Sunday, December 30, 2007

Man triumphs over stone

The New Year aproaches. Tilework continues.
Zander makes a wish, and hopes it will come true...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More Tile

Clockwise from upper left: master bathroom (daltile Village Bend), 1st floor shower niche (bruma marble with decorative niche insert), tower bathroom (creme beige marble), and tower floor (supersannini).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


One thing we have tried to do through this entire build was to be authentic to the Tuscan farmhouse style. In the era of custom homes going to bigger and bigger tile on the floor, we chose to do a herringbone pattern with real 6x12" Italian terricotta. This will be contiguous throughout the downstairs areas, spilling over into the closets, bathroom, laundry, and bedroom on first floor. This tile from a manufacturer called Sannini. We visited them last November on our trip to Italy and they took us on a tour of the plant where this tile was manufactured. The factory is located in a town famous for their cotto, Imprunetta, a few miles south of Florence on the Chiantigiana. The third floor bedroom will also have this tile, in a running bond, or brick pattern. -- Jimbo

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Now for something completely neutral....

Upper right and lower left; downstairs bathroom tile. Center; closeup of the Selina Gold Limestone. Center right; well shoot! (a view thru the laundry chute). Lower left; rain glass in downstairs bath. Lower center; tile for the back of the downstairs shower niche.

Selina Gold Countertops

The kitchen countertops arrived yesterday afternoon! They are a limestone called Selina Gold. They aren't finished installing them yet, but arent' they pretty? Now we just need to figure out what we're going to do about the faucet... the Mico we were going to use needs a + connector underneath and Jim thinks that there isn't enough space between the gigantic copper sink and the wall. We'll probably also have to notch out a portion of the ledge to make room for the neck of the faucet. No matter. Arent' they pretty? The little piece with the scalloped ogee edge in the bottom center photo will be installed as a console table in the foyer area.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Next comes Tile

The trim guys finished up on Saturday and the tile and flooring get rolling on Monday. The first photo on the upper right shows our limestone slabs for the kitchen counters and console in the foyer. They're the larger slabs in the back. The middle row center shows the master bedroom closet; bottom row, left to right - master tub alcove, typhoon green granite slab for the coffee bar, and the laundry room. I spent all day vaccuming & sweeping up in prep for the tile install, and Jim built a ledge along the back of the laundry room countertop, enclosed the tub box, ripped shelves from the remaing alder plywood.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cantera fireplace surround

Ugh! We spent all morning lugging more tile out of the mobili mini and up the hill to the house. Our arms and brains feel just like jello. The cantera fireplace surround was installed today - it matches the columns outside but the colors are a little more muted and neutral. After the adhesive sets up, they'll add mortar to the joints. Nick came by to estimate the amount of interior paint needed. He thinks 5 five-gallon buckets should about do it. We choose Provincial (211) stain by Minwax for the woodwork. Nick is working on a big project right now, so he recommended we go ahead and have the tilework done in the meantime. He thinks he'll have our house completely painted & stained in 3 days. The house he's painting now will take him 1.5 weeks. Jeeze, the thing must be enormous.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Haul -a- day!

We took advantage of the day off to clean up some of the mess the drywall guys left. Yuck!! Someone's been using the showers as a latrine! How gross is that? Jim started hauling out all the tile and, yes, the kitchen sink. 80 degrees yesterday and 35 this morning with a stiff north wind. That's why the olive trees don't do so well in Texas. We had takeout Turkey and all the fixins' to feast on at lunch and dinner breaks. Lordy, are we going to be sore in the morning. All that, and there are still two pallets of Sannini to move...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Naughty Alder

Tee, hee! Did I say naughty? I meant KNOTTY... While I was away at the ASHA convention in Boston this week, the cabinets were delivered and installed and the trim carpenters installed the interior doors and began work on the trim - all in knotty alder. The Selina Gold Limestone for the kitchen countertops has been recieved at AG&M and will be delivered to Alexis Granite early this week. We've selected Behr 'off white' for the walls and 'swiss coffee' for the ceilings. I know this doesn't sound very imaginative on our part, but it is in keeping with the Tuscan farmhouse asthetic. Jim will be looking for a large, deep sink for the laundry room this week, and we'll need to decide on a finish for the woodwork.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Good House Parts

Things are really begining to take shape now that the drywall is going up. Team Zavaleta will be adding wall and ceiling texture early next week and we should have doors, trim, and cabinetry in by Thanksgiving. It is unusually warm for November. Today the temperature should top out in the mid-80's; but at least it's nice and breezy. The air circulates right up the stairwell, just as it is designed to do. It's called a thermal chimney effect - cool air enters through the doors and windows at ground level; then, as it rises up through the stairwell, it pushes any warm air up and out of the windows in the tower room at the top of the stairs.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Jim is working on last-minute wiring and Peg is on clean-up detail in preparation for the drywall crew scheduled for Monday. Once the drywall and texturing is done, things will be moving fast & furious... cabinetry, trim, paint, flooring - all in short order. Waldo looks on, beumused by the flurry of activity.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rock it, Roof it, Seal it!!

Rock. Done.
Roof. Done.
Insulation, Done.
Next... sheetrock on Monday.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Late October Details

On Saturday, the Icynene spray foam insulation was largely completed for the first floor. Jim is working on the security wiring for the windows and doors. How is it that we managed to get a perfect color match among the brick, roof tiles, and autumn grass? Even the newest cocker spaniel rescue, Dottie, coordinates.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rock done, roof next.

Rock on the main house AND now the pump house is complete. Fantastic! Next insulation and sheet rock are to be done. We are rounding third plate now. Woo Hoo. We have a large amount of rock waste that we'll use for other projects around the property at a later time. Stanley will be coming on Tuesday to that.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bella Italia

Another look at the places and people that have made our dream a reality. Again, much of this was from our trip in November of 2006.

Rocking finishing up... maybe this week?

Rock guys have been busy... almost finished up on the house and starting the pumphouse.
We had an annonmous visitor give us their thoughts on the house. Don't know who it was.
Nice comment through.

Market research.

Back in November of last year was our last trip to Italy to collect ideas for our home. We stayed in a convent in Orvieto, where we found that even Peggy towered over the Mother Superior! Peggy's a GIANT! A quick trip day trip to Capri from Sorrento. And Michelangelo and Silvia's wine cellar in their house at their 300 year old farm house in Figline Valdarno. Figline is just about 18 clicks (klm) South of Florence.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Be it every so humble...

Oh, how I miss my 10x optical zoom. Jim's digital camcorder takes stills that claim to be 12x optical, but I ain't buying it. These photos are tons more grainer than those taken by my (now defunct) camera.

Oh well... here are some Sunday afternoon shots. They'll start the masonry on the pumphouse this week, so it will look completely different going forward. Lisa, one of the rescue cockers, is sparkling on the western portico.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Photos taken in 2005 and 2006 during our visits to Bella Italia. From upper left - Mic e Sylvia con Olivero e Isotta; leone da Farfa in Sabina; Jim della tre fontane; il poggio cotto; pavimenti; pianta; Sannini di Imprunetta; terracotta di Imprunetta; casetta per le lettere.
(jim's note) We researched and collected items since 1999 when we purchased the land, knowing that we would be building our Tuscan farmhouse some day. In our travels, our Italian family friends, Michelangelo and Silvia even helped us in naming our house. Il Poggio Secco. (The Dry Hill) It's been a real fun journey along the way. Soon we will see the fruits of our collecting and sacrificing come full circle. The goal is to be in the house before Christmas. Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

We've Got Mail

We bought the iron mailbox in a little hardware store in Figlene Valdarno. We have another one for the pumphouse that we picked up at a statuary place on the Adriatic coast...I forget the name of the town, but I could tell you if I looked at a map. It was south of Ravenna. The wires come in pretty colors; but are better appreciated once they are safely tucked away behind the drywall, methinks.

Did I say how pleased we are with the work the masons are doing? Take a look for yourself. The stucco color is Sto "Canvas". 70% reflectivity. An important consideration here in Texas. Nice, though, don't you think?