Category Archives: The Healing Home

about a nightstand

I have a friend who during her pregnancies sets a deadline for when her husband has to be done any and all home improvement projects.  She wants to be sure that he’s not working on anything at all in those last couple months/weeks, no stress, just as much relaxing together as they can fit in.  I’m kind of the opposite…more the rub my hands together with an maniacal gleam in my eye while saying, “so, what else do you think we can get done????  huh, huh, huh???” type.  Which is kind of hilarious since the me part of we is pretty pathetic in the renovation department at the moment.  Under the best of circumstances I can be pretty hardcore.  I’ve installed dishwashers, fixed washing machines, laid flooring, hung joists, hung drywall, poured concrete, scaled the roof to fix second story screens.  I’m game for just about anything.  At the moment, however, I can’t do any lifting, can’t be around paint or finishes and consider the physical act of climbing out of bed a somewhat daunting challenge.  Last week I had to ask Elijah to tie my boots for me.  So, yup, I’m a big help.  Picking out curtains, hanging pictures and maybe a bit of light sewing is pretty much my speed at this point.  Oh, and directing everyone else in what to do.  That’s totally in my wheelhouse.  Which doesn’t at all stop me from wanting to get things done.  Call it nesting if you like, but the truth is I’m pretty much always this way.

For my birthday this year I asked Steve to help me get our bedroom closer to “done”.  As a part of this project he built me a little nightstand.  After intense internal debate on my part and a fair bit of indifference on his, we went with the Ana White Rolling C End Table adjusted to fit our space. I like that it can be pulled over the edge of the bed to be used for writing or eating or anything else of that sort that comes up.

For a finish I just picked a stain that we had around because I didn’t really want to invest much money in it.  It ended up being very close in color to the floor and our bed frame and the co-sleeper, but not quite the same as any of them.  And you would think that would tie it together with the rest of the room, but somehow it just made it look out of place.  I can’t really explain it, but it just looked strange and somehow wrong.

Also, I didn’t like how the wood filler showed through the stain…

Can you see what I mean?

But it was still much better to have a table then to not and I do like it very much.  Then, oh then…the lovely folks at General Finishes offered to send me some samples to play around with…and suddenly there was a whole new world of possibilities.


a previously stated, I’m not really supposed to be around such things at the moment.  But man was I itching to try those out!  It got to the point where I finally bribed persuaded my eldest children to help me in exchange for compensation.  Win-win.

These past few weeks have been so dark and dreary that capturing accurate colors has been difficult, but this is pretty close.  This is the same table after 3 coats of Milk Paint in Somerset Gold.  The milk paint has a really beautiful finish, I can see myself using it for a lot of projects in the future.

After the milk paint we sanded the edges a bit and scuffed it up a little to give it a bit of character (and yes, I actually helped with this part).  Perhaps it’s a bit strange to distress a piece of furniture that has such a modern shape?  I just really felt drawn to soft, muted tones in this space.

Next came a layer of Glaze Effects in Van Dyke Brown.  And this is where I would really have liked to been able to work on it myself.  I tried as best as I could to describe the look I was aiming for and they tried as best as they could to do what I asked, but I still think it would have gone better if I had been the one to actually apply it.  After the glaze, the whole thing was topped with 3 coats of High Performance Top Coat.  I think it’s going to hold up very well.

You’ll have to wait for final room pictures to see it in place, but I think I like it.  It provides a gentle pop of color but without being jarring.


upstairs bath re-do, part I



This currently may well be my favorite space in the house.  Yes, the bathroom.  It’s just so calm and serene and (very important) everything is where it’s supposed to be.  No clutter.  Sun-shiny views of snow covered forests, offset by lush greenery inside.  Plus, unlike many of the other rooms in the house, it’s the right color.  While there may not be right and wrong colors in general, there are right and wrong colors for me and this one falls quite comfortably in the “right” category.

Paint Details:

Ceiling- Imagine .01

Doors and trim- Imagine .04

Walls- Water .02

All by Yolo Colorhouse.  The ceiling is a warm bright white.  The trim is a linen white that gives everything a classic, old-fashioned feel.  The wall color is extremely difficult to capture accurately, especially since it changes throughout the day, but it’s somewhere around the intersection of blue, green and grey; lovely and mellow and calm.

  The original exhaust fan in the bathroom was broken.  Since moisture and potential mold growth are a huge issue for us, replacing it was a high priority.  I finally settled on a Ventamatic NewVent light/vent combination fixture.  From their site; “The factory is 100 percent powered by wind generated power, 95 percent of all waste products are recycled and the packaging is of recycled cardboard.”  Sold.

Some other little fixes: we added in a towel bar and toilet paper holder.  I’m not really sure how the family of five living here before us didn’t have a towel bar, but there you go.  I didn’t want to spend the money to replace the light fixture above the sink, so I rigged it up to support a vintage tinted glass shade instead (a $6 investment).  A little basket from another part of the house corrals washcloths and hand towels.  Window wise I found the huge picture window, looking out over the woods, very peaceful, but the little one next to the sink faces the front yard and driveway.  I don’t even really think you can see into it from the outside.  But somehow from the inside, it felt less private then it should.  I liked the idea of these lacy window films, but worried about the safety of the materials used to make them and had no desire to pay $86 dollars to cover half of one small window.  One day I thought of some cotton lace I had leftover from another project.  With my tiny embroidery scissors I clipped the lace, following the edge of the pattern.  A little sewing, a bit of ribbon trim at the top (also from my stash) and a tension rod (less then $3), finished it off.  Much less expensive and perfectly safe.

  I’m still feeling a bit wish-washy about the plant holder.  I just made it a couple weekends ago and it doesn’t look quite how I pictured it, but I think it’s growing on me.

And what is that around our toilet you ask?  That, my friends, is our Squtty Potty.  Yeah, I actually typed those words together.  And I’m going to say more about it.  The way I see it, I have 3 young boys at home and a little girl who thinks that everything they say is brilliant, hysterical and well worth repeating.  In other words…I’m pretty much immune to any kind of embarrassment about potty talk.  And this is important, so someone has got to talk about it.  The theory goes, and this is supported by much scientific research, that human beings are meant to squat to eliminate.  It is amazing the number of problems that can be improved, prevented or cured with this one simple lifestyle modification.  Those of you who remember my Healing Home series, know that I am serious about creating a house the encourages health and wellness on all levels.  We have gut issues, there’s no getting around that.  Leaky gut, IBS, Celiac Disease, crazy food allergies, family history of stomach cancer, you name it.  I’m supposed to be going in for an assessment for possible Crohn’s Disease.  The combination of Elhers-Danlos and carrying/birthing lots of large babies means that I have all sorts of issues with prolapsed pelvic organs.  Not to mention the extra need to quickly and efficiently eliminate toxins from our bodies.  None of this is particularly pleasant to talk about, but there isn’t any way for other people to get help unless someone puts the information out there.  All of these things and more (hemorrhoids, anal fissures, constipation, colon cancer to name a few) can be helped or prevented with this one simple measure.  So, yeah, someone has got to say something because people are suffering and they don’t have to.  What’s more, we are raising generation after generation that are developing problems and in pain when they don’t have to be.  And I want more then that for my family.  Who knew I felt so passionately about such a thing?  Certainly not I.  Until I tried it.  And I can honestly say, it makes a big difference in our quality of life.  *Stepping off my strange soapbox now.*  For more information you can do your own searches on the web or check out the wealth of info on the Squatty Potty site.  For such a serious, yet taboo subject, those guys have quite the sense of humor.  Ours is the Squatty Tao Bamboo, which is actually on sale right now.  Call me crazy, but I actually like the way it looks in the room.  I think the bamboo adds an appealing, earthy element that breaks up all the white with a bit of warmth.  It’s a nice touch.  The kids all think it’s fabulous, as they no longer have to sit uncomfortably with dangling legs.  And it stays tucked out of the way, under the toilet for anyone who doesn’t wish to use it.

I think that about wraps up the bathroom tour.  Oh, except for Hector!  Hector the luna moth, named by Elijah (congrats to the .02% of you who actually got that joke).  That’s obviously an old picture, as we haven’t seen Hector in many months, but all summer long he took his daytime rest on our bathroom window.  I especially appreciated his efforts to color coordinate.

There is still a lot I want to do in this space.  A bit of custom built storage.  I might add some artwork, I might not.  There is still a vintage medicine cabinet up in the attic waiting to be fixed up and installed.  Steve wants to replace the floor some day but that is a long way down the line.  I’d love to replace the switch plates with something like this, but I’ve yet to find an excuse for spending nearly $30 on switch plates.  Steve is entirely convinced that there is no such excuse and so we live on with the plastic ones.  But it’s better.  Much better and time to move on to other more pressing projects.



Home for her is being wrapped in a woolen blanket, made by Mama or Me-Mom.

It’s diaper changes on a sheepskin by the fire and knowing that every day, Daddy will come and let her snatch his baseball cap.

Home is peek-a-boo under play silks when she’s fussy, with a different face appearing each time.

Home is the sound of the wind in the trees, the sound of children running, stomping, singing, laughing…

Home is waking up to smiles and kisses, joining hands with everyone for a blessing at mealtimes and snuggling under a down comforter between Mama and Daddy at night.

Home is a belly full of warm milk and sips of tulsi-rose tea from mama’s teacup.

Home is knowing that whenever the world gets too big or too scary, there is always a spot, just for her, on mama’s back.

Home is where she nuzzles her sleepy head behind the curtain of my hair.

Home is lullabies lovingly sung in boyish falsetto.

Home is balls of yarn to tangle and chase.

Home is the rhythm of a rocking chair, a nursery rhyme, a steady pat.

Home is a candle lit at dinner time.

Home is dreams and prayers softly spoken at the drowsy hours of twilight and dawn.

This blanket is the knitting project that was featured in my banner early in autumn. It’s one of the free patterns from the Project Linus site. The yarn is Cascade Eco+, left over from this project and that extra skein that accidentally found it’s way home with me back in February.


Little White Nest

That’s what Lucy Maud Montgomery (of “Anne of Green Gables” fame) called the bedroom of her childhood. It was a tranquil little spot for her in a home that offered few other pleasures. It was the one place she could call and make her own and she was very attached to it… or at least so says one of her biographies.

Over the past year or so, I’ve come to regard our bedroom as our own “little white nest”. It’s the perfect way to describe it really, for so many reasons.

Most unconventionally, and despite all of the head shaking of everyone around me (except for Steve who trusted my vision and of building in general, basically told me to do as I pleased and not listen to anyone else, no matter how many houses they had built or what guidelines they knew), when I designed this house, I made the master bedroom the smallest bedroom. It’s the counter part to the playroom on the floor below.

I wanted a true bedroom. It’s really just the right size for our bed and the co-sleeper and not much else. It’s adjacent to another “room” that’s something of a central meeting point for the second floor. All the rooms open out into this area and I envisioned it as kind of the communal living area of the upstairs. A place where I could go to rock a fussy babe, or read to one child without disturbing the sleeping sibling that they share a room with. A spot to do yoga in the morning and a place for any dressers or bookcases or anything that might typically go in a bedroom. Our closets were framed out in this space as well; one for Steve, one for me, and one for linens. That was the plan anyhow, though we never really got far enough to use the space that way.

The whole idea was to allow us to leave our bedroom as uncluttered and peaceful as possible. We tacked up unbleached muslin on the walls to keep little fingers out of the insulation. The fabric is actually very close to the color that I had planned on painting the room someday. The cathedral ceiling would have been wood though, tongue and groove.

Apart from our beds, this room holds Galen’s star mobile, made from the stars of his starry path and a little pine shelf that Steve made for me. After Màiri Rose was born I felt like I temporarily needed a small space for some diapers and burp clothes, that kind of thing. Once the little ones were older, and sleeping on their own, I figured a nightstand would be sufficient for Steve and I. The little bookshelf holds some diapers and covers and a couple of favorite books for bedtime reading. There is a space underneath for tucking slippers. On top lives my journal, the special birch bark basket that Galen was given at his blessing and the lantern that provides the only light in the room (apart from the windows, there is no wiring run in that section of the house).

I love this room. Even unfinished, it is by far my favorite bedroom that I’ve ever had. I’ve been meaning to take some pictures of it, to have, for a little while now. I kept thinking that I would make the beds up nicely and photograph it in the afternoon, when the slant of the sun fills it with golden light.

When I woke up this morning and laid in bed looking at the snow covered trees…it has large windows on all three sides and from bed you can watch the forest all around you… and it really struck me that I’ll only be waking up to this view three more times in my life.

I took these pictures in the early morning light. The sun doesn’t make it over the trees here until much later in the day. At this time of year it barely makes it over at all. There is a tiny boy sleeping in that rumpled bed. It’s fitting I think. I wanted to remember this home, in all it’s nuances, for the way we lived in it, and it doesn’t get much more lived in then that.


Autumn in the Playroom

These are some snapshots from our play area. It’s not really a room unto itself, but something of a room-sized alcove off of our main living area. It’s completely open to the rest of the main floor, but it also has it’s own defined space and it’s own feel. With all of my blunders in designing this house (and there were many), this room I did right. It works exactly as I envisioned.

It’s a space to be apart, but still near by. It can all spill out into the living area, but at the end of the day there is a specific place to tuck up all the toys, giving the grown-ups room to roam.

I was inspired to bring a bit of fall to the room this week. It was starting to take on a neglected air. I finally reinstated a nature table, albeit a very low key one. What few autumn books I could find are set out in a crate for easy access. I’m considering doing some selective unpacking to reclaim the rest. With pressed leaves in the windows and a row of pumpkins atop the kitchen set, it’s feeling considerably more festive.


A Little Public Service Announcement

Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe it will seem silly. Maybe people will feel defensive or hurt. Maybe these are things better left unsaid. These are the thought I was having as I sat down to type this. And were it just for my own sake, I wouldn’t be typing at all. I know that it’s just that people don’t understand. Or, and this part is harder, don’t believe. I accept that and take the well-meaning intentions behind people’s statements, full well knowing that they are truly doing their best to be a comfort. I also accept being considered a narcissistic twit at times by people who don’t recognize my very real and very valid concerns. But as I thought about things, I couldn’t help thinking, how will people ever understand if no one explains? So, full well knowing that is might be my own children, someday putting themselves out into the world and looking for support, I’m going to try to explain.

Telling a person with MCS that the loss of a safe home is “sad, but it’s only a house”, “easily replaceable”, “all you need is love”, and whatnot, is the equivalent of telling an insulin dependent diabetic that the loss of his source of insulin is sad, but not a big deal and everything will be just fine in time.

I’m sure you all know that I’m as sentimental as the next person, especially about my family and my home. And this situation does greatly pain me. We have shared many hopes and dreams here that we now need to abruptly set aside. And I want to speak to that experience and I want others to speak of it as well. I suspect that in the coming weeks I’ll be talking about that aspect a lot. But right now, I feel it’s important to clarify the potential health ramifications of this decision.

When we moved into this house, I was on oxygen regularly. It wasn’t odd for me to collapse of pass out after an exposure. Speaking was often difficult and would frequently send me into severe coughing fits that made it difficult for me to get enough air. There were times when I was too weak to hold a glass to my lips. I cut off all of my hair because it took too much strength to lift my arms above my head to brush it. I was bed ridden sometimes for weeks on end. I lived in a constant state of brain fog. There were times while I couldn’t remember basic words like ‘water’ or how to spell my own child’s name. Really it was more a matter of not being able to get my brain to communicate with my lips or my hand. There were times when simple tasks like doing up a zipper, seemed like insurmountable obstacles. I suffered from regular migraines and was exhausted and in pain at all times.

My children all developed food allergies to every single food that they have ever been tested for (or all but a few), which is a sure fire sign of immune systems on overload. Two children developed serious yeast infections which left the folds of their skin raw and oozing pus and blood. One child spent hours every night rocking back and forth banging his head on the wall. The same child started randomly vomiting for no know reason and baffled the doctors with his symptoms. One child could never get warm and was always fatigued. One child developed learning disabilities that there was no sign of before and became so violent and unpredictable that he was diagnosed as being bi-polar. The baby started spitting up blood through his nose. All of them developed ‘allergic shiners’. This was life for us before this house.

A healthy home is the number one most effective treatment for an Environmentally Ill person and without that, any degree of recovery or regaining of health is very limited, if it’s even a possibility at all. The health that we have managed to reclaim is entirely due to this house. Without it I’m not even sure that we would be alive right now. I know that sounds drastic but when we moved in here we were in a state of fear for our children’s lives. Surely the sacrifices that we have made show just how serious the situation was and without care, could be again.

We know that we can safely live here. We don’t know if that is true for any other house. The only way to know is by trying. But the kicker is this…once we leave, we can’t ever come back. We’ll be voluntarily foreclosing on these two houses. And once the bank takes them, they are gone. There is no turning back.

So when people say to me what a relief it must be to have made this decision, how comforting it must be to know that our ‘hard life” is nearly at an end, I feel my body tense a bit because I am absolutely terrified and there is no comfort in it at all. I know that we have to do this right now and I hope that it will mean a brighter future for us all, but the risk that we’ve been cornered into taking is not a small one. And this turn of events is not minor in any way; what we are loosing right now is not ‘just a house’.

I want to say this now, not because I want people to feel badly about belittling our situation. I know that everyone means well and wants to be a comfort. I hope people will always feel comfortable talking to me in this space and in life. I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to choose their words carefully or risk offending me, because you won’t offend me if your intentions are good. As I said before I welcome the sentiment of your words, even if you don’t really understand where I’m coming from. The reason I’m taking the time to share this now is the only way that life will become easier for people like me and families and children like my own, is if there is more awareness in the world.

In the spirit of raising awareness, if anyone has any questions about healthy homes or living with MCS, please feel free to post them in the comments at any time. I will try my best to answer them. At the moment I’m not very quick with replies, but I do try to get to them all eventually.


Our Little House

~Our old house~

We are going through some serious changes around here and I think it’s time that I explain the situation.

Building this house has been a long hard road. It wasn’t a choice that we made, it was a corner that we got backed into. Our illness made other living situations impossible at the time. Believe me, we tried, but all of our efforts were in vain and in 2005 we broke ground for the little house. We did our best to make the most of a difficult situation. We tried to be cheerful and we were deeply grateful, but we still struggled a good deal, all the same.

~December 8th and 9th 2005~

All of this time, we’ve been carrying the mortgage on the old house. We can’t sell it because we did the right thing and had it tested. And now we know. We know the connection that it had to our illness. It is documented all over the place. And even if it wasn’t and we wouldn’t be considered liable, I could never, ever knowingly expose someone else to such a health threat.

~December 15th 2005~

So, we paid our mortgage every month and at the same time drained our savings account to start building a house that we could actually live in. And then from there we kept running off of credit. Our debts kept accumulating until we were basically carrying the equivalent of two mortgages. And that’s just not sustainable. And even with all of that work and time and money being spent, we are still so, so far from being done. We have almost no siding and very few interior walls; inadequate insulation under the house and no plumbing; electric in only a small section of the house and on and on. It would take us years and tens of thousands of dollars that we don’t have to finish this place.

~January 2006~

Earlier this month we declared bankruptcy. And getting by is still a struggle. With no credit to put towards the task at hand, we’re looking at a solid decade before we get even basic plumbing. And that is if nothing else goes wrong (she said while trying to ignore the strange sound that the refrigerator has been making, the groaning of the water pump and the hot water heater that’s on the fritz at the old house, and the car that we just dropped off at the junkyard).

~September 2006~
This lifestyle is not an easy one and there are times that I feel on the verge of a nervous break-down and I do feel quite certain the Steve is working himself into an early grave. Meanwhile, the tasks of a day are so numerous and so all-consuming that we feel like the respective childhoods in progress around us are slipping away while we are both busy just trying to keep life going.

~breaking ground for the addition, July 20th 2008~

My dentist says that I’m wearing the teeth right out of my head with unconsciously clenching them and my muscles are so tight that they strain and twitch. Steve has had a herniated disk in his upper back for years now. It aches at it’s best and greatly pains him at it’s worst. He’s been told that his only option is surgery, but that he wouldn’t be able to do any lifting at all for several months afterward. We can’t get by that way, so he lives on in pain. Our bodies all wear the strain of years of illness, struggle and strife.

~August 2008~

I love this land. Three out of four of my children have known no other and the remaining child doesn’t remember life before here. It’s been blessed with our blood, sweat and tears. It’s been the setting and the source of many stories that are sure to be told over the years, rich in familylore. It’s a good place. I’ve given birth to babies in both houses on this land. Each drew his/her first breath by the fire of what we called home. It’s been the scene of joyous reunions, heartrending sorrows and lots of everyday living in between. This house has been our salvation in some of our darkest times and I often feel that we quite literally owe our lives to it’s existence.

~September 2008~

Thanks to this house, we are now well enough that we have the possibility of going out into the world to find housing we can tolerate. But it’s still scary. It’s scary on a lot of levels and for a lot of reasons. The truly terrifying part is that we risk reversing all of the strength and good health that we’ve gained being here. There is a chance that we may again have to watch our children suffer as our health deteriorates. We are going to do our very best to protect everyone but in a situation like this there is a certain element that has to be left to chance.

~August 2009~

As my dear, sweet husband put it, “It is awful and it’s going to break my heart too and my blood is literally in that house but we can’t do it anymore. We’ve done an amazing thing the past four years or so but I think it’s time to try to live more normally again.”

And so we’re abandoning this house that we’ve worked so hard and sacrificed so much to create. It’s a very difficult and emotional decision, but I do believe that it’s where we need to go from here.

Cautiously we move forward, with heavy, yet hopeful hearts and many little prayers, in hope of a better life for us all.


The Healing Home Revisited

I know it seems as though I had abandoned this project. I assure, I have not. It’s only that my focus has been elsewhere and I felt like I couldn’t do these posts justice under those circumstances. At the moment I’m feeling a strong pull back home, in working to improve and refine this space that is ours.

We have a lot of projects going on right now! Some are pretty boring, but oh so important (insulation just isn’t sexy, ya know? But I don’t think I can over-emphasize it’s importance…), others are exciting and creative and fun. We are in the midst of a whole-room project that I’m really excited to share. So, as before, these posts will be sprinkled in between my other regular posting.

And while we have that picture up there I might as well share the two wonderful products featured (workman not included. you have to find your own, that one is mine and you can’t have him). That is Georgia-Pacific DensArmor Plus wallboard. And while I’m not overly thrilled about supporting or advertising for Georgia-Pacific, otherwise known as one of the leading manufactures of disposable paper goods (napkins, plates, whatnot), I do think that this is a great product.

DensArmor Plus differs from regular drywall in that it’s comprised of a gypsum infused fiberglass back and core. The main benefit of this being that there is literally no paper involved, making mold growth highly unlikely. It’s far heftier then your standard dry-wall, so be prepared for some extra work moving it around. In the reviews that we’ve read, contractors have considered it nearly indestructible when compared with regular dry-wall. And unlike with green board, the mold resistance comes from lack of suitable growing habitat, rather then chemical fungicides of extremely questionable safety. It is the only dry wall to obtain both GREENGUARD* and GREENGUARD Children and Schools* indoor air quality certification.

As with all products people’s tolerances differ, especially people with chemical sensitivities, so you should always test things out before making a purchase. There are some acrylic binders used in manufacturing DensArmor Plus, which can be an issue for some. On the whole, I think it’s a promising product that could be a good option for a lot of people.

The second product is by Murco Wall Products. Their M100 Joint compound is the only one that I’ve found that is entirely insecticide/fungicide free, with no preservatives. We’ve been using this product for years now, even before we got sick, and it’s always worked well for us. The two downsides to this particular product are that a) you have to mix it yourself, and in this day and age where “ready-made” is the status quo, some people find that aggravating, and b) most people will have to have it shipped directly from the company in TX, due to the weight of the product that can mean a shipping cost nearly or greater then the product itself. It still seems a small price to pay to ensure purity and health.

*GREENGUARD Environmental Institute recognizes indoor products that have low emissions of VOCs (volatile organic compounds).



The playroom color progression:

::All primed and ready to go, with a couple of sample splotches painted!::

::The following two pictures are both of the first color, it appeared very different in different light. On the right hand side of the first picture, you can also see the one small wall of the dining area that we finished. For that wall we used an AFM Safecoat paint in the color Ivory Yellow. Eventually the rest of the first floor will be the same color.::

These two pictures show the walls with two coats of AFM Safecoat paint. We have some good friends who recently finished up building their home and my parents have been working on remodeling theirs. Both of them had extra paint that they didn’t need and they passed it along to us. So, I’ve been mixing our own color combination, based on what we were given. This was a combination of a dark, deep orange and and untinted paint. I was actually looking to achieve a lighter color, but I was more then happy to take what we could get.

::The next layer of color::

After Steve did the main paint color, I came in to do a decorative finish over top. I used a combination of Bio-Shield‘s Wall Glaze and Earth Pigments. I had bought these many years ago to finish the dining room in our old house, but got sick shortly thereafter and never used them. Having access to all of these “free” supplies is what allowed us to continue with this project.

I was trying for a lazure effect similar to what is found in a Waldorf school. I applied the pigment with a sea sponge in large circles and then rubbed and smeared and blended it with a rag.

::The second layer of earth pigments::

The first picture here is the most accurate for color. The second two are lit with artificial light and not accurate representations of the final color. But they do give you a better idea of the painting technique.

It is darker then I would otherwise have done (had I been buying paints instead of using what we had on hand), but it’s also very warm. It took a little while to get used to, at least for Steve and I. I likened it to being inside a pumpkin! The kids loved it right from the start. Now we are all quite content with the space.


Reclaimed Slate Floor: Part III

The final installment of our slate floor series.

Just as a quick review, the layers to the floor are as follows:

And now the details!

The Homasote was both glued and screwed down. In looking for an appropriate adhesive, I spoke at length with the gentleman from the natural building supply company we were working with. He highly recommended a product called Solvent Free Titebond Multi-Purpose Flooring Adhesive. He explained that it works very much like a traditional adhesive, is comparable to AFM’s adhesive, as far as chemical exposure goes, but at half the price. We went with it and have no complaints. I was out of the area when it was being applied and stayed away for a while afterward, but any fumes that it did create seemed to clear quickly and it did not cause any on-going health problems for us. We have a can leftover and do plan on using it again in the future.

For both the mortar bed and the grout, we went with the standard options available at our local hardware store. We did check and try to get the cement with the least additives, etc. We felt like the traditional products would be fairly safe, once cured, especially it would be mostly covered by tile and then well sealed.

::The floor with the “haze” on it from applying the grout.::

After some of the comments I received on previous posts, I want to clarify that we did not install this floor on our own. Neither Steve nor I had any experience with tiling and we felt it best to have some professional help. B the Builder was kind enough to oblige, despite his general aversion to tiling! For my part, I tracked down the slates, researched the materials and designed all of the boarders. There is a pattern around the edge of the room and a slightly more intricate pattern around the hearth. For the center of the room I just asked that he lay the tiles in a random manner. Steve stepped in towards the end, working to scrub the haze and then taking over and doing all of the sealing.

Now that we’ve seen the process first-hand, we both agree that we’d feel comfortable attempting future tiling projects ourselves.

::the corner around the hearth::

These pictures were taken shortly after it was sealed. The finish did become less glossy over time and more like the matte finish that you would tend to expect of a slate floor. Of course, it’s never again been as clean as it was in these pictures either!

::general view of the pattern::

One note about the grout sealer; when Steve first applied it, it left a film all around the edges of the tiles that drove me crazy. I’m happy to say that with time that did clear and we are both quite pleased with the results.

::far corner of the room::