Anne and Gary's
Mid-Century Modern Home

Archive for the 'John Mueller' Category

The Renovation is Done!

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Finished Kitchen
The renovation is pretty much done, or as done as such things get.   We are extremely pleased with the results of the project.   It is exactly what we envisioned. And the quality of the work is excellent, thanks to the patience and craftsmanship of our general contractor (and artist), John Mueller.

Starting today, we're going to show pictures of the completed project.   We'll alternate displaying the overall house with posts about our experiences with appliances, hardware, plumbing features, and design challenges.

We're going to start by taking a look at our new kitchen.

As you can see, the top picture features the built in refrigerator, can lighting, and built in stove and microwave.

The bottom picture features the laminate counter top, sink, and cabinetry.

The colors in the picture, as is often the case in photographs, are deceptive.    The clay wall color is much more subtle than the glowing orange it appears in the picture.  The black of the appliances and counter top are not the severe contrast that they appear in the picture.

The colors all work together extremely well.

The clay is a continuation of the living room wall color.   The black picks up the black of the VCT tile in the living room.   The green introduces another fun color into our palette.

We owe it all to our wonderful color consultant, Deb Allstott of Home Matters in La Grande.

The sink and appliances are nice, but we are not entirely satisfied with any of them. We'll have more on that later.

We are very pleased with our new layout.   It is so nice to have space between the refrigerator and the range.

What we love perhaps the most are the cabinets which were custom made by Tom Woodruff of Woodruff Custom Furniture and Cabinetry.   He did a wonderful job.   The cabinets matched the style of other cabinetry in the house so everything blends together seamlessly.

We'll have more details about the renovation and more examples of John, Deb, and Tom's work in the weeks ahead.

Stay tuned.

Guest Blogger, Artist/Contractor John Mueller.

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
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.

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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.

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

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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.