Friday, April 29, 2011

Walk this way

Jeff and I are guilty of being up watching the Royal Wedding. 2 thumbs up from this household. Granted we were only up due to a child who seems to be having a difficult time adjusting to life in our little construction zone...but, we decided to embrace the 5:30am wake up call and flip on the tube.

Lots to cover today. First of all, more progress on the exterior and thank Heaven above for the gorgeous day. With Jeff having the day off, we spent nearly the entire day outside basking in the rays, playing with the kids and working on little projects. The exterior crew plugged away on the front entrance and were able to completely tie up all the (many, many) details by the close of the day. I know I have said it a million times before, but there is an enormous amount of detail and trim on this house - the fact that it took two men an entire day to complete this front overhang is a true testament. BUT, it's looking out of this world and the entryway just beckons guests to walk this way.

Not much new on the interior today. They were back to regrout the newly laid (and previously chipped) tiles - so that area of the flooring is completely tied up. They were also here laying out trim so they are ready to fly the first chance they get.

Just a refresher that Monday starts sanding/staining of wood floors (a 3 day process) and also starts the roof on the exterior. It's going to be a hugely productive week...and there's a chance that the first of the cabinetry could be ready for installation by the end of the week. Whoop, whoop!

Now that we've covered the daily update...I had a few other fun things going on today. First off, I began the refinishing process of the Craigslist dresser I picked up. I won't go into too much detail since I'm hardly a seasoned veteran in this arena...but a good lesson from my neighborhood Ace Hardware and I'm well on my way. Here are a few progress shots from today (I have a LONG way to go...but would love to have it ready for stain by the end of the weekend).

Second, my favorite girl who knows all things color and design was here today to give me some guidance on our master bedroom drapery. I took a stab at checking a few different vendors out, browsed through a few fabric books and immediately turned around and walked right back out the door - SO not my forte. So I gave Jenn our duvet and asked her if she might be able to make a selection for us. Well, she struck fabric gold and the drapery is officially underway. This will be the final window to cover on our upper level (thank goodness!) and Jeff and I can finally seek solace in our own little oasis. Here's a glimpse at the fabric (a dramatic horizontal stripe).

Above is a black and white image of the pattern and below is an image of the fabric with the duvet.

There are 3 colors in the you can ALMOST see in the image above...

Finally, when Jenn was over and looking at our bedroom, she felt like we needed to flip flop our bedside tables. She felt it balanced the room out more and kept things feeling open and light. Your opinion please, which layout do you prefer (I won't tell you which was 'before' and which is 'after'...either way, excuse the unfolded laundry on the bed;-)?
Option #1

Option #2

We have a busy rest of the weekend ahead which means Monday will be here before we know it. Next time I post, I hope to be talking ALL about shingles...keeping my fingers crossed!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Forging ahead.

I wouldn't exactly say the weather 'cooperated' today...but it managed to come around so I don't want to harp on it too much. The morning started off soggy and therefore halted work on the exterior yet again. But our amazing exterior contractor Jon showed up around 10am, despite the rain and decided to forge ahead. His crew of one later joined him at about 2pm once conditions improved and together, they managed to create a visual difference today that put a big ol grin on my face.

They managed to tie up the back corner of the house that is packed full of intricate details. They shingled the new overhang over the back door, installed the beadboard underneath, installed the trim around the perimeter and finished siding the lower half. It's looking absolutely fantastic. I can't wait to see it painted.

On the interior, the chipped tiles I referenced yesterday were removed (if only it was that simple, there's a lot more to it than just 'popping them out'). The surfaces underneath each tile had to be re-prepped for tile...and eventually they were replaced. They'll be back to re-grout them tomorrow and let's hope that's the last of the tile conundrums.

Jon gave me the great news today that they'll be pushing to have the exterior completed by end of next week. They'll work 'long days' through the week in order to get the project wrapped up. Being that we'll be out of the house for floor sanding/staining, this works out perfectly. The chorus of sanding, siding and roofing is sure to make glorious music that I'll happily give up my front row seat for.

Jeff wrapping up his 11th straight day of work means I went off to my happy place today. I picked up the trimmings for Gloria's birthday invitations. Here's how her paper palette is looking:-)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

There'll be days like this.

Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. And things were going SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO well!

So, after more than a week of trying to get this tile prepped, cut, installed, set and grouted, today was to be the final day. The moment we all step back and admire our masterpiece.

Instead, today was the day we all stepped back post grout and realized that a good 5+ tiles were microscopically CHIPPED...and once filled with the coffee colored grout, seemed to be crying out in an act of desperation. For some reason, none of us noticed that there were a few very, very tiny little chips out of the edges of a few of the white tiles. However, once the grout lines were filled with their gorgeous espresso medium, suddenly it became painfully real that this was indeed the case.

AHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! So...what this means is that all of the chipped tiles need to be removed and replaced with tiles that are not chipped and then regrouted. Thankfully, Ian ordered enough additional tile should such a circumstance arise. However, with having to replace this generous handful of tiles, we will literally be left tile. Nothing like cutting it close.

On the exterior today, it was nothing but hot air. I was giddy when Jeff alerted me that there was a truck full of scaffolding being delivered this morning at 7:30am. "YIPPEE!" I exclaimed as visions of shingles flying through the air danced in my head.

But alas, nothing happened. The roofing crew AND the exterior crew were here today prepping for the roof...but no one actually DID anything. I could feel my blood beginning to boil as I watched their trucks pull away with promises of "Monday" echoing in the distance. Booooooooooooooooo I say to them.

In all honesty, I guess it will work out quite slick having the roof start Monday. If you remember, the floor sanding and staining is taking place Monday-Wednesday of next week, which means we will be out of the house for 4 or so days. With the little pounding they did on the roof this morning to get the scaffolding in place, I was already dreading the noise that was sure to ensue once the singles started going into place. So all of the noisy, stinky stuff will take place with us taking our final plunge back out of the house before we settle in for good. Our exterior contractor Jon also told Jeff today that they plan to have the siding and trim completely wrapped up by the weekend...which means two more busy days of work left this week. We could sure use those as a morale booster...not seeing any visual progress throughout a day is quite possibly as painful as it gets.

On a brighter note, more heart swellingly adorable photos of the girls by my amazing friend Steph (you can read more about her on my Twin Cities Notables tab). Enjoy!

And if you've ever wondered what the girls and I are doing upstairs with all of the work going on downstairs and looks a little something like this:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Same old, same old.

Well, I just really don't have much to say today. It was quite possibly the worst weather day our beat down, overly well done winter selves have seen all season. Colder than cold (or at least it felt that way with the teasers of 70 degrees we've seen), windy, rainier than rainy and positively dreary. And the real kicker of it all? A complete wash out on the exterior. Argh. Weather, you are my nemesis.

So, while there was no new news on the exterior, it was more of the same on the interior. The tile is completely installed and looking quite dramatic if I do say so myself. The girls and I were out and about in said rain to pick up the grout, caulk and Ian's beloved 'grout additive'...a product designed to prevent grout from flaking by giving it a more flexible and sturdy quality. They are all set to begin the process in the morning. Yippee!

The interior trim that was scheduled to be delivered today was postponed until tomorrow. All of the roofing materials are arriving on the same truck, so we kept the two deliveries together to save ourselves a delivery fee. What thrify remodelers we are!

For my sanity sake, let's hope things are back on track tomorrow...and that means you Old Man Winter! Despite this positively dreary day, can I share with you the daymaker of all time?

My amazingly talented friend Stephanie Bloom captured this shot of my beloveds. I feel this captures the essence of both of them - silly, sweet, precious, happy, mischievous, energetic, bright-eyed and loving.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Powering Up.

After 70 years of providing power to this fine house, the wires that run from our house to the big ol pole in our alley were laid to rest. We had Xcel Energy out here this morning to remove the powerlines so that our exterior contractor could side underneath them. 10 minutes later, IT was reattached to the house. That's right, where there were 3...there is now 1. Apparently the existing wires were far too old to rightfully be reattached to the he took them down completely (of course our power was turned off for this) and attached one brand new, all encompassing wire.

As he was leaving, he casually mentioned that it would have cost us $1000 to have this done, but because it wasn't what he was called out there to do, but had to do by regulation - it was free to us. He might as well have pulled a big old cardboard check out of his truck because I was throwing the confetti. What a way to start the week!!

With the new wire now properly installed on the corner board, the siding was able to forge ahead at record pace (the gorgeous rays shining down might have had something to do with it too!) Here's how things are looking after an awesomely productive day.

The roof is scheduled to start tomorrow, but the forecast sure isn't looking bright. We'll hold our breath and hope for the best.

On the interior, tile progress continued. I will be so thankful when the flooring is completely finished and we don't have to play hopscotch to avoid the wet tiles that we aren't able to walk on. Hopefully by Wednesday things will be completely tied up.

Tomorrow the interior trim is being delivered so they can get started on trimming out the windows. The majority of the base and crown moulding will have to wait until the cabinetry is installed since it either buts up to it or continues to run over it. It will be great to have a head start though.

I know it's been a lot of the same lately and I honestly don't know how much more I can say about siding and tile. While this finishing work is arguably the most important, I really don't think it will pack much punch until we see it all come together with paint, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, cabinetry and countertops. All of these things are in the works and will be falling into place in the next few weeks.

That's all for today! We had a wonderful Easter including a generous trip from the Easter bunny, a meal shared with family, tractor rides for the kids and plenty of sweet treats. More to come!

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's been a Good Friday.

I can't believe how fast this week has gone! The days seem to absolutely fly by with the bustling and commotion going on all over the house. Interior and exterior crews were here bright and early this morning despite the awful, awful, awful, ridiculous, hideous, disgusting, despicable weather outside. Hats off to them...I couldn't even stand having to run to my car 10 yards from my back door.

The interior crew laid another third of tile in the entryway/mudroom. The remaining 1/3 will go in on Monday and they'll be ready to grout on Tuesday. Yippee!

It really is looking amazing. At first glance, I felt like I should have gone lighter with the, err...light tile. It was feeling awfully creamy compared to the woodwork. But, at second glance (or second half hour of staring at it combined with Jeff's overbearing opinion that it's perfect), I decided that with the wallpaper, the creamier tone is going to blend better. Jeff had a good point also that white tile in a mudroom is an oxymoron and that the more blended tone will hide the dust/dirt better anyway. True that, true that.

On the exterior, the brackets were hung today. Yippee!

Everything is taking me a bit to get used to and I hold true to my thinking that once these layers upon layers of details get painted, the whole thing is going to tie together perfectly. But those brackets are so beautiful...and smell divine;-) Not as exciting details went on outside today also like taking down fascia boards and putting up soffit...but it's not all that exciting to talk about, so I'll spare you.

What IS exciting to talk about is cabinetry details and another star performance by our architect Susan. Let me break down the debacle for you. For our 'Butler's Pantry' (aka: glorified built-in hutch) in the kitchen, the plans showed the counter height to be 36"...which would make the counter directly under the window as shown here (don't mind that the cabinetry on the right side is glich):

However, like all construction projects, things change once the walls are open and things start shifting. Once this newly sized window went in, the bottom edge (that the counter is SUPPOSED to but up to) is at 40" rather than 36". Now 4" doesn't seem like a huge difference...but if you think about the fact that we'd be serving food on this surface and should a taller pot be sitting on there, it would really be difficult to get the generous helping I'm going for at that height. So, what is the solution? We've established that keeping the counter at 36" is ideal...but what do we do with the 4" gap that we now have between the bottom edge of the window and the counter? Enter Susan Nackers of VIVO Architecture:

I'm sure Susan would die if she knew I was posting her 'loose sketch' (as she lovingly titled it) on my critically acclaimed blog, but her ability to draw in 3D gets me every time. What you are looking at here is an elevation drawing of the counter, window and upper cabinetry above. What she is proposing is a 4" marble backsplash as we had thought of on our own...but to cap the backsplash with a small shelf of marble as well. The shelf (probably about 2" more like a ledge) will span the entire width of the counter top...AND actually act as the sill for the window. Not only will it just LOOK really cool, but it will be a great place to set things (serving utensils, condiments, etc). From the drawing, you can see that the little brackets we had designed underneath the upper cabinetry will come down to meet this shelf/sill surface...really giving it a finished and well thought out look. Love this!

The week ended on a great note (despite said weather conditions) and we are really in a good place as we close out our 6th week of construction. Jon gave me the great news that the roof crew will begin their work on Tuesday. My guess is the exterior of the house itself will be wrapping up in the next two weeks. We will still have the concrete to pour, back deck to build, exterior to paint and garage to side...but the house itself will be looking pretty spectacular. With the timing as it stands, my prediction is that both the interior and exterior will finish up pretty much at the same time.

Happy Easter my faithful readers. Wishing you a weekend full of family and friends and an abundance of Easter blessings.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


It's later than usual as I'm writing this - Jeff and I ditched the kiddos tonight for a little time just the two of us. After a big meal and a DQ stop, I can hardly keep my eyes open. Yet it is my duty to keep real-time testimonial as to the progress at the house. If I don't, how else will you fully engage yourself in this journey with me. I need you, therefore I write to you. Hmmm...this seems to be the Pad Thai talking.

Enough poetry - it was a great day at the house today. On the exterior, the siding is cruising right along and the long awaited brackets were finally delivered.

I'm guessing they'll be installed tomorrow in order to keep the siding progress moving. The brackets go on first and the siding buts up to them...essentially giving them a more built-in look. Here they are hibernating in our garage until tomorrow...along with all the other supplies. WOW! It's hard to believe we may ever park a car in this garage again.

On the interior, the floor continued preparation for the tile to be laid. After evening out the newly leveled surfaces from yesterday, scraping the floor and cleaning off residual particles that might cause the tile to not lay properly, they pieced the puzzle together of how the tile should be laid out. Because the tile runs from the front to the back of the house, it passes through three different doorways (front entry door, back entry door and the doorway between the entryway and mudroom). The question that weighed on all of our minds was WHICH doorway to center it on. The tile is being laid in a checkerboard/diamond pattern and because there is so much contrast in the two colors of tile we chose, the proportions of the pattern seem to be 10x's as important. Ultimately, we decided the view from the front entry was most important and keeping everything within that site line as close to centered as possible was key (without jeopardizing the quality of the - getting too small of pieces close to high traffic or transitional areas where there might be cracking, etc). After piecing the puzzle together, here's what we came up with.

The tile was wet and we weren't able to walk on it...which meant literally JUMPING across the hallway to get up the stairs (you know...where we live). But you get the idea. I'm anxious to see it all in place to get a real feel for it. The grout will be in a dark chocolatey brown if you happen to be the visionary that I am not. Stay tuned for more photos of the progress tomorrow!

I also managed to get 5 more light fixtures ordered today: the two schoolhouse pendants for the kitchen and the 3 small semi-flush fixtures for the mudroom. Here's what I ended up with for those (but in an oil rubbed bronze finish).

They are reminiscent with a past love I had that was discontinued:-( Farewell old friend.

Finally for today (because I am literally in a Cookie Dough Blizzard coma), I am in a debacle regarding the backsplash tile. We have VERY little area in the kitchen for a backsplash, but I still want to take advantage of the small space we do have (basically the width of our 30" stove and as high as the vent hood above it). Our plan all along has been to do 3"x6" Subway Tile. However, being that they are 6" wide, we would only be able to fit 5 tiles across (if that with room for grout, etc). Today I found a 2"x4" brick pattern tile (basically like mini Subway tiles that come on a 12x12 sheet) and I'm leaning towards those vs the wider tile. Your thoughts? Is the little space above the stove too small to force 3x6" tiles in?

Tomorrow is another very busy day for us and Jeff begins his weekend work shift. Phewey. We've been so spoiled having him home the past three weekends. the end of his next 7 straight days of work, things will be looking REALLY tied up around here. The days are absolutely flying by with the buzz of people in and out of the house all day. The girls have been such troopers and we are so thankful for that.