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Designing Our Blackened-Steel Fireplace ?

Designing Our Blackened-Steel Fireplace ?

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.


About a year ago, I wrote “Trees, Wood, and Fire” and mentioned how our perspective on the fireplace had changed after living on Orcas for a while:

We had a natural gas fireplace in the city which ignited with the push of a button, and planned to have a similar model in the new house. It was so clean and easy.

Having burned wood for the winter on Orcas, gas just didn’t seem right. I started to feel the new house needed a wood burning fireplace instead. Sure, it would be more maintenance and take time to manage, but that was part of the experience.

This decision turned out to be the first of a hundred decisions about the fireplace “unit” for the house. The story of getting it right provides a real-world look at home design and what it takes to create a one-of-a-kind feature.

The Big Idea

Early in the design process, we saw an opportunity to have a two-sided wall (interior and exterior) that serves as a home for cooking, heating, and entertainment. Inside, we would have a fireplace and TV. The outside would have a second fireplace and grill.

The Big Idea

Here’s how it was framed:

Below is one of my first 3d models of the unit from July of 2019.

my first 3d models

It’s a relatively simple idea that is also an important one. The fireplace unit will be a central part of the house and the heart of our activity. Getting it right was more of a challenge than I would have imagined.

At the beginning, we had to think about the big questions like how it looks, what it’s made of, and how we plan to use it.

grill and two fireplaces

Initially, we focused on the interior unit, with fireplace, TV and storage. It would be the most visible element of the house and set the tone for everything else.

I looked forward to the design process and, as usual, assumed it would go quickly and easily. What happened in reality was a long process of iteration; one design after the other. Between us and John, there was always a new idea.

The Evolution

Let’s look at a few versions of the interior and how they evolved. As you’ll see, it’s mostly a process of subtraction, which I think is a good sign.

The first concept was a unit that was placed in front of the wall, protruding into the room. It was mostly covered in steel, with a recessed section for the the TV, etc.

protruding into the room

It seemed like a good idea. The TV would be beside the fireplace and not above it. But, it was boring and we saw opportunities to to add a bit of style.

Then we had a revelation. What if the unit wasn’t a big wall of steel with recessed shelves? What if, instead, the drywall behind the unit was more visible and the elements were simply placed in front of the wall? This seemed like we were on the right track, as it made the space feel more open.

We tried a number of different configurations with shelves and cabinets. The one below was one of my worst attempts, but it got us further down the road.

shelves and cabinets

We soon realized that we needed to get specific about what components would live in the unit. This way, we could use start designing with the right dimensions. I sent this to John:

designing with the right dimensions

For the first time, we felt that we were on the right track. Instead of a big monolithic piece of steel, it was becoming a more open and purpose built unit.

This model became our more stable version and one that hasn’t changed significantly:

big monolithic piece

The same is true for the exterior. After a few tweaks, it was stable and we were feeling good.

true for the exterior

The Pressure Is On

We told Drew that the design was close to final and that we were ready to get the work started. He called a friend from out of town who planned to come do the metal work. This meant that we had to have everything buttoned-up so we didn’t waste this person’s time.

The day before the metal worker arrived, we had a call from John, who was having second thoughts about the steel. Before pulling the trigger he and I agreed to at least entertain the thought of using brick as the main surface of the unit. Initially, Sachi was happy to consider the options and I created a model as a test:

metal worker

That evening, Sachi and I had a design discussion. She was not fully invested in the brick and wanted to stick to the steel surface. I could see her point. Within a few hours, the brick discussion had ended and the arrival of the metal worker was imminent.

We told Drew that we would have final designs ready on Friday morning, less than 48 hours away. Our goal was to meet on site and work through the entire design.

John took on the challenge and, over Wednesday night, designed what became our final specification. We reviewed it, made a few tweaks on Thursday and spent Friday going over the details with the crew on-site. Things looked to be buttoned up and we left feeling good.

Of course, we were not done.  

The following Monday (yesterday) ended up being full of more questions about the unit. The vision was clear and agreed upon, but some details needed attention before work could begin.

At the last minute, we ended up adding an access door under the grill and using stainless steel on the front of the grill cabinet.

Right now, we’re feeling relieved and above all, confident that we ended up with a design that we love. Decisions on details will keep coming for a while, and that’s all part of the process of getting it right. We iterate our way to what we want.

the grill cabinet

I’m excited for the day, probably in just a few weeks, that I can show you the final product.

I Can Recommend…

Show: We’ve been binging Ratched on Netflix. It’s loosely adapted from the Nurse Ratched character in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Dark, stylish, and full of monstrous characters, it’s a recent favorite.

Movie: I first learned about the Safdie brothers from their direction of the movie Uncut Gems (which I recommend). Their specialty is gritty, pressure-cooker dramas that keep your attention. The strangely named Good Time is another Safdie Brothers film that is a wild trip, full of action.

Podcast: The Broken Record Podcast is a deep-dive into the work of musicians, in a similar vein to the awesome Song Exploder podcast. Some episodes are hosted by Rick Rubin.

I loved this episode with the Mike D and Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys along with Spike Jonze. Rick Rubin hosts and the episode and it goes much deeper than their recent stage show. I particularly love the stories from before their fame when they would visit Rick at his dorm at NYU.

Photo:We had a strange mix of fog and smoke that made for interesting scenes on the water.

mix of fog and smoke

That’s what I have for now. Cheers!

Shou Sugi Ban Siding – Fortified by Fire ?

Shou Sugi Ban Siding – Fortified by Fire ?

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.


In the process of designing a house, you are often guided by themes or principles that can help you make decisions. For example, we always envisioned a modern house with simple designs and clean lines. When it’s time to select door handles or towel racks, which we did recently, we can imagine which ones fit the theme and narrow the options quickly.

For the record, we chose this Baldwin model in satin black:

Baldwin model in satin black
Baldwin Estate 5162

This same idea applies to expectations regarding materials and finishes. We want them to look nice, but more than that, we want them to stand the test of time and require very little of our attention.

Windows are a good example. We chose Marvin fiberglass windows that will not rot and never need to be painted. They aren’t the fanciest or most elegant, and that’s fine. Our priority is not having to think about maintaining windows for the next 20 years at least. This isn’t the case with wood.

Few decisions regarding the house have been more pivotal than the choice of siding. It sets the tone of the entire exterior and protects the house from the elements, which can be a challenge living near the ocean.

We always liked the idea of the house having a dark exterior, maybe even black. The idea of a dark, modern home, set in the pacific northwest forest seemed perfect. It’s easy enough to paint a house black, but we started to look into other options.

If you picture a Japanese village in your mind, you’re likely to imagine buildings with a dark brown or black appearance, with a lot of character.

Japanese village

This appearance, comes, in part, from an ancient Japanese method of charring wood to make it more resilient. The final product is called “yakisugi” or “shou sugi ban”. The Japanese found that charring the wood gave it a unique character that made it last longer. Today, people all over the world are using the same method for their homes.

Charring the wood does a few things:

  • It dries the wood and removes the carbohydrates that attract bugs, making it more bug resistant
  • It creates a fire-resistant barrier
  • It strengthens the boards
  • It reduces maintenance because it never needs to be painted. Over time, the wood remains strong even as appearance ages and takes on a patina as the underlying wood shows through.
  • It creates a look that’s both rustic and contemporary

We looked at composite siding like Hardie but felt it looked conventional. It also required painting and repainting over time. The same was true with cedar siding. We asked around and found a company in Oregon called Nakamoto Forestry that specializes in yakisugi siding for a price comparable to Hardie. In talking to them, it became clear we’d found the product and source we needed.

The siding arrived on site and was packaged in what could be described as a Japanese level of care, with each set of boards wrapped in wax paper, all stacked perfectly. The delivery person said it was the best packing they had ever seen.

Japanese level of care
One of Two Pallets

The process we chose was “gendai”, which means that after the wood is charred, it is brushed once at the company. The wood itself is Japanese cypress or “sugi”, which Nakamoto claims is the only species that should be used. We chose the shiplap style board. Once the siding arrived we got our first look and it matched our expectations. It was black, with the character of charred wood.

shiplap style board

Last week, we got to see the first sections of the house clad in the charred siding and it looked amazing. The house started to take on a deep black appearance that consumes any light that touches it.

deep black appearance

I couldn’t help but notice that the siding was being applied as our air quality suffered from wildfires on the mainland. It seemed appropriate to be using a burnt product, as if it had already survived a brush with fire and came out stronger on the other side. It has been fortified with the power of fire and hopefully protected by it. With a metal roof and charred siding, we feel prepared for what may come our way.

Speaking of the roof… The day after the book launched, our skylights were put into place by a crane. They are among the real jewels of the house and something that changed how it feels inside. The big one, pictured below, is 12’ X 8’. Made of tinted glass and aluminum. It, too, will be fire resistant and hopefully last a very long time.

metal roof
Skylight over the outdoor living room
Skylight over the outdoor living room

I Can Recommend…

I loved this video about a couple living in an off-the-grid cabin in Northern Sweden. It’s beautifully shot and a entertaining look at their version of a simple life. Thanks to Jeff Henshaw for the pointer!

We’ve been watching the show “People Just Do Nothing” on Netflix. It’s a comedy series about failed hip-hop artists in the London suburbs. It’s like The Office mixed with Workaholics or Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Speaking of shows, we seem to be living in the golden age of series about English Football, fiction and non-fiction. I find them fascinating. These follow a team through a recent season:

On the fiction side is the show Ted Lasso, starting Jason Sudeikis, who plays an American hired to coach an English football club. It has become one of my favorite shows. (Apple TV+)

Lastly, I’ve been doing a lot of podcast interviews to promote Big Enough. Right now, I have 24 either scheduled or recorded. I think you’d enjoy this interview for the Managing Partners podcast because Sachi agreed to participate. You can find all the published interviews here.

That’s what I have for now! Thanks!

Before Drywall -Did We Get It Right?

Before Drywall -Did We Get It Right?

The race is on. A couple of weeks ago, Drew, our contractor, set a date for our house to be insulated. We’re using spray foam insulation, which creates a hardened shell in the spaces in the walls. It also locks into place years of decisions and the work of electricians and plumbers. Untold miles of wires and pipes will be encased forevermore, hopefully. Soon after, drywall will finish the job.

The race is on because once the insulation process starts, changes become more difficult and expensive. Everyone’s goal is for the entire house to be ready and that includes us. It’s worrisome to think that so much is becoming more permanent. Did we get it right? 

I suppose most projects reach the stage where all the decisions are made and the trigger must be pulled. This post is an example. Just before you received this message, Sachi and I both pored through it, looking for errors and ways to improve it. Once I hit “send” and it landed in your inbox, there was no going back. What’s done is done. 

Publishing Big Enough was similar. Once the book had been written, edited, designed, and reviewed multiple times, we had to make the final decision to get it printed. When the ink dried on those pages, it was truly final. Did we get it right?

It’s that moment, when the final decision is made, that progress happens and it’s essential to getting things done. In business terms, you have to ship the product and it sometimes takes gumption to do it. Self-doubt can make you rethink the idea or delay the decision for another week or month. I’ve seen untold hours of my time wasted because I wasn’t confident enough to ship it. It’s a constant battle.

Thankfully, with the house and the book, we had the help of professionals who specialize in getting it right. They have systems and processes that help ensure the final product is high quality. While mistakes are inevitable, we trust the pros, who have been through it before and are used to getting products out the door.

Today, with the work of carpenters, electricians and plumbers about to get shipped, we’re doing what we can to document what’s inside the walls. As some of you suggested for this stage, we took photos and videos of every wall in the house. I think of this as a kind of X-ray vision that only applies once the drywall is up. The photos and videos allow us to know what lurks behind each wall so we can avoid driving a nail into a water pipe or diagnose a problem more efficiently in the future.

The process of taking the photos was a great reminder of all the work that has gone into the house that no one will ever see. An example is “blocking”. There is a high likelihood that you’ve needed to place a screw into a wall to hang art or install a shelf. To make it more secure, you hoped to find a stud in the wall. Or, you’ve used anchors in drywall. With a bit of forethought, this process can be easier and more secure.

For example, we plan to have two towel bars in our bathroom. Casey, the foreman on the project and all-around great guy, asked about the height of the bars and installed these blocks in the walls. Now we don’t have to find studs. This was true across the entire house; we blocked for everything we could imagine. No stud finders needed.

Speaking of drywall, I noticed that the plumbers put these metal “nail plates” on the studs whenever a water line passes through it. I initially thought they were for strengthening the wood, but their role is to prevent a drywall nail (or a nail from us in the future) from piercing the line and causing a huge problem inside the wall.

When the drywall is installed, a canvas will also be lost forever. Drew is a very visual person and when he needs to explain something, he draws it on whatever he can find. Often, it’s a nearby stud. The walls of the house are adorned with little drawings and notes that record a decision made or mind changed. Maybe someday they’ll be seen again, but hopefully not by us.

Today we’re about 14 months into the project, starting with the demolition of the Yurt, and the house is very close to taking a great leap toward becoming livable. Over the next month or so, the roof, all doors and windows, drywall, soffits and siding will all become a reality. While these elements are more visible than what’s inside the walls, we’ll still be asking: did we get it right?

A version of this post also appeared in my Ready for Rain newsletter.

What to Consider Before Drywall is Installed ? ?

What to Consider Before Drywall is Installed ? ?

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.


Evening light, yesterday

The race is on. A couple of weeks ago, Drew, our contractor, set a date for our house to be insulated. We’re using spray foam insulation, which creates a hardened shell in the spaces in the walls. It also locks into place years of decisions and the work of electricians and plumbers. Untold miles of wires and pipes will be encased forevermore, hopefully. Soon after, drywall will finish the job.

The race is on because once the insulation process starts, changes become more difficult and expensive. Everyone’s goal is for the entire house to be ready and that includes us. It’s worrisome to think that so much is becoming more permanent. Did we get it right?

I suppose most projects reach the stage where all the decisions are made and the trigger must be pulled. This post is an example. Just before you received this message, Sachi and I both pored through it, looking for errors and ways to improve it. Once I hit “send” and it landed in your inbox, there was no going back. What’s done is done.

Publishing Big Enough was similar. Once the book had been written, edited, designed, and reviewed multiple times, we had to make the final decision to get it printed. When the ink dried on those pages, it was truly final. Did we get it right?

It’s that moment, when the final decision is made, that progress happens and it’s essential to getting things done. In business terms, you have to ship the product and it sometimes takes gumption to do it. Self-doubt can make you rethink the idea or delay the decision for another week or month. I’ve seen untold hours of my time wasted because I wasn’t confident enough to ship it. It’s a constant battle.

Thankfully, with the house and the book, we had the help of professionals who specialize in getting it right. They have systems and processes that help ensure the final product is high quality. While mistakes are inevitable, we trust the pros, who have been through it before and are used to getting products out the door.

Today, with the work of carpenters, electricians and plumbers about to get shipped, we’re doing what we can to document what’s inside the walls. As some of you suggested for this stage, we took photos and videos of every wall in the house. I think of this as a kind of X-ray vision that only applies once the drywall is up. The photos and videos allow us to know what lurks behind each wall so we can avoid driving a nail into a water pipe or diagnose a problem more efficiently in the future.

Bathroom on one side, laundry on the other
An essential instrument

The process of taking the photos was a great reminder of all the work that has gone into the house that no one will ever see. An example is “blocking”. There is a high likelihood that you’ve needed to place a screw into a wall to hang art or install a shelf. To make it more secure, you hoped to find a stud in the wall. Or, you’ve used anchors in drywall. With a bit of forethought, this process can be easier and more secure.

For example, we plan to have two towel bars in our bathroom. Casey, the foreman on the project and all-around great guy, asked about the height of the bars and installed these blocks in the walls. Now we don’t have to find studs. This was true across the entire house; we blocked for everything we could imagine. No stud finders needed.

Blocks for towel bars

Speaking of drywall, I noticed that the plumbers put these metal “nail plates” on the studs whenever a water line passes through it. I initially thought they were for strengthening the wood, but their role is to prevent a drywall nail (or a nail from us in the future) from piercing the line and causing a huge problem inside the wall.

Nail plates

When the drywall is installed, a canvas will also be lost forever. Drew is a very visual person and when he needs to explain something, he draws it on whatever he can find. Often, it’s a nearby stud. The walls of the house are adorned with little drawings and notes that record a decision made or mind changed. Maybe someday they’ll be seen again, but hopefully not by us.

drywall is installed

Today we’re about 14 months into the project, starting with the demolition of the Yurt, and the house is very close to taking a great leap toward becoming livable. Over the next month or so, the roof, all doors and windows, drywall, soffits and siding will all become a reality. While these elements are more visible than what’s inside the walls, we’ll still be asking: did we get it right?

soffits and siding

A photo from my Instagram account:

A photo from my Instagram account
Rolling Out Our Metal Roof ?

Rolling Out Our Metal Roof ?

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.


You’ve probably seen metal roofs on houses. They usually have “standing seams” like this:

standing seams

The roof on our house will be no different. In fact, it’s one of our only options because the slope of the roof is so flat. For us, it’s exactly what we need. A metal roof can last over 50 years, especially when it is installed with the panels extending the entire length of the roof. This is where we have a challenge. To have panels with no breaks in them, they will be 60 feet long on a large part of the house.

slope of the roof

The question becomes: how? How do you deliver and install metal panels that are 60 feet long?

I recently participated in this process and it’s fascinating. The metal is delivered in large, heavy spools and then formed and cut on-site in a process called “roll forming”. It’s like a giant mechanical tape dispenser. Photos and more below…

One of Three Spools
One of Three Spools
The Machine/Dispenser
A 60 Foot Panel
A 60 Foot Panel
Stacks of Panels, 10 at a Time

Watch the machine in action:

Machine that Forms Roof Panels

Now we just have to get the panels from the ground to on top of the roof. I’ll get to that a little later.

Rolling Out the Roof

Rolling Out the Roof

You’ve probably seen metal roofs on houses. They usually have “standing seams” like this:

The roof on our house will be no different. In fact, it’s one of our only options because the slope of the roof is so flat. For us, it’s exactly what we need. A metal roof can last over 50 years, especially when it is installed with the panels extending the entire length of the roof. This is where we have a challenge. To have panels with no breaks in them, they will be 60 feet long on a large part of the house.

The question becomes: how? How do you deliver and install metal panels that are 60 feet long?

I recently participated in this process and it’s fascinating. The metal is delivered in large heavy spools and then formed and cut on-site in a process called “roll forming”. It’s like a giant mechanical tape dispenser. Photos and more below…

One of three spools of metal roofing
The forming machine
60 foot piece of formed steel roof
Stacks of Ten Panels (Over 60 panels)

Watch the machine (and people) at work:

Now we just have to get the panels from the ground to on top of the roof. I’ll get to that a little later.

What is a Rain Screen for a House?

What is a Rain Screen for a House?

Today our house is sporting an exterior look that reminds me of dazzle camouflage, which was used in WW1 (and to a smaller extend in WWII) to it difficult to estimate the range of other ships.

We’re not hoping to fool the enemy, but mother nature. The stripes on our house are there to hold the siding away from the house in what is called a “rain screen”. Here’s the big idea:

Moisture is the enemy when it comes to house exteriors. If it gets trapped and can’t evaporate, it can start to rot wood and other materials. Houses usually have a couple of layers that serve as moisture barriers, like home wrapping (the black material above) and siding.

From what I’ve heard, it’s nearly impossible to prevent moisture from getting behind siding. Usually, it’s not a problem, but some siding does best when water can evaporate or drain quickly. That’s why a rain screen is used. It holds the siding about half an inch off the home wrap so that moisture can easily drain.

The stripes in the photo above are wooden boards that have been put in place to hold the wooden siding we’ll use. You can see that the walls alternate in terms of pattern. This is because the orientation of the siding will also alternate from vertical to horizontal.

It took me a while to realize why the middle section has diagonal stripes. This section will have vertical siding that could be applied on horizontal boards. Because the goal is drainage, the underlying boards must be diagonal to help with drainage.

The siding we’ll use is called Yaki Sugi and is cypress that has been charred on one side. This sort of rain screen was recommended by the manufacturer because the cypress does best when it can dry quickly.

Cedar, Big Enough, and Boats ???

Cedar, Big Enough, and Boats ???

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.


Here are a few things I shared over the last week:

From the Blog

The Big Enough ebook (along with the paperback) is now available for pre-order on all the major book websites. The audiobook is also complete, but won’t be available until after the book is published on September 15th.

It would mean a lot to me if you’d consider pre-ordering Big Enough because pre-orders can help the book get attention when it comes out. 

audiobook

I shared the book project on Facebook for the first time yesterday and was heartened by the response. I need and want to feel more comfortable promoting it and it helped to see friends be excited with me.

The House Project

Sachi and I spent the weekend on sweat equity. One of the early design decisions was to use western red cedar for some of our ceiling and soffits under the eaves of the house. It’s a tree that’s abundant on the island and comes in boards that are knot-free, or “clear”, with beautiful color variations and straight grains. The construction team was excited about the quality of the wood. I am still learning how to judge such things. 

Before the cedar can be installed, it needs to be stained so it’s protected from UV rays and weather. This became our job. We used a transparent, satin finish. The boards needed to be stained on both sides, sanded on the front side, and then stained once more on the front.

To make it easier, Casey, one of Drew’s guys, made these “paint trees” that are racks for staining and drying multiple boards at once. So much easier!

racks for staining and drying

We probably got through about 40% of the boards that need staining, mainly because the rack can only hold so many. Once they get installed, we will go back and stain more.

The stack of cedar
The stack of cedar
Rolling it on
Rolling it on
Stained and unstained boards
Full rack
Awaiting a second coat
Awaiting a second coat

Crabs and Boats

Crab season started on Thursday and we were ready to be back on the water with our little boat, Short Story. After a slow start, we’re finding our rhythm.

Three Dungeness crabs
Three Dungeness crabs

The longer I live on the island, the more fascinated I become with boats of all shapes and sizes. A side effect of COVID is an increase in boating because it’s a safe vacation for many. Those vacationers end up in places like Deer Harbor, where we keep our boat and I love keeping a mental inventory of the boats I see. Someday we want to have a boat we can sleep on but for now, we’re just dreaming.

Speaking of dreams, a superyacht appeared in Deer Harbor recently that was bigger than anyone had ever seen in the area. It was the Attessa IV, owned by Dennis Washington. 332 feet long, a crew of 22, and recently rebuilt. Amazing.

Attessa IV

Like the cedar, I’m learning to notice and appreciate boat design and lately, loving the classics. There are a couple of classic wooden yachts in Deer Harbor that date back to the 50s and 60s and are immaculately kept. I believe they are both Chris Crafts. You can just imagine Frank Sinatra on the bow with a cocktail.

MV Lovedrive
MV Miramar
MV Miramar

On the second day of crabbing, this boat (with 900 horsepower across three motors) came screaming up to us. It was the Washington Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, stopping to make sure we were in full compliance. We were and they were very nice.

WDFW Police
WDFW Police

As much as I love watching these boats, I am very satisfied with our little 15’ Short Story. She does the job!

love watching these boats

Until next time!

The Search for Smart House Siding

The Search for Smart House Siding

For our house project, we are constantly looking for materials and products that we call “smart”. Today, smart often means something electronic, like a doorbell or light switch. In this case, smart means something different to us. We want our house to be made from sustainable materials that last multiple decades, are resistant to rot, and require very low maintenance. The dream is to identify beautiful products that last. To us, that’s smart.

From the beginning, we liked the idea of the house having a dark exterior, maybe even black. The idea of a dark, modern home, set in the pacific northwest woods seemed perfect. It’s easy enough to paint a house black, but we started to look into other options.

If you picture a Japanese village in your mind, you’re likely to imagine buildings with a dark brown or black appearance, with a lot of character. This appearance, comes, in part, from an ancient Japanese method of charring wood to make it more resilient. The final product is called “yakisugi” or “shou sugi ban”. The Japanese found that charring the wood gave a unique character that made it last longer. Today, people all over the world are using the same method for their homes.

Charring the wood does a few things.

  • It dries the wood and removes the carbohydrates that attract bugs, making it more bug resistant
  • It creates a fire-resistant barrier
  • It strengthens the boards
  • It reduces maintenance because it never needs to be painted. Over time, the wood remains strong even as appearance ages and takes on a patina as the underlying wood shows through.
  • It creates a look that’s both rustic and contemporary

We looked at composite siding like Hardie but felt it looked conventional and required painting. We started to ask around and found a company in Oregon called Nakamoto Forestry that specializes in yakisugi siding for a price comparable to Hardie. In talking to them, it became clear we’d found the product and source we needed.

A couple of weeks ago, the siding arrived on site. It was packaged in what could be described as a Japanese level of care, with each set of boards wrapped in wax paper, all stacked perfectly. The delivery person said it was the best packing they had ever seen.

One of Two Pallets

The process we chose was “gendai”, which means that after the wood is charred, it is brushed once. The wood itself is Japanese cypress or “sugi”, which Nakamoto claims is the only species that should be used. We chose the shiplap style board. Once the siding arrived we got our first look and it matched our expectations. It was black, with the character of charred wood.

For now, the siding is patiently waiting in the garage as the exterior is being prepared. In a matter of weeks, it will be applied and we’ll get to see it in action. I think the sugiyaki is going to be beautiful and smart for a long time into the future.

Here’s my amateur 3d model of how we expect it to look:

To see more posts about the house project, check out the house category.