Monday, December 27, 2010

A picture is worth a thousand words

Whoever thought hanging a picture would bring such delight? But, it does after all these months.  As a matter of fact, we never hung any pictures, even when we first bought the house (2+ years ago) because we knew we would be renovating.  In our apartment in Bremerton, we never bothered to hang any pictures either.  So, there is great significance to this for us.  Our friend and photographer, Wendy Dreaney, gave us a lovely gift for Christmas - a photo detail from a flea market in France.  So, we had a great pasta dinner with a wonderful bottle of Solena Zinfindel and hung the picture.  Its the little things in life - right!?

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Earth's Barn Door
Patience has never been one of my virtues.  The amount needed to properly stain wood doors and trim is staggering.  So, I am guessing this is one of my life challenges as there is a boat load of it to do right now.  The worst part is prep - sanding, vacuuming the dust off, getting the finger prints from the contractors off, sanding some more...and then finally staining.  Ooh - and then you get to sand again and stain again after waiting hours and hours for the stuff to dry.  It seems endless.  I figured out quickly that brushing it on was not the best way and found these cool little white terry cloth covered sponges.  It changed it from painting to more like cleaning.  Now, you're talking.  That I like to do.  So, I just pretend that I am wiping clean the miles of wood in this house instead of using sticky, stinky wood stain and it is almost tolerable.  (The pictures here are pre-sponge.)  I almost have the upper floor done - which is 3 of the 8 rooms, not including all the common area.  Sigh.  So, not only patience but I need perseverance. The latter, I have - stubborn to the end.  I will finish this!

Air's Barn Door

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Great Room

I could barely remember what the Great Room looked like before it was all covered up for construction.  It has been over 6 months.  These photos are a shot of the refinishing in progress.  We added the window and french doors at the dining and kitchen area, enlarged the living room windows, painted and as you can see here are in the process of doing the floors.  Stay tuned for more photos!  I cannot wait to sit in front of the fireplace and enjoy the Inn.  Progress!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Thanksgiving is an interesting Holiday.  It happens so quickly after our weather turns and then all of a sudden it is Christmas time.  I had imagined that the construction work would be way over by now, so as 2011 gets closer, I am getting more nervous.  The house is a mish mash of completeness and I so desperately want to furnish it and open our doors.  I have lived amongst dirt and dust longer than I ever care to again.  But, the good news is there is lots of progress from the landscaping to the interior.  So, as this holiday passes, and the turkey settles, I give thanks that I am where I want to be and our dream is soon going to become reality.  Our reservations our live now, so fingers are crossed as we plan to open weekends in February and then full time in March!
View from Water's terrace
View from Mountain 
Lake's Bathroom 

New door at Earth's bathroom
Earth getting furniture finally!

Thunder's new barn door

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Keeping focus

As the weather really begins to turn to winter, it is getting hard to keep focus.  Construction is continuing slowly but steadily and I can see the end in sight.  There is a bittersweet feeling as the process has been exciting and now that chapter is ending and a new one beginning.  The final furnishing and decorating of the inn will be fun and challenging and I look forward to that.  (Albeit, it also sounds daunting!)

The impending end of my employment as an architect is also bittersweet.  I have enjoyed my career and I guess deep down hope that in one way or another, I will continue it in some capacity.  There are so many years, colleagues, clients, projects and experiences under my belt and it will be hard to walk away.  I have to keep believing that this is the right path to take in my life at this time.  Keeping focus is hard over the years it has taken to get to this point.  The drizzle and cold seem to add extra weight to that.  The view this morning from the house was beautiful though.  Following a crisp, clear night with a full moon, the sky was bright and sunny and then slowly a fog settled into the Valley followed by the pending cold rains.  The quiet time of the year is here and I will find solace in the beauty of what we have built around us and dig down for fortitude to stay on track!

Early morning view from the main terrace

Sunday, November 7, 2010

8 Bathrooms

We are in the last few weeks of construction now and I have actually been able to CLEAN.  It has been so hard living in a dusty mess for 6 months.  Just being able to vacuum, wash floors...yes, I am weird that way.  I like to clean.  I guess that is why being an innkeeper will be a great fit for me.

Our beds were delivered this week and the arrival of the first of the inn's furniture is thrilling.  We now have 8 fully functioning bathrooms.  Here are some shots of each one.



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

True Colors

One of my favorite songs - by Cyndi Lauper - yes, showing my x-gen age.  Le Puy is moving along and time has come to paint the interior.  Andy and I spent a long time selecting colors for each room.  We studied Feng Shui, the inspiration behind the names for our rooms.  With each room, there are specific associated colors and natural elements.  So, out came the Sherwin Williams box of colors and after many weeks, a palette formed.  I purchased 33 different colors and believe that we should get some kind of royalty and be featured by Sherwin Williams - I mean really - who uses 33 of any manufacturer's colors on a house?  Anyway, almost all the painting is complete and happily after 2 weeks of squatting, climbing up and down ladders, rolling paint, washing brushes...
I like every single color!  The rooms look amazing.

In addition to paint, the tile in the bathrooms is nearly finished.  Wood floors are in and trim and doors are next.  The new railings are finished at the back terrace.  Lighting is getting installed.  Every penetration caulked and sealed for acoustics.

It feels like such a long road.  It has been 2 years since our crazy adventure started.  It is hard to believe at times how far this place has come.  At other times, I feel so exhausted, I have to dig down deep to find energy and initiative to keep going.  Just when I think I might break, something wonderful will happen - like the painting looking amazing, a contact from someone local in the community supporting us, a beautiful sunny day, a serene foggy morning.  Stealing an afternoon at the beach.  Focusing on the moments, the little things and finding joy in each step is getting us through.  Today is also, the 14th anniversary of being together for Andy and I.  So, at this moment I reflect on all the beauty around me and I do see the true colors...and that is why I love this!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Transformations Continue

North Facade Terrace
 Fall landscape install is now occurring.  The backyard which used to be a lumpy mess of clay is now tilled, amended and ready for seed.  Around the east facing and north facing rooms, trees, shrubs and flowers are giving a new face to Le Puy.  After a long summer of construction mess, it is so satisfying to see parts of the project become close to finished.  Stay tuned for interior photos as painting of the rooms has started!

Le Puy's New Backyard taking shape.

East facade - I am admiring it from Lake's new balcony.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Favorite things

All my “favorite” building materials get used at this stage of construction. The top 3 most annoying – all were installed in the last few weeks…along with exterior painting.

Insulation: Prior to the drywallers showing up, Andy and I were insulating, foaming penetrations, caulking joints and applying furring to about 4000 sf of space. I believe insulation is the most vile of all building products. After each day of shoving the beloved stuff into each cavity and crevice, I would shower and feel a thousand little fiberglass blades gnawing at my face. Even after showering, touching my skin felt like a sadistic exfoliation treatment. We can only hope that all the effort will result in quiet and comfortable rooms for the guests!

Spray foam: If anyone is looking for a true instrument of torture, spray foam insulation is it! I was successfully spraying the piping penetrations in the crawl space when the nozzle popped off the can. This resulted in a massive bulge of spray foam oozing all over my hand. If you have ever experienced this stuff, you know that this is a very bad thing. It is sticky and does not come off – I tried turpentine, vinegar, gasoline – nothing – I was left with a crusty mess on my right hand. That week, in my meetings with clients, shaking hands I had to explain that I did not have some freakish disease – just home construction projects and a battle with ‘great stuff’ and obviously I did not win!

Drywall: As the drywall is installed, the rooms start to take shape. It is exciting at the same time as an enormous mess. There is little more disconcerting to a clean freak than the installation and finishing of drywall. It literally gets everywhere. I walk through the house trying to avoid the globs of mud and goo on the floor, ignore the fine dust that covers everything and look at what are almost guest rooms and the semblance of what will be our inn. Gypsum – I think I can taste it in my coffee!

Finally, hanging off a ladder high in the air painting siding - now there is a treat.  It is a great isometric excercise though - hanging on with one hand, on tip toes and brushing paint on with the other hand.  What a work out!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Summer Reflections

I always think that season changes are best expressed in poetry.
So, just a few notes.
For health, we are so thankful
For paying jobs, we are so grateful
For a dream becoming, we are in awe
For the hard work, our hands are calloused
For the long days, our eyes are weary
But all in all, we are so blessed and forward we will go!

Now for a real poet:

It is our quiet time.
We do not speak, because the voices are within us.
It is our quiet time.
We do not walk, because the earth is all within us.
It is our quiet time.
We do not dance, because the music has lifted us to a place where the spirit is.
It is our quiet time.
We rest with all of nature...

Nancy Wood

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reaching New Heights

It is now mid-August.  We look around and see so much that has been done, but yet, so much left to do.  Summers always go so fast.  The weather has been incredible.  Hot and sunny.  I don't think it has rained since early July.  (Of course as I say that, it is supposed to rain tomorrow!)

I have stained what feels like miles of cedar columns and beams.  They look great and then my contractor reminds me that they will need to be done every year.  Yea, ok - I'll worry about that next year - for now - they are done!  It is great to relish in the small things that are complete.  But, actually, they are not complete because we still need to caulk them and install the wood plugs at the brackets.  Anyway, for a moment, it felt good to at least think something was done!

The next task was to paint the main level terrace beams and columns.  This is where it gets more difficult.  Some of the areas are 30+ feet in the air.  So, Andy gets the priviledge of painting most of these - the price of being 6" taller than me! We soon realize that our extension ladder is not tall enough. So, our neighbor suggests using our pick-up truck and putting the ladder in the back. (Yes - are you cringing?!) But, Andy does it.  This works to a point.  As you can see in the picture - even 6'-1" Andy can reach only so far...So our neighbor has a taller ladder...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Evenings

The lazy days of summer have settled in on Le Puy.  Construction is continuing.  The fire sprinkler system is now roughed in and the final rough plumbing, framing and cabling should be done in the next week or so.  The days are hot and in order to do landscape maintenance, we get up before 6am so that we can finish before noon.  The gardens that have been planted so far, are looking beautiful.  The evenings are especially wonderful, after a long day of working outside, then inside on all the many maintenance and renovation tasks, we can relax with a glass of wine and sit in the courtyard or on the north terrace and enjoy the amazing views and peacefulness that is summer in Willamette wine country. 
The water table has attracted lovely golden finches in the evening who stop for a drink and play in the water.  They thank us with their pretty little chirps and we sip our wine and smile thinking - yep, this is worth it!  Bruises, aches and all, what could be better!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Character Building

As the project progresses, the inn is developing more character.  The columns and brackets are wrapped with cedar and looking spectacular.  The landscaping is progressing and adding a sense of permanence and softness to the site. The framing of all 8 rooms is complete along with most of the electrical and plumbing rough-in work.  So, the inn is taking shape.  

At the same time the idea of character is close to home for us personally.  The challenge of full time jobs over 200 miles away and traveling every week down to work on the inn, monitor the progress, develop the wearing on us.  Each weekend of endless work is followed by a week of pressure and stress at our current jobs.  Keeping up the energy is daunting at times, so we dig in and continue to remind each other that it will all be worth it as well as relish in the small victories and celebrate the joy of creating our dream. At times we need to pause and enjoy the moment, take an hour or two off to relax.  Sitting in the courtyard, now mostly complete, is one of those pleasures.  Forgetting for the moment that the rest of the house is completely torn apart!  It's ok, we say, it's fine-we'll get there...And deep down, I believe we will.  

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Sign

A few weeks ago, we installed our sign down on 240.  It was exciting and frightening at the same time.  It was like everything became really real. Andy and I kept looking at each other and nervously laughing.  We bit our nails as the cars were driving by...ok, now we are really out there for people to see! 
But, Angel Gomez ( working with Lukas Schuler - who did the Courtyard metal screen, did a beautiful job with the sign's construction and installation.  So, enjoy a few pictures as we 'go public'!

Monday, June 21, 2010


Once we committed to the cost of construction, we were forced to take the first step towards it - demolition.  Now, tearing apart your house on any day is disconcerting but thousands of square feet of demolition was overwhelming - both physically and emotionally. 

One of our goals was to preserve as much of the existing materials as possible.  So, we set about removing doors, trim and baseboard piece by piece carefully pulling each nail from it and then wrapping each opening and room in bundles for easy replacement later.  We also saved every light fixture, switch plate, grille, fan, etc, boxing and labeling it with the new location for reinstall. 

We spent hours pulling up miles of carpet, carpet tack strip (ouch!) and pad. 
We carefully rolled each section for pick-up by the recycler.  Our goal was to have the least amount of true waste as possible.  It was a painstaking process and took us 4 full weekends of long days, sore muscles, tender fingers and overall exhaustion. 

But, finally, we finished and were ready for the construction to begin!