Monday, April 27, 2009

More reclaimed material

After a long search, we recently secured a set of reclaimed bluestone steps for the front entry. And after an unexpected phone call, we were able to attain some sizable slabs of slate for the rear yard as well.

The stone steps for the front entry are Pennsylvania Bluestone, a fairly soft stone that polishes up beautifully. Originally, they were the entry steps (two steps and a landing) off another, larger house that was demolished. We purchased the set from Provenance Architectural Salvage, who also has a tremendous selection of other reclaimed material as well. The best thing about the steps is that they are over 4 ft wide. The existing steps at the Montrose House were removed a long time ago and brought to a marble shop on Washington Avenue to be refinished. The only problem we saw with reusing them on this project is that we now have a larger front door (over a 3 ft wide opening) and the old steps were only about 33-34" wide. We never felt it would look right to have a door wider than the steps. Locating salvaged steps wider than 36" turned out to be a more difficult search than we originally imagined.

As for the original Montrose steps?? Well... they are actually going to be installed in front of our own rowhouse, which has 2 steep concrete steps. Because our doorway is only 31" wide (real fun for couches!) the Montrose steps will work nicely. And we will always have a reminder of the project.

The images below show us loading up the stone steps at Provenance. They needed to be loaded with a forklift as each step weighs about 400-500 lbs and the landing is around 1,000 lbs. We will be cutting the steps down to an even 4 ft in order to get rid of some of the broken edges.

Also, our new sidewalk is now poured and the stormwater planter is framed out. More on that in an upcoming post.

Now you can see in the image on the bottom right that the steps are resting on some other stone. Well...last week, through a connection from an artist friend of ours, Andrew Jevremovic of Octo Studio, we were able to get a hold of some beautiful old slabs of slate. Andrew is currently working with another designer to help renovate a bar at the corner of Girard Ave and Montgomery Ave, and they alerted us to all the extra slate from the demo that they needed to get rid of but wanted to go to a good use.

Well, it just so happens that we have been mulling over paving ideas for the rear yard at the Montrose house. So, off we the rescue! Of course, this venture turned out to be no easy task. You see, the slabs were all about 2 ft x 3 ft and about 3" thick, each weighing 200-300 pounds or more. It would not have been that difficult except that all the stone was in the basement of the bar and was the old floor that they had broken out. The only way out was up a narrow old stair. When I got to the site, I was initially hoping that the slabs would be larger for paving purposes, but then I quickly realized that if they were any bigger, I don't think we could have carried them.

Below are some pictures of Justin, Merlin, and me loading the slate slabs out of the building and onto the truck. And then back at the house, looking rather pleased to be unloading the last stone.

For the backyard paving, we have been going back and forth about what type of material to use...flyash cement pavers, porous concrete, a recycled material of some well as reclaimed stone. As time goes by, we keep coming back to the idea that a reclaimed material would be the most appropriate. Additionally, the rear facade of the house has a very clean, contemporary look with the vertical running bond fiber-cement panels, so a more 'natural' feel to the ground treatment would balance out the overall feel of the space. Stay tuned for the final decision.

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