I’ve had the heat on for several days now. Once the gas went in Howard (our plumber) came back that following Monday and bled an air bubble out of the system that had been halting our domestic hot water heater.
In the meantime I’d been doing the same with the air in the radiant heat loops, especially those of the upper floor. Very nerve-wracking as I’d had them pressurized for months and was quite confident they weren’t leaking, but when the water gauges register nil it makes one wonder.
My wife got a large hose and we ran water out of all these loops (the air dammed them and once gone water flowed), nine in all there’s at least a quarter mile of it where the bubbles could be hanging around.
Two Views of the Radiant Array
The splash sounds of when they finally all started flowing:
Gallons Per Minute Gauges in Action
These red lines are labeled by room- I think this is our bedroom and the guest room. The moment the air fully left and the levels stopped hopping Fantasia style I knew we were good. With the dials at these gauges you can sort of trim the sails of the heat, I think it’ll be pretty easy to get it just right.
Now days later we’ve been keeping the place warm, acclimating the wood to heat and possible movement. I’d wanted to wait in case anything went wrong and feel especially good about it now after speaking to our guy laying down the floor.
The sensation walking in the door, in addition to the odd warm dusty smell of heated drywall powder, is one of enveloping warmth. It’s pretty great- not the hot dry air I’m used to but it’s as if the moisture normally in the air is very present, almost a bird-conservatory sort of feel without being hot or damp. And it may be with the distorted sense the sudden warmth gives but it seems like the rooms hold the heat well- when opening the door to the porch or balcony it doesn’t feel like a swift departure of heat, hard to explain but more of an air-curtain-y feeling at the opening.
Here’s a comparison of radiant vs. convective heating systems:
Radiant Diagram via Autodesk Sustainability Workshop
Not only does it seems like a better choice for higher ceilings, but I read that the thermostat was set at 6 or 7 degrees lower in the radiant room of a room by room comparison of different heat types to attain the same level of comfort. Now the gas is on I’ve done a couple of loads of laundry there and some dishes. The sudden utility the gas brings is a bit like an easily prepared meal after camping.
Julio, our flooring contractor, was scheduled to come this morning about two weeks after this initial heat. In preparation over the weekend I was moving some boards around to look at patterns and direction. I’ve always enjoyed patterning, the way textures give different queues and thought it would be easier here but was left with a bit of a binary choice:
Boards Parallel to the Big Window
I intuitively liked this- the boards being square to the window gives it a privileged tack, but in order to go this route we’d have to transition somewhere or have a forced wonkiness to the kitchen- basically the 21 degree turn of the road to the lot lines would be writ largest across that small space. Part of patterning is just to make it all seem “normal”.1 This reverberation of the roadway’s skew might be interesting theoretically but I think would just feel forced. And the same skew would be present from the front door which feels odd. Lastly the stairs would seem to be sliding on this skew. None of this “activity” seems to be emphasizing anything interesting. It’ll only read against the window, the cut edges butting into it, but in fact most of this will be obscured by our dining table and chairs.
Boards Skewed to the Big Window
Here they’ll be normal to everything else. This is what we’re doing.
View Down Dusty Stairs
While thinking of the main floor I ran up and down the stairs to see if an afterimage of the pattern above would influence anything. It didn’t really. I’ll have the pattern at the landing continue “vertically” i.e. perpendicular to the stairs down to it.
View Up Stairwell
It seems the more regular everything else is the more you can see the angles.
It got me thinking about the rest of the cabinetry, and making it of the same rift sawn white oak eventually. I came across Melnikov’s house again:
Konstantin Melnikov Melnikov House 1927-1929 Moscow (photos by Richard Pare 2012)
Here, in his studio, the pattern of the floor is calming and brings your eye to the spectacle of the windows, and i think the muted palette is also effective.
Rift Sawn White Oak Up Close
Julio asked me if I’d looked through the wood to see if there were any stinker boards in there or any special attention he should be mindful of. In this case I usually cede to the professional- either I’d be there hand selecting each and every piece or need to step back which is all I’ve time for now. The wood by and large is very uniform. I like the way the grain connotes the Mission style furniture here in the Arroyo while the color in its honey straw paleness is good and light (unlike that heavy stuff). We’ll finish it with a transparent water based stain meant to keep the raw look intact.
I was disappointed in these when I got them. The 7 1/2″ wide boards would seem to merit something similar for the treads, but this is what we’ve got so I’m not going to sweat it. Julio noticed too but kept it to himself until I addressed his initial question about the lot.
More pictures to follow upon installation.
Eventually we’ll have a loft2 in our son’s room to free up floor space, and immediately we’ll cobble together some IKEA stuff to move in. But mid term I’m thinking of getting a table saw set up in the basement and making some cabinets- this is a double bed/single bed/wardrobe to fit in the corner. If it were of the same oak as the floors it’d be less busy than the pattern suggests.
1 Of course the point of making it look “normal” is to de-emphasize the skewed forms. I think the biggest mistake all the formalist emulators of Frank Gehry make is this lack of understanding of the fundamental structure/armature underlying the peripheral “moves”. And the same goes for those who see his work as primarily “wacky”- the dismissiveness prevents them from appreciating the underlying rigor. Disney Hall is likely his best riposte.
2 I made this loft for our friends’ kids and I’ve enjoyed seeing them grow up with them and hang out up there with their friends as young adults.
Red House Loft (photo by Iwan Baan)