Tag: Architecture

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Drywall on the river

Construction on this house has been a long grind, but the end is near and we think the product will be worth it. The space transforms once drywall goes up.





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Framing Thyme and Dough

All sections of the foundation are in place and the framing has begun. A small crew will progressively work on each of the new buildings.

This will be the new entry and informal dining/working area with communal tables and a bar countertop.

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Foundation Begins in Dripping Springs

Construction recently began on an addition we designed for Rolling in Thyme and Dough - a bakery, diner and nursery that has become a social gathering space for the hill country town of Dripping Springs, TX.  The diner currently operates out of a house that was built circa 1900 and will remain open for most construction as we build three new buildings which will lightly attach to the existing.

The first section to go up will serve as a new main entry and contain bar seating for computers and chatting.

We'll face a number of challenges attaching to such an old building, hopefully there won't be too many surprises and the new and old will compliment each other.

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Garden St Landscape

The landscape finished a while back, but we haven't had much time to blog. we also recently finished the cascading porch in the back.

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Exterior volume

View of the guesthouse from the driveway. This front facade will have two very large barn doors which cover the windows when not in use and during the hot summer months.

The roofers started and completed there work over the course of two days.

We liked the view from the roof.

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Interiors (public)

Here are a few pics of living and dining spaces. The shelving weaves through these spaces to define more intimate moments. The clients are completely moved in now and we hope to get a photographer in for a final shoot within the coming weeks. The photo below was taken before the kitchen shelving was completed, but gives you a good sense of the space and light.

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Interiors (private)

The interior of the house is just about finished with only small touch ups remaining. Here are a few shots showing some of the bathroom and bedroom details.

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The custom shelving is almost finished. It weaves through the house creating special views while defining different spaces.

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Concrete Prep / Kitchen and Utility

Round 2 of our concrete countertop work.  For the kitchen and utility room countertops, since we did not create integral sinks, our formwork was generally simpler.  We created cutouts for the sinks and cooktop, and we also formed a 3/4" drop-down lip for the kitchen pieces.  In pouring, we had to be particularly careful to place the large remesh and rebar spans in the middle of the 1.5" counter thickness.  We again rented a concrete mixer but vibrated and finished the pours by hand.


We covered the pieces with plastic tarps in order to retain moisture as the concrete cured (this has been a very, very dry summer in Austin).  After 5 days, we released all of the pieces and finished them with several rounds of sanding.  We again filled air holes in the surface with Rockite, though in comparison to the bathroom pieces we spent more time sanding to a finer level of polish.

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Clean Up!

We (finally) completely cleaned up the yards.  Several tons of wood and gypsum board were recycled, though we produced a fair amount of waste as well.  It is a great challenge to make construction more environmentally friendly, and we hope to become more efficient with as we gain experience in the entire building process.


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Shelving Starts

Shelving runs throughout the house as a space-defining element that can be filled with the owners' personal objects and memories. The shelving in the living room acts as a continuous system spanning from one side of the house to another and serving simultaneously as a stair guardrail, as a screen between the front door and the rest of the room, as the entertainment unit and as storage.  Here see this shelving emerge from the upper floor. [slideshow] [gallery]

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Concrete Install / Master Bath

Installing the beast: the 500+ lb master bathroom countertop with integral sink.  Our plan involved building a platform on top of a dolly, and then getting some strong men together to maneuver the sink on and off the dolly into place.

Once inside the master bedroom, we raised the countertop on 2x4s so that it could be slid onto the supporting studs nailed to the master bathroom walls.  Then we could knock away the supporting pieces and let the sink hang.

All went surprisingly smoothly.  No cracks so far!

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Concrete Install / Small Baths

For the bathroom countertops, we were interested in preserving as much of the raw concrete look as possible.  We did minimal sanding with an orbital and 60/120-grit paper--enough to smooth the top surface and sink and expose a tiny amount of aggregate.  We filled air holes in the top surface with Rockite, but left the sides exactly as they were poured--we like that the open air pocket texture really emphasizes the materiality of these pieces.

The Rockite fill is substantially lighter than the Quikrete, so we also rubbed a diluted white stain over the surfaces.  This didn't change the overall color noticeably, but it did even out some of the texture by filling in tiny imperfections in the surface with white.

Then, after we caulked the vanity surfaces, two fellas lifted these pieces into place (the vanities below them will be painted white).

Overall, we're pleased with the results.  We love the look of these big block of concrete, and since we weren't aiming for a completely polished look, the imperfections (many of which are at corners and edges) add great character.  When we make the kitchen and utility countertop pieces, we'll potentially test out more aggressive sanding methods and staining the fill color to achieve different effects.

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Lighting Gymnastics

The central room in the house (kitchen and living areas) has a bigh sloped ceiling, ranging from 13 to over 20 feet tall.  For general lighting in these areas, we are suspending tracks from the ceiling, which proved tricky for us and for the electricians.  We had to prepare threaded rods with toggle bolts at specific heights so that the tracks could hang parallel to the floor.  The electricians had to get these toggle bolts into the ceiling drywall, run the cord down, and tweak from there in order to get the tracks level.  We got a couple days behind schedule because of this whole process, but we're excited to see the results.

Also suspended are pendants and ceiling fans, with more typical light installations in other rooms.

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Front and back porches are installed.  We were waiting on them as long as possible so that they didn't get damaged during construction, but the space on these big porches became necessary as we set up all our concrete pours.

There's a bird nesting on top of the gutter. Aww.

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Concrete Released / Master Bath

After the small countertops were done we started on the big one.  The smaller countertops are 3 feet long and about 2.5 bags of Quikrete each (about 230 lbs in total with the water weight).  This guy took almost 6 bags, and is probably 550 lbs.

No problem for these strapping young men to flip over.  Same process as before to release all of the remaining melamine.

I like the underside texture (this piece was wetter on that surface when we poured than the others).  And here is the raw product.

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Concrete Released / Small Baths

Five days after we poured, we released our new countertops & sinks.

To start with, we unscrewed all of the perimeter melamine pieces.  They pulled off fairly easily.

We used packing tape to seal the edges of the bottom-side formwork.  The concrete picked up every detail--all the lines and the shine.

The countertop was poured upside down, so we placed white foam to help soften the edges when we turned it over.  Once flipped, we had to drill/dig into the sink area to pry off the top.

Then we knocked out the faucet piece, and carefully pried out the sink pieces.  Hello concrete vanity with sink!

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A few of the various installations happening on site this month.

We are building a lot of custom shelving for this home, starting with some smaller pieces in the bathrooms.

We placed plywood on the cabinets as a sub-counter for the concrete countertop (coming soon).  This helps distribute the weight of the concrete across the cabinets, and it helped make undermounting the kitchen sink easier.

Kitchen exhaust.  It's a wall mount, but drops in front of the windows, so some custom lowdo attachment was involved.

Grille research at our friend's apartment.  Turns out aluminum grilles are quite pricey, so for the floor and kitchen vents we custom made some "aluminum" grilles with spray paint.

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Ground Breaking

Today we literally broke ground on our next project in Texas.  This is a farm in Shiner, where we are starting construction on a 1000-square-foot guest house (the main farmhouse will follow later this year).  Ashley visited the site in order to verify placement of the perimeter and plumbing connections.  The team was hard at work digging and placing the pipes for the slab foundation (which will be poured later this week).

Batter boards outline the perimeter, a rectangle with a 20'x8' patio extending out from the main living area.  The trenches are dug to different depths--gas lines are deepest, with electrical next, and water lines on top.  This is so that if you ever dig later on, you'd spring a water leak before you'd electrocute yourself or start a gas leak.

Beasts from far and wide came to witness the event.

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Concrete Formwork / Bathrooms

We have been extremely busy over at the Garden Street site.  We're in the final month of construction, which for us means a lot of hands-on custom work building cabinetry, shelving, and other Lowdo details.  We love it but we have a lot of retroactive blogging to do...

One of the biggest projects we took on was pouring concrete countertops with integral sinks for all three bathrooms.  These were a beast to make, but we can't wait to see the results.

In the master bath, the concrete countertop and sink will hang from these 2x8s.  We'll have rebar in the front edge of the counter, which we are making 7" deep so that it will serve as a "beam" to span across the 6-foot space.  The two smaller bathroom counters (3' across) will simply rest on the cabinets below.

We first built the forms for smaller bathroom countertops.  The forms are upside-down--the bottom surface will be the top of the counter when the concrete is poured in, and the asymmetrical box will be the inside of the sink.  We used melamine for the formwork, which has a slick surface that concrete won't stick to.  The corners are all caulked, and PVC pipe wrapped in tape serves to make holes for the faucets and drains.

We put remesh in the countertops to strengthen them against cracking or breaking.  On top goes another, secondary melamine form that will shape the deeper parts of the countertops.

The master bath formwork.  Ryan is tying in the rebar that will strengthen the front edge of the counter.  A second piece will be tied in to run along the bottom of the beam.

And then...with the much appreciated help of Ryan's dad...we poured!  We were all working quickly with the wet concrete, so no pictures of the pour in action.  More to come in a few days when we release the mold.

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Concrete Counter Test Pours

We exposed the aggregate by performing a throw test: We threw the block of concrete up in the air.  We did this three times.  The first two it landed on natural ground/debris and stayed intact.  The third time it landed on the sidewalk and broke.  Conclusion: no throwing concrete at our countertops.






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Delivery at 1615 Garden Street

All of the fixtures and appliances for the house have been arriving.  We took our chances with a lot of online (tax-free) ordering, and so far so good.

Four men with no straps lifted all the major appliances from the ground up to the back porch.  The back porch is 7+ feet off the ground.  The fridge and the double oven each weigh 200 lbs.  It was impressive.

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Stair = Return Air Vent

The stair from the front porch entry door down to the main level is also our return air vent.  We replaced the risers with grilles, with the large return air ductwork hidden behind the steps and leaving our large walls uninterrupted.

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Interior painting started this weekend (done by a crew led by Jorge Morales). In order to enhance the natural light reflecting throughout the house, all of the living and kitchen space is painted white. The owners were interested in color for the other spaces, so each of the rooms off the living space have their own unique colors (some subtle, some not).


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