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Hand Poured Concrete Counter Tops

We are getting closer to the completion of The Franklin House. The finishes are going up. The floors have been put in. We just have to wrap up a few details.  It is so exciting! I can’t wait to share some more of the bits and pieces with everyone.

I love hand poured concrete counter tops. They are durable, earthy, and cool. I have been telling Pete that I want them in our kitchen for years now. Concrete was perfect for this project because the use of natural and man made materials plays into our industrial vibe.

After some research online I found some great forms from Z Counterforms. These forms were pretty easy to use and created a great smooth edge. The white form you see in the picture below was the rigid form and the black you see is the curve form. They just screw into the concrete board and once the concrete has cured they snap right off! We will definitely use these forms again.


Kitchen Counter Top Form

Once the forms were off the counters had to be diamond ground…sanded…and sanded…and sanded…and sanded some more.

Kitchen Counter Top Poured

The sanding exposed the tiny aggregate in the concrete and created and really organic finish. The edges have tiny little voids and holes that show the handmade nature of the product. This is more beautiful to me than any perfection.

Kitchen Counter Sanding

After all the sanding the counters have to be sealed with several coats of concrete sealer to protect them from staining, though I personally like the way the staining and mottling that occurs over time. I can’t wait to have concrete counter tops in my own kitchen!

Kitchen Counter Top Finished

We also poured a trough sink for the master bath. This was a little more labor intensive since there was no easy peasy forms to be had from the internet. Pete had to build a form from melamine from scratch. It took a whole bunch of math and lot of measuring!

Master Sink Form 1

Both the kitchen counter top and the master sink had to have mesh reinforcement in the concrete to prevent cracking.

Master Sink Form 2

Because of the difference in the type of form we used on the sink, it needed far less sanding and therefore did not expose the aggregate in the concrete. The sink is much shallower than a traditional sink.

Master Sink Unmolded

The sink is installed and will have 2 faucets. Perfect for the master bath!

  • Master Sink

Burned out… but have to finish strong!

I am sure everyone who has had a small taste of success has felt this way. Anxious, inspired, confused, determined, in your own head constantly, a little insane, positive, struggling, and invested in an idea. I guess they would say there is beauty in the struggle. There is also a realization that it is one thing to have a good idea, and it is another to turn the idea into reality. But, what if that idea was your dream. Not just one of those strange dreams that happen one night after one too many, but one of those reoccurring dreams that sticks with you.

Roof Garden Installation

When I was younger I heard about the land bank dollar property program and was insistent that I would find an old house and fix it up. Some how at that time I knew what I wanted to do… fix up old houses and build new ones. What are the steps that have to be taken to fulfill this desire? What must one do to achieve a goal? Although we did not buy the Franklin House through the land bank, we bought the property and I was officially living the dream! The dream then turned into reality… design, logistics, expenses, scheduling, hiring, firing, systems, construction, lead time, competition, headaches, questions, alcohol, sobriety, coffee, hard work, Whats Next? “Do, don’t try.” Make a deadline. That will help!

As much as I like to rant, there must be a point to this post… ? … Oh yeah I am feeling a little burned out and I am now able to admit it. I don’t think it is because of the project, or the social implications that I now realize, or the connections that I have made with everyone involved and everyone impacted, or the fact that there is probably going to be zero monetary ROI or possibly a loss… I think it is more the angst from the unknown.

What positive impact will the result have and what opportunities lie ahead. I have a couple potential clients interested in my design capabilities, we are looking for the next house to fix up and a vacant in-fill lot to build on. But is it enough to fill the void after seeing the dream to fruition? Do I have to take time to dream more? Should I go back to school so I can actually call myself an architect? Can I afford that? Will any of this pay off? Does anyone understand? ” Hold it together man…”(slap)

The mind is an amazing piece of the puzzle that we all take for granted at a given point in time. Sometimes we become so self involved that we cut other people off in their journey through life. It is a hard truth about the human condition… but other times we care deeply about an idea, cause, and other people… look now he is a philosopher.

What is a house?

We started the project of the Franklin House strong and I intend to finish it the same way. What ever comes next will happen in due time. I have to tell myself every morning to “Roll with time” it is a saying of patience (the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset, thanks Google). I hope that my work spreads a positive message of sustainability and love. I want people to see beauty in reality… maybe that is the dream?

Interview with Budget Dumpster!

Guys! We did a really fun interview with our friends over at Budget Dumpster. Go check it out hereRemoving Porch


We have been using Budget Dumpster since the start of this huge project and we can’t say enough nice things about their service! We ordered several dumpsters from them to contain everything from old plaster to the concrete porch. The customer service has been great. The delivery and pick-up drivers have been awesome. We really recommend this company! Columbus locals please find their page here!

We want to thank Budget Dumpster for featuring us on their blog!

We were in no way paid or compensated for this post. All opinions are our own.

Pieces/Parts #3 June in the Garden


Every year for the past 5 years Peter and I have planted a large vegetable garden. I love June in the garden when all the plants are just starting to grow and bloom. Not only do we get to eat the fruits of our labor (oh so punny) but it is so much fun to watch these fast growing plants do their thing! We have had our vegetable plants in for a month or so and while these are not ALL of what we are growing these are a few of the best parts right now.


Tomato Blossoms
Tiny blossoms turn into huge tomatoes. Magic!

Last year we did 10 tomato plants and it was WAY too many. This year we scaled down to 7. I personally do not like to eat raw tomatoes but like to make and can spaghetti sauce. We also give away a bunch of them!

Cucumber Blossom
Every time I see a cucumber blossom I think of pickles.

We do 2 regular cucumber plants each year. They produce like crazy and we have plenty to eat raw and I pickle a bunch too! We train them up a trellis and it makes them much easier to find when they get ripe.

Radishes June
First time doing radishes. They grow really fast!

We almost lost our radishes to a hungry rabbit. I am glad they did not eat them all! We have eaten a few of these and they are crunchy and spicy.

Strawberries June
Sooooo many strawberries this year!

It was a good year for our strawberries. This is one of the very first things that we planted in our garden and we look forward to picking them every year. I have already made and canned jam. I have not quite perfected the process of jam yet but this batch was my best yet! Kinda runny. Oh well.

Hops  June
The fastest growing plant I have ever seen!

This hops vine is about 4 years old. We have harvested and used the hops to brew beer a couple of times! I love watching this plant race up the fence each year.

This is few pieces of our veggie garden this year! I will make sure to post more pictures as our plants grow and produce!

Pieces/Parts #2

Peter and George have been working A LOT lately. The Franklin House project has gotten to the point where we are starting to put the inside back together. Luckily the guys got a whole day off last week. Pete and I spent the day gardening and it was really relaxing. Here are the pieces/parts from our day off.

We are doing all our herbs in containers this year. I hope I remember to water them!
I like this variegated variety of sage.
Mother's Day Pot
Our day off fell on Mother’s Day. We made my mom a flowering pot!
Planting Seeds
We planted seeds in our vegetable garden this year. We planted lettuce, garden beans, radishes. lima beans and sugar snap peas.
Tomato cages
Pete put the tomato cages over our new plants. We planted WAY too many tomato plants last year this year we only put in 7.
Our pepper plants did not do very well last year. This year we did not put in as many.
Mia Louise
Mia got to spend most of the day outside. She was in heaven!
Pete drawing
Pete even got some drawing time in!

We had a fantastic day! One that was much needed. Soon we will have a post up about how we pulled some order into The Franklin House’s former chaotic floor plan.

Pieces/Parts #1


I have been wanting to share a few “behind the scenes” pictures lately. I always like to see the small parts that make up a person’s day. Peter uses the term pieces/parts all the time and it makes me smile. So here are our pieces…

CAD monkey

This guy spends a lot of time doing this. CAD drawing is one of the things that he is best at and though it strains the eyes he enjoys manipulating spaces this way.

Vintage Lights

These lights were a find and a half! Vintage porcelain industrial lights. We went out to Heart of Ohio Antique Mall looking for something interesting to use for our bathroom vanities. We found nothing that we could use for those but we found these awesome lights! They are a bit dinged up and rusty around the edges but we love the age that shows on them. These guys were marked fifty dollars apiece (a good deal considering the pricing we found for new lighting) and when we decided to buy them the employees of the mall called the dealer for his best price. So we paid a whopping thirty bucks each!

Reclaimed Lath

This pile of lath that George and Pete reclaimed out of the house is just sitting around and waiting for me to pull all the nails out of it and clean it up. Then I can start playing with it to see if I can make an interesting wall treatment. This stuff is sturdier than it looks.

Reclaimed Trim

The trim that was in the house but now is in my garage. We couldn’t save much of this. It was pretty brittle and had been chopped up during the houses life. We hope to still use some of this but most of the pieces are pretty short.

Messy Garage

And finally the view of our poor garage. Nothing bothers Pete more than a messy garage. I can totally feel him though. Clear space = Clear mind.

Thanks for reading!

The Demo Pictures “The Franklin House”

There is something amazing about a house that has been stripped completely. Every flaw has either been removed or exposed. These demo pictures show us exactly what has been done to this place over the years.

Demo View from Door

The first floor from the door. This place has great bones. The many fireplaces give us great opportunity for exposed brick.  And the 130 year old studs, joists and beams are rock solid. You can see where things have been moved before. There is new framing on the ceiling where the second floor unit staircase was added in and removed. There is evidence of a door behind the stair case. When the drywall was removed from the ceiling the cast iron pipe from the gas lights, the knob and tube from the original electric and the modern wiring were all still there!

demo front to back

It’s interesting to see the new wood framing colors versus the old! The landing room was always there. I did some research and found out it was perhaps a small sewing room or a closet for the maids. If you know differently please comment and tell us!

cut beam

The former parlor looking into the dining room. When the HVAC was put in they ran it up right next to the main chimney stack in the center of the house. The duct work didn’t quite fit there so they cut through the load bearing beam to fit it. Same with the other side! No wonder this place is a little tilty.

Main Stack

The main stack in the dining room has a tiny issue. Nothing a little elbow grease won’t fix. You can see where the wrap around windows were covered up in the parlor. I bet these were beautiful when this house was new. I hope that we can bring those back to their former glory.

Demo Kitchen

The kitchen must have had a leaky sink for years. The boards underneath are completely rotten. A large window was replaced with a much smaller (and cheaper) window.

Original Siding

This is an awesome view straight through to the front of the house! The black wall is the original siding and house color. This was a very early addition I think. The poor chimney has a ton of water damage and is super crumbly. I hope that we can save it.

Servants Stairs

This view shows the two windows that were in the dining room but have been covered over due to the house next door being soooo close. When this place was new the morning light that must have come through those would have been amazing.

Second Floor

The second floor makes me a little nervous right now. Though it is completely safe and sturdy the views through the walls to the floor below triggers with my fear of heights. I have not even tried to take third floor pictures. I will do a seperate post on the third floor and basement.

Reclaiming tile

The second floor being open really makes us excited for what this place can be. We plan on moving the staircase around to open up enough space to add some modern amenities like a master suite and second floor laundry. I love this picture of Peter working hard to reclaim those awesome antique hearth tiles.

Front to back

The view from the front of the house straight through to the back on the second floor. You can see the new framing where the stair case cut through to the landing here. You can also see where we had to put scrap wood on the floor to cover up the holes from that terrible bathroom that used to be there.


And finally the view back into the addition. Much bad framing in here and many windows covered up. We have some interesting ideas on how to bring some light back into this space and retain privacy.

Reclaimed trim

We are big on reclaiming. This pile is all of the old doors, transom windows and trim from this house. We are excited to use this stuff in the remodel.

Dirty Pete

The demo was a dirty and dangerous experience. There was asbestos and lead paint behind some of the drywall. Pete and George had to suit up! And SO MANY NAILS. The boys pulled nails for 3 full days.

Next up will be the fun part! We have a great design in mind for this house and can’t wait to share it with everyone!

Bear with us… We are artists.

In this day and age of cell phone dependence and online customer service, a lot of people have manifested the “My way entitlement”.  This is something I have just made up so don’t look for it in any psychological doctrine. It is a heightened case of instant gratification where the whole world is accessible through your fingertips and every business that people encounter should be at your beckon call. To quote the great Bob Dylan “It ain’t me babe, no, no, no, it ain’t me babe, It ain’t me your looking for babe.”

There is a point where the average person needs to understand that all businesses are not run like a catering service. Yes we are contractors… but first we are artists, then we are designers and positive human beings. Another point… when you are interested in having some work done on your house and you have a couple contractors come out to bid the job remember this… We are interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing us. Any contractor that doesn’t do this can be considered a handyman or just bad at business. When you ask yourself the question “… it’s been a week and a half, where is this guys bid?”, know this… he/she doesn’t want your job. I have heard several times over the years that contractors are bad at getting back with the homeowner. This has long been associated with the Idea that contractors are unorganized… minus a couple of hack contractors I imagine that my earlier statement is more true. Lets face it we all have emotional attachments to our homes. No contractor wants to hurt a homeowners feelings, because they might get on the BBB’s website and try to make you look bad.

If you think you know everything that is needed for your project then DIY.

Personally, I am not interested in what the last contractor that stopped by said.

And what I really want to know when interviewing a homeowner is… are you going to let me do the job or do you want to be the GC? There are plenty contractors in Columbus, Ohio that will cater to you.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a nice guy. I want to be your friend. I want to make your dreams come true. And I want you to be comfortable through out the design/build process, just don’t treat me like the guy at the drive-through that your mad at because there are no pickles on your sandwich.

As a designer, artist, and builder, I want the freedom to practice my craft.


Bear with us… We are artists.