Saturday December 7, 2013
Almost. A new service from Google called Helpouts has currently about 129 home remodeling specialists in the fields of plumbing, HVAC, windows, roofs, design, and general home improvement--poised and waiting to speak to you.
Being Google, this isn't in-person but via webcam. The Google end of the service is free, but specialists may charge fees up to $240/hour (there is no fee cap; this is the highest rate I was able to find). Specialists do not work for Google.
The free advice is OK, nothing spectacular. I lobbed easy questions at the free specialists, and they handled them with ease. I slammed difficult questions at them, and I got generic responses.
I recommend going with the free experts so that you can familiarize yourself with the Helpouts system. Perhaps they might be able to answer it, who knows? If not, try one of the less expensive Helpouts experts (I consider anything above $100/hour excessive for a web cam-based advice service).
Wednesday December 4, 2013
In September, when I first received the review copy of Back To The Cabin by self-described "Cabinologist" Dale Mulfinger, no one in this household was feeling very cabin-y at all. Even here, the Pacific Northwest--prime cabin territory--the weather was balmy and sunny. Daylight Savings had not yet ended. Looking at a book of cabins at that time felt a bit like buying snow chains in July.
Now, with smoke wreathing chimneys and ice blanketing roofs, the idea of being in a cabin in the Olympics or Cascades, or up near Whistler, BC, sounds quite appealing.
Mulfinger hails from Minnesota, another hotbed of cabins. While he is an architect of high pedigree--educated at University of Minnesota, Principal Emeritus at a Minneapolis firm, and even complete with those round Philip Johnson glasses that architecture schools seemingly give out to every graduate--his background is one of a solid "cabin guy" having grown up on a dairy farm, whose "rural landscape and vernacular architecture...informed his many designs," according to his firm's bio.
Back To The Cabin, with its lavish photos (250+) and illustrations, is eye candy for anyone who has grown weary of the city and longs for a simple life of smooth river stones, rough-hewn logs, and warm, flickering lights.
It's a great book for cabin purists who insist on those rustic chimneys and bent-wood furniture--in particular, I'm thinking of Jim and Mary Krook's 1937 Wisconsin cabin, which is everything purists dream about.
The book also raises eyebrows: a shipping container turned "cabin," stocked with all the modern conveniences? Really?
But I think Mulfinger does this intentionally, to challenge our stock ideas of what a cabin should look like. So what if a cabin doesn't have those blasted river stones? What if it doesn't conform to a Disney ideal of "cabin." Does that make it any less a cabin?
A great book to get someone with a fever for a cabin. It's from Taunton, regularly costs $34.95 (though I notice it's currently listed at $26.21, 25% off), not a bad price for a large-format, hardcover picture book running 250 pages. Free shipping, too. It's found here:
Back To The Cabin by Dale Mulfinger
Image: © Taunton
Tuesday December 3, 2013
They're a bit ungainly, and when you're installing them, you think: "Isn't there anything better than this?" Then, two weeks later, you forget that they are there. What are they?
Floor transition strips.
Not sure if you have any? You probably do. You've just incorporated them into your idea of what a house should look like and have effectively put them out of your mind.
The one pictured here is called a multifloor transition strip and it's actually the only one that I would recommend not buying because you end up paying for parts you may not need.
For instance, you may just need a T-shaped transition (the part on the upper-right of the photo) with its accompanying base piece. The other two pieces just become expensive firewood.
Monday December 2, 2013
If you're looking for unique retro/vintage cabinet hardware, of course there's always Craigslist, Etsy, and Ebay. But are there any established online retailers that offer this sort of thing?
Yes, but not many.
Rejuvenation Hardware and Robinson's Antiques are two prominent online companies that offer an ever-shifting collection of hardware. The fun thing about these two sites is that they keep changing.
As an example, the bakelite Art Deco pull shown here, offered by Rejuvenation, is part of a limited stock of NOS (new old stock) pulls. When they're gone, they're gone forever--until a new batch happens to come Rejuvenation's way.
Image: © Rejuvenation Hardware