Jun 23, 2013

What's up, downstairs?

We are quite satisfied how the atrium terrace deck turned out, and as a result we seem to be spending much more time outside than before. Now, the next step is to furnish it before we can launch the barbecue season, as inviting friends over for some Sloppy Joes and cold beverages has been the plan since the day one!

In the meantime, things are progressing downstairs. At the moment the progression is mainly demolition by professionals, as we have neither sufficient knowledge regarding some specific tasks nor the manpower required. Anyhow, as an update we would like to show you some before and after shots and share a few interesting details regarding the project. Perhaps afterwards, you will have a little bit better understanding what we are trying to achieve here!

A pile what was previously our suspended ceiling

Some of you might remember Minna's recent organising spree in the storage room. She also labeled all the boxes with Dymo to facilitate finding whatever one might be looking for more easily. We already knew back then it would only be a temporary solution because sooner or later, the story of the storage room would come to an end. So now, all our neatly organized belongings have been moved to a different location (that alone would make a funny story - let's just say it was done in the last minute and in the middle of the night).

Storage room before

And after the explosion!

We used to use this space as a storage, but originally it was built to be a cold room. The previous owner had converted it to a regular storage and thus a metallic cover layer reflecting cool air from the walls had already been removed. What was left in place was the original wall insulation - a 10 cm thick layer of hay mixed with a blend of water and cement. Quite convincing, isn't it?

Hay & cement

A curious detail of this room is an opening to a secret (of course, not that secret anymore) underground world. By removing the hatch blocking the maintenance entry, one can crawl to an unused underground space conveniently located under our apartment. The space is quite large, approximately about 70 square meters, and currently full of construction junk from the sixties. One day, budget and permissions from the municipal allowing, we hope to somehow utilise all this extra space.  

Those of you who are into "serious" renovation might find the following interesting. This project has a great variety of different hard core, muscle demanding stages: transporting away several truck loads of construction junk, blasting and exploding solid rock, dealing with drainage and possible radon exposure, preparing and casting a cement floor,  building new walls with water insulation, redesigning and crafting electricity and ventilation etc. So yes, basically building a "sub" apartment inside an apartment.

Deep down in the underground

Currently, the storage room is relatively clean. It has been stripped down to bare brick and all the junk has been carried away. So the space is ready for the big guns to arrive.

Stripped storage

The next phase of the plan is to knock down the walls in order to create an open lounge area, which allows the downstairs to open up. Even if our living room upstairs is quite spacious, we want to create an open space downstairs as well. Downstairs lounge, approximately 30 square meters in size, is planned to host different entertainment pieces, such as for example a piano and TV (maybe as an indication of some degree of maturity, we are thinking of moving the TV downstairs). The area is also meant for chilling out after sauna or kids to play. The space will also have an entry to a back terrace (yet to be designed and built) and to the backyard garden.

A space too bare for bone hiding

As the last renovation of this space had been done back in the seventies, there was a valid concern regarding asbestos. We actually had to send both a wall and floor tile including fixative to a laboratory to be analysed for asbestos before the tile removal could begin. Luckily, there was no sign of asbestos detected and we were given a green light. 

Now all the floor tiles and most wall tiles are gone and the floor has been grinded. Next, a steel-made I-beam wall-to-wall support for the ceiling will be constructed. Only after this, the walls of the storage room can be destroyed. So yes, we are serious!

Current situation

What can also be detected from the previous picture is that our beloved arch is also finally gone! The staircase will be disassembled and sent for sanding and painting. The old wall panels are to be ripped off from the whole height of the staircase and the walls will be smoothed and painted white.

Arch FINALLY gone

Pekka has also started designing the downstairs lighting, so that the lights would best complement the colour and material selections we are contemplating. The leading idea is that whereas upstairs is the place for some of the more delicate pieces, downstairs should be an area where in the future our little daughter can invite her friends to play and hang out, and we don't have to worry about them (ab)using the place. Therefore, it is quite fair to say that one of the key design drivers in downstairs is usability.

As there is a door downstairs leading to the garden a direct way for sand, mud and other organics to rush in is created every single time when the door is opened. Clearly, whatever we choose for the floor material, it needs to be able to handle the wear, tear and dampness entering with those materials. Conveniently, there is a classic floor material linking directly to the mid-century modern era - a slate floor, resistant to anything! 

Lately Pekka has driving himself to the brink of madness thinking (and rethinking, and rethinking) about the different options available - should it be which slate, which colour, monochrome or multi tone, geometric or natural layout, dark or light, thick or slim, smooth of rough, only inside or also outside or..? Once again, so much huffing and puffing Minna has wisely taken a step back until the top three choices will be presented for her for evaluation. Without a doubt, we will return to these later...!

Urho "pointing out" some slate samples

Jun 20, 2013

The Deck, part II

Lately, the weather has been quite rainy - some would even describe it as the typical Finnish summer weather - and thus we have had to put the deck assembly on hold for a moment. Now, when the sun is back again we are also ready to continue!

Half way there

With the project advancing, we have been delighted to see that the ProFi system really seems to be a very well designed. Once you have constructed the base and got the first deck board right, the rest of the the installation is easy. Basically, you really need only three things: deck boards cut to the right length, Profi clips and a screwdriver. Straightforward and uncomplicated!

Clips and things 

Another great example of ProFi's inventive thinking is the rail step. It is a piece designed to enable the building of terrace steps and edges quickly and without any special skills. Instead of building steps, we used it on all the edges of the deck as it outlines the deck in a very elegant manner.

It is also environmentally appealing that the material contains a recycled component, in other words some self-adhesive label materials made of paper and plastic, which is surplus from UPM's label stock production. It can be seen as small white "bits" in the deck boards.

The rail step defining the edge

Half way there

There are quite a few quite large trees nearby our terrace. Both pines and birhces are really pleasant to look at and yes, typically Scandinavian. However, the downside is the amount of "junk" that they produce from Spring to Autumn. Had we chosen a conventional deck material, this might have been an issue as the leaves and needles would get stuck under the deck. This has been also resolved in the system as you can add rubber strips between the boards to create a closed surface decking.

Rubber strips going in

In the two outside corners of the terrace are drains, which needed to be left open. Therefore, the deck corners around them were customised to conform the shape of them.

Customised corner

Urho just loves hanging outside at the terrace. Therefore, throughout the whole process he has been quite keen on supervising the installation. Understandably, he needs to make sure that no corners are cut, especially something which would compromise his comfort and well-being.

Hmm, let's see..

..not bad at all.

So, is it now ready or what? Yes and no. The beautiful deck is there, but now it is the time to start thinking about how to furnish it. The Bubble chair is a good starting point, but it seems quite lonely in the middle of the otherwise empty 25 square meters. A barbecue, comfortable sofa and low table are the necessities to start with, but what else. Once again, there are so many appealing options to consider! Fantastic!

Lonely Bubble

Jun 13, 2013

Thank you, Brick House!

It is about the time to tell you how it all got started. Since forever, Pekka has been keen on antiques and interior design. And since forever, he has been driving Minna crazy with his endless huffing and puffing over the topic. Before one project would be finished, the next big idea had already been born in Pekka's head. Finally, Minna just gave up and decided to enjoy the ride as well - if you can't win them, join them!

Much of the inspiration, of course, comes from the virtual world. Indeed, one of the first design blogs we ever started to follow with great enthusiasm was a blog called the Brick House, written by Morgan from Hemet, California. The blog is an inspiring combination of high quality pictures and enjoyable, witty narrative. So we are not only recommending you to check it out, but also would like to sincerely thank Morgan for being the blogger "role model" for us. After enjoying the work of other bloggers, we eventually decided to start a renovation / restoration / interior design blog ourselves. And what would be a better way to get started than to purchase an apartment desperately in need of some serious work.

Chilling out

Urho is also expressing his special thanks to Morgan for including shots of His Royal Dachshundness in her recent post "RENOVATE IT". The whole Olive Green Window team really appreciates the kind words and attention, and promises not to run out of projects any time soon!

The Deck

So exciting! The deck material for the atrium terrace has arrived! And the timing is perfect - the sunny summer weather just makes you want to spend time outside, so the motivation to complete the atrium terrace is rather high. Just like the laundry room trilogy, the atrium project will be a series of three, and we are excited to tell the first part!

Like declared previously, we are pretty much 100% wood people. Wood as a material is very inviting, with its pleasant looks, texture and smell. Indeed, there are very few materials as Scandinavian as wood. However, when designing the terrace deck, we soon realised it would be smart to consider other alternatives besides wood. First, one of the downsides of wood is that it needs to be treated every year. Considering the stress caused by rain and harsh winters, and the low likelihood of our eagerness to commit to annual care, wood really would not survive that long. Additionally, as our little daughter is currently moving around on 4x4 mode, we wanted to minimise the time used removing splinters from her hands and knees.

UPM ProFi composite

So, after some research we found out about composite - an intriguing alternative for traditional wood. It is important to emphasise composite is neither plastic nor wood, but rather an alternative, completely new kind of material. Quite soon we also learned that all composite producers have their specific blends, and thus the properties of each composite is a bit different. So we had a bit of a challenge - if one composite is different from another, how do we make the right choice that best matches our needs?

Eventually, we decided to go with the UPM ProFi. And why? First and foremost, once installed ProFi is pretty much care free. Second, it is available in several different colours. Remember how Pekka is pretty picky regarding the color palette of our home, and this gave him possibility to choose from different options. Third, ProFi has a closed surface, which means that if there is an unfortunate spill of e.g. oil from the barbecue (which is the next item on our wish list), the oil won't be absorbed by the material, and you can just wipe the mess off. This is a clear advantage when compared to the other composites in the market.

Which color do you prefer?

Before we could begin the installation the terrace, the original tiling needed some serious prework. On top of and in between the tiles there was a thick layer of moss from the past years which we didn't want to just hide underneath the deck. Down on his knees, it took Pekka two days and three steel brushes to scrub off all the moss and other organic stuff.

Off with the moss

Over the weekend, we had invited over some relatives to celebrate our daughters first birthday. Quite conveniently, some of them were smoothly integrated to the renovation process, the major contributor being Pekka's father Kari. He is currently finalising their brand new house, and thus has a pretty impressive selection of tools, which obviously were really helpful in this project as well. We probably would have managed just with the local resources, but Kari's help, expertise and tools were warmly welcomed and thus we owe him our sincerest thanks!

Right tools for the job

After prepping the tiles it was time to start the installation of the deck. The warm summer day naturally provided a great excuse for a few installation beers, which are always a foundation for a good teamwork for Kumpula & Son. As thermal expansion was known to be a feature of ProFi, the team made sure to take it into account both in measurements and working conditions.

Kumpula & Son at work.

In every project, someone needs to be in charge. And yes, this task was naturally assigned to Urho. At this point, the lengthy little sausage seems to have a great confidence on his team, as he did not chose to do so much observing, but rather relied on the haptic experience.

Taking just a small break

Actually, Kumpula & Son took some time the previous night to get themselves familiar with the installation instructions. The instructions (including a step by step video) on the UPM's site are really clear and straightforward, and describe the process in a logical, easy to follow manner. First, you build a frame. We chose to use ProFi support rails, (the other option being a timber frame) and surprisingly quickly - only in half a day - the supporting frame was in place.

ProFi support rails in place

This was a good time to take a little break, and focus on birthday celebration for a while. As by the end of the day, the first two boards were already in place, Urho thought it was time to perform the first quality check. Fortunately he gave the team a green light to continue the next day (to be continued).

What do you mean I'm not taking my duties seriously?

Jun 5, 2013

Summer preparations

We are not at all "plastic" people. Instead of plastic, we usually prefer natural materials such as wood, leather and metal as building blocks of our home. However, now when the summer is here we really wish to spice up the atrium terrace, one way or another.

So far, we have made a decision regarding the terrace floor material (more about it later), but right now we would like to introduce one of the key elements of our beloved terrace, the Bubble chair by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio for Adelta (1968). Some of you might remember it from Final frontier, when we had it stored away during the winter. Now, in the heat of the summer (+30C) it is definitely a perfect time to bring the Bubble out to the sun light.

Eero Aarnio is not only one of the most well known Finnish designers, but definitely an international design star of the pop culture era as well. He is known for numerous products made of plastic, including e.g. the Ball and Bubble chairs. Where the Ball chair has a composite structure (fiberglass & resin) the Bubble is made of acrylic. The material is first heated and subsequently blown into a shape around a steel ring. Ours is vintage (naturally), but as the chair is still in production, a new one can be purchased online through Eero's official web shop.

Bubble dog

Just like so many other pieces in our collection, our Bubble was found from an auction house. As it is an old piece, the years were visible on its surface. When it arrived, the surface was full of light scratches and to an untrained eye the situation might have seemed hopeless. Indeed, plastic can be problematic especially when used in lights where the light source (e.g. incandescent bulb) heats up the plastic and over the years makes it fragile. This is actually the reason why there are not so many vintage plastic lights in our home. For our delight, the situation with the Bubble is different. The acrylic is rather thick and fortunately the scratches are only very light.

The trouble

To bring the plastic surface back to its shine, Pekka chose to use Farecla paste compound.

The solution

The drill used in here is not actually able to provide sufficiently high rpm's, so in truth the work was mostly completed by hand rather than with the aid of a power tool. What one really needs is a tool much more powerful in terms of rpm's than a regular hand drill. Whichever way you are approaching the challenge, it is important to start slowly by adding paste and water simultaneously as you work through the scratchy surface.

Power(less) tool

Again, we are very happy with Pekka's persistence and the achieved outcome. And so is Urho. Well, it has to be admitted some of Urho's poses do require some preparative work and command words, but in the end he actually does not mind at all. He stays put more or less relaxed as long as it takes to get the shot done, because he knows that afterwards he always receives his favourite treat. It is all about incentives, right?

They made me stay here

As a final picture to conclude this posting, we need to throw in another one of Urho. In his last few appearances, Urho's view of the world has been somewhat inverted, so it is only appropriate to complete the trilogy!

Let me just...

Jun 3, 2013

Launch of Project Downstairs

You might have thought it was the atrium we were currently focusing on - so did we! But, sometimes plans evolve along the way, and while we were waiting for a the terrace materials to arrive, to keep ourselves occupied, the Project Downstairs was initiated.

During the next few months, downstairs will experience a complete facelift including ripping off some supporting walls (yes, we do need to add a steel beam), replacing a window with a larger one and adding a glass door, getting rid of the arch, opening an entrance to the underground space (we'll explain this later), redoing the staircase and getting rid of the floor tiles and suspended ceiling. So basically - everything. The vision we have is both ambitious but at the same time very realistic, and we believe it will be quite nice once finished. You will see, sooner or later - just stay online with us!

Most of the work so far has revolved around planning (including applying for the permits from the municipal), but some concrete actions have already taken place. In other words, the demolition has already begun, and the speed of professionals is amazing. The ceiling and the insides of the storage room were gone just in two days. Now the status is "to be continued" - as soon as we get the lab results back (concerning possible asbestos)...

Here we go again...!