The architect Luis Kahn who designed the beautiful light filled Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, was quoted in the book, Luis Kahn: The Construction of the Kimbell Art Museum by Luca Bellinelli, as saying that stairs should be an event in a building. Our stairs in this little house in San Miguel are an "event."
This week the window near the top of the second floor landing and the tragaluz over the stair well were installed and the stairwell became a light filled column. I knew that the way they had made the stairs was architecturally interesting but the light defined the shapes and it became an architectural sculptural "event."
We had just one hitch about the stair well this week. The iron banisters were delivered. I was horrified. They looked common and like they could have come off the rack at a Mexican "Home Depot." I immediately called the architect. What we currently have on the stairs going to the second floor is a very simple banister with one support column per tread....it would never pass city code in Houston. The railing is a lovely slightly twisted and hammered metal. It is very simple and I think it is elegant. I'd never thought a lot about it until the new ones were delivered and then I realized that what made it so lovely is that it is all handmade. Nothing is premanufactured. I had said that I wanted the new banisters to be the same as the old not realizing what that really meant. The architect immediately realized that a handmade banister like we had on the first floor had to be used. Although this is not an expensive house, there are a few special handmade touches that give it a very warm quality. It will cost more but it will be worth it in the total feeling of the house.
This week the lavanderia or laundry room took shape. The sink/washboard has been installed. No self-respecting Mexican laundry room would be without this sink. It makes no difference if you have a washer and dryer in the lavanderia, the maid expects to pre-work stains before putting them in the washer. And actually we have found that having this sink is very useful for any number of tasks. So we are glad to see that it is in place.
One other issue this week was the doors....well not actually the doors but the closing of the metal doors. I decided to do metal doors because the wooden ones shrink althought the carpenters tell you that the wood is kiln dried. Maybe so but we are in such a dry climate they shrink more. And surprisingly San Miguel also has it's fair share of termites. Well, to get to the point, after the doors were installed they were not closing properly. The Maestro had them take the doors out and reinstall and then brace the door jams so that there was no shifting as the plaster dried. Now all the doors are working fine.
Ta Daaaaaaaa.....the new studio/office is beginning to look like a real room. The tile is laid on the floor but the grout for the tile is on the black-drop cloth in the center of the floor. For two days they have been mixing grout to get the "right" color to go with the tile. I have no suggestions because the tile changes color when it is sealed so I have to rely on their experience to get the right color grout. They are doing their best to get it "right." I love the lay-out pattern of the tile. It is the same that we have downstairs. In a new home in Houston the Saltillo tile in this pattern would have been a significant up-charge.
This week the slope of the terraza was figured and a subfloor was put in. Now it is time to put in the tile. This terrace is going to have a wonderful view of the city and the hillside. We are hoping that the masonery guys will be done by about Wednesday of next week. Then on to plumbing, electrical and painting.