Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Deck - and a House

John started the deck back in the spring - I see my last post, where he had just gotten started on it, was dated in June. Well, it's finally done. And it looks great now - much larger and stronger than the old one. Here's a before picture -

and here's how it looks today.

John was really adamant about doing a zazzy, non-rectangular deck. I wasn't sure at first - I liked the idea of one side of it roughly paralleling our bocce court - but I wasn't sure how practical it would be in terms of arranging furniture on it, etc. But after we mocked it all up with string, I finally agreed it would work. After construction began, we realized that MAYBE his insistence upon an irregularly shaped deck was due to the fact that when his parents built a cool midcentury modern house in upstate New York when he was a child, they had an irregularly shaped deck too. When they were building the house, they lived in a one-room shack down the driveway on their property. (They actually lived in Manhattan and this was a home in the country for them.) We noticed in a picture that their one-room shack (about the size of a shed nowadays) had a little odd-shaped deck they had built to admire their hilltop view-

The main house they had built had a cantilevered deck that had the same great view-

Here's another shot of the interior of their finished house, just for fun. Too bad we don't have those chairs, although we do have a lot of other modern furniture from John's family.

A few years ago, we were planning a trip to New York and wanted to find out what had happened to their custom-built house. John's parents had sold it when he was fairly young. It took a lot of research and studying of maps to figure out that we thought the house must be in Washingtonville, NY (just about an hour's drive from Manhattan). So we rented a car one day and drove up there. We stopped at the first real estate office we saw and asked if anyone knew of a house up on a hill in the area. The realtor said she thought we must be talking about the doctor's place, and gave us directions on how to get there. As soon as we got to the long driveway up the hill, John knew we were in the right spot. It was fenced off and there was a neighbor at the property at the fenceline and so we talked to them. They told us the house was in ruin and abandoned and to go on up. It was very strange - there was still some stuff in the house but it had been vandalized and it was in terrible disrepair. John knew that it had an innovative feature - a rooftop lined in copper to create a giant swimming pool on the roof. It wasn't meant to be a swimming pool, it was meant to hold a few inches of water and serve as an evaporative cooler for the house (the house was off the grid with no electricity). Well, the roof had been the house's demise when it leaked and water poured into the living room. It was all very sad. The deck was in disrepair also and was falling off of the house-

Anyway, we stayed there for quite awhile and took pictures and walked around. When we got home, we were even contacted by the doctor that now owns the place. The neighbors had shown him our pictures of when the house was built. He hopes to restore it some day but it's probably too far gone.

Now that the deck is done, we're discussing our next project. Looks like it'll be a remodel of John's office and my office. Our main goals are: new flooring (they both have old carpet now), **new wiring (which means ripping the paneling off the walls and redoing the walls), and more windows. We are trying to figure out a window scheme for the rest of the house at the same time so when we redo those rooms, we will continue the theme (which most likely will be to add new windows in the same style as the old awning ones we have). The flooring issue is the hardest for me. It needs to be super-sturdy as it is my work space as well as the main route outside to the deck. Some kind of tile seems appropriate - maybe this terrazo tile by Eco Terr? Terrazo seems cold but I sure like the idea of it, it seems sturdy and I love love love the look. If anyone has any experience with it, or any ideas about flooring, please speak up! Cork and linoleum have also been suggested but I am worried about their durability.