In 2010 a family of four sold their charming little condo in the increasingly fashionable neighborhood of University Heights. With the money they bought a stripped out house in East San Diego previously owned by human smugglers. Their goal was a radical change in lifestyle that would allow DIY Makerism, self reliance, alternative technology, permaculture, and urban homesteading into their lives in ways their HOA would have never allowed. The ideas that lead them to take this plunge came from the steampunk movement as it was during a brief shining period when art and philosophy seemed at least as important as brass, and great essays, speeches, and letters were written. These days they don't worry so much about what people call "steampunk." They call what they're doing the Greyshade Estate.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012
In November we emptied the storage pod that contained all the poorly sorted possessions that we had to quickly remove from my late mother’s house. It contained nearly thirty cubic yards of… stuff. Somehow we had to find places for it in a house that was already pretty well furnished and not excessively large. This one project has overshadowed just about everything else. There are still many boxes to go through, but we’re finally reached a point where it’s not a crisis.
One of the first things I did was turn some of the ex-bathroom space in the master bedroom into a makeshift linen closet. One of the things we inherited from my mother were a set of cheap light-weight dressers from the nineteen fifties. By stacking them and screwing them in place, I built a partial closet wall with drawers on the outside. A few scraps of plywood finished it. On the inside I built some quick brick and board shelves. It’s an ugly jury-rig to be sure but it doubled our closet space. When I renovate the master bedroom the temporary wall will be replaced by a permanent one and then I’ll add another wall to create a bedroom closet. Realistically, that’s a 2013 project.
A storage project that’s coming along much faster is our attic. The decision to use Ultratouch insulation proved to be very wise indeed. Not only is the insulation itself non-toxic but because the rolls are slightly over wide for the spacing between the joists it sealed away all the dirt and grime under packed cotton. As a result we have what a friend called the cleanest attic he’d ever been in. Our roof is peaked more far more than is typical for a Southern California house so the attic is about five and half feet tall in the center.
When I put in the insulation I was shocked by two unconnected live wires. One of them I dropped through the ceiling and turned into the light for the linen closet. The other I used to light the attic. There are now three light fixtures (all salvaged) lighting up the length of the roof peak and activated by switch right by the trap door. For flooring I started with whatever scraps of wood I could nail across the joists but rapidly ran out. That’s when I discovered OSB (Oriented Strand Board) plywood’s cheaper cousin. At nine dollars for a four by eight sheet we can afford to bring home a few sheets even during the tightest paychecks. I cut them into quarter sections to fit through the trap door and nail them into place, each time gaining a few dozen more square feet of space.