1 House 100 Years

Preparing For The Centennial Of A Place That Matters

Month: August, 2012

Symmetry and asymmetry


One important question that I had while doing this planning was, “What about the fireplace in the corner and the windows and doors?” I was not sure if these needed to be considered in the overall box beam ceiling plan. If so, they would have really complicate the planning process.

It turned out that the symmetry of my design contrasted nicely with the asymmetry of the floor plan. To me the symmetry also helps give the impression that the beams were part of the house’s original framing with the other features added later. This was really important to me.

This photograph from my first look inside shows the fireplace in the living room and part of the dining room beyond it. Once all the window treatments were removed, the 9 feet ceilings felt even higher. I wanted to emphasize the ceiling height throughout the house, especially in this room.

This photograph was taken Spring 2007.


Using quarter inch grid paper


Almost as soon as I got back from looking at my house that first time, I got out some quarter-inch grid paper and started making a floor plan and considering what to do with the house. I'm on my third pad of grid paper right now and still planning!

With a pencil, it is less exact than a CAD-type program, however for an old house, it works for me. It's quick and easy to erase and change my ideas but I can still keep a record of how my thought process has evolved. Sometimes early plans work best.

With an old house, exact measurements at this point may not be helpful. For most planning, each quarter inch represents 3 inches, so four make 12 inches. Divide a quarter inch square into 3 sections, and each represents 1 inch. Only divide these when needed with just small light marks.

Divide the quarter inch square into 4 sections, and each represents 3/4 inch (the thickness of most boards in the lumber yard) and two of those represents 1 and 1/2 inch (the thickness of a 2×4). For most other measurements, just get close. Measure to the house.

What that means to me is although you may plan and draw exactly 24 inches, when it is time to do measuring, marking and cutting, make the piece fit the house. Go back to the house, and measure from that. You may find it's actually 24 and 1/8 inches instead.

For more detailed work like cabinets, let each quarter inch grid paper square represent one inch. Divide in half for 1/2 inches and then divide again for 1/4 inches. Smaller fractions can be used later in closeup details. Get the overall look and proportions correct. These matter tremendously.

My two most challenging planning tasks have been designing the cabinets for the kitchen and the box beam ceilings for the dining room and living room. These had to fit their spaces, use lumberyard materials, function properly, and finally after doing all of that, they had to look good too.

Always looking forward to spring


Lunaria, or “Honesty,” has been growing in my yard since before I owned this house. Someone probably bought a package of seeds many years ago to “try them out,” and they have naturalized here in my yard. The flower color is incredible, and the seed pods are an interesting novelty.

I have not quite figured out whether it is an annual, a biennial, or a perennial. Although I am sure that I could have the definitive answer in a few seconds with an internet search, it is somehow more rewarding to just watch, examine, and learn by discovering nature’s secrets.

It appears wherever I don’t mow the grass, particularly where it is shady. Right now there are small plants with just a few leaves appearing here and there. In the spring they will be blooming from the time that I am sowing seeds until well after I have transplanted seedlings.

Their color is inviting and invigorating in a way, maybe because of its intensity, and the blooming time is very long. This definitely draws me outside and encourages me to get things going in the garden. How these flowers transform into paper thin disks filled with seeds is a mystery!

This photograph was taken Spring 2012.