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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




The interior of the Franklin House is getting close! It has seemed to be a slow progression but I have heard before that the days are long but the years are short. We have almost completely rebuilt this house. Replaced rotten wood, main beams, awkward staircases, all the mechanical elements and we rearranged the floor plan. It is a new old house. It is a historic home with a modern life. We love this old girl and are excited to get her dressed and ready to meet her new family.
Living Space Before

Remember this space? This past January we walked into this sad, neglected, saggy room and we saw the potential. “This could be amazing!” we said. The light…..it was the light that attracted us to this space. The south facing windows let in the most beautiful winter light.  And it was cold in there! Those first few days that we measured and wandered around the crazy chopped up space I have NEVER been so cold. It was 10 degrees out and felt even colder inside.

Living Room Demo

Pete and George demolished the lath and plaster. They took everything down to studs. We really got a good look at changes that various owners had made through out the years. We could see where a single family home had been made into a duplex. We could see where a duplex had been brought back to a single family home. It was a rebirth for this place. And we saw more progression…

Living Room Rebuild

We moved a staircase, removed a staircase and rebuilt a staircase. We cleaned and repaired brick. We installed two HUGE beams. We created an open inviting floor plan that takes advantage of the light. We had good insulation put in. Never again will we freeze inside! We had drywall installed and all of a sudden…..it was a house again!

Living Room Drywall

We are really proud of how this space feels. It is open but cozy. After being a dark unfinished area for so long the reflective light in here now that we have drywall is really cheerful. When writing this post it was pretty crazy to go through all the old pictures to really see the progression of the space.

Keep your eye out for a pieces parts post soon! And as always…..thank you for reading!

Big News! I am a Real Estate Agent!

I am so excited to finally share my big news with you! I got my real estate license!!!! I am now a real estate agent!

Cue hilarious picture….Geri's Business Photo

Haha! All joking aside though, I am really happy to have made this professional leap forward. As most of you know Peter and I are really passionate about houses. Actually, we are really passionate about HOME. We love that the sense of home creates so many amazing and positive feelings. Warmth, comfort, safety, love, health and happiness are the words that come to my mind when I talk about home. I can help other people find their perfect homes now. I get giddy thinking about it!

I Have joined the team at Carleton Realty here in Westerville, Ohio. I am very happy with this choice. Carleton Realty is a locally owned family business which is important to me. They have top-notch training and a super support system. I couldn’t be happier.

I am still VERY involved here at Larsen Dwellings, Inc. but now we have more services to offer you! If you know someone who needs a real estate agent’s help or even just advice on their building or home please don’t hesitate to call me! You can E-mail me at gerilyn.larsen@gmail.com or call my dedicated real estate phone at 614-975-2487.

Thanks for reading about my big news guys! YAY! HOMES!

Pieces/Parts #5 An Update!

It has been WAY too long since we have posted an update on the Franklin House. We have some more detailed posts coming up (including one from Pete!!!) but in the meantime here are the pieces/parts that have been making up our days.

Brick Lift

We had the chimneys tuck pointed and repaired inside and out. We are very pleased with the results! We used All Ohio Masonry and they were great. We really recommend them. Since the house is soooo tall and the roof is soooo steep they had to use this fancy lift to safely reach the top of the chimneys. Those guys are much braver than me!

Cresting Before Paint

One of our absolute favorite historic details on the house was this cresting. It is just so cool. It was in very very bad shape and we thought that we were going to be able to have it powder coated. But no… that was not possible. It was originally soldered together and our test piece fell apart in the powder coating oven. Whoops! Also, our garage is filling up. Been filled up….  I need to reorganize it. Jeesh.

Mascot Bunny

This guy is the job site mascot. Pete and George found him under the back porch when it was torn off. Cute and creepy all at the same time. Must be from the sixties or seventies.

Tyvek Front

New windows have been going in. We have to do this before we can get the insulation put in. After quite a while with the window spaces boarded up it is super nice to have the light back. The bright and cheery atmosphere in the house is really what drew us to it in the beginning.

The house had never had any vapor barrier on it before either. Now that it has vapor barrier the house will be much easier to take care of! The paint won’t peel off! Yay!


The guys have been working on the addition to prepare for the new rubber roof.  You can see where they moved the windows and pulled off the siding to expose the exterior sheathing. I love the fact that it was put on the house at a 45 degree angle!

Pete Repairing

Pete has been repairing the decorative cap on the addition. Apparently the cap was wooden and had rotted over time. So OF COURSE you should just put metal over it. Repeatedly. Pete said that there were three layers over the old wood. Now it is brand new and solid!

Keep your eyes out for Pete’s blog this coming week! Very exciting! And as always….thank you for reading!

Starting On the Exterior

The Franklin House is slowly but surely coming along. We are finally starting on the exterior! After the hiccup with our plumber (fired) we are making big steps forward this week! Our new plumber is an old friend and is rocking right along. We will be having our plumbing rough-in inspection on Friday. Our electrician, who is also a very good friend, is ready for his rough-in inspection also.

Exterior repair

While our awesome subcontractors are getting things done on the inside Pete and George are getting things done on the outside. The entire front of the house was rotten and needed to be replaced. Since this place is so old none of it has vapor barrier. That is definitely something we are going to remedy. Before everyone starts to worry, with all this replacement going on, we are going to take it back to where it was historically. We will be putting the fish scale siding back up as well as the clapboard.

Putting up scaffolding

The guys are using rented scaffolding (safety first!) to reach the top of the house. The best part is seeing the openings for the new windows and door. The space is going to be so light and bright!  We have made some color choices for the exterior and we are looking forward to showing you those. The mason will be working on our four chimneys soon and then it will be time for the roof.

Exciting things around here! We will keep you updated as things move along. And as always…thanks for reading!

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 #4

Progress at The Franklin House has been slow and steady. We will have some more posts soon showing the progress on the inside but in the meantime here is a quick update on the happenings. So here are our pieces/parts #4.


Removing Porch

Pete and George removed the ugly porch. They did it when it was hot and humid. I thought that they were going to melt away. That porch was a layer of concrete over another layer of concrete. Yikes! I am excited to get a period correct porch back on there!


Porch Pile


The Porch leftovers. We filled TWO thirty yard dumpsters with the concrete and wood bits of that horrible thing!


Between Houses

I was really impressed with this space when I saw it! It used to be over super overgrown and had a layer of debris. The brick chimney was covered in ivy and that is gone too! It looks so much better now.


Window Framing


The guys have been hard at work to prepare the house for the new windows. The place is going to look so great with all new windows in! We also have the masons in doing work on the chimneys and foundation. They are doing a fantastic job!


Electrical Box



Just a teaser for what has been happening on the inside. After a hiccup with the plumber we are getting all the important bits in. The electrical, HVAC and plumbing is on its way!!!

Thoughts on Why We are Documenting the Process

P & G on Porch
The day that we closed on The Franklin House!

We have been working on this project for six months now. We have been documenting the process since day one. Actually since day negative sixty-three. So much has changed and improved at this house and in our business. There are several reasons why we find this documentation so important.

Porch Gone
The ugly porch is gone!

The first reason that we are documenting the process is that we want the future homeowner to see where this house came from and how it became a home. We think that if we were to buy a home like this that we would LOVE to see the changes that happened before we bought it. The story of the house is very important!

The second reason that we are documenting the process is that we think that this change is great for this growing neighborhood! We love Olde Towne East. We think that it is really exciting to watch a historic neighborhood change and evolve.  We hope to inspire others to renovate homes in the area therefore preserving the history of Columbus.  We really love our city.

Polka Dot Wall
Pete with the surprise polka dot wall!

The third reason we are documenting the process is that we know that this will help us grow our business. We can assess where we did well and where we can improve for the next project that we work on. We are a very small business and we get super excited about residential architecture. Like all young business owners we make mistakes and we want to learn from them. We need to build this venture so that we save other sad, neglected homes. We love it!




Supporting the Structure

We knew when we bought this house that supporting the structure was going to be necessary. As usual, it was a can of worms. We got an engineer to take a look at our drawings to make sure that we were putting in enough support for this old house and he had some great ideas that really helped our entire design.  He suggested a combination of some 16″ LVLs (laminated veneer lumber) and some steel c channel to reinforce those old beams.

There were two problem areas on the first floor. One was towards the middle of the house. At some point in time a well-meaning soul had removed a support beam in the basement. Perhaps to install a furnace? They did not replace the column. The area above sank. It sank like a whole 3 inches. BUT we knew this the first time we saw the house. No biggie! We can just jack that back up and pop a new support column in!

Jacking up the first floor
Note the fancy equipment.

We also knew going in that we would have to sister some old beams with new to account for some cut out from HVAC installation. It is NEVER a good idea to cut any sort of beam in a house. Once the beams were sistered the floor started feel much sturdier!

Sistered beams
Sistered beams!

The other big issue with the structure became apparent once the guys had pulled up the sub flooring at the front of the house to show the engineer how the beams connect to the rubble foundation. We had a hint about water damage in this area after we had snow and then a thaw, then a freeze. Where the two gables meet in the front of the house there is a wacky gutter design that caused an ice dam which in turn caused water to run down the front of the house. The beams in the front of the house were rotten and needed replaced.

Floor removed
See you later rotten beams!
New basement beam
Pretty new structure. This place isn’t going anywhere!

The guys had to build temporary walls to take the weight of the house while they put these new beams and joists in.  It feels so much better in there now! But for a while they couldn’t open the front door! We tried to save as much of the good structure that was there so there is a ton of old meets new in the house. I think it’s pretty cool.

Old meets new
Old meet new. New meet old! ( I am not sure about the weird green basement wall treatment. I though it was mold at first)

Once the new beams were in the boys leveled the whole first floor. It was a lot of measuring and moving the floor up and down. Since this place is a balloon frame we could move the floors up and down with out the exterior walls moving!

Floor leveling
George is in the basement and Pete is doing the measuring!
floor leveling
Measure measure measure!

Once they got the structure level they put down new subfloor. The original dining room floor was just the 7/8″ thick plank. It has a great design to it but unfortunately was too damaged to save as finished floor. It is staying in the house as sub flooring though!

Original Floor
See the stripes!
Cutting Subfloor.
Subfloor. So you don’t fall through.

The guys had to add some more structure support for the second floor at this point since they removed almost ALL the walls on the first floor. Next they were going to put in a new LVL to support the second floor  and make it ready to put in the new staircase!

New LVL for the second floor! So exciting!

I will show more of the second and third floor structure repair on the next post plus the building of our new staircase! But here is a bonus weird shot that I took standing in the basement looking straight up at the bottom of the stairs to the third floor. It’s art I tell ya!

stairs from basement