Apr 17, 2014

Hard & Heavy

Remember a while back when we spent a weekend carrying 16 tons of junk out of the underground bunker? Well, that was only the first part. The second part and a few more tons will follow in a few weeks.  

Before that, there was just one problem waiting to be solved. Namely, a large piece of rock sticking out from gravel and blocking the wheel barrel passageway to the deepest part of the bunker.

Tip of an iceberg

Of course, the magnitude of the problem had remained a mystery until Pekka started removing some gravel around the rock only to reveal the extent of our challenge: approximately two meters in length and one meter in depth. And subject to demolition as quickly as possible. 

The problem

Naturally, it was again a case for our old friend, expansive mortar. Last time, about 3.5 kg was enough and very effective. This time, 15 kg would be needed to cause enough damage.

The solution

There are just a few minor "buts" in this matter. First, to do the work, the entire 15 kg of mortar needs to be inserted into the rock. In theory this is very simple: you drill a hole and pour the mortar in. However, applying theory into practise leads to the second critical "but". Everyone knows how hard rock is. Yet there is a huge difference between knowing something and actually experiencing it first hand yourself. Also, all rock is not the same. Limestone would be a walk in a park but our home happens to lie on a bed of granite. Lovely.

The driller

So from plans to action. Pekka took of a few (vacation) days off work. The neighbors were given flowers and an upfront apology. A new tool for the job was purchased. Last time we rented, but this time we thought to be smarter. Why to rent if you can buy a piece with nearly the same cost?

First series of small holes

Very smart and dear friend once said: "If you have to drill a hole in solid rock and need to rent a drill make sure to turn down the first one they offer and ask to size up a step instead." Well, this piece of wisdom seemed to have slipped out of our minds temporarily. Instead of sizing up, we bought a new yellow toy, broke the socket and burned three drill bits. Only then we eventually gave up and rented the right tool. Quoting Benjamin Franklin: "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn", this is a lesson including serious involvement. Consider the lesson internalised.

The correct tool to drill big

And why is it that every time something gets stuck? Something to do with Murphy's Law? Or just a regular coin toss probability? Or can we perhaps find an inverse correlation between the jammed drill bits and hours of experience in drilling?

The mandatory jammed drill bit

To make a long, painful and frustrating story short and straightforward, during the last few days altogether 32 holes were drilled. This took about 15 hours of continuous drilling. And granite is hard. Painfully hard. Fingers crossed there is no need to drill any more holes, that we would be done with destroying granite. But before emptying the space a bit more, there is no way to know for sure.

So, fingers crossed.

Snap, crackle and pop

Apr 14, 2014

Coupé by Joe Colombo

As we currently have "all in" for renovation, the process of acquiring vintage pieces for our home is temporarily on hold. That being said, postponing purchases is one thing, but letting such a mid century jewel as the Coupé light pass when bumping into a very reasonably priced specimen in an auction would be unforgivable. Simply put, this is the rationale why last weekend, a Coupé was allowed to move in.

The Coupé was designed by Joe Colombo, one of the brightest stars among the Italian mid century modernists, for Oluce in 1967. The light is part of the permanent collection at the MoMA in New York and in 1968, it won the "International Design Award" from the American Institute of Interior Designers in Chicago. The floor lamp (3321), just like its little sister, the table lamp (2202) provides direct light downwards and they both have adjustable, semi-cylindrical reflector in stove-enamelled aluminium. Similar to the reflector, the base also has identical finish whereas the stem is made of chromium-plated steel.

Coupé next to a rosewood credenza by Arne Vodder

Cesare "Joe" Colombo (1930-1971) devoted his short life for painting, sculpture and design. In the 1950's and 1960's, he belonged in an exclusive group of talented Italian designers who demonstrated to manufacturers how effective design could help them to better market products internationally. Achille Castiglioni, Gio Ponti, Ettore Sottsass, Mario Bellini and Joe Colombo were the central figures who with their work created a phenomena today known as "Italian design". The tragedy, of course, is the sad fact that Joe Colombo passed away as a result of a heart failure on his 41st birthday. One can not help but wonder what the world of design has missed due to this unfortunate loss.

Tilting reflector 

But back to the floor lamp. The general condition of the light is quite good. Given it is old it of course has some normal wear and tear typically found in vintage items. The base has some minor issues on the enameled finish and the reflector has a small bump. Considering, however, the action described in Kids, Dogs & Design it won't be the last hit this light is likely to receive.

Signs of life

Lets wrap the Coupé intro up with a very particular "behind-the-scenes" shot which would make Ivan Pavlov proud. Urho's behaviour during the photo shoots has been discussed before, but as it now seems to be approaching a standard-operational-procedures rather than being just an occasional anomaly, it is worth mentioning once more.

So, take a look at a typical photo session set up here behind the Olive Green Window. Laying on the floor is an auxiliary light, this time the AJ Floor lamp, providing highlights and reflections to the item being photographed. Next to the light lies the assistant - our beloved dachshund. Without an exception, the moment Urho hears the camera shutter sound he immediately approaches the scene and positions his lengthy figure in the centre of all action, knowing that afterwards there will be a commission. And let's be specific here regarding the format of the commission. It is indeed a treat, not a bone. We all know the risk with bones and trying to hide them under carpets and between pillows...

Assistant on duty

Apr 12, 2014

Kids, Dogs & Design

According to Jerry Seinfeld, "a two-year old is kind of like having a blender, but you don't have a top for it." Indeed, we could not agree more. Add a dog, and the chaos will multiply exponentially.

Since the very dawn of the Olive Green Window, people have asked us the critical question: how does one manage to mix kids, dogs and design? Now after some years of trial and error, we would like to take the opportunity to show you a collection of photos of every day situations (divided in five categories) in which the miniature members of our pack interact with design. Afterwards, everyone can draw their own conclusions regarding this interesting topic.

1. Marks and scratches
In vintage items, marks and scratches are one clear indicator separating vintage from new. Rather than seeing those as unequivocally negative, we'd like to regard such imperfections as inevitable makings of time, as signs of years passed. That being said we do not mean that we would not prefer a vintage piece in good over poor condition, or would not like to take good care of these items. But being fond of vintage, one needs to have a sufficient tolerance for imperfections.

Serious paint work on the 82B table top by Alvar Aalto

Along the same lines, with kids and dogs one needs to have sufficient tolerance for newly appearing marks and scratches, both permanent and temporary by nature. Most of our daily meals (and all of Sofi's painting and drawing) are enjoyed around the 82B table by Alvar Aalto. Simply said, we love the fact that its laminate top has proven to be practically indestructible!

Sometimes, especially when we are entertaining guests, we use the Tulip table by Eero Saarinen. The Tulip was found from an internet auction and therefore we did not have the possibility to evaluate its condition in a live setting. Once it arrived, it was immediately clear that it had belonged to someone with kids - the table top around the edges is covered with little (spoon?) marks. Does it matter? Were we disappointed? No, not really. It is still a stunningly beautiful table - with a story to tell for the diners.

Spoon marked Tulip

Hiding pens, pencils, markers and all other miscellaneous drawing / writing instruments is an active and continuous process. This preventive activity is something that one quite quickly develops first a skill, then an obsession. We all know it too well - the first day you let go and tune down the 24/7 monitoring, things start to happen in a blink of an eye.

Pencil marks on a brick wall

Of course, sometimes the most interesting things seem to happen on the other side of the door. In those occasions, if you are small and can not reach a door knob, alternative approaches might be tried to break the barrier.

Nail marks on the door

2. Invasion of toys, trash and other junk
We rarely buy new toys, and most pieces in Sofi's collection are recycled treasures or gifts from friends and family. This does not mean her collection would be somehow limited. On the contrary, the pieces are numerous enough to populate the apartment quite densely. We try to keep most of them in Sofi's room, but she has very cleverly and conveniently managed to maintain a toy station in the living room around the Cadovius bookshelf. And as most nights she fails to have sufficient interest in organising them in a proper manner, the Lego blocks remain on the floor just waiting to be stepped on.

Endless battle against the invasion of toys

Urho can be also very creative with his interests, especially when spending time at home alone. The sight below is not uncommon, if something as interesting as for example household cardboard is left by the door waiting to be carried out. Urho takes the corrective feedback like a dachshund - with a miserable, apologising face but not really understanding how something so entertaining and fun could just not be common practise!

It used to be my playground

3. Missing essentials
Most vintage furniture collectors know that one of the most important factors determining the value of a given item is the condition. For us, the concept of condition includes for example materials, upholstery, finishing, original labels - basically everything tangible there is to be considered in a given object. Considering the exploring nature of kids, the sustainability of condition should never been taken for granted.

Something wrong?

As an example, there is a short story to be shared. A while back Pekka witnessed a curious moment in the dining room. On one of her explorations, Sofi had been crawling underneath the Cherner chairs around the Saarinen table. In a very systematic manner she had made her way from one chair to the next one and ripped off the original Plycraft labels attached underneath the seats. All Pekka could do was to bite his lip, accept defeat, and collect and store the random pieces those precious labels in a safe place. 

Original Plycraft label - ripped off

Where it was

4. Knocked down in action
On a frequent basis and as no surprise to anyone, things get knocked down. For example, the day it arrived the Toio floor lamp by Achille Castiglioni got knocked down resulting in a broken bulb. Luckily Sofi, the person responsible for the knock down did not get crushed underneath. Day two the Toio moved in Pekka's office.

And as the photo below indicates, the Toio is only one of many knocked down items. 

AJ (on the) Floor lamp

5. Explorations
During the last 1.5 years, we have focused all our energy and funds on the (endlessly) ongoing renovation project. Basically, this also means that we have had to postpone some of the ongoing restoration projects, one of them being the first generation Eames Lounge chair in the upstairs living room. The chair is in desperate need of new leather upholstery as the original has extensive cracks. The ripped leather has not, however, stopped us from using the chair. Quite contrary - the chair is in use every single day, as it has no structural problems. 

But as always, there is a catch. The ripped leather creates an easy access point to see what hides inside. And for one of us, this seems to be an open invitation to explore the inner parts of the chair. And even more miraculously, some filling from the arm pad has been removed and spread on the living room floor. Any guesses?

Entry point into the first generation Eames Lounge chair

Despite of being a very civilized representative of his breed, Urho also has his primitive moments. Often times, when given a new bone, he treats it like his ancestors when they found food and were not instantly hungry. The excess food is to be hidden well to save it for later consumption. In these occasions, Urho will first sneak around the rooms as long as he finds a suitable hiding place for his treasure.

A dog with a bloody snout

Then, he will place the bone in its hide and try to cover it. Unfortunately, unlike dirt outside in the nature, a fabric or carpet is not "transferable" in the same way than dirt is. As poor Urho does not understand this, sometimes his persistent but unsuccessful attempts leave a visible evidence on site. Fortunately, we had just covered the Toot Sofa by Piero Lissoni with a white sheet, when we came across the sight below. And fortunately, just like the sheet on top, the sofa covers are removable and washable.

A well hidden bone

So, how to conclude or thoughts around kids, dogs and design? Based on the selected examples above, and also reflecting to some key principles of functionalism, we would like to summarise as follows:
  1. Remember, it is just furniture. Yes, it might be vintage. Yes, it might be design. But it is still just furniture. Marks and scratches are marks and scratches at the time of purchase. Afterwards,  it is magically transformed to patina. And even in the case of complete disaster, nothing is irreplaceable. The world is full of junk. 
  2. If a piece is too precious, leave it. If something is too valuable, too fragile or too special, you already know NOT to get it. However, if you still can't resist, consider how it would look for example in your office. Alternatively, you might want to postpone your purchase for another 10 years. 
  3. Be smart when choosing materials. Match the material with the intended purpose. Choose durable materials which are easy to clean and maintain. In other words, the key driver has to be the intended function. Anything completely impractical is just waste of time and money. And investing in quality material pays off. Even with significant wear and tear, a quality material grows old with grace.  
  4. Get yourself the right cleaning tools and be prepared to use them often. Nowadays, almost anything can be cleaned. You just need to find the right detergent and choose the right approach. And if we are talking about walls, a new coat of paint won't take too much time. 
  5. Provide sufficient distractions. As long as kids and dogs are busy doing other things, they are not busy damaging your vintage furniture or drawing on the walls. Provide them distractions. Hang a painting board in their room. Build a huge sandbox on the backyard. Include them in your projects. Anything goes. Just keep them busy. 
  6. Enjoy your home. If you like where you live in, not everything needs to be perfect. The eye is a wondrous thing. It gets used to small imperfections really quickly. Every scratch adds to the character of your piece. 
  7. Relax. Don't take it too seriously. With kids and dogs, things happen. Again, it is just furniture. Again, the world is full of junk. 
In the end, it is a home, not a museum. The most important thing is to enjoy the shared moments. Afterwards, the good ones make you smile, but the disastrous ones at the time make the most memorable and entertaining stories!

Mar 31, 2014

Hu Huu!

In a few months, our little daughter will be two years old, and watching her grow has been just amazing. Lately, the primary learning focus has been on communication, and the speed she is picking up new words is close to exponential. Not surprisingly, animals offer an intriguing source of inspiration for her. She is very quick to learn their names and what kind of sounds they make.

Last summer we got her a pair of rubber boots with pictures of owls all over them. That was simply love at first sight. Those boots go by a name "Hu Huu" (eng. "wo hoo") and she still insists on wearing them on a daily basis. Ever since, she has also been pointing out all the possible owls in TV, magazines and books. Practically, no owl can escape Sofi's radar.

A bird just flew into our house

Inspired by Sofi's exhaustless interest on owls we were not able resist when Pekka ran across a very special item in a internet auction a little while ago. It is ceramic wall plate, designed in 1960 by an artist Raija Uosikkinen (1923-2004) for a Finnish manufacturer Arabia. With dimensions of 295 x 295 mm and weight of 2.6 kg, this intriguing mid century wall piece features a hand drawn picture of an owl. The plate is actually part of a larger collection called "Linnut" (eng. "Birds") illustrating a series of different birds such as an eagle, a capercaillie, and an owl grouped with other bird species.

Hu Huu!

The plate has been signed by the artist in the lower right corner next to the manufacturer's name. During 1947-1986, Uosikkinen had a long career at Arabia working as a decorative artist and collaborating for example with such characters as Kai Franck. One of her most famous creations is the Kalevala collection.

Designer's signature

Manufacturer's label and the series numbering

This beautiful hand painted illustration is full of fabulous little details and thus definitely worth taking a closer look. The dark cobalt blue combined with the lighter blue accents works perfectly against the white background. For now, we just hang it on the kitchen wall to keep it safe, but with time we want to find a better location and complement our house owl with correct lighting.

Hand painted details

So let's see how enduring Sofi's fascination on owls turns out to be in the long run. At the moment, the ceramic plate is just another painted animal feeding her imagination and boosting learning, but perhaps with time she also grows to appreciate the artistic attributes of her Hu Huu. Actually, it could be much sooner than we think. After all, these little people have proven themselves as extremely fast learners!

Oh, and already on the first night when the owl arrived, Sofi did not forget to wish Hu Huu a good night before going to bed. Ranking quite high on the scale importance, isn't it?

Mar 29, 2014

Pop the Grain

Spring has arrived! Well, at least that is what we'd like to think, but honestly in Finland at this time of the year you never really know for sure. As it might snow again the next day you just enjoy the sunny moments and let the pieces fall as they may...

While enjoying the sun and waiting for the city inspector's approval for the downstairs steelwork required before the next step, we have targeted our energy to the slat wall project. After extensive analysis and prototyping, we have made a decision to freeze the measurements of each piece to 22 x 30 mm. Finally, for Pekka's great delight, we have started experimenting with some real teak samples with the correct cross sectional dimensions.

As described before, quite coincidentally and conveniently, we managed to source this exquisite material grown in sustainable manner in Costa Rica. And based on our experience, we are very happy to recommend them further. For more information please visit www.tiikki.com where you can contact the owner, Tapani, directly. He is a very helpful person always willing to help teak-lover with both smaller and bigger wood-related needs. 

Teak piece preview

Before continuing further - please bear in mind one fact. The word "obsession" falls far from describing Pekka's feelings towards his beloved pile of teak downstairs. Therefore, please understand the level of detail in the following description, he just wants you to share his excitement.

So, how were these awesome slat samples made? Well, considering the note above, the first (mental) obstacle for Pekka was that he needed "do harm", in other words to cut a piece off of his beloved wood. Subsequently, a kind technician at the architectural department of Aalto University helped him to take the test block through several wood working machines to produce slats with the correct size.

Test block

The Kind Technician

After handling rough planks of wood with surfaces exposed to the normal transportation wear and tear while arriving from Costa Rica to Finland, it was finally exiting to take a deeper look in to the grain. When the wood is cut, one can already get an idea of how it will look when finished.

Freshly cut blocks

It is not uncommon that freshly cut teak exposes a slighty greenish tone within the grain. If this were to happen for your beloved teak pieces, there is no need to worry - the green shade will relatively quickly turn into a beautiful brown tone when the wood gets exposed to UV radiation from the sun light. Untreated, the wood would continue changing color from brown to grey - a situation, which is quite familiar for those who do not choose to treat their teak-made garden furniture annually.

Teak with a greenish tone

After the pieces were the correct size, Pekka sanded them with a sandpaper starting from 240 grit and in some cases proceeding even down to 600 grit. The goal of testing with different roughness was to provide insight on what to do in a larger scale when the time comes. With these samples we wanted to try optimise a lengthy process as much as possible in order to avoid any extra work and material loss later on.  

Sanded test pieces

Testing early with different grits is important, but the main reason for cutting the test pieces was to have a possibility to conduct experiments with various wood finishes before committing to treat the entire slats wall to be.

Over the years while restoring vintage furniture Pekka has gathered a nice collection of different wood finishes. Now, when wanting to find the perfect sheen he will, inevitably, end up testing them all. Most of the finishes he has are different types of oils, e.g. the pure Tung and Linseed oils, combined with either Teak and Gun Stock Oil, the latter two being actually oil based blends. Last but not least, just out of curiosity, he will also try a wax finish on one of the test pieces.

Variety of oils and waxes

Applying oil on bare wood can be tricky, and it is recommended really to study the process before starting. Especially the pure Tung Oil requires close attention, as being a rather thick substance, it can be difficult to spread it evenly on large surfaces. Some suggest to blend the first layer of oil with mineral spirits or turpentine up to 50%. This will make spreading the oil over the wood easier, and a thinner liquid will also penetrate deeper into the grain providing better long-term protection. 

When dealing with oils one of the most important things is to remember is that its always better to rely on several thin layers rather than one thick one. Put some oil on a clean cloth and apply on wood. Leave it for about 20 mins, and subsequently wipe off the remaining oil. Remember, you are not aiming for an actual film, but rather an ultra thin layer supposed to penetrate the wood. After that leave the piece to sit for 24 hours, rub it with ultra fine steel wool (0000) in the direction of the grain and repeat the oil treatment. It is not uncommon that up to 5-10 layers of oil are needed in a search of a good protection and perfect sheen.

50% Tung Oil - 50% Pine Turpentine

And this is when the popping (ref. to title) starts to happen. It is amazing how the oil makes the grain "pop" giving the wood a bit of a wet look bringing out the different colors of the grains, eventually giving the material that luxurious sheen very familiar from several MCM furniture pieces.

Untreated vs. Treated 

Typical to Pekka, when it comes to exaggeration he is sometimes found guilty of, this part of the project brings no exception. As the Man Cave downstairs is out of use for obvious reasons, our bookshelf in the living room is slowly being populated by teak samples drying between the layers. And yes, the Tung Oil does smell when wet, but what can you do, we are all very familiar with the slogan about beauty and suffering.

Samples 1 - 6 with different types of finishes 

Every now an then we like to wrap up posts with a picture of our beloved sausage dog, but while the teak piece photo shoot, Urho was for some reason not interested what was going on and thus not around. In these situations if you for example would kindly request him to model fore example, it  might be a good idea to check out our bedroom and lift the covers of Urhos "basement". Nine out of ten times (just like this time) he will be found wrapped underneath an extensive number of blankets that smell like - well, a dog. 

Do Not Approach

Mar 22, 2014


We are pleased to announce Sofi's room is now safe and liveable! Not finished, by any criteria, but all the junk belonging somewhere else has been carried away - well, somewhere else.

While transforming the room to suit the needs of the little person living in it, we also decided to move Sofi from a crib to a baby bed. First, instead of needing to pick her up in the middle of the night and carry to our bedroom, she can now just walk herself - quite practical. Also, a bed just looks so much nicer than a crib. So what a wonderful opportunity, once again, to develop a slight obsession.

We first had our eye on an extendable Jolla-bed by Muurame, but when looking for an used Jolla, we came across another Muurame bed called "Katinpoika" (freely translated "Kitten"). Like Jolla, it is extendable, but has a design we preferred much more over Jolla.

Muurame Katinpoika

Muurame is a Finnish family owned furniture company with a long history of producing modular pieces with a timeless design suitable for a wide range of uses. The dawn of the modular collection dates back to 1954, when Pirkko Stenros had her first child and subsequently started designing modern, minimalist children’s furniture. The first piece was a child's bed (called Jetti) soon to be followed by some modular drawer units to serve originally as night stands.

Muurame label

Since there is actually very little information available online about Katinpoika, we would like take the opportunity to share some of it's history (information kindly provided by Muurame). The first bed Stenros designed for children was a full-sized bed, but when it was time to move her third child from a crib to a bed, she wanted something more "nest-like", which could then grow with the child. After the second world war, there were no extendable beds available for small children in Finland and thus in 1960's, she started designing one, later to be known as "Katinpoika".

Drawer button

Katinpoika, made of massive wood, was in production during 1971-1981. Eventually, it was part of an extensive product family, which included several different kind of beds for grown ups and children, night stands, seats, cupboards and even some toys. The two original colour options were white/red and white/blue, followed by a later addition of white/yellow, when parents wished for a gender neutral colour.

Oh the stories you could tell!

Up until today, Sofi's Katinpoika has without a doubt served several kids, and one can see some marks of years past here and there all over it.  However, the overall condition is very good, as Katinpoika bed was originally designed to last for many, many years. And really, we don't mind. Quite the contrary, we do love how these old pieces of furniture have a story to tell.

Perfect for storing toys

And yes, Sofi will add a story of her own, most likely very visible one, in the form of a marker, sticker or something else more or less permanent by nature. She is fascinated by her new bed, and every night she remembers to make a point how she is going to sleep in her "uus" (=new) - the "bed" part of her vocabulary still missing. But like her stories, the missing words will come, sooner or later. In the meantime, she is happily enjoying the early rise of her own queendom, still for a while missing a "Do Not Enter" sign at the door...  

Shall I go with a raccoon or a butterfly?

Mar 16, 2014

Going deeper

For those who prefer renovation over design, we have good news. Project "underground" is ready to take the next step. Last Friday, the Big Tools arrived over the second time, and sliced through a concrete wall once more.

Like you may remember, approximately half of our downstairs (60 / 120 m2) is in use, consisting Pekka's man cave, sauna, bathroom, laundry room and the lounge to be. The other half underground is basically a crawlspace just hosting for example heating and sewer tubing etc. As we seem to be in chronic shortage of storage space for diving gear, tools and other necessary nicknacks, we want to convert this unused space to a large and smartly organized storage area.

Sliced concrete

The first opening to enter the underground space was done last fall, followed by a sweaty and dusty weekend during which a group of dear friends helped us to empty the first room filled with rocks and construction junk.  Now with the appearance of the second opening to the next room we can start clearing the second space from any unwanted material.

Our goal is to complete the "dirty work" before the downstairs lounge will be finalized, as all the underground junk has to be carried with wheel barrels through the lounge area. Now it can be done without needing to protect the floor and walls, as none of the surfaces are finished yet.

Two openings to the underground world

It took two and a half professional working hours to slice through the concrete with a diamond blade. Yes, like always we did warn our neighbors beforehand, as the sound of the diamond blade resonates through one apartment to another very well, and might not be the most pleasant sound to wake up for on a random Friday morning.

Before & After

The effectiveness how a diamond blade cuts concrete is amazing - one could almost compare it to a table knife cutting through soft butter. The concrete is not steel reinforced as can be seen in the picture below, but rather has stones and sand mixed in with the blend.

Sliced concrete

So what treasures lie behind the opening? Well, the most exciting aspect is the amount of junk. The second space is actually a bit larger than the first one (both combined about 45 m2), but fortunately is not nearly as full as the first one was. This time there are no large pieces of rock from the construction phase blasting work in the sixties, but rather some old construction materials such as tubing, insulation, wood and bricks, and some organic matter which once grew on top of the solid rock our apartment was built on.

The second room



But as always, there is of course a "BUT" in all of it. This time it is large and solid, and inconveniently located in the first room passageway: a huge rock formation exceeding the level of the future concrete floor. Urho, the smarty assistant, is kindly indicating the piece of rock which needs to be removed before we can start emptying the second room (photo below). Otherwise the ride for a wheel barrow might be a bit more than bumpy.

So if you are now thinking of expansive mortar - yes, you would be absolutely correct.

May I just point out one thing: you guys are nuts!