Anne and Gary's
Mid-Century Modern Home

Guest Blogger, Artist/Contractor John Mueller.

Place Setting

This week we are delighted to have John Mueller, from John Mueller Construction , as our guest blogger.

John, who is the contractor for our Mid Century home remodel, is pictured on the left.

John is not only a remodeling contractor but an artist as well.    To see his art go to

Here is what John has to say about our projects.

I have been working as a carpenter for 19 years, and I am in the 13th year of operating my own remodeling business in La Grande, Oregon.

La Grande is a small town, and it seems as if there is not a street that I can drive down without spotting a house that I have worked on.

The houses in most neighborhoods have structural and architectural similarities based upon their period of development, so it is usually easy for me to assess the general construction methods and materials of any given house at a glance.

However, I recently began working on a true architectural anomaly tucked away at the dead end of a little street that scales the hill at the west end of town.

The owners, Anne and Gary Olson, contacted me through a mutual friend of my mothers in Portland.   I am glad to have met Anne and Gary.   They are easy to get along with and are very detail oriented and engaged in the project.

I could go on at great length about the journey we have patiently taken together to sift through all of the minutia of the design, function and intent of their vision for the project, but this first contribution of mine to the blog is about an interesting structural situation that I discovered midstream in the master bedroom/bath remodel.

Place Setting

The living room is an open beam construction, with floor to ceiling glazing on the East side (Image One).

Place Setting

The beams penetrate the interior and exterior spaces and are a prominent feature of the architecture and feel of the house (Image Two).

In the area of the master bedroom/ bath remodel, there is a ceiling rather than the open beam design of the living area.

Place Setting

Structurally, it appeared from the exterior that beams had been used to carry the roof load here as well (Beam ends creating the eaves in Image Three).

Based on that, I concluded that the ceiling was a drop ceiling and that moving walls around would be structurally irrelevant.

The Olson's plan did, in fact, involve moving a North to South wall between the bedroom and bathroom and the installation of a pocket door (these create rather large opening spans).

Again, based on my structural conclusions, I thought, no problem!

Then came the surprise.

The decision was made to take down the existing ceiling in the bathroom area.   It was only 3/8 drywall that had suffered damage from a past leak.

When I started the demolition, I was surprised to find that above the drop ceiling joists were 2×12 rafters, not beams.

Place Setting

The beam ends making up the eaves were short pieces scabbed on to the 2x12s. (Image 4).

Place Setting

The problem was that the rafters were spliced mid-span, directly over the wall that was to be moved (image 5).

That was the roof load.

Additionally, when I first looked things over, I could see that the seams and nail lines of the "drop ceiling" were running North to South, which led me to believe that the "drop ceiling" was framed North to South as well.

As it turned out, the framing was East to west and had been furred out with 1×3 in the North to South.   So the framing was spliced mid span over the same wall.

There was the ceiling load.

Fortunately, the laps of the splices for both the roof and ceiling members were quite long, and the planned location of the new wall fell within them.

Place Setting

The major change in my plan involved constructing a substantial 2×10 header for the pocket door opening, (Image Six) sistering the floor joist that carried the load, and having to have all the new framing in place before removing the existing wall.

It all worked out, and I learned some new things about a very unusual house.

Leave a Reply