Sometimes you get a gift for Christmas that is not in your plan. The snow on Christmas Day in Franklin was beautiful. Our timber frame was warm and cozy (no heat escaped and the warmth stayed in…notice the roof is completely covered with snow…no warm air escaping.) We enjoyed this break.
Sometimes you just have to admire timber frames other than your own timber frame home. Of course, we are just a little vested in many, since we design and build timber frame homes.
Today I find myself admiring the work of our joiners and the inspiration of our clients. This kingpin crowns a lovely breakfast nook in a mountain home. It will be there long after we are all gone, allowing generations to enjoy the work of the craftsmen who created it.
Heavy timber and the joinery that it takes to bring it all together have graced homes, churches, and buildings for centuries and today the work still stands.
What a treasure!
Well, like it or not, colder weather is upon us. It’s time to take a few minutes and make sure that your timber frame home is weatherized and winter ready.
Check all your window and doors for leakage. We found a window that hadn’t been closed properly and would have leaked cold air in (and warm air out) during our check.
Clean out your gutters so that leaves and “gunk” won’t let the water flow out. Water frozen in place can damage your gutters.
Make sure that the filters for your heating system are clean and/or replaced. You’ll get maximum efficiency with clean filters.
Surely there is more to do, but this list should get you started for now as your timber frame home shelters you for the winter.
Well, David and I have been in our timber frame for just over a year now. Timber frames, always a passion, are now a little more real and much more livable than we’d ever expected.
Our timber frame home has proven to be as energy efficient as we expected. Our highest power bill was just at $125 last winter. Our area had one of the coldest winters on record and we heard of utility bills in the $300 range for homes the same size (and smaller) as ours.
We’ve now lived in the home each season and have experienced the changes (the checking of timbers as we went from hot to cold and cold back to hot), the comfort of the open floor plan, and the comfort that the beamed ceilings offer as they bring our vaulted ceilings down to a “human scale”.
While the leaves haven’t quite fallen, I’m going to give you a look at how our home looked last year just before winter by reposting one of my favorite photos. We’ll take more as the season’s change and will share them with you soon.
We want to inspire and our Creekside has certainly done just that.
Timber frames offer opportunities to build homes with no load bearing walls. This same flexibility allows you to design a home that is more efficient and uses space effectively. Halls, notorious for their wasted space, are usually unnecessary. Walls can be moved feet or inches, as best suit the room layout without worries about headers and roof loads.
As you plan your new home, consider how you live and make best use of the space to accommodate your “stuff”. Do you need space for sporting equipment, hobby equipment, or a home office? Design in the storage you need so you aren’t creeping into your living space. This will allow you to design your living space for relaxing and entertaining.
Your pantry should have shelves near the top for larger, seldom used items. That roaster that you use once a year (unless you decide to dine out on holidays) doesn’t need space at eye level. The punchbowl that survived three children, baby showers, and wedding showers…shouldn’t someone else love it now? Open that space up for something you use every day…or at least once a month. Design shelving so the items you use daily are at eye level and easy to reach.
Linen closets may seem dated, but where do you keep towels, fresh linens, extra blankets, and pillows? The space needs to be accessible to the bathroom and bedroom. It doesn’t need to be a deep closet, but it should have plenty of space.
Where will that vacuum cleaner “live”? A closet for the vac and broom is important. It can include a shelf for cleaning supplies or not, but do plan ahead and include this important space.
A closet tucked under the stairs is excellent space for suitcases and seldom used items. Or it can house that seldom used wireless printer… out of the way until needed and then easily accessible.
Roll out shelves for the kitchen cabinets are all but indispensable. Nothing gets shoved to back, never to be seen again. Make sure you have the right mix of short and tall shelves. Baskets on top of the kitchen cabinets offer storage for tablecloths and napkins, even seldom used kitchen tools…I mean most of us don’t use those lobster crackers very often and they take up lots of drawer space.
So, as you design your new home, think about how you will store the necessities of life and about what items you might not want to bring into your new home. A new home offers opportunities to live only with the stuff you love. Lighten up while you have the chance.
Well, it’s been hot this summer, some say record-breaking hot, but you couldn’t tell it by the energy usage for our timber frame home. This timber frame, wrapped in energy efficient structural insulated panels, has met and exceeded our expectations.
Timber frames and SIPs are a great combination when it comes to a well insulated home. Even with walls of windows, which are notoriously inefficient, and an electric dryer, we are not seeing the high power bills that might be expected.
Of course, we have all Energy Star rated appliances and fixtures, use fluorescent bulbs, and are manic about turning off lights when we aren’t in the room. However, our 2 ton heat pump and fans are keeping our timber frame home cool and comfortable.
Last month we topped out at $74 and this month we went down to $72. We are pleased at the money we’ve saved…and at the energy we’ve saved. Our home is 1700 square feet and we cook most days (heating up the house) and embraced daylighting and have more than our share of windows. We do use our ceiling fans and we keep the house cool during the day just because it’s our “model” home. I guess I can say our “model energy saving home”, can’t I?
All these years I’ve been encouraging people to consider using panels on their home and I am pleased. I’d like to know how much energy is saved every year just in timber frames with insulated panel enclosures. That would be a significant number, I’d think. Sustainable homes are important to each of us.
So, I’ll sit here and not stress over the heat and high utility bills, and I might hope for cooler weather so we can open the windows and go back to our $30 power bills of the spring.
We often sit back and marvel at the beauty of our timber frame home, but it’s easy to forget that timber frames are solid and strong, carrying their loads with dignity for generations. Wood is a very forgiving building material. As in nature, it offers strength along with it’s flexibility.
We can look at buildings around the world, building built with wood and joinery, much as timber frames are built today and get an idea of the sustainability of timber frames.
The gingerbread houses in Haiti offer a look at how timber frames handled the devastating earthquake. The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute found that only 10% of these homes suffered more than moderate damage, while many or most of the other buildings suffered irreparable damage (13 of 15 government buildings collapsed). Many of these gingerbread homes had little or no maintenance and still survived better than newer construction.
With better understanding of engineering, today’s timber frames are built to withstand the forces of nature and man. What a great way to build and a secure way to live.
Your timber frame home offers lots of opportunities to express your individuality. As you design and build your new home, you’ll gain insights into the flexibility that timber frames offer. Is your taste elegant? Does it lean toward traditional or even rustic? Your new home will be whatever you wish, just make selections carefully and design it to be the home of your dreams.
While many, if not most, timber frames feature wood flooring, the types and finishes available in wood floors are almost as varied as the styles of timber frame homes. There is antique flooring, fine clear flooring, and everything in between. You can choose laminates, hardwood, or even softer pine.
We decided we needed a durable hardwood that would withstand not only people, but dogs without looking worn. So what better choice than to distress the floor before it went down and not dread that “first scratch”. Pam and Neal had installed amazing hickory floors in their new timber frame and they guided us on the techniques used so we could enjoy a similar floor.
Starting with a utility (economy) grade hickory, we ended up with an amazing floor that looks as though it has suffered through generations. It is warm and inviting and handles traffic easily. The cats, dogs, and human traffic only add to the patina.
The dark color compliments the clary sage walls and lighter timber. The contrast is stunning and grounds each room. With rugs (chosen with Pam’s input) defining the different living spaces, this flooring is never overlooked.
While we opted for tile in the bathrooms and mudroom, this warm flooring is used throughout the rest of our home. It works well even in the kitchen, where spills don’t cause concern.
In using utility grade material (the stuff that didn’t meet the grade for “real” flooring), we feel that we made a step in the sustainable direction. These trees didn’t die in vain. Finished with water based stains and polyurethane, the floor offer a non-toxic alternative to many of the products available on the market today.
So, begin thinking about your flooring early on and know all of your options. Go with the floor that will compliment your home and your lifestyle. There is something out there for everyone and your wood floor should last for a long, long time. Why “wood” you use anything else?
For some other ideas on designing and building your timber frame home, check out Timber Frame Magazine .
See you soon.
Timber frame porches offer shelter from the sun, wind, and rain. They also offer much, much more. The space extends your living area outdoors, expanding the space you live in and making it comfortable to live in a smaller space inside.
The front porch on our timber frame serves as a place to drink our morning coffee…and a glass of wine with friends in the evening. As we sat and worked on green beans from the garden, it brought back memories of grandmothers and mothers sitting on front porches in aprons as they prepared food for canning and freezing.
Flowers, both those brought from inside after a long winter of sunshine through the windows, and those planted in the spring, thrive on the porch. They fill the air with fresh, natural scents and the vibrant greens and amazing color lift the heart. These plants, sheltered by the timber frame of the porch, bring a smile to everyone who comes up the steps.
After a long, hard day, sitting on the porch swing (just swinging) is a nice way to end the day.
Whether you porch is large and grand and opens to views of mountains and lakes or whether it’s smaller and reminiscent of your grandparents’ porch, it connects you to the outdoors…to life larger than yourself.
So, stop on by, sip a tall glass of iced tea, and swing or rock for a while. We’ll be waiting.
Just give me a call at 828-524-8662 and we’ll sit on the porch and talk. See you soon, Bonnie Pickartz
Over the years I’ve been part of the design process in many, many timber frame homes. Timber frames are a joy and a challenge to design, but I’d never thought about the bedrooms in more than terms of size and space. Living in a timber frame has changed my perspective.
As we’ve settled into our home and spent at least some of each season, the importance of the design of the bedroom space has become more apparent. We have two bedrooms. One is on the first floor, our guest room at this time, but designed so that we can “age in place” and live on the first floor if we are uncomfortable trekking up stairs every day. This bedroom has timber ceiling joists and posts. The master bedroom, (that’s a grand name for the smaller space that we chose to include), is upstairs, vaulted with timber posts and beams.
While both are decorated in “early old”, they each have a unique character and feel about them. The first floor bedroom evokes a sense of age and peace. Our sons refer to it as “Granny’s bedroom”, even though she isn’t with us any longer. They say it reminds them of her and they believe that she would have been comfortable in it. With her old Bible, a bed that belonged to David’s Grandfather, and a lovely cedar chest built just for us by Harold, David’s Dad, it does have a sense of ancestry. The lower ceiling (9′) also offers a cozy space to rest peacefully. The cocoon effect is evident as you rest in this room. You are sheltered and sleep comes easily.
The master bedroom upstairs is smaller, but the high ceilings add volume to the room. It lives (and sleeps) like a much larger space. With it’s quirky screen door for the closet and salvaged door headboard, it isn’t exactly the average room. Sleeping in it is much like laying under a star-filled sky or in an open field. You relax and let sleep come to you.
Since we usually sleep with open windows during much of the year, we’ve even considered having a “summer” bedroom and a “winter” bedroom. The upstairs room is warm and cozy on cold nights. We haven’t even turned the heat on upstairs…and it was a cold winter. However, we are thinking that the bedroom downstairs might be cooler this summer. We’ll see what happens.
Our timber frame has lived up to all our expectations, offering shelter (as timber frames tend to do) and, being small, making us think about how we live and what we consider important. We realize we just don’t need as much “stuff” as we thought. We love it.