218) Fold-down Bed

by Gail on August 5, 2014

murphy bed closedAs I mentioned in this post, we’re working up to twenty beds in This Green House. The studio has already been used as an add-on bedroom (see this post: Make Your Own Bed) but we wanted something more comfortable and permanent.

After Rob the carpenter was here doing our “Sprint to the Finish,” I sent him back to his workshop with a detailed set of plans and the Lee Valley hardware for a Murphy Bed.

A short time later, Rob came back with all the components, and assembled them here. He was able to use our 80-year-old fir slats (salvaged from an old industrial building currently in use as a film studio) for the mattress support. murphy bed slats

After assembly, we took it apart so that I could paint it white.bed ready for paint

D and Tess and I reassembled the carcass and bed. (Some profanity ensued – it was challenging, to say the least.)

I shopped my studio for some fabric to cover the backrest and the ceiling of the carcass, and thought this stiff tie-dyed cotton that Tess brought back from Burkina Faso would be perfect.bed ceiling

After a bunch of cutting, sewing, gluing, and tacking, I got this look:wall bed open

I stuck one of my quilts on the back wall, so you only see it when the bed is opened. I think it’s kind-of a nice little secret.

And, when it’s closed, the bed only sticks out from the wall 16 inches.studio with murphy bed

I hope to make a bench to attach to the front, and will add a photo if that happens!


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217) Rainwater Harvest Waterfall Feature

by Gail on July 21, 2014


rainwater harvesting stream1

Whenever we tour new visitors around our house and yard (quite a common occurrence here), there’s a lot of interest in our water feature.

We have quite an elevation drop from the entry level to the back yard.before waterfall

So, to indulge ourselves myself with a luxury, we hired a rainwater harvesting contractor to build a waterfall and stone steps down to the lower level.

It’s not only pretty to hear and look at – it is practical, too. We harvest and store rainwater to flush toilets and to water the garden. The waterfall adds oxygen as it circulates the water through the system.waterfall pond.jpg

Although this post from four years ago gives a sketchy description of the cistern/waterfall set-up, I was never able to take pictures, because I was in Europe while it was being built.

But I have found some old photos taken by the builders (Endless Rain, no longer in business), and can now give a pictorial of how the water feature was built, and also how my plantings have matured – many tweaks four years in the making.

We chose heavy 24-gauge steel for our roof so that the rainwater would stay clean (and so the roof would last longer than we will!)house with metal roof.jpg

The eavestrough and downspouts drain into this filtered catchment basin. (I clean the filters by spraying with a hose twice a year.)catchment basin

From the basin, rain is carried to the pond, where it tumbles down the hill into our cistern.waterfall.jpg

This photo shows the excavation and hardscaping of the stream that preceded covering by a heavy-duty rubber pond liner, and more large stones on the edges.waterfall layout

Following is how the cistern was built. A large (11 feet square by 5 feet deep) depression was excavated.cistern excavation

Pump housing and a “centipede” were installed beside the cistern.tank and centipede

It houses a sump pump and a tank gauge to measure the water level.cistern guage

If the water level falls below 25%, there is a pump shutoff switch to turn the waterfall off to preserve the water for toilet flushing.pump shutoff switch

The cistern was lined with heavy-duty landscape felt, more of the pool liner, and more of the felt (we don’t want any sharp objects, like stones, to pierce the rubber.)

64 of these “Aquablox” (they remind me of dairy cases) were assembled and piled into the excavation, to hold the shape and size of the 2000-gallon cistern.Aquablox

Aquablox installedLandscape cloth, then 1″ gravel covered the Aquablox. The builders said the Aquablox were strong enough to drive a dumptruck on. I guess I will have to accept that claim, as I have no evidence to the contrary!covering cistern with gravel

This photo shows where the stream just disappears into the cistern, like magic.waterfall end

During the hot summers, when we have no rain for 3 weeks, the high demand for water for toilet flushing (more house guests) and garden irrigation will drain the cistern. Then, I have to put municipal tap water into the well. I think it would be better to have a second 2000-gallon cistern, because in the rainy winter months here, we could certainly fill both with rainwater. Any excess rainwater overflows into the storm water system.

From the cistern, a 1/2 horsepower pump pushes the water up the 12-foot elevation to the “Biofalls filter” behind the studio,

top of waterfall.jpg whence it falls back into the cistern, there to continue its endless journey, until it can be released into the garden or the toilets. After 3 years’ sporadic use (we don’t run the water feature full-time), that pump failed, and the manufacturer did not replace it (only 1 year warranty) nor give any concession for its poor service. But, because we knew it worked, we replaced it with the same model.

The on-demand pump and pressure tank for irrigation and toilets, housed in our crawl space,  pulls rainwater out of the cistern and into the house’s system.pond & toilet pump

Because it’s not potable/clean water, a separate plumbing system (using red pipes) had to be built during house construction, for the toilets.red and white plumbing

The original pump installed by Endless Rain (a Walrus TQ400 1/2 HP) was inadequate to lift the water 25 feet to all the toilets, so DHC Plumbing installed a different one that handles the task.

You can tell that this system has proven to be costly beyond expectations.

Here’s a “way” Before & After of the landscape:stream yard before & after

All in an effort to use less water in our Green home. No one ever said that building green would be cost efficient, that’s for sure!

After construction, but before any plantings:waterfall area from studio

Here’s a Before & After the plants have grown:before & after stream plantings

But at least we have this great waterfall as a real asset in our landscape. That’s nothing to sneeze at.waterfall2.jpg

rainwater harvesting stream.jpg

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216) Patio Plantings

June 24, 2014

Our patio has been functional for a few months now, and we have even had a few pizza parties. I haven’t yet reported on the plantings around it, so this post outlines my rationale for the landscape design. It’s a challenging slope – maybe 50 degrees. WWOOFers (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and I have […]

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215) S.T.T.F. Final Day (11) Loft Beds

May 28, 2014

I have told you about the construction of curtain frames for our loft’s twin beds. Rob, our Sprint to the Finish (S.T.T.F.) carpenter built them, as well as doors for the storage underneath. Inspired to re-create the romance of train bed berths, I asked him to craft valances from the same tongue-and-groove pine that we […]

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214) S.T.T.F. Day 10 (Loft Baseboards)

May 4, 2014

Of all the deficiencies in a house-build, nothing marks “unfinished” like the absence of baseboards.  We just never got around to it. So, in our Sprint To The Finish, we asked Rob to complete the baseboards in the loft. I painted all the primed 1×4 with a colour that matched the wool carpet. Much easier […]

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213) S.T.T.F. Day 9 (Loft Train Beds)

April 30, 2014

When our architect asked us how many bedrooms in this house, I responded, “Two bedrooms and twenty beds.” Most of the twenty beds are in the loft, where I see hosting bunches of guests, including grandchildren eventually (if I should live so long!) In the loft, we built bed platforms for two twin beds. TV viewers […]

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212) S.T.T.F. Day 8 (Guest Room)

April 24, 2014

Our Sprint to the Finish campaign is steady and productive. To begin with today, you may remember this staircase I painted last year: What the pictures didn’t show was finished drawers. I had some trouble getting the painted drawer fronts attached to the installed drawers. They restricted the smooth opening by scraping on the treads, […]

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211) S.T.T.F. Day 7 (Wood box cover)

April 16, 2014

A quick report on our house finishing (“Sprint to the Finish”) today. The basement casement is finished. This window brings light into the basement hallway.Here’s a worm’s eye view from the floor: I even cleaned the windows. Who knows when we’ll ever climb up there to deal with spider webs and dust again? And, outside, […]

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210) S.T.T.F. Days 4-6 (Door closings and window trim)

April 11, 2014

I haven’t been doing a daily update on our Sprint to the Finish, because it’s turned into a Limp to the Finish. There’s not much progress, at least to the casual viewer.  The thing is, finishing tasks can be all blood and no glory. Take these persnickety old doors and their truly awkward hardware, for […]

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209) S.T.T.F.- Day 3 (Door Closings!)

April 5, 2014

So, we hit the number one priority today: putting latches and locks on bathroom and bedroom doors. At one point, Rob said “this is taking so long.” I told him it’s taken us three years, and so in comparison, a couple hours to figure out how to handle these old doors and their hardware is […]

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