Bathroom Design Tip: Choose Your Faucet First, Then Choose Your Sink

We learned this practical design tip from our plumber last week as our current bathroom project got underway: choose your faucet, then choose your sink.

Our plumbing contractor, Steve Howard, says this is because it is easier to find sinks to fit your style of faucet than the other way around.

There is so much work in designing a successful bathroom. Steve’s tip saved us time and possibly headache in the sink department. Try it on your next project.





Dave’s Exposed Fir Framing

Exposed framing can be a pleasure to live with. Not only is the wood’s color and texture beautiful, but there is something about seeing the structural parts of a house – the individual pieces working together to keep the weather off one’s head. Comfort, maybe, in the apparent strength of one’s shelter. Maybe it’s the depth in open framing and the shadows it creates. You decide. Here are a few photos of Dave’s fir sub-roof and knee braces:




Below there is a small piece of wood mortised under the beam to the left. It is also mortised into the post on the right and acts as a spline, or separate tenon:


Dave’s mudroom addition under the roof. The pet door is dedicated to Remy, yellow lab and top bird dog.




Log Home Maintenance

This summer we took on a log home exterior – a different kind of project for us but we enjoyed it and learned some important tips on log home maintenance in Montana.

Log homes have special needs because their structure is exposed to the elements – sun, wind, water, extreme temperature changes and even bugs. Ultraviolet exposure from the sun is the primary cause of log rot in places like Choteau, Montana, where it’s dry and sunny much of the time.

We found that all of these elements can be combated with the right kind of log finish. The best log finish will offer UV inhibitors, flexibility, breathability (some, but not too much), insect inhibitors and of course protection from rain and snow. We also learned that finishes with darker pigments offer better UV protection. If you own a log house, put this kind of armor on it.

We used a log and siding finish by Sikkens that we believe is outstanding. We’ll watch it perform over the next few years with great interest.

We consulted an excellent book for this project that log home owners should have in their libraries: The Log Home Maintenance Guide by Gary Schroeder.

The graying in these photos is ultraviolet damage:

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After two coats of Sikkens log finish and some trim paint:

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Exterior Renovation, Choteau, MT

Here’s a project currently under way:

Part of this home’s story is told here in rich evidence of past openings, building dimensions, roof lines, available building materials, insulation attempts and workmanship. There’s Dan’s signature above the old window – not sure who Dan was. Walls like this are pure art.


For a time, it looked like this:


Too bad the window’s gone but it is the north side, and it’s Choteau, Montana, wind and bad winters and all…

The next chapter in it’s history is being written now. Note the layer of rigid foam insulation wrapping the house under the new siding. Owner Dave (no relation to Dan) says it’s noticeably more comfortable inside already.


Wrap Around Porch, Choteau, MT

This is Sam and Noy’s new porch. It is covered by a roof on the west side and open to the skies on the south. We built this out of Douglas Fir entirely. The posts, beams, knee braces, rafters and subroofing (exposed 1×10’s) are left rough from the mill to add texture to the warm color of fir. The deck planks are conventional fir 2×8’s, smooth to walk on and stout. This porch faces the Rocky Mountain Front, and may be one of the best places in the world to sit and have a sandwich. Sam slings his hammock here.

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We recalled our timber frame heritage to attach knee braces. Exposed joinery and curved braces go a long way to enrich the finished product:


Front Range Kitchen


Here’s a kitchen taking shape for Sam and Noy’s renovation. Right at the start of the design phase they said, “No upper cabinets, just windows!” So we gave them a bank of square windows that wrap around the kitchen corner and cap the hand-painted tile backsplash. We built in a huge butcher block under the windows to handle the knife work, and a wide bar top serves everyone who wants to eat, drink and chat with the cook. The six skylights above add ample daylight to the room and are outfitted with solar-powered electric blinds. Press a button on the remote, and the blinds power themselves open or closed, keeping things cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

We had some rusted metal left over from the roof so we paired it with cedar to finish the peninsula:



We like rusty metal so much that we edged the countertop with it (we coated the metal with polyurethane so it wouldn’t rub off).