Projects

Raising The Owl House

Collin and his crew just finished assembling the bones of an owl-shaped treehouse set in an Olympia, Washington, rainforest for the Previous Man film his friend Sean O'Connor wrote and is directing. The film features another friend, Shane O'Grady, as actor and producer, with the star role going to Daniel Higgs, the deeply-bearded lead singer of Lungfish, whom Shane called an "embodier" rather than an actor. 

The Owl House, as it's been dubbed, is a finessed timber frame structure of fir, walnut and birch, finished with a light round of sho sugi ban carbon charring, and between the heavy-mossed firs of the coastal rainforest, under the canopy of wet leaves, the dark wood with its burned grain is expansive, heart-opening; and yet also constraining, unsettling. It is exactly what Sean and Shane envisioned for the way the Owl House plays into the development of the film's main character.  

Collin's crew — Dave and Hank, with the on-site addition of Johnny — worked hard on the raising, and Dave and Hank stayed to finish the structure's staircase. In the coming days, the lighter wood of the flooring will be stained and the structure will be finished out by Olympia-based Pete Chramiec's crew. 

Shelter from the storm

A home is your sanctuary and your protection from the natural elements. Sometimes those elements dish out more than is expected. Last night, Sandpoint, Idaho, and its surrounding areas suffered wind storms that knocked out electricity and damaged many homes, primarily due to trees falling on them.

One of the first homes I designed and built suffered multiple blows by very large trees, but held strong. When I went inside to tally the destruction, I saw that the timber frame had remained intact and true, thus protecting the interior from any damage.

On this home we installed a cedar shake roof, which is easy to replace, reuse, and recycle.
If this was an asphalt roof, the landfill would be its next home. Wood is an enduring material because of its easy repairability, strength, longevity, low embodied energy to produce, and lasting beauty. 

For centuries, timber frame homes have offered that extra assurance of security and safety, and they still do that today.
 

Historical Restoration

 Collin Beggs splitting white oak shingles using a mallet and a froe.

Collin Beggs splitting white oak shingles using a mallet and a froe.

In 1999, New York State Barn Company worked on a project in Palmyra, in cooperation with a variety of religious historians, to re-construct Joseph Smith's boyhood family cabin on a popular historical site revered by many practicing Mormons. At the same time, New York State Barn Company also restored a barn from the same time period and moved it to the property. Collin Beggs and the other carpenters who worked on the project were chosen based on their ability to use traditional tools and follow methods of construction authentic to the era. The log cabin, which was originally built around 1818, was re-constructed in a half-dovetail style. The barn was refurbished and finished with hand-split white oak shingles. 

Today, the cabin and barn are visited by many domestic and foreign tourists. Collin Beggs has done other historical restoration work, but this is the most well-known.

Cabin

Natural light

 The afternoon sunlight slides across the floor and reflects on the polished modernist dining room furnishings in the  House of Good Cheer

The afternoon sunlight slides across the floor and reflects on the polished modernist dining room furnishings in the House of Good Cheer

 Collin Beggs in a well-lit room of his own design

Collin Beggs in a well-lit room of his own design

The Impressionists, Monet and Degas and the rest of them, chased the light. They tried to capture it, harness it, view the world through its lens. They used opaque pigments to give the impression of it — something dark and thick to make you think of illumination. Monet, for example, spent an enormous amount of time painting the cathedral of Rouen over and over, in various lights, in various seasons. The building remained the same, but it looked different depending on the time of day or what the weather was doing. Monet was entranced by this. 

If a building is well thought-out, it treats light the same way the Impressionists did. Light is invited in, gently, appropriate to season and the use of the room. Light can make a home feel airy, expansive, elegant, restful or invigorating. There are many things to consider in a home design, and natural light is crucial.