Making Room

Colin and Terry check plumb on the hearth, which anchors the living room.

Colin and Terry check plumb on the hearth, which anchors the living room.

It’s ironic how the more one breaks up a large space, the larger it feels. As we build interior walls for this house and define the individual rooms, we can begin to imagine living there, entertaining guests, using cabinetry and furniture. The human scale makes one realize just how spacious the new home is.

Nowhere is this revelation more valid than in the living room, where we just framed the hearth that sets this room off from the front hall. This floating column, accessible from all sides, serves many purposes. It separates the living room without closing it off. It provides built-in bookshelves. It encloses plumbing chases to the second floor as well as the laundry chute. These last two functions proved crucial to laying out the walls: requiring holes through the ceiling or floor, they can’t interfere with any floor joists.

First floor plan - note location of the hearth.

First floor plan – note location of the hearth.

Upstairs, we made tremendous progress. The master bedroom and walk-in closet walls are built; the other two bedrooms and the bathrooms are taking shape. We need to consider utilities as we build, and install plumbing walls deep enough to hold a vent near any fixture. That means 2×6 construction, not 2×4. Helpfully, the second-floor bathrooms border wide exterior walls, and Terry suggested we put the vents in those walls since otherwise we’d have to build 2×6 interior walls and take floor space away from the rooms. It will be interesting to see how the plumbers run pipes when they arrive.

Interior wall raising on the second floor.

Interior wall raising on the second floor.

Back on the first floor, Carson and I tackled the tricky mudroom walls. The challenge here was working around all the other walls we’ve already built. We didn’t have enough space to build each wall on the floor, and we wanted to avoid toenailing to the top and bottom plates as much as possible. So we brainstormed some clever tactics to straight-nail as many studs as possible, like threading them horizontally through a previously-built wall, or twisting a newly-built wall through three dimensions while raising it. (Think of the diagonal of a cube: it’s much longer than any side). We squeezed the walls in under the pre-attached second top plates, framed around two windows, and now all the first-floor insulating walls are complete.

Carson straight-nails studs for a mudroom insulating wall. We had to work around existing walls.

Carson straight-nails studs for a mudroom 2×4 wall. We had to work around existing walls.

Close up of window rough opening, built into the insulating wall to frame the window tightly.

Closeup of window rough opening, built into the insulating wall to frame the window tightly.

Problem-solving and that “aha” moment rank high among the many joys of carpentry… and engineering, too!

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