Posts Tagged ‘concrete’

We are excited.

Photo by John McBride

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I thought I’d shared a couple more photos of a recent remodel project. This Berkeley house was built with no way to get to the backyard except through the house or from the neighbor’s driveway.  We decided to add a pair of dutch carriage doors on the back side of the garage so that there would be a direct connection from front yard & driveway to back. The owners will probably use the garage as a room, rather than a garage, but the design allows for a variety of interpretations (In this mild climate we don’t really need heat to make a room into living space 3/4 of the year or more)  The existing concrete slab was polished smooth and shiny for a practical upgrade.

Photos by Nancy Kalter-Dills, Contractor credit to Steve Coleman.


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More action shots! This one is the start of a complete revamp of an early 20th century cottage.




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I stopped by my job site today to have a peek at the formwork for the curved concrete steps and landing at the back of the house. I was impressed by how quickly the pros got it done.

curved concrete formwork

curved concrete steps

I noticed that they contained the fill at the center of the pour with a metal mesh box. This way they could use much less concrete than if the landing and stairs had been solid.


Here are the steps today after they pulled the forms and finished the concrete:


I learned that the concrete cost around $900, the integral color (slate green) cost $1600, and the labor to form and finish was about $2000.

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Sparkly Concrete

Its hard to get a good photo of sparkly concrete, but I’m sure you’ve all seen it on a sidewalk somewhere. Some people call it “urban sparkle”

A few years ago I tried to find out how to make it for my own house. I tried mica flakes, but it didn’t shimmer like I was hoping. Recently I searched the internet again and found several sources for sparkly sprinkles to add on top of still -wet concrete:

Sparkle Grain is an eye-catching, black or white sparkle, concrete finish for interior or exterior concrete surfaces.  Specifically designed for light to heavy usage on sidewalks, steps, ramps; in shopping centers, houses, garages, and stores; and in wineries, schools and public buildings.
Sparkle Grain also adds slip-resistance to concrete, which also means increased wear resistance compared to untreated concrete floors.

US Concrete Materials LLC

“Concrete Shake-on to produce a decorative, glitter surface that is hardened, non-dusting, and non-slip.
(Also for “General purpose polishing, lapping, blasting, compounds, vitrified and resinoid wheels, primarily for grinding and finishing non-ferrous and non-metallic materials.”)

Next time I’ll be ready!!!

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I just returned from a field trip to Seattle, Washington.  We visited one of my favorite buildings of all time,   The Seattle Main Public Library by Rem Koolhas,  to see how it is holding up.  It is now 7 years old and still looks great. Very raw and utilitarian…but nicely detailed to be comfortable and functional too.  This building makes me realize that it is sometimes worth the effort  to stick to your guns and convince the client to do something really different.  There is nothing conventional about this building.

We also visited Ellie Sherman at the Whidbey Institute.

She lives in a tiny cabin – about 7’x8′.

It is very cozy inside. I wish I had a photo.  There is something really nice about bedrooms just barely big enough for a bed, some clothes, and some books.

The Sanctuary is another nice building at the Whidbey Institute:

Also, on Whidbey Island, we collected a feast of clams and mussels.

We had a good local guide who shared his secret mussel patch with us.

When we returned, I took a nap in my friend Jason’s tiny retreat on wheels, only slightly bigger than Ellie’s cabin, but it contains a bed, and table for two, and a kitchenette. (you can see it here in the background behind Jason and Rosalina)

And then we cooked clams in Tofty’s  yellow kitchen

John sips wine while Jody and Vina tend to the clam sauce

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