I was flipping through the blog the other day and I saw the pictures I posted when we bought the house. The one of Bun's bathroom caught my eye. It's not a room we did a lot to. At all. But it looks so much better, so I thought I'd share - after all, it's where we are spending a lot of time these days, as the master is 100% out of commission...what's that? You want updates on the progress? Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm just dealing with a lot of chaos and mess around these parts and my head is not on straght. Next week I'll show you the demo and the current state of the state.
And for a good old fashioned blog-land before and after (okay, almost blog-worthy, what's up with the height difference? were it so that I had the time to care...):
It's a true testament to the power of paint, a gallon of Clorox Clean-up, and some fancy new chromey things. And the removal of all things MDF. Perhaps that was really the key.
I still would like to redo the floor. It's in fine shape, but it's not my style. I would do a larger scale (maybe 2" diameter) marble hex tile. With a bit of blue and honey in it. I think that would be very nice. And it's on the list along with a new, bigger tub. Way down the list, but it's there. Call it the faint beginning of a 2016 list. (That sound you hear is JWH groaning is utter agony.)
Ok, so I whined a bit here about choosing tile and countertop material. Decision fatigue is real. And it can be debilitating. Or you can just close your eyes and point and call it good.
So, we ended up with:
Ceasarstone Misty Carrera countertop and shower threshhold
Matte white penny round shower floor
Honed carrera marble subway tile shower walls
View Nero 12 x 24" floor tiles
Nothing shocking there...
And, in terms of the actual vanity, this was my inspriration photo:
But when rendered for my actual dimensions it looked blocky, perhaps because I do not have enough wingspan for it to really shine:
So I looked around a bit and found a revised source of inspiration:
(yay, a source! pacificcasa)
And that, folks, is where we have landed. It will be walnut. I still need to choose stain and finish, but that is the one place I can turn to JWH in all this. He cares not about tile or counters, but when it comes to walnut, he is a man with firmly held convictions.
Hey, yo, we're getting a tax rebate this year for going green! Woot!
Right. Drop in the proverbial bucket, folks. Things have gotten spendy here at Holiday House 2 and I'm feeling the pinch, the pressure, the stress. When Tom Hanks laughs like an idiot when the bathtub falls in The Money Pit? Totally not overacted. Dead on.
But, we will get 30% back on the install of our skylights. So, yay! Taco Truck on me, peeps.
Why the rebate? Because they're solar. No wiring, no electricity, but the big 'ol sun powering my fancy new, intergral shade Velux babies.
Why the new skylights when the others, remarkably really, did not leak? Well, when doing the roof we figured why the hell not. This may have also been before we were knee deep in rotting fascia and had yet to come to our senses as to what things actually cost...but, I digress. They are fabulous. I need to paint the trim...and I'm ot 100% sure I love how they trimmed them out. But one step at a time. I'll get there. Maybe not until 2015, but it will be addressed!
Oh, and the big super pluses to these new skylights?
1) the kid can open and close them with the fancy remote
2) they have a rain sensor so no more turning around to drive by the house and crane our necks out the windows to try to guess if the skylights are open because it suddenly started sprinkling on the windshield as we got onto Memorial Drive...
The fancy remote:
This is the source of my ongoing pain this week. Choosing a vanity top and shower threshold. I had specified Ceasarstone since I want something smooth, nice and impervious to all stains and such. And so I got samples.
On the left you see Misty Carrera and London Gray. On top of the marble you see Frosty Carrina. The only one that comes in honed is the Misty. And it's the best match for the marble, too.
So what's my beef? At night it looks drab. Gray. Dull. The Frosty one looks better, more like what I had in my head. But it does not match the marble. It's got more of a blueish white base. And it only comes polished. The designer says I should go with the Misty Carrera, honed.
I'm going to see a sample of that and then just decide already. It's not like it really matters once it's installed. It's not like you walk into your bathroom every day and inspect the vanity top. Right?!?!
Since it is the single most expensive thing we've done (yes, topping even the boiler and AC compressor), you'd think I'd be so thrilled that it's over. And I am, I really am. I like the new lighter, gray-er color. I like knowing the leaks are over. I like that there are no more men on ladders outside my bathroom at 8am.
But the mess they left behind is a little more than frightening. The eaves. Oh. My.God. The eaves. Bob, the roofer, had told me "cover things in the eaves for there may be falling debris."
This image is blurry because I was shaking and crying (kidding). And I didn't go back for a re-shoot because I am pretending this situation does not exist (truth). I'm just overwhelmed. All three attic spaces look like that. It's inches deep. Inches. I'm not even sure how to clean this up...and the insulation guys are coming in early November...so there is a deadline here...
Pray for me, if that's your thing. Curse with me, if that's more your style. But when your roofer tells you to "cover things" go out and get a godddamned industrial tarp, people. Do it.
You may well have noticed that from my breakthrough on bathroom layout:
To the final layout:
That something was the window. I had always assumed I had to steer clear of it, so I was putting the toilet in front of it, or having people at the vanity stand in front of it. But, now? Now I'm gonna stand naked in front of it every gosh darned day.
This is a picture of the picture the contractor provided to show me how this is going to work. It's a window in a shower that has a tiled sill and surround and has a glass shower door over the window. Ours will be frosted!
Pretty cool, right? I'm sure you are as excited as I am to see this happen in real life.
The other thing to note is that we moved the closet door. Yeah, I felt that having it offset would hide any mess if it was open (or nonexistent, as the case may well be). I also felt like it would be grander to see a piece of art or something at the end of the hall, rather than more doors. The hall is already door-heavy: den, office, Bun's room and master-turned-linen closet. And there will be bifolds for the laundry closet. So, let's just have a little wall, ok. It will feel nice, and calm. Follow me to the master bedroom wing, won't you? Yes, it's just down the hall here, toward the painting, take a right...
Like there there will ever be cause to utter that sentence in real life?! What would that circumstance even be? I'm my head I hear like a weirdly zen tour guide, as if this was Neverland and we had all paid $15 to see Micheal Jackson's weird shit.
Nothing weird in here, folks. Just a few cats licking themselves on the windowsill. Totally norm.
It's not an exciting topic, but for what it cost I should at least get a few posts out of it!
The mess, the noise, the red bucket!
And now we can sleep soundly when it rains and snows this winter. We are halfway done and we have:
- replaced 100' of rotted 2' x 10' board
- replaced 4 sheets of plywood (the old part of the roof has board under the shingles, the news bits have plywood)
- decided that the lack of paper, flashing, proper drip edges everywhere else on the roof is enough proof of drunk-ass installation the first time that we really should re-roof the auxillary roofs as well
- discovered that the original bid actually covered those 5 additional areas
- actual joy
And, for those of you who thought it took a day to put on a new roof, like I did? Going on day 6. Woot, woot.
Oh, and how could I forget. We also discovered:
- a Thomasson
The yard looking not at all fall-fabulous.
The attic, with daylight it should not have.
Birds? I'm surpised we did not have a Harvard Social Club take up residence with a hole this size.
The Thomasson? I don't have a picture yet. I'll get one. Cross my heart.
Fiyah. That's how my Introduction to Newswriting professor said it. Boston to the core. Journo to the core, too. Old-school. If he failed to arrive at the appointed hour for class, one of us would run to the pub to fetch him. I also learned from him, first hand, what a gin-blossom is. Knowledge that has come in handy, I tell you.
My roof, by the way, is not actually on fire. It may have been at one point, though, because we did see evidence of damage, but in 125 years a lot of shit can happen. It's all good.
What is not good is the bucket: the red bucket that was in attic when we bought the house. And we had the good sense to leave it there, too. And we watched it fill up each time it rained.
And there were other spots where a bucket might have come in handy. Little, mysterious puddles of water on top of rubbermaid bins in the attic, for instance. And water stains, not so expertly masked, on ceilings. And yet others discovered when bookcases were removed or closet doors opened:
And there was this:
The cats know what's up. And they apparently know how to get that door open and flush out the beast.
Time for a new roof.
Little things - like little stairs to the attic/the Bun's room. They were cute. They were red. They were in horrible shape.
So I busted out the wood filler:
Lots of wood filler...
Then we* picked a color. I'm not 100% in love with this color, but it's an improvement and not terrible. I still need to roll on another coat and caulk a few cracks.
But, it makes for a happy little view. And it looks more purple from above than it does from below. Small mercies. The pink thing on the left is our little DIY handrail. It's rope and some rope grommet things from a rope supply house. Did you know there was such a thing as a rope supply house? I did not. I'm learning every day here, people. I think the intended use of the grommet thing is for boats, handrails on boats, which are made of rope...
So, you know... ahoy!
*We being the kid and I. Hence the purple. Left to my own devices I night have gone navy, but I'm not going to fuss about it. It's fine. The pink handrail, though, I may switch out for a more neutral color. Or at the very least something less neon.
So, this is the 3rd time we have countered a kitchen, and that means I should be over talking about it. But, no, I do go on... For the first, in our first condo, where we did a little kitchen spruce - getting rid of counters that were, literally, marble floor tiles stuck to a plywood base that was built on top of the old laminate counters which were atop cabinets made of actual plywood (did you catch all that?) - we chose soapstone. Because JWH lurved it. I'm so glad I let him get it out of his system then, because soapstone sucks. It is always splotchy. Always.
Same for honed black granite, which we inherited in our second condo. But at least that dried faster and the splotches dissappeared once dry. Not so the soapstone, I tell you. Beware. Be very ware.
HH1, our first real "house" had teal laminate counters when we bought it. And we replaced those with basic polished black granite. We did not love it, but felt it was our best choice in a dark kitchen with so much cherry cabinetry. We would have liked a white counter, but we copped out because we felt the style of the cabinets was too "shaker" for that. The black was the right choice for that room. The light bounced off it and it allowed for a white island = less cherry madness.
HH2, however, is my longer term home, I have promised to live here for at least 10 years, after all. So I took some time and we looked at a lot of stone*. We looked at manufactured stone, too, and liked a lot of it. But not being confident about putting a hot pot on the counter killed it for JWH. He likes to move around the kitchen putting things wherever he damned well pleases.
Marble was out, too. He's a sloppy cook who relies heavily on tomato sauce.
So we looked at lighter gray granites. And we got close to ordering things like Pietra Cardosa or Virginia Mist. We'd have done them honed, to lighten them up a bit. But then I'd be complaining about water...so we just never pulled the trigger. I just didn't love it. We found one stone, called Pacific Gray, that was a quartzite. It was light and the gray had a yellow cast. We liked it, but it sold out before we even got a sample. And, apparently no more was expected in.
About this time I tired of my kitchen designer, who let 3 weeks pass between me liking the Pacific Gray quartzite and getting me the cost and then telling me it was out of stock. So I asked a friend for his counter source. And, I have to say, they were delightful! I was so used to waiting and waiting for info on cost and samples and appointments for templating that I nearly fell off my chair when I emailed my layout to them and they shot me back an install price within an hour. And they told me to come on by "tomorrow (Saturday)" to look at slabs. Well, ok! (The other places we went, based on the relationship with my kitchen designer, were either only open M-F and had no sales support to answer questions and would not provide samples beyond "look in that pile, you may find what you want," or they required an appointment and were pretty rude and dismissive (those folks were, however, willing to whack a corner off a slab that was already marked "sold" and hand it to us as a sample. Not sure if that's a pro or a con...).
So we went. And angels sang. We immediately gravitated to a quartzite they called "Calacatta." It was a yellowish-gray base with geometric veining in in silver and honey. This pic is a pretty good representation, but on these slabs the veining was less diffuse than you see here, if that makes sense.
They would not cut a sample that day (we could come back for one) but gave me a sample of the very similar "Luce de Luna" quartzite. The difference between them is the Calacatta has more honey veining and on the Luce de Luna the veining seems to run more regular and linear. The Calacatta has the veining running at more angles. Something like this but with even sharper veins:
I'm so excited!
*We visited so many stoneyards that when I was recently driving the Bun to the birthday party at a bouncy place, we passed a stoneyard in the same industrial park (those places are always in industrial parks) and she piped up, "Oh, no! Not more stone to look at!" No honey, we picked one, remember? "Oh, good because if we hadn't found one you would make me stop and look at that stone, wouldn't you?"
Yes. Yes, I would.
Channeling the late, great, Robin Williams*.
The kitchen has undergone a huge improvement. We started here, with this little 1980's desk set up that we used to store tools and such throughout most of the move in process. And we stashed all the stuff that did not fit in a cabinet right there on the floor underneath it. Classy, I know.
Well, we ripped out this little slice of heaven useless space and ordered two more cabinets to match the rest of the kitchen (Plain & Fancy cabinets, could not have been easier, color matched and all that. Just super.) Note the yellow. Just. Wow.
Then we installed. We had to remove the cork floor since it did not extend to under the other cabinets and they had to be level so the baselines would match up. The cork was crazy hard to get out so we ended up chiseling a channel.
Then, wow! The kitchen layout suddenly made sense! It was transformative. It was aswesome. The trash is no longer spilling out, the corner cabinet has more room yet to fill, the dishes have a place to dry. Can I get a hallelujah?!?
*I saw his show once. It was a John Kerry fundraiser and I was in college. I had no real politics then, but my roommate Maria was all hot to let us all know that she was going with us because he was funny, but that she was a Republican. She was no more a Republican than she was a marine biology major. Which she was, for the 3 semesters the school gave her to pass more than 2 total classes and then kicked her out for failing to do just that. I suspect she knew just as much about politics as she did marine life. Her dad drove a Bentley, though, so he know something about taxes, I'll grant you that.
Ha. See what I did there?
Anyway, one of the projects I am most delighted by in HH2 is our upgrade of the floor vents and air return. They looked like this:
And now this:
Wow, right? Totally a low cost, huge value improvement. But not without pain.
These suckers were a bitch to install. JWH deserved a standing ovation for the sheer amount of time he carefully wielded the Dremmel Multimax. It was endless. And that was after we returned them to the vendor for being too thick. It was a bit of a go 'round. But they look so fabulous. The quality is top notch. And, I will say that the vendor totally remakes them for size issues at no charge. He even paid the return shipping since it was his error. (You tell him how thick your floorboards are so that they will sit flush. Our first batch stuck up about 1/8".)
I ordered these in 2 batches, first just getting ones for the hall and dining room, where you really see them. That went well enough that I ordered one for the living room. If we ever move the couch we will be glad it matches the others.
But the install was painful enough that we decided that drop-in vents, also stained to match, would be just hunky dory in the bedrooms.
Bang. Can I get a wot-wot?!?
The master bath. The before images. Brace yourselves:
Standing outside the shower/at the door from the hall. Glass block, baby.
The ceiling, for good measure.
Standing at the sinks, looking toward the shower. And, yes, that's bubble wrap on the windows. Go ahead and judge me.
The sink area and the door (on right) to the master closet and bedroom. Do you see the plastic fixtures and the Hollywood globe lights? Do you?!?! Also know that the vanity is MDF that was once probably white. And with plastic pulls that were once, also, probably white.
The view from the closet (and bedroom beyond). Notice, please, that there is no door for privacy here, and the toilet is right there abutting the doorway. Oh, hai!
And note that this is after I painted it with a leftover can of Moonshine, the original "Asparagus Water" and wood blinds were even worse!
And I feel like I have complained about the laundry being in the hall so much that you need to see it. Here.
So, now you see why I'm anxious for this remodel. A better layout, a closet without a potty practically in it, a door, a laundry room? I mean, come on! It's going to be so, so, so awesome!
All my posts seem to be very exclamation point heavy these days. Whatever, I'm posting, Be grateful for that.
Perhaps my enthusiasm is even infectious. I just had to look up that word: infectious. I had "infective" in my head and knew that was not right. Perhaps this is old age setting in. Words, they fail me.
Anyway, in perhaps one of the most surprising moments of this bathroom remodel planning process, I received a design board/mood board. Just like the bloggers do. I had no idea it was a real thing.
Anyway, here's mine.
The vanity is one I sent them off Apartment Therapy or something. Don't recall. I've got to get better at that. I really hope they can get me something similarly unique feeling.
After what I can only describe as a hellish moment in my current shower* I cannot tell you how excited I am to relax in a shower with newly installed and grouted walls of this lovely stuff:
The shower floor will be this - mainly because JWH thinks it will feel nice under his toes. He leaves all other decisions to me, so I will give him the groovy toes.
And the bathroom floor will be this, but perhaps a bit darker and definitely with darker grout:
Tomorrow I'll show you the fixtures!
*Picture me, day 2 in the new house (not day 1 since the previous owner took the shower rods with him back to Norway or some such, and I failed to notice that, and therefore could not shower on my first day after unpacking...) standing exhausted in the shower after moving, unpacking, unpacking, unpacking, and then unpacking some more. I stand there, leaning against the wall, just letting it all wash over me. I'm just staring straight ahead, barely awake, not moving. And then I stand straight up and say, out loud, "oh, shit!" A spider? A centipede?
Just under the shower head, there it was.... a spot of...white grout.
Yep. That meant that the wall I was leaning against, in the shower I was sooo enjoying, was not white 4" x 4" tile squares with gray grout. It was white grout that had not been cleaned in millenia. I got the Clorox Cleanup with bleach and if you've ever lived in a sketchy rental apartment you may know this visual is coming...the black just ran down the walls in slimy sheets.
Oh. My. God.
I told you here that we had a breakthrough on the bath. And we are rocketing ahead with that new plan! I even have architectural drawings!
What you see above is me getting a proper space for laundry (see that link above for where it used to be since they did not indicate it here. It's basically in the hall. Right in the hall. For all to see.).
And you see me getting a double vanity and a walk in shower and still having a big closet.
What will it look like, you ask? Weeeellll, this is the photo that most resembles where we are at with that:
I have no idea where I got that photo, since I screen grabbed it to just show the designer. But it's where we have landed in terms of floor (Nero 12" x 24" tiles with a matching grout) and walls (3 x 6" marble subway, tumbled, but ours will not be stacked like that. I like it stacked but we found a deal on a mosaic sheet of subway tiles, and the stacked might be too sleek for me anyway.) Our shower floor, I think, will be white penny rounds. JWH liked those, he says they "feel nice underfoot." I just need to make sure that the honed white penny rounds are tonally ok with the marble subway tiles. Samples are en route!
So, it's getting real!
Before moving in HH2 we had painters do the entirety of the 1st and 3rd floors. They just did the trim on the 2nd floor. I was just not ready to commit to colors for those rooms. And, based on the timing, they would likely have not gotten it done anyway.
The master bedroom was white. I figured I could live with white.
Upon waking in my new room on day two, I noticed something rotten in river city. The ceiling. It was splotchy and dirty and stained. Ugh. I could not imagine what had happened to cause this mess. Smokers? Leaks? (well yes...). and then I remembered the contractor mentioning to me that the 1st floor ceilings had been previously painted with wall paint. That was why they looked so blotchy. Aha. Same trick, different floor. So I had to paint the ceiling. I hate painting ceilings. Have I mentioned that?
But, as yet undaunted by HH2's million little issues, I stain blocked the area where they'd had a leak (more on that another day), and threw out my back painting the ceiling one Saturday morning. And it looked sooo much better. Even JWH noticed. And he rarely looks up. Ok, so I may have lain in bed babbling on about my beautiful ceiling for so long the next day that he was forced to notice. But a girl does what a girl has to do to feel valued. Right?
But (and you knew there was a but), the lovely, even, smooth, clean ceiling brought to the fore problem #2 in this room: it was 3 different colors. No shit. At some point they had painted one wall a creamy white, 2 walls a blueish white, and one all was, honestly, unpainted. It was wallboard and primer.
And so I started testing wall paint. Because I can't live like that. (You can see the 2 different colors on the adjacent walls in some of these pictures.)
Picking paint was hard. The northern light in here sucked the life out of otherwise lovely colors. That's Moonshine to the left there, people. Moonshine! Revere Pewter on the right.
See? Otherwise light and airy colors went dark and dull. I tried it all. Edgecomb Gray, Wickham Gray...previous proven winners. They all made it feel like a cave. Dingy. That was the word that sprang to mind.
And so I gave up and went and got all new chips. Colors I never before considered. I avoided all blues or hints of blues. This room just could not handle a cool color. And my choice? Grand Teton White!
But it's not white. it's a greenish white. See for comparison (GTW left, old plain blue-ish white on the right):
It's very soothing! And clean!
The trim looks nice, the curtains look nice. My orange sheets look nice. But I need a rug! On to that next week!
When I found out that our over the range microwave was, indeed, vented, I had a little internal struggle about getting a proper range hood. They cost, folks. A lot. But why buy a new over the counter microwave when I hate that look in general. You see the stove from the front door of the house. The prior owner put a door in there to block that view. I removed it. I like flow. And we are tidy people.
But, still, the over the range microwave is not a look I loved. So, range hood shopping commenced.
No, I am normally a very decisive shopper. I can look, consider and hit "add to cart" without breaking a sweat. I have sources I like for reviews, I have brands I trust. But I have never owned an actual venting range hood. Never.
And so, it began. I started on the gardenweb.com forums and I read amazon reviews and I chatted with JWH. You see, you can go nuts in this category. You can spend thousands of dollars for 1200cfe units. Whatever that means. Well, it means a shitload of air being sucked. And the big, fancy cooktop people of the world get very, very excited about a lot of cfes. They say you need it to move the heat. They also say you need a hood that is bigger than your stove. Um, how many 1873 houses have you seen with that being possible? So, I was a little more than hesitant to buy the hype. We don't cook much (read: at all). But we also do not want what JWH would call a "JV" hood sitting over our fancy-pants stove. (Remember, it cane with a free dishwasher.)
Oh, and then there is this thing called "replacement air" that becomes in issue when you are sucking more air out through your range hood than your drafty house can replace. Creates a pressure imbalance. And as a result, air gets sucked in through your other vents, like the furnace and chimney. Not cool. At all.
So, not going for the mega air sucking model, buy dint of space, budget and fear of replacement air situations, I started researching mid-range models. I wanted something attractive, minimalist, about 7" tall (to give me the same 30" distance from hood to stove top that we, comfortably, have now), and not $1000. I set a budget of $400-$600. Randomly. I needed a parameter. Oh and I also decided I needed about 400 cfes to do the job decently. And having 600 or 800 on a high setting might not be a bad idea, and we could open a window when we used that setting to replace the air. Oh, I also wanted a low setting that was quiet-ish.
These are the three I narrowed it down to:
The Broan AP130. I liked the look. I found very, very few reviews of it online. It was priced very well. But it had screens, not baffles or inverted propellers.
Do you like how I whip out those terms? Well, let me give you a little primer of venting:
This Zephyr hood is well regarded. It's got suction and is apparently quiet and sturdy.
But the gardenweb gurus love this brand:
And that is where I landed. The Kobe. Simple, not JV-looking, $418, and 3 speeds from 280-680.
And I hated this whole process. It just was so rife with pretense and my-kitchen-is-hotter-than-your-kitchen bragging shit. Like hood size and suction is the new way to show you are bad ass rich and a gourmet cook. Or something.
Okay so last time I posted a status update I was floored by how differnt the space looked with paint. This update is not like that. My appliances were delivered this weekend and it was a bit hit or miss. Let's start with the pictures:
The range. She is gorgeous.
The fridge. He is stunning.
Oh, wait, what's that...you wanted a washer and dryer here? Ha! Silly girl. The ones you ordered will not fit. Not without routing the vent through the back wall and removing the drip tray and doorsill and leaving behind all hope of even closing a door in front of them. Sigh.
The delivery guys were entirely unhelpful. They first were over an hour early. Then they put the machines int he dining room, saying the painters had told them not to install them because they had not painted the closet yet. Yeah...not having that floor painted at all, so...no. And besides, it's not like the painters were going to install these. So I told them to take them up. Then they go into the vent issues with me, on and on about how I needed more vent length. So I said, "fine, put them in the master bedroom so at least they are up the stairs." That's when they broke out their tape measures and told me they would not fit. So I told them to take them back. Leaving them in my dining room is not going to help anyone.
Not a great experience. Made less great by the fact that upon further review of my receipt, I had paid for "Protection Pack" which included 8 feet of extra duct. I swore a bit at this point. Then I refused to think about laundry appliances for 3 days.
Best 3 days this week, because since then I have been going back and forth and back and forth on what to get. It seems that new regulations have made manufacturers stop making compact dryers that are vented. They are all condensation dryers now. Which is great, if you have no vent. But I have a vent and the vented dryers universally work better. So, who can sell me a last year's vented dryer. The jackasses who messed it up this time can. 2 choices: Miele or Bosch. I went back and forth and back and forth.
Then I called another guy about a Blomberg. They make one, too. As does GE. The GE is not greatly regarded, The Blomberg is not widely known. The Bosch is not a model with great online reviews, but people like te Axxis sets in general. The Miele is wicked expensive.
I am stuck. And I have decision fatigue.
Two exciting pieces of news:
#1 - our microwave/hood does vent! Who knew? Ed did...
#2 - as a result I put the kibosh on buying a new over the range microwave. I might be able to find a place in the kitchen for the micro to live, and then I will get a real range hood. Thrilling, I know. I have not ordered anything yet since I want to keep my options open for a bit. You know, get moved in and see how that kitchen is working. If counter space is at a huge premium, perhaps I will go over the range with the micro after all. But now I have options!
Of course, this news led JWH to ask if we should reconsider our stove purchase. I said no, since while we did go with a range that was rated as safe for a non - venting hood, it's still more than enough stove for us. And I fear the others are even more expensive/ridiculous...
On that note, we got this:
Let's just discuss the price in these few words: so much money that they felt the need to throw in a $1500 dishwasher free with purchase. There. Done. Moving on.
We also needed a fridge, as you may recall. Having handles being considered a bare minimum, right? Well we ended up with a fridge from a brand we had never even heard of (Blomberg), with features we did not need or even believe in (a blue light to keep produce fresher???). But it was pretty (and it was larger inside that the Fisher & Paykel that we thought was our only option - so we are not total fools):
See the blue light? I will keep you posted on the status of my cherry tomatoes going forward.
You will be glad to know that we did come to our senses at the tail end of our appliance journey (fatigue set in) and get the cheapest, least bells and whistles washer and dryer combo. I mean, it's laundry...I do not need to program my own settings. I can hit 3 buttons rather than one. I am not that harried of a housewife, certainly. If you are, I apologize for seeming dismissive of your plight. But if you believe you need the time savings of "my settings" on your washer, we cannot be friends. It's a no.
This picture shows 2 of each. I have no idea why. Our restraint in the laundry department extended to only purchasing one washer and one dryer. Call me economical.
And there you have it. Install to come and, I'm sure, pictures of the kitchen at that point. And the laundry closet. Thrilling, thrilling stuff. I know.
I have learned a lot about heating and cooling, I tell you what. Mostly I learned all the reasons I could not get the 3rd floor of HH2 to be it's own zone. Forget having zones on all 3 floors. Hahahaha. That was the hvac guy laughing at me. Still, I do not give up easily, so for an hour I said, "what about this?" and the guy said, "well... maybe, but you'd have to do this..." and on and on into a death spiral of bad choices. Stuff like:
You get the idea. It was ugly. But the guy also told me that if we did nothing at all and just replaced the furnace and the condenser, it would work. But the first floor would be very, very cool when the third floor was still really quite warm. I did not want to shiver in my house in summer so that the Bun was not cooking up there. Same for winter, I suppose, but at least then you can crack a window for relief in the attic.
Did you know that you can't simply close vents on one floor or area either - as a way to regulate the temp? Nope. Overloads the system and burns out the motor. Yeah. Do not want.
But, in typical fashion, I hounded the guy enough, peppering him with "what ifs" that we landed on a brilliant solution: the FIRST floor will be it's own zone. Easy peasy. The duct work lends itself to that, with only a little bit of moving to get a damper in there. And then they install an "air dump" so that if the system is just cooling of heating one zone and not both, the extra air can vent off into the basement and not burn out any motors.
Success! I cannot believe these are the things that excite me. And I despair at what block of data this new learning has displaced in my aged brain. Long division. I think it's that. I lost adding fractions years ago. Probably when I learned about the rules to venting a plumbing stack.
I have been somewhat obsessing over appliances. We need a new fridge.
And the stove and microwave work but are fugly and old.
Oh, and the washer/dryer situation?
I know these are terribly and blurry iPhone photos. But, really, like that lot would look any better with the fancy camera?
I also know that we will not reno this kitchen. I just know it. Kitchens cost a LOT to reno and after the rest of this house is done up, I think we will have reno fatigue. And we don't even cook much, so we just need it to be clean and light and have good storage. In the last house we doctored up a kitchen - adding new counter tops and an island and new knobs and appliances. And, you know what? Whenever I mentioned that we planned someday to reno the kitchen, people thought we already had. No one looks past the veneer of modernity. No one cares. And as long as the cabinets are good qulity (they are: hardwood), then I think we will be very hard pressed to justify a full rip it out and do it over.
So, the veneer, again, will be tweaked. The knobs, you know about. The fridge, as I have said, is no brainer (do you see how it's even missing a handle???). The stove and microwave, though? Ugh. The over the range microwave is not our favorite look. I sing that Elvis song ... "in the ghettooooo" when I think about it. I really do. Very silly I know. But I just don't dig the look.
But I am stuck with it. Sure, I could install a (fake, it's not vented) hood and then put the microwave on the counter, but ugh! The counter! The clutter will kill me. The toaster oven and coffee maker are all I can take. Really. I have limits. And a fake hood is not much better use. Some would call it a waste of space...
So I started Googling around at over the range microwaves in nice kitchens. And (here is where the over thinking comes in) I noticed something. They look okay when (get this) there is no visible handle and the range is a slide in with no control panel on the back. Yes, I am nut, I know. But look!
So, all that to say, I think it's gonna be alright. Alright, alright, alright, alright. Yes, I am now singing OutKast. Dork. I know. I totally know.
I just spent $284 on switchplates.
There should be a support group for that. But, really, the plates and outlet covers at HH2 are all manner of brown and gross. Some I think were purposely bought in "almond" and others have discolored with time. With the brass can light trim kits it's really quite a look.
Anyway, I had replaced the switchplates at HH1, but I had done it in a more haphazard way - buying a few every time I went to Target or Home Depot, so I had no idea what it really cost. This time I sent JWH on a trek around the house to count. Then I ordered them online based on a quick Google shopping link. Heck, they were even on sale. 37% off, the site proudly proclaimed. Wheeeel, ok then.
Oh and after his trek around the house with a pad and paper, this is the email I got from JWH with his tally:
Quad outlets: 2
Single switches: 8
Double switches: 5
Quad switches: 1
Cable plates: 4
Triple bars: 1
GFI + switch: 2
Outlet + switch: 1
Fatty bar switch: 1
I sent him all sorts of emails seeking clarification on what a "fatty" is and how it differs from a GFI and what a "Triple bar" is - 3 toggles or 3 rockers? He did that thing where he acts like I'm nuts for expecting him to even stop for a minute and think about what a "toggle" is. I mean, plebes worry about such matters, harumph! So I just ordered a few extras of things and hope for the best. It's not like I won't be in a Home Depot at some point soon and can't make a change.
Plebe, signing off...
Still, still with the iPhone photos. Good lord, if you knew the number of times I said to myself, "I'll just pull out the camera and leave it on the stair, then I will remember it! I'll do that right now!" And then I go back to brushing my teeth, folding laundry, packing, etc. and forget all about it. I totally am that person who has all these shitty "before" and "during" photos that look so tired and dire and then the angels sing when the "after" is shown and it's just because they were actually shot with a decent camera.
But, here are more crappy "during" shots. Taken in the evening, even, for double shittiness! But I stopped by the house last night to just measure one thing and was taken aback to find paint on the walls. The kitchen, in particular, was transformed. I did make some effort to get the same angles. And these are apples-to-apples because it's all iPhone.
Okay, so that last one was not really the same shot. Anyway, here - the fridge shows the color best:
It feels more modern already. The appliances come in a few days, too, and that will seal the deal!
Oh, and the living and dining rooms were painted too, and wow does the trim look great against the soft gray walls. It's warm yet bright. I am loving it. But I will not bore you with smartphone photos of gray walls taken at night. Really, even I have a rock bottom.
The real before pictures. Or I guess you could say the first of the "during" pictures. I am knee deep in work and stressed out by all that is going on. So, here, enjoy pictures of the chaos. (And, again, iPhone pictures, I cannot seem to remember to bring a camera when I trundle over there with all manner of crap and mini-project supplies.)
The living and dining, mid paint:
The third floor, minus carpet and closet doors - and who even noticed the walls were that much a mess?
The den, minus a whole lotta bookshelves:
The laundry "nook" floor:
The kitchen...for a room we are not doing much to, it looks like hell:
I do not do well with chaos. But I am encouraged by the new paint. I kept referring to the old trim as "grey" and people kept looking at me like I was insane. But it was gray with a bluish undertone. A very cold color. You can totally see it in the den pictures above, and here is a doorway trimmed in the new color while the baseboards are in the old color:
Yes, I am fully aware that the hall closet is not, in many circles, considered a place to decorate. But I'm gonna do it anyway.
HH1 had so much storage that we seriously had empty drawers and closets. Yes, I know, boo hoo. But HH2 is not suffering from the same riches. And so, even though we are tidy people, and not hoarders, and even somewhat minimalistic...I worry about losing one hall closet and a mudroom all in one fell swoop. I loved the mudroom: so much space to put all the stuff that the kid comes home with and the husband cannot be relied on to put away (tennis gear, running gear, biking gear) and well as stuff going out to charity or coming in for a project.
Ok, now I'm tearing up.
I have no mudroom. I get it. And I will survive. But I'm going to have to get creative in building the same kinds of spaces so that my family can continue to exist peaceably. My marriage only survived this long because I had a drawer for JWH's running headphones, Fuel-belt thingy and sweaty stinky hats. If he had continued to leave those items on the kitchen island, we'd either be in divorce court or I'd be in the insane asylum.
So, storage. Need.
There is one hall closet in this house and it's tucked in a somewhat tight hallway, with doors to the yard and basement. Opening any one of these doors renders the others unusable.
And here is where you will think I'm nuts: I'm going to take the door off this closet and make it open storage. Closets like this are always crammed with stuff. And you can't even see what's in there anyway. So, picture this:
I'm not sure why people feel the need to style these closets with a pillow, but whatever. I want to have enough bins for hats and gloves and such, a bin for JWH's running accoutrement, and lots of hooks for jackets. I think I can pull this off. And I think it will make that little hall feel less clausterphobic, too.
Oh, and if money and time were no biggie? I'd go straight to this:
Hmm, perhaps that will just go on my list for year 2... (can you hear JWH groaning??) For now I'll see about removing the door and going with hooks instead of hangers. And bins. Lots of bins. Then we will see about tearing out the wall and making it spectacular. For now I'm aiming for plain old adequate.
My kitchen grand plan (makes it sound so much more dramatic than it is, right?) included adding cabinets to the weird little nook. And I'm happy to say that I am making it happen. I took a peek inside the cabinets, Googled the tag and found that these suckers are considered fine cabinets. Dove tailed joints, solid wood and all that jazz. They certainly do not give off a first impression of greatness, but whatever, I can work with it.
So I used the handy, dandy Plain & Fancy website to find a local distributor and sent them an email. They could not have been nicer. I sent my measurements, told them I wanted storage (no more drawers please) and a double 35 qt. trash can pull out. Small wishes, really. And they send me back a bid. It seemed high, so I reached out to another local distributor for a bid. Lo and behold, that gal was even nicer. And her price was even lower. And she came out to the house and checked my measurements and compared stock colors (not a match, too much fading since they were installed in 2001 (!). She then went off with a drawer to use for a custom match paint.
I call that success. I'm not sure the cabinets will be in by the time we move in. I tend to doubt it. And I know for certain that we will be without counter tops on them for a little while (we cannot order them until the cabinets come in and are installed, and then it takes 2 weeks). Not to mention the fact that I have such decision-fatigue at this point that I cannot fathom looking at counter top materials.
Here, just so this post is not toally without visuals, this is what I ordered:
And now the update. We are live with construction. I plan to take some messy "before/during" pictures this week. I feel like I have chosen the right contractor and I am excited. We have had great conversations about nosings and underlayments and paint. Note: remove the 1/4" underlayment so the nosing is level with the floor - got that? Ha! I'm learning so much that I will drive JWH crazy for years. (The nosing is the panel that the bottom of the balusters on a stairway sit on/in. They should be level with the floor that abuts them and the nosing should be the same as the floor, not painted with 85 coats of white glossy paint and still dirty looking because as a not-level element in a floor, where else is the dirt gonna go?)
And that leads me into paint. HH1 has fabulous trim. It's like glass. I think it was sprayed on in some places. It's just lovely. Not chipped, no brush marks, smoooooth. I want that again. It's expensive to get it, too. But I feel like nice trim sets the tone for a house. I have been in nice homes and even new homes where the trim was not sanded with love and care and it made it feel cheap. I also feel like slightly off white trim is better than bright white trim. It adds a texture rather than just contrast.
So I am splurging on having a painter sand off 100 years of brush strokes and apply a nice satin in Benjamin Moore Vanilla Ice Cream. I do not think I will regret this in the slightest. I am already regretting some other splurges but the trim? The trim is going to make this house fabulous!
Instead of coming up with funky little titles to describe each day on this journey, I think I will just number it as we go along, k? Maybe I will add a room name or some other descriptor to the title. Maybe.
So, day one, episode one, let's talk about the bid process and the timing of this little endeavor. We have a 3.5 week gap between the buy side closing on HH2 and the sell side closing on HH1. That gap seems huge to some people (2 mortgages!) but it was planned that way. When we were negotiating with the buyers of HH1 we had yet to find a place to buy, so we were pretty focused on getting as much time as possible. We even negotiated an option to lease the house back for a few more weeks in case we needed it. In the end, it took us about 4 weeks to find a place to buy. And for that deal we (and the sellers) pushed for a fast close. They were leaving the country and wanted the deal done, and we wanted time to renovate.
So, 3 and a half weeks. That's not a lot of time since, as you know, my list is large and in charge. We contacted 2 contractors initially. Thinking that we'd loop in a 3rd once we got some idea of the cost and time line. We thought we might have to scale back a bit and/or move in while work was ongoing.
The first contractor we called was one who has done some small projects for us in years past. He rebuilt the fascia and gutters for us last year. And he replaced a few columns in the basement, too. Nothing huge, but he's likable and we had him quote a few other things along the way and he seemed on the ball.
The second contractor we called was a bit of a fluke. JWH met a guy on a plane. The guy owned a large commercial construction business. Cards were exchanged. So, when we needed another bid, JWH emailed him for a recommendation. To our mighty surprise, he said they would bid on the job and he himself came over to the house a few days later to take a look. We were a little shocked at all that, but, hey, maybe a big show could do the work quicker? We'd be open to paying a bit more to save time...
And then the kicker. Mr. Big, as I'll call him, was chatting about his GC (general contractor) who would have come with him if he were not on vacation. He dropped a name. The name of my beloved previous contractor and neighbor. The name of the guy who made HH1 the palace that is is (mostly before I moved in). Jaws fell. And so we talked turkey. As in dollars. The Mr. Big firm would cost more. Yes. More. But we would get what we wanted, get it done well, and have what I considered an ally on the ground. A guy I knew I could talk to and be heard. And a guy I trusted to find and fix the myriad of problems I knew would crop up.
And so Mr. Big's guys did up a bid and a timeline. The timeline had some projects going on before the move in date:
And others he had in a phase 2, but we pushed hard to get them put up into the phase above, even admitting that if we had a plumber in the house for a few days after move in, that would be ok. My main goal here was to have the disruptions for the Bun minimized. Let her get in and get settled, you know?
And still others would be starting weeks after the move in date (to allow time to have an architect weigh in and order materials, etc.):
And so it goes. We chose Mr. Big. You saw that coming, though, didn't you? We plan to call a heating and AC firm to see if it's best to just avoid the middle man there.
And so, here we go....
Yes, I am fully aware that is mid-month. I've been a tad busy at work. I helped throw a party. And it was (now pretend you are Barney Stinson and say it with me)...Legen...dary. 525 people dancing, screaming, throwing moss ball. "Moss balls" is fun to say, no? Let's just say it involved ordering 40' of astroturf, a headless horseman ice luge and costumes. JHW said it was like going to a "party like they show on tv and you scoff and say, 'no parties look like that in real life.'" Oh, yeah!
I shared a things-I-want-to-get-done list with you in 2011. And then in 2012 I came clean on my, overall pretty good, completion rate. And then there was the 2012 list in that post, too. Here it is again:
And then, you may remember this post...(if you don't feel like clicking, let me just tell you it was about the poltergeist that ran through my home on 2012 and cost us shitloads of money.) At the time of the post I was wailing about the 2 plumber visits for the master bath and the tv and the water heaters. At that point I revised the list to:
Well, let me tell you, that early in the year poltergeist stuck around. 2012 was the year of broken shit. The plumber was called back again when water was actually dripping from the 2nd floor landing light fixture, and the gutter thing mentioned so casually as number 6 above? Ha! And number 7? Ha, again! The fascia board was rotted full out around the house and had to be replaced with engineered wood and repainted. And the gutters? Dear lord, the gutters...that was a battle. It ended well, with lot's of shiny new wood...and an empty savings account. Oh, gotta love the projects that have to be done but not one person can actually see or notice that they have been done. Trust me, no one stands on the stairs to the 3rd floor and look lovingly out at the new wood in the mud room gutters and sighs resignedly. No one except me, that is...
So, here is what actually got done:
I actually did a lot of other things, too, but this is about accounting, not about patting myself on the back. And now, on to 2013. A year when I will just take it as it comes and if I get any of this done I will say hurrah to that and pour myself a drink.
I honestly know this all will not happen. Lack of proper funding and lack of enough hours in the day. But here's to dreaming and doing a little bit here and there when I can.
So, you all know I had big mudroom dreams. But my mudroom reality was far more modest. I'm cool with it. I think it came out wonderfully and it was certainly a low cost way to enter into mudroom-ness. I might even this this lower point of entry is better. We can use the space for a few years and see what works. And we can tweak it without feeling like we are wasting money.
So, the rundown:
Total out of pocket (windows pending - oh, and SWING pending): $606.50
Total time: about 20 hours for the room and then another 4 for the curtains.
Last week I really did suck at blogging. And I'm sorry. I had no time for the prior 2 weekends to do any projects... and work has been busy... and my knee hurts. Might as well blame solar flares in there, too. And Republicans.
The good news? This past weekend was "dude, get something done" weekend.
And I had a whole pile of stuff ready to get cracking on. And I did some actual projects, and then I also photographed them and I plan to tell you all about it. Really, that's what I do here...normally.
See? That's my pile. Oh...you thought I was being metaphorical? Nope. There was a real pile of stuff. See if you can puzzle out what went down and check in tomorrow to see the first part of the results show!
Hmmm, so I shared my thinking about the mudroom windows on Friday. It's Monday now, so, of course, I have more thoughts. And more pictures.
But first, let's do a little vocab review, so we all know what we are talking about:
Nice, huh? So now I can say things like, "I painted the casing front, but not the stiles, channels, rails or jambs" and you know what I mean. Right? Right?!?!
So, yeah, that's what I did. And I think that, at the minimum I need to continue the cream colored paint to the side of the casing piece. But...maybe also the jamb? Not sure. So let's look at some photos to see what we like, shall we?
Here is the original inspiration photo, where it looks like they used the contrast color on the sashes, but not the jambs.
Here we see another green window that is, suspiciously, just the same...
And here, some sliders in the same vein yet again.
These nice folks have the full monty all painted out, the trim, the sashes, the jambs.
And here we have a nice blue where they have, again, matched the jambs to the trim.
Anyone else noticing all the green and the blue? Maybe a little "bringing the outdoors in" thing going on here?
But, really, what I want to know is if anyone has both the sashes and the jambs in the contrast color? Turns out, the answer is yes, but usually in black or a dark color.
I'm thinking all the dark colors being like this is a way of giving an interior space more of an exterior feel? After all, this contrast technique is very common on the outside of homes...
Anyway, so much to think about, and I was nearly blind from squinting at photos, trying to see what, exactly, they had painted the accent color versus the trim color. And then, I saw this - and it's actually also a sunroom...so kind of perfect, right?
I mean, come on, it's practically my room. Give or take, oh, 800 square feet!
Sooo, what is up with my wacky paint job? You know...this one?
Or, more up close and personal...this one?
Well, here's the thing: A) It was intentional, and B) I'm not done yet. You see, the windows are gonna have something done to them. I'm not sure what. Replaced? Storms? Interior storms? Dunno. Something to keep that room warmer. So, since painting windows is a total pain...I figured I'd just wait to see what happens next. And, I was kind of trying out this kind of dealio that I shared a while back:
I think this room could really use that kind of pop. And, in any other room I would be loathe to touch the glorious paint on the sashes. Not here. These orange-y messes are, well, a mess. So, it's a perfect place to try this technique.
Stay tuned as I sort out my options!
The Flor tiles. They look familiar, no?
To use a very bloggy word, I "repurposed" them. I had the 8 in the hall, and you may remember from my guest appearance on The Waffler that I had bought 12 more at once point when they were on clearance. But then I decided they really did not go very well with the new bulls eye rug in the living room. Not that I had done anything about that. It just was kind of the situation.
So, when the mudroom bug hit me last week I put the extra tiles in there as a test. It worked. Covering up that floor was like fresh spring breeze. And, no, it was not perfect, since that tile is hardly level or even, but until I can re-tile the room more to my liking? It's cool.
Well, almost cool. I was short a few tiles. Even when I dragged in the filthy, filthy, oh how did I never notice how filthy, tiles from the front hall. Still short maybe 3 or 4 tiles. So I called Flor. They really do have lovely and helpful customer service. The nice man confirmed that Needlepoint Stripe was out of commission, but told me that Line, Please was "virtually" the same. Cool! I ordered 5 tiles, just to be safe.
They came Friday and I did not crack the box until Sunday night: install time. Weeeell, it turns out that "virtually" is not the same as "actually" when it comes to sameness. They are the same color, sure, but not the ame texture really. The new ones have stripes that are a little fatter, a little less tight. Crap.
But, we went with it. JWH suggested that if we parquet-in (is that a verb?) the new tiles, making them all run the same direction perhaps it'll look like variation is just due to direction. I think he's right. Hardly noticeable. And for the cost of buying 5 tiles versus 23*? Deal.
*We had 2 extra after the install. 2 very dirty tiles. We hid the other dirtiest ones under the bench and the 2 dirty-gerties who had to hit the prime time? I washed them in the sink, with dish soap. They are still a tad mangier than the new ones, but at least I am not so squicked out about touching them.
The mudroom...(see how I did that? I did not call it the sunroom, or the soon-to-be mudroom, because it is now a mudroom, dammit.) So, anyway, the mudroom took up pretty much our whole weekend. I would have shared picture of it yesterday, but it was dark when we laid the rug and I wanted glorious sunlight photos.
And so now here is where I apologize for the photos that I just made you wait a whole extra day to see. They are not great. I took them in the 5 minutes between being ready to leave for work/school and leaving for work/school. And JWH was out having a networking breakfast (He does that. At breakfast. Crazy.) so the kid was all mine. All this boils down to a few rushed shots, no time to "style" the space at all. And, well, several shots taken with the kid in frame, just out of frame, or, very sweetly, actually, hugging my legs while I took the photo.
So, with that, here is the mudroom!
See the painted trim? Vanilla ice cream in oil based satin, just like the rest of the house. I mixed it with the Flood no-brush-stroke stuff and it's like glass. Really. And it was quick to do, the prep work and primer took me, measured in Backyardigans time, 2 episodes. Once of which, called "Who" was apparently just out-of-the-box amazingly "silly." Yeah, so if you happen to be reading this and happen to be on the writing staff at Backyardigans, nice work. You had my kid fully yelling at the tv. It was that amazeballs. The second episode, about garbage eating aliens? Not so silly, but acceptable all the same. Anyway. The primer went up so fast that I decided, after an hour of dry time, to just proceed with the first coat of paint. Also quick. An then I let that dry 24 hours. While it set and hardened I did the walls. Yeah, I'm nuts like that. I never stop, just keep on keepin' on. It's a sickness, really. The walls are Manchester Tan like the living room and hall. I figured neutral was best, just to see where this room went, and I can always switch it up, right? Wrong. The wall painting portion of this endeavor was a total PITA. Unexpected.
Cue final coat of trim paint, a trip to the mall to return all the J. Crew clothes I bought here (okay, I did keep the polky shirt), and home to lay the Flor tiles. More on that tomorrow. I'm tired now. My wrists are still fatigued from all that brushwork.
Oh, but lastly? since JWH asked for it? The before an after side by side:
But, those really do not due the transformation justice, since the transformation had more to due with how this space relates to the rest of our house and to our lifestyle...rather than just looking at it objectively as a room. Oh, and because in neither of those shots can you see the bike trainer, the treadmill, the random desk chair and side table...the crap that lived in that room day in and day out.
Trust me, it wa a glorified, 1980's themed closet. Now it's a mudroom. Hooray!
So, the mudroom. As you know, it's in progress. This weekend we went at it a bit, but the list, it is long. We have to:
Soooo, a long way to go. But, I can see it. I really can. And it will be so nice to claim this room as usable space. Usable beyond a storage room. Who needs a storage room with a view of the Boston skyline?
Oh, and just because I'm not sure you believe me about how utterly unused this space was, let me remind you that this door was always closed. And often blocked by a boot tray.
Who doesn't want to greet their guests with all that? "Here, let me take your coat. Oh, yes, that is a nice view of the city. Yes, just there on the other side of the old light fixture on the scratched up table...yeah, that's the Hancock Building. Nice huh? Careful not to trip on the air compressor there by the door..."
So, remember this when you see the upcoming photos. We have a lot to do, but it's gonna be great!
*Okay, stopping here to admit that the tile, and the room in general, is not all that hideous. It's more that it really, really, does not match the rest of the house. I mean, it's an 1898 Victorian. What on earth is this Mexican tile doing here? And this orange wood? It's just really odd. I need this room to feel like it came with the house. Because it did. The foundation under it is just as old as the rest. It's just that, somewhere along the line, someone went all Arizona 1986 in here.
So, yesterday I hinted about what we were up to all weekend. Yeah. we hit the Ikea. And then we tore up the sunroom. 2012 may not be the year I call a contractor and get a mac-daddy mudroom with built-in benches and cubbies, but it still is year of the mudroom, damnit!
See, I had a flash of inspiration. The big hold up on the sunroom-to-mudroom conversion is the fact that the sunroom is cold. Very cold. So cold that all my plants died this winter. And it has been a very mild winter. You see, it's the windows. They are single pane (who installs single-pane windows? Really??!?!!) Anyway, due to new cars, a not so great visit to the tax man, and, oh, the 2 new water heaters we just got? No money for new windows right now. Yeah, yeah, poor me.
But, it did put a wrinkle in my plans. And then? The flash. Of inspiration. Storm windows! Dude, other people with drafty windows don't call Andersen Renewal and drop 10k. Nooo, they put up storms. Yeah! So we are going to look into that. And maybe blow-in insulation, if that's needed. I'm not sure if it is. I'm going to call for an energy audit to get to the bottom of it.
But, that said, I had hope! Hope that I could have a functioning sunroom this summer (hey, drafty windows don't matter then!) and into next winter. The boot tray will finally have a home! My excitement was uncontainable. Truly. It was infectious too, since I managed to get JWH to agree to go to Ikea and measure stuff and carry stuff. At Ikea we dropped some high-for-Ikea bucks on 2 things: a bench and a wall unit. Both hard wood, no MDF or particleboard, please.
The rest of the stuff we put in this room we had: the light fixture, the hooks, the baskets, the rug. Yeah, it was kind of magical the way it came together. Not that we are done. Nope, I have to hit this place with the paint. And then we have to cut the Flor tiles to make them look like wall-to-wall. And I do need 4 more Flor tiles, oh, and new tiles for the front hall, since I stole those for in here.
We are just 25% done with this space, but I can already see where it's going. And I like it. I mean, really, snowshoes off the floor - what's not to love?
I cry for mercy! This has not been the best of months at Holiday House. First world problems, to be sure, but as I said on Facebook last week, "I haz poltergeist."
And he does not like electronics, or machines, or maybe it's just me he dislikes...
First it was the tv. Kaput. Then it was the washing machine. ( I may have called The Poltergeist's attention to the washer's frailty when I mentioned it in my "I hate Samsung" post. Darnit.) Then it was the garbage disposal. And then, wait for it...both water heaters.
"Why do you have two?" you ask. Hell if I know. I just turn the tap and shimmy in the hot water, I ask not where it comes from.
Until that hot water is orange. Then I start asking questions.
Sooo, silly me had a plumber come. $700 later I had a working master bath faucet (hooray, that only took 6 months), another pressure valve thingy (the banging pipes are gone again, but, yeah, I'll withhold judgement for a few months before I call it "fixed"), and a diagnosis of "water heater(s) gone all to hell." Cue plumbers number two and three and a bill that hovers near the laughably large. In some ways it's a relief that it's so big that I don't even have to think about paying it out of my personal checking account, you know? Like if it was just $700 I'd feel guilty tapping into the savings account. Hah! Tap away, tap away.
As we drove to work, leaving plumbers 2 and 3 (kind of a young Ben Affleck type, actually) to do their thing, JWH says to me, "there goes your sunroom." Indeed. So, the list I shared with you in January is already crap. This time, crossing off means "not gonna happen" rather than done-dealio. Oh, the pain!
Might as well revise it now and deal with reality. Much in the way that JWH did when he called of plans for his new BMW and decided to rock the Volkswagen.
Holiday House: known for thrift.
We have all seen kitchens with painted cabinets and a contrasting island, and we have seen kitchens with upper and lower cabinets painted different colors. But is this new, the one "accent cabinet?"
Or is it old hat and I jut never noticed it?
Either way, I'm kind of smitten. My kitchen is dark, so I need lighter cabinets, but the idea of a little contrast is nice. A little "pop," a little "wow." Hmmmm, file this under: food for thought.
No, not like that....like this:
Woot! We are the proud owners of a Nest Thermostat. See there on the website where it says they are sold out? Yeahhhh, we got one. Chalk it up to old fashioned net savvy-ness on my part. See, back in early November, Apartment Therapy Unplugged did a post on how these suckers were so popular that they flew of the shelves and the company had stopped taking orders. Wow, I thought, really?
The thing is, I had totally, completely missed the hype about them in the first place. So when I saw the story that they were sold out, and read about what it was exactly that was old out...well, I wanted one. So, I did what any web-surfing-ninja would do. I read the notice on the homepage about how "Best Buy orders will be fulfilled....blah, blah, blah." And I went over to BestBuy.com and ordered one. Yeah, it was that hard.
So, I'm not sure if it was sloppy reporting* on the Apartment Therapy bloggers' part (it's hard for me to remember sometimes that bloggers are not journalists, so they sometimes just throw crap out there, yes, I'm talking about you Strollerderby) or if it was a miraculously effective marketing plant by the Nest peeps. You know, "they are sold out! Gosh, I simply must have one!" Worked on me...
So, back to the Nest. It's lovely, for starters. How does it work? Well, since it learns your routine, and we have been home more than normal, we will have to see if it adapts to our back-to-school selves. I will keep you posted...
Oh, and why does it look like hell? Because the 1975-era thermostat that this one replaced was installed prior to walls being skim-coated, it seems, so, yeah, rough plaster under there. So I spackled. And then I painted...and, um, the "Stonington Gray" I have in the basement seems not to be at all the same as what is on the walls. So I spackled some more and that, my dears, is how things now stand. I have been busy with the vanity project. Sue me.
Oh, and what is that other thermostat? That one is just for the alarms system, which will alert us if the house ever falls into pipes freezing type circumstances. Fancy, I know.
*I lean toward this theory since that day they disabled comments on the post. Typically a sign of a whoops! And it does not show up in their search, the only way to find the post is via the comments people made.
I struggled. I mean, really struggled, to complete the semi-secret bathroom vanity project. It's not done yet...but I might as well share some progress so the week does not feel like a total loss.
The idea, which you might remember, came from an Anna White tutorial. I have dreamed of building a step into the vanity ever since my fantasy of getting a console sink (so a stool could just tuck under it) died*. I have to work with what I have. A stunning (not) MDF vanity with an aftermarket granite top.
Okay, so back to Anna White. Her vanity had a larger toe kick, I think. But, regardless, I needed more step. My peanut is, well, a peanut. She needs a good 12" leg up to reach the faucet. And will, well, for a few more years. Let's just say she's not rocketing up the growth curve. Anyway, the project...I decided to take the cabinet part of the vanity and replace it with drawers, the bottom one being built to hold 50+ lbs and have a closed top; i.e., a step.
The way we tackled this is to have my dad build a box at home (where his tools live). The box would slide into our cabinet opening, but be only as deep as the plumbing junk would allow. Behold the box during install (day 1):
Why the box? Beyond being easier to build and fit the drawers in all in his shop, my dad thought the drawer holding the step would be sturdier if screwed into real wood, rather than just the MDF wall of the existing cabinet. Smart man.
After installation of the box and a dry fit of the drawers, I removed all the faces and went to the basement to prime and paint. My bathroom looked like this for a few days:
How did I paint: I first deglossed, then primed, then put 3 light coats of Benjamin Moore Matte finish paint (Iron Gate is the color), sanding between coats. I put a satin varnish on the top of the step only, but if the matte finish paint fails to hold up, I can always seal the whole shebang. I'm kind of in love with the matte finish, though, so fingers are crossed it cures well and is durable.
Here's where we stand now.
Stunning, right? Yeah. And will totally rock once we manage to get the drawer fronts cut to the right size. Install Day 2 was us discovering that the first batch, which I lovingly painted, was too short. Install Day 3 was us discovering that the second batch, which I also lovingly painted, was too thick.
Yeah, we are thinking that we will do a dry fit on batch 3 before I, um, lovingly paint.
*I can't find the link where I may have mentioned this, but the hall bath is held together with chewing gum and baling wire, it seems. Greg, my former contractor, let me know that it would be very unwise to go removing things like mirrors or vanities or floors or wainscoting without the budget to go down to the studs and back up again. Ummm? No. So, that's why the hall bath renovation dreams of 2010 became the hall bath refresh of 2011. You get what you get and you don't complain.
Well, hello! And happy new year! As you may remember, last year I put a list out there, for all to see, of the things I wanted to get done in 2011. Here it is with not as many items crossed off as I expected.
To my credit, #3 nd #16 have been attempted. Really. It's just that the guy never shows up...And #2? It's too fraught with disagreement to actually happen.
And, I'm giving myself half credit on #20 since I made great progress in there. But, it's not done. So, we have some carry over to this year, as well as some new stuff.
See? Shorter than last year! Hooray! And I have to say, up front, that I do not expect to get it all done. The tile? Sheesh, that would be a miracle. As we all know, the best laid plans are crap. Stuff comes up. Like the giant plumbing incident we had in this fall, or redoing the kids' room in pink (!), or re-upholstering cat-damaged chairs. All things that take time and cost money.
So, I consider 2011 a success overall. Onward!
As remedy to entirely flubbing the whole holiday-decor thing I decided to return to my roots: macking on curtains or, as the case may be, tile. (Curtain blathering to follow tomorrow.)
My 2012 plan may involve tile, as money permits, so I have been thinking about options. We all know the hall bath is simply not 100% renovate-able, so I have updated it as much as possible and I'm really quite pleased with the progress. I'd still like to do more, and one of that "more"is updating the tile. It's clean and tidy now, no complaints, but it's dated and, worse yet, it goes to the ceiling. Why is that bad? Because it means the crown molding has weird little "ends" where it meets the tile. It's just odd.
So, if I re-tile, I will have a little wall re-instated up there. I think it will make the room feel bigger, too, to not have the crown molding just crapping out mid wall...
Anyway, back to tile. I think white subway is the way to go. It's classic and goes with the room. But, it's kind of dull. Still, I am very wary of a banded accent. It ties me to a color. It ties me to a style, it is very easily dated, thereby killing the whole timelessness of white subway tile thing.
And then I saw this.
Bang. It's an accent, but it's only one wall, i.e., easily hidden by a curtain if you so desire. No more puling out my curtain to hide the ends of the current black band, thank you very much! I also love that it's thick and kind of 1920's feeling. I'm also a little jealous that their square white tile does not look as lame as mine does.
And just so you don;t think I'm all complainey-Janey for ne reason, behold both problems (the crown-meets-tile weirdness and the black tile band peeking out) in one somewhat older photo.
See? I'm totally not nuts.
Dana over at House*Tweaking is in the midst of a housing down-size. Yeah, she's got a great idea there...but really what caught my eye was her choice of tile for her master bath. It's the same tile I have in my laundry room/nook/closet.
And then I realized I have never taken any pictures of my laundry area. Harumph. Wonder why not? It was the first, and biggest yet, renovation we undertook at HH. And one that truly makes my life worth living. It was not cheap, mind you, but I really thing it was a value-ad, both in terms of livability of the house and for resale value. No 4-bedroom 3-storey house should rely on a tiny Ansko stack-able washer in a kitchen closet. You had to move the kitchen chairs aside to get at it! And as for folding, storage, drying space? Zero. Zero. Zero.
So, here's what we did. The staircase going to our third floor master was carved out of what had been a small bedroom. The closet from that bedroom remained - and it was deep one, tucked into the eave of the front of the house. It was large enough for a stack-able washer and dryer, and a bit of shelving. Fine. Perfect. Not having to move the kitchen chairs, being able to get a larger machine (it wold have to be a smaller stack-able, but not as small as the Ansko, which seriously did not hold on full set of bed linens at one time...) I was totally up for a "moderately better situation."
And then Greg came over. Yes, Greg. Sigh. My beloved ex-contractor. And he said, "No, you need full size machines and a folding counter and we can take a foot from the kid's closet and get you all that and a large opening with a pocket door that looks like to came with the house in 1898." You see why I love him now don't you?
Well, actually, it was not as easy as that, we had a lot of problem solving to do about pluming vents and what not, but he really was adamant about going to full size machines. The man has something against stack-ables, I guess. So, we went for it!
Here we have the ripped out closet mid-process, you can see how it's in the eaves, and the Bun's closet it to the right of those new 2x4s:
And here are the GlamourShots of the laundry room.
The paint is Moonshine by Benjamin Moore, the penny tile is for Tile Showcase in Watertown, MA and the whole of it is fantastico!
See, while the new light is not perfection, it is an improvement. It's brighter and less, ummm, gross. Allow me a little side by side.
On the old one, the light was just aimed at the wall, and it was kinda weeny for the big vanity and mirror area. The new one, I think, makes the room look bigger and emphasizes the high ceilings. And it kicks out a ton of light. It's like the surface of the sun in there with three 75w bulbs. I came down to 60w, but I really might even try 50's. (The old one was 2 75s, but, again, it basically lit up little circles on the wall. See?
You may note that in ordering this fixture I liked that it cold be hung facing down or up. Yeah, I made poor JWH try it both ways. Down was, as I feared, weird, due to the position of the wiring in relation to the mirror. It just overlapped in an odd-feeling way.
I still have a major vanity project up my sleeve. Don't you worry, it'll knock your socks off. But, all in all, the hall bath I hated has come a long way.
The total "before." Before I switched out the shade for window film, which was huuuuge.
Then, the middle before. With the window film...but, oh so cold and stark and just somehow incohesive and blah.
The "after"? Oh, lala!
What did I do?
The window film ($14), taking out the trim on the top window ($0), the roman shade ($171), the frame for the mirror ($20), the paint ($20, it's Manchester Tan, btw), the light ($150), the shower curtain ($58). The day of repair ($0).
No, it's not the hall bath reno I dreamed of, but it's way more in line with the rest of the house now and I don't cringe when I'm in there.
Just wait till I show you the coup de grace on this whole shebang. It's in process, and it's why I did this whole thing anyway. A hint? The IKEA stool is going, going, gone!
*And yes, I know I have varied above from lights off to lights on and then back. But, really, the thing getting me all grill cheesed about this bathroom is how much brighter and warmer it is with the lights off - which is how I usually see it anyway. I'll do another post soon on the lighting switch to show y'all the difference that made.
This project was also a part of Thrifty Decor Chick's November Before and After Party. Hooray!
I shared a little love for how far we have come together here. But I hae been fantasizing for years now about ripping out the cabinets and starting over. I have wild dreams of banquets and marble counter tops and such.
But, truth is, my kitchen works. It works well, in fact.
So, perhaps I need a new direction. A way to think about just tweaking it to get it to the next level. So I pondered, I mean seriously pondered, what really needed to change:
Well, see, that is not a huge list now it it? Certainly less overwhelming that a full kitchen renovation. Could I work with the bones of hat I have, and add to it? Well, while pondering that, I saw this picture:
And, just like that I saw what was possible. See those lower cabinets? I have those. Mine are just 1980s cherry. I could make them gray - I really could! Gray and cream, oh I have new and delightful visions! And no new island or counter tops would be needed. Oh hail the cost savings!
Here's my new thought:
I think I just saved myself $50,000. Just like that. I think I need a kitchen designer, stat.