor is nothing more than a pile of plaster-board, by the way.

We figured under the stairs will be a place kids will want to play so I wall-papered there too and fitted two recessed flourescent lights.

There will be some heavy cast-iron double coat hooks close to the door frame (Sourced from Lee Valley in the States) and also mounted on the back of the door (Which will be made of Cedar & pine, stained red & black to match with the stairs).
In this cupboard we'll store things like vacuum cleaner, baby push chair, etc. We've already received 3 Suffolk type cast-iron thumb latches from the UK to go on the two doors on the stairs (Cupboard and door to guest room upstairs). Period-ish, although not really Japanese - but I always liked these latches on old houses in UK. As they can be opened from both sides of the door, hopefully it won't make it too scary for kids to hide & seek in...

From above it's not possible to see the red paneling (Cardboard was to avoid scratching the varnish whilst assembling).

Lighting here is an important consideration too. This stained glass sconce was bought from the States via Amazon:

It will provide a dim but ambient light.

There are also 5 x 12v stair lights and we may add two more to the upper level of the stair well.

I'll try to get better pictures when it's all finished. Unfortunately it's impossible to show the complete staircase without a crazy wide-angle lens of some sort!

1 comment:

  1. The house interior is beginning to take shape. I love your wood vanished stairs. It is coming along very well. The ceilings are high. We do admire your courage and perseverance to make this an eco friendly, sturdy and a loving home for you and your family, may be even for generations to come. Keep it up!