The Third Floor
This part of the tour gets tricky.
You see, now I have to tell you the primary reason for the remodel. There’s no way to get to the basement without going outside.
Especially since I’m installing that “See-Mint Pond,” there just has to be a way to get there.
I hired an architect to figure this one out. At first I thought I wanted an elevator. My ceilings are high, and there is more than the 8.5 feet between floors. then, once you’re in the back yard, you still have to go upstairs to get into the basement.
Let me show you what I mean.
Let’s go out my bedroom door onto the middle level of the deck, and head down.
It’s very dark out here at night. Because I’ve been planning this remodel almost since I bought the place, I haven’t yet put lights out on the stairs that go to the basement level. That makes it even more dangerous than it is in daylight.
Remember the outside view of the deck stairs with the wood piled under them? That’s about 9′ tall. Jack’s about 5’10,” so you can sort of see here what I mean.
So: the treachery of darkness, the steepness of the yard, and rain and other bad weather all combine to make it not just inconvenient for there to be no interior staircase to the basement, but downright dangerous.
Thus, the remodel. It’s to install a staircase and the attendant basement hallway. Since I’m going to be breathing drywall dust, I thought I’d do a couple other things at the same time, but more about that later.
For now, Jack’s really excited about showing off his basement. Not only did he agree to clean it up for you, he even posed willingly for the pictures. Go figure!
The door goes to what we refer to now as “Jack’s Basement.”
Oh, who am I kidding? It will be “Jack’s Basement” as long as he’s living at home, and maybe even longer.
I lack a fish-eye lens for my digital camera, and Tallulah LeDeux hasn’t yet made it up to Little Rock to snapshoot my digs, so imagine, if you will, this picture and the next one side by side.
Jack’s basement in a very long room, with his desk and computer at one end and his bumper pool/poker table at the other.
There are only two relatively small windows, something that will change when the remodel happens – I plan to line that wall with windows just like the living room two floors up. Then I’ll hang black-out curtains, similar to what are in my bedroom, so that Jack can keep it dark in there when he wants to sleep in.
Yes, despite having a bedroom elsewhere in the house, on weekends Jack prefers to sleep on a futon in the basement. He has a pair of them that each makes into a single-size bed, so he can have a friend over, too.
Behind that attractive and much revered poster from the movie “Snakes on a Plane” (IMHO, one of the worst – yes worst – celluloid was ever wasted on) is a half bath. In the remodel, we’ll add a shower, and on the side of the wall facing the room will be an icemaker connection.
When he’s older, and gone, I will probably install a wet bar down here. By that time it will be Mom’s basement, not Jack’s basement, and I will want certain amenities. This room will be where the cabana boys hang out. Right now, the cabana boys are not old enough to drink alcohol, so I will eliminate some temptation and wait for the wet bar.
In the meantime, though, I want everyone to note what reading matter my resourceful son is studying these days.
Despite the new life forms evolving in and around the toilet, I am very proud of my budding young hero.
Back away from the bathroom, and take a look at the room from the other direction.
You see the poker table, the book cases which are overflowing and in which books are mostly double-shelved, and the beanbags, which were purchased with boys in mind but which a certain pair of dogs have laid claim to.
You’ll also see the wool Moroccan rug which was completely submerged during the flood of 2006. That rug used to be about 22×16. It’s smaller now. It’s also permanently stained with blue ink. When our dogs were puppies, they liked to eat pens. Mia ate a blue Pentel Rollerball on the rug. I realize it was in an attempt to introduce a little color into that dull white landscape of the carpet. I know it was just her compulsion for interior design leaking out of that pen. I know it was. And I refrained from beating her. Truly I did.
Jack wants you to notice all of the Star Wars figures standing around the room. He feels as though he’s among friends all the time because they join him in the basement.
It’s no accident that Padme stands near the TV.
Oh, and all those soda cans? Aside from being an ant magnet (“I rinse the cans out, Mom, I swear I do!”) they represent my offspring’s architectural impulses. It’s a pyramid. It’s art.
My son is a Star Wars geek, in case you didn’t realize that. He’s read all of the books, seen all of the movies, and can quote from the original trilogy. In fact, one of his favorite quotes is emanating from Admiral Ackbar right there on the wall. Go ahead and enlarge the photo. You’ll see.
This is Jack himself, in his usual pose. He’s playing Halo, or World of Warcraft, or Gears of War, or Assassin’s Creed, or something else that requires lots of shooting.
Of course, he’s opposed to war.
A Conscientious Objector.
That framed poster you see in the top right corner of the photo is one of Jack’s prized possessions. We bought it in New Orleans about 5 or 6 years ago. It’s a British movie poster advertising the re-release of the original trilogy, and it’s signed by Mark Hammill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and George Lucas.
At the other end of Jack’s basement are two closets. Well, only one closet actually remains. The second is not a passageway to my part of the basement: my workshop and the place where great changes will be made in the remodel.
This is all the “stuff” – the toys and tools and materials for what I enjoy doing down here in my dungeon. What is it I do?
I think there’s only one person I’ve told here in this online world, because he does something similar.
Sewing is sometimes involved in this hobby of mine. Sometimes.
Here’s part of it. See the log cabin? I built it. I’m in the process of making it look as realistic as possible, me and my Dremel and my paints.
Behind you’ll see a huge pile of dirt. More about that in a minute.
On the work table next to the log cabin is a project my youngest niece and I have been working on: her dollhouse. The walls are in the process of being painted.
Because I can never just do one thing at a time, I have a Victorian dollhouse I’m making as well. Yes, I will furnish these houses. I will make some of the furnishings and I will buy others.
I had great visions for that huge pile of dirt at one point. I envisioned model trains, snaking up and down the “mountain” through villages and forests that I would plant there.
Sadly, that project is not going to happen. instead, in the remodel. I plan to excavate that mountain – strip mine it for landscape stone – and make a room there. In fact, I plan to move my sewing room there, or make it into a bedroom. Since our house has only two bedrooms, it seems logical.
If I move my sewing room there then when I get around to remodeling the master bath, I can expand into the current sewing room for closet space.
On the right side of the picture, just off the actual part you can see, is a hobbit-sized door that leads to an unexcavated storage area. It’s where I keep the Christmas decorations. That’s right: the ones I’m not getting out this year because this year I’m Buddhist.
In the remodel, this area will be where the stairs from the middle floor end, and there will be a door cut through to Jack’s basement, right next to the closet I didn’t remove. This area will be excavated and become a hallway, with proper storage rooms off it and a door into my new sewing room or the third bedroom.
The architect and I really struggled with where to put the stairs. In an effort not to completely tear up the floor plan, at one point we thought about an elevator. Yes, really. This house is tall.
However, we then discovered that moisture was getting under the stairs and warping them. the existing stairs have to be rebuilt and the area underneath has to be waterproofed. Since we had to go under the topless turret anyway, the bright idea developed that we would simply continue the existing staircase all the way to the basement. We’re putting in another staircase directly beneath the existing one, after tearing out the existing one and making about three water and moisture barriers.
After the rains this week, I took a photo underneath the topless turret. this is what it looks like below ground level after a rain.
This is below ground level from the outside, but as you can see, the cliff on which my house is built demanded that the foundation be much lower on the inside than it is on the outside.
Wow. That’s kind of a Heinlein notion, isn’t it? Things that are a different size and shape on the inside than they are on the outside….
Those cinder blocks are the below-ground curving wall of the topless turret. And sadly, they are wet. The wetness is warping the wood of my staircase in a disturbing manner.
So that’s why the remodel, and what it’s going to consist of.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my house, my yard, my neighborhood, and my space. I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit.
Did anyone case the joint?
No comments yet.