Friday, January 27, 2012

It's Just A Bad Name

There's a product on the market that often elicits sneers and jeers from parts of society at large, and we think it's gotten a bum rap. It's artificial turf, also known as synthetic grass. This material became widely known in the 1960's when it was used in sports arena applications, and was commonly known at the time as astro-turf. A lot of progress has been made since then in producing a more "realistic" synthetic, grass-like material.

Because it requires no sun or water, there are instances when something of this nature makes perfect sense. We've recently used it in an interior courtyard as a children's play area surface, in a waterside rear garden creating a grid between 24" square Travertine pavers, and in a back yard area where, due to deep shade conditions, regular grass didn't have a chance of growing. The product is fairly pricey (priced by the square foot), compared with grass, but it is very low maintenance, and should not need to be replaced for many, many years, unlike most grass. Watch how the product is installed, and you'll get an idea of why the labor-intensive process adds to the cost.

First, the area to receive the artificial turf is cleared and leveled.

Then, crushed stone is brought in to become the base layer.

This material is mechanically packed to insure a good, solid base.

A flexible tack-board edging is put around the perimeter, just as a room in your house would get a tack-board for carpet installation.

Next, a weed barrier cloth goes down to discourage future weed growth.

The artificial turf is laid out and trimmed to shape, just like a piece of carpet.

Once the trimming is done, the material is thoroughly attached to the edging board with the tacks and screws. Additional pins are used through the interior to insure that is stays put and no rippling occurs.

A heavy dusting of builders sand is spread over the installed turf, then swept in with a broom. This helps to raise the nap of the turf, and insure that the "blades" keep their upright form.

And here is one of the completed areas.

In this garden, the primary goal of using this material was to have a clean area for the dogs to do their business on...and they started using it the first day! It's easy to pick up from, and it can be hosed off as often as necessary.

The turf comes in a variety of heights and color ways, and also makes great putting greens for those inclined to include that in their plans. There are even varieties that have artificial "weeds" in the turf for extra realism. That may be going a bit far... Would we then need an artificial weed killer?

What I propose is that together we come up with a new name for this product. If we were to stop thinking of it as artificial "grass", but could just consider it as another material that we use to cover the ground in certain situations, maybe it would take away some of the bad stigma that surrounds anything artificial. Any ideas?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Walled Up

Our full home project has made great progress. When the drywall goes up and the interior walls are all in place, you can suddenly get a feel for what the interior spaces are like, and how the house will flow. This home was designed so that the clients can live their retirement years on the first floor, and the upstairs will be used by visiting family, for the most part. And there's plenty of room for all!

The entry steps and porch have been completed with the brick pavers. The "false door" entry is typical of this Charleston home design. The additional set of stairs on the side of the porch will create a more direct access to the front and the back yards for the homeowners.

The downstairs rooms have high ceilings and lots of windows to create bright areas for the living and sitting rooms, and the entry area offers a spacious welcome with lots of greeting area and a gracious stairwell opening to the second floor.

On the second floor, this landing leads out to the piazza that mirrors the length of the first floor entry porch.

These porches were designed before homes had air-conditioning, to catch the rare summer breezes in South Carolina.

Along with this back porch, this home will afford the owners several great places to enjoy the outdoors!

Over the next few weeks, we'll watch the interior start to take shape, and see the "Vogel Kitchen" come to life. Don't miss it!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Master Bath

A couple of months ago, we looked at a bathroom that we were asked to redesign, and I showed you several design options that had been presented to the client. Here are some "before" pictures to refresh your memory.

Before a final plan was even chosen, the homeowners stripped down the wallpaper in anticipation of getting underway...I guess they had had enough of the spring green pattern! With a couple of more sessions, a final plan was agreed on. As is often the case, it involves elements from more than one of the original design choices offered. And now, work is well under way.

Since the bathroom is over their garage, the homeowner had the terrific idea of opening a hole in the floor so that the demo material could be dumped directly into a construction trailer below.

This was also a great way to bring in new construction materials, and avoid a lot of mess and tracking through the house...well, all except the bathtub, which wouldn't fit between the floor joists. This 550lb. fixture required 4 men to maneuver it up the stairs and down the hall. It has found it's temporary home in the adjoining bedroom.

Everything has been ripped out, and new framing is in for the shower (which will now be glassed in on one side), the water closet and sauna. New overhead lighting is in as well.

And when the mess and fuss of a construction project like this gets you down, what helps?

Frankly, there is very little that a good box of mixed chocolates can't fix!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wrapping The House

We saw the bones of the house going up last week, and now we can get a look at the covering layers going over that.

Insulation is put into all the exterior walls and between the ceiling of the first floor and floor of the second.

This will not only help keep the home an even temperature, but it creates a noise barrier for upstairs traffic--especially when the grand kids are visiting!

Then, the exterior is covered with the sheets of wood. A moisture barrier wraps the entire exterior, then the Hardie Board siding is nailed in place. This is a cement fiber product that creates a very durable and easy to maintain home exterior.

And the stately windows and doors are all in place.

The Sheetrock is being delivered for the interior, so we'll be able to watch the fun details starting to happen now.

This house is really taking shape!