Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Think I Can, I Think I Can...

Oh my, oh my, oh my. Things are COMINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG together over here. I feel it, I see the light, the butterflies are swirling in my stomach as these very, VERY last details start coming together. Today is the first day that I am feeling like we are going to survive this, scratch that...we are going to PREVAIL!

So much went on at the house today that I don't even know where to begin. The exterior crew was here and FINISHED the deck, the interior painters were here staining the front and back doors and continuing with touch ups, the exterior painters were here FINISHING the house, the cabinet maker was here installing hardware and our architect was here guiding us through the very last loose ends of our project. When I bid her farewell today, it was with the hopes that the next time I see her, it will be to show her the finished product. EEEEEEEEEEEEEK!

We had one set back over the holiday weekend. Monday the floors were scheduled to be final coated...which means they come in and buff out any little scuffs or scratches that may have occurred from cabinet installation, etc. It's the coat that polishes the floors to a perfectly matte and smooth finish...unlike their bumpy, bubbly uber shiny first coat. Unfortunately, a scratch was discovered dead center in the family room so deep that it was un-buffable.

In order to repair it, it needed to be completely sanded to bare wood, the grain re-opened to take the same dark stain we put on the rest of the floors, then stained, then first coated. With all of the drying time, it set the finish coat back a full day. On the bright side, Jeff and I decided it was a blessing in disguise and that we want to push the finish coat off until every single contractor's work is finished. With all of their tools and materials, no matter how hard they try to protect the floor, scratches are inevitable. We decided we would rather be the ones to give our beautiful floors their inaugural scratches vs someone else who would then receive the permanent stink eye from yours truly. So, we have pushed this finish coat back...WAY back to the end of June when we will be out of town for a few days. In turn, the installation of the base shoe (the quarter round piece that goes in front of the base trim) is also pushed back...SO not a big deal as neither activity is of the dust creating nature.

Before I get to sharing pics from today, let's talk about tomorrow. We have all our plumbing fixtures coming tomorrow for installation (the thought of running water has me near tears over here) and also all the light fixtures, switches and outlets (come on...electricity and water in one day? Can I get HECK YEAH!?!) The appliances will also be installed tomorrow and with that, we wait for Thursday when the countertops and wallpaper go in. Thursday the interior doors will also be hung along with the installation of the purty new doorknobs. Yeeks! It's all the fun stuff that's left:-)

I want to share progress pictures with you from today, but my friends, the shots are getting tighter in order to preserve the full reveal on Friday. Of course there will be lots of little touch ups to wrap up after we make it to the 3rd, but those will be FUN to do once we regain a sense of normal life again. We also still have the basement to makeover into the kids toyroom, but it is our goal to have that done before winter...so don't expect an immediate transformation (mama's tired). First things first, establish ourselves a kitchen, get unpacked and organized again, start sorting through the basement: sell/donate what we don't need and then tackle the basement paint/carpet. Ok, enough blabbering, let's get to the eye candy!

I guess it turned out to be a lot of hardware photos...but lurrrrrrve me some hardware! Stay tuned for more sneak peeks tomorrow fearless followers.

Jeff and I were just out sitting on the deck enjoying the cool breeze and soaking in the feeling of awe that comes at the end of an all encompassing project like this. "I can't believe we did it" and "What's your favorite part of the house" kind of questions circling between us. I asked Jeff, "If you had to think of one word to describe the remodel, what would it be?" His response, "Correct"...mine, "Bandaid" (you know, quick but painful)...his meaning thoughtfully planned and executed. Yes, we are dorks...but after putting our family through such a catastrophic undertaking, it's only fair we spend a few evenings basking in the glory of surviving it:-) More transformation photos tomorrow!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Deck Spec.

Today we closed out our 12th week of construction. WHAT a whirlwind! Looking back, it's hard to believe 3 full months has passed since the first of the walls came crumbling down.

All of it has been in an effort to get us to this final week. The week when everything comes together. The appliances were delivered today, the color is up on the walls, the final countertop measure was completed and the electrician was around beginning the first of his final details. With the condition the house appears to be in, I feel like there isn't a chance in heck that we will be as done as we need it to be by a week from today. But, we are on track and although there's a lot yet to finish up, it's doable and we are going to do it!

I'm not going to show any paint color pictures today. Ok, I'll show just one but I ain't telling what it's of:

I will, however, share some progress pictures with you of the back deck. These are actually from yesterday when they had the majority of the framing done and the top all put together.

It's coming along great and what a difference it will make not having to jump out of our doors;-)

The exterior crew will be back on Tuesday to continue work on the deck. The sides and front of the deck will have some paneled details to give them a little interest and a more finished look.

The exterior painters were rained out today, but will work over the weekend if weather permits. The wood floors will get their final buff and finish coat on Monday, which means no one can be in the house again until Tuesday mid-morning. From there, it's a race to the finish with the light fixtures/switches/outlets and cabinet hardware going in Tuesday, countertops and plumbing fixtures going in Wednesday and wallpaper and security system going in Thursday! When the heck am I going to clean and unpack...yeeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did I mention Jeff worked all week, through the weekend and Memorial Day and all next week? Eyeyeyeye.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


My little Gloria Frances turned the big 0-1 yesterday and it's only fitting to take a few moments to honor my special little girl. I can't tell you how much I love having two girls. I never had a sister...honestly, never really had the desire for one as I have always been very close with my two older brothers. But seeing my two daughters together makes me realize how special a bond that is...one I will never experience in my lifetime.

It is only through having girls that God has shown me this precious relationship that I'm sure will be tumultuous at times, but hysterical, comforting, supportive and loving at others.

Gloria, you have taught us so much in just one measly year. I never had experienced a fussy baby until I met you. I often think back to your delivery and how blissfully unaware your dad and I were of what was to come. Your cry terrified me. Driving you around in the car did nothing to console you. Holding you did nothing to console you. Laying you in your crib did nothing to console you. Giving you a pacifier did nothing to console you. You were a mystery and still to this day I can't quite figure out what it was you were so upset about. But a switch flipped inside of you when you started crawling and realized you could follow me and Rosemary everywhere we went. Suddenly, you were happy. And not kind of happy, happy like I have never seen before. You are silly. Even at 12 teensy months old, you joke with me. You will resist me putting your arms in your carseat straps and then laugh at yourself. I think you will be a bit of a closet comedian.

You are a fantastic sleeper. You sleep with a blanket and a gigantic stuffed purple duck that the Easter bunny brought you. You insist on snacking in the car and still refuse to fall asleep. You are pulling yourself up on furniture, but don't show many signs of walking anytime soon.

Gloria, you are an absolute gift to dad and I. When I watch you from afar now, I can't help but feel this overwhelming, indescribable, I'd-do-anything-for-you kind of love. Every ear-piercing moment of crying was worth it to discover the special little person you really are.

On a final note, your eyes have become your claim to fame. I am yet to leave the house without someone stopping me to comment on the size, shape or color of your beautiful blues.

They are an exact replica of your dad's beautiful eyes...but are quite stunning on such a tiny little creature. I can't wait to see the beautiful young woman you will grow to be.

Plymouth Rock.

I was up to the house this afternoon to check out the exterior paint progress, check in with the exterior contractor on deck specifications and see how things were coming along with the interior painters. The whole gang was there and things were moving right along.

Here is your very first look at the exterior paint color. The color we chose (ahem, the color JENN of the Walsh Design Group chose) is Benjamin Moore Plymouth Rock. I was looking for a Hamptons-esque looking color and it really worked well with the shingle color we chose (ahem, the shingle color JENN of the Walsh Design Group chose) which was Mission Brown. The trim color is the same color we are using for our interior trim and cabinetry - Benjamin Moore White Dove which is considered a 'vintage looking' white because of it's gray undertone vs yellow/cream tone.

Only the very back part of the house is painted the body color. The area with the overhang is still just primed in the above photo.

Above is a shot of the trim color making it's way around the house. Siding is still only primed in this photo.

I think it's coming along great and I really do love the color. It wasn't until this morning that I noticed both neighbors on either side of us ALSO have houses in the gray family...but oh well...ALL the houses in the Hamptons are gray;-) As you can see, the windows are covered and there's been all kinds of spraying going on but nothing is actually finished. More progress pics to come later today.

The exterior crew was just getting started with framing the back deck/stairs.

Might I remind you this is not a deck by any stretch of the imagination. It is, however, a stairway made of cedar giving it a much more organic look than a concrete stoop. It will lead to...grass. Perhaps someday we would think of putting a patio in, but for now, we want to preserve all the grass we can get for the girls to run around on (with minimal bumps and bruises compared to a patio), so the deck stairs will be on the petite size, but will feature a few charming paneled details to keep with the overall aesthetic of the exterior.

Quite possibly my FAVORITE thing that was going on at the house while I was there? The company we purchased all of our exterior building supplies from (siding, shingles, windows, etc) was there picking up all the leftovers and working on getting us a credit back for all the unused materials.

It's about time somebody start writing US a check;-) Not only did this clear additional space in the garage...

...but it also saved us from having to figure out how to haul it to a place that could properly dispose of/recycle it. With 16' lengths of siding, it wouldn't have been easy.

A final note that selecting paint colors for an entire house (inside and out) is not my definition of fun. It's incredibly overwhelming and there's a lot at stake when you think of what you are paying to have it painted. Having to RE-paint a room is costly if you decide the color isn't right, which is why I turn over the decision making to a professional. Jenn thinks above and beyond what my pea-sized design brain can think of. I tell her the look or style I'm going for...or reference a store I love, a catalog I've seen and fallen for...whatever...and she takes it from there. For me, this is money well spent (and it's a very minimal investment). I see the colors she's chosen and don't second guess a thing. It isn't until the color starts climbing the house that I finally see the vision come together and it's by far my favorite part of the project! More to come!

Exterior Paint Pics.

Followers, I will be back this afternoon with some progress pictures of the exterior. I did manage to sneak up to the house late last night to check out the color on the house, but it was too dark to get any pictures. They had the back section of the house all wrapped up for the contractor to get started on the deck this morning...so LOTS going on at the house today. The interior painters didn't work yesterday as the enamel needed a full day to harden before they could tape it off again to begin painting ceilings and walls. They are back in full force today and I'm hoping to catch a glimpse of some color on the walls today! EEEEEEEEEEEEEK! More to come this afternoon:-)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Counter Stools.

Because we don't have a dining table or chairs in our small inventory of home furnishings, we really felt the purchase of some counter height stools for our 'breakfast bar' was critical to bringing us some much needed sanity. We do hope to find a dining table/chairs in the near future, but because of my obsessive compulsive need to explore every option on the planet before making a decision, it's bound to be some time before we are ready to make that investment. In the meantime, I've been crawling all over the world wide web in search of the right stools for our kitchen. I started by eliminating anything upholstered. While I love the idea of having a pop of print on the counter stools, the reality is that there are ALWAYS going to be children sitting in these, so I might as well save myself the heartache of ravioli being smeared all over them and cut out upholstery all together. Farewell Louis XVI stools:

Moving on, the next thing I eliminated was anything without a back. I don't need to explain the number of bumps and bruises that would occur with children on a backless counter height stool, so I won't. But I was loving these Tulix style counter height backless stools:

Here's the chair version of the same style...aren't they fun?

So I was left with deciding whether to do a painted/stained finish, or something made of metal/aluminum. Ultimately, I decided that nearly EVERYTHING in this cabinet covered house is painted...and with cabinetry on 10 walls of the main level alone, could I really handle another painted white piece of furniture? And with the dark black granite and the dark stained floors, a stained finish really wasn't all that appealing either. So I said goodbye to this little number that caught my eye on Overstock.com

I settled on a stainless looking finish to continue the vintage feel of the kitchen that will tie in nicely with the polished nickel hardware and fixtures and are also super functional in terms of me hosing them off out back. I purchased them through Home Decorators and think they will be a nice compliment to the kitchen.

They are scheduled to be delivered tomorrow, on Gloria's first birthday! Somehow I find this fitting as isn't it true that first birthdays are really about mom and dad celebrating we survived the first year of our daughter's life? Perhaps we'll have a seat on them after the girls go to bed and have ourselves a celebratory drink:-)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dump This.

Perhaps the highlight of the week came today when we bid adieu to our ever faithful dumpster. Actually, correction. This was our 3rd (maybe 4th?) dumpster that has come and gone...but the difference is, this was our last. I can not even begin to tell you what a relief it is having that leaking eye sore gone from our peripheral vision. It seemed everytime we stepped back to take in the sights of our erecting beauty, our sails were deflated by the sight of a gigantic steel crib filled to the brim with trash. Here are a few old shots featuring the dumpster:

And now, the 'afters':

(Above you can see Jeff in his work clothes, grading the yard where the deck will be built)
The other reason I'm happy to say farewell to the dumpster? Dumpster Divers. Yes, the obnoxious people who like to troll the alleys for dumpsters, hop out of their vehicles, JUMP into the dumpsters and dig for whatever it is they are looking for. Nothing surprises me anymore what people will take.

Now that our driveway is free and clear (our neighbor Kathy even came out for a celebratory pow wow), we are actually able to park a vehicle in our driveway.

And by the end of the week, we should be able to get a car in our garage! The exterior crew has taken the majority of their large ladders and hauled them away in an effort to give us back a little space. The next thing we need to do is return the leftover siding and shingles we have to free up the remaining space in the garage. This weekend is our neighborhood garage sales. Think I can throw together a garage sale amidst this remodel? We'll see!

On the interior, the painters were hard at work again putting in a full day on the woodwork. I was at the house around noon today and back again at 6. From what I can tell, it appears two coats of enamel went on the wood work. They were spraying when I got their at noon...and the paint was wet when I got there at 6...so I would assume they left and came back after the first coat dried. If this is the case, there's a good chance they'll be able to get going on ceilings tomorrow. It's not just as simple as opening a can of paint and getting going however. They will need to undo all the prep they did to expose all the crown moulding to be sprayed and then retape the crown next to the ceiling in order to get started. Many professional painters don't bother taping because they are experienced enough to get a pretty darn straight line. However, a pretty straight line doesn't quite do it for me and I SOOOOOOOOOOOO appreciate that these painters tape every line they paint. I like them as crisp as they come and these guys really know how to get it done right!

Believe it or not, the exterior painters were getting started as I left the house at 6:30. They figured they could get at least 2 1/2 hours in on the house yet today before returning tomorrow morning to put in a full day. They ended up delayed at the other project they were at today, so no eye candy for you:-( But, tomorrow is sure to be a big day as they assured me the exterior contractors could get started on the deck by Thursday (which means the back of the house will be finished!) Here's to hoping they aren't stringing me along. They should know I'm in no condition to be strung at this point;-)

Lots of other little details today that I won't bore you with but we are really working to nail down how next week is going to play out. There are a lot of people that need to get into the house and a lot that needs to get done: appliances delivered, counters installed, outlets/switches/light fixtures installed, sink/toilet/faucets installed, wallpaper hung, security system installed, floors buffed and final coated...and let's not forget a party for 50 by Friday! LOTS more pictures to come tomorrow!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Moving Along Monday!

Just another Maniac Monday at our house. The weekend progressed great with the final cabinetry being installed Saturday and the trim carpenter working a good chunk of Sunday while our little family was off celebrating all sorts of 1st and 2nd birthdays! The trim carpenters were back at our house this morning finishing up the last few pieces so the painters could move ahead at full force.

Today was one of those days that I thought might put me over the edge. There were 6 painters, 2 carpenters, 2 exterior contractors, 1 architect, 1 countertop provider, 2 children and 1 insane woman in the house all at the same time. Rosemary and Gloria were all over the filthy floors while the painters stepped over and around them trying to keep working while I was attempting to discuss countertop details. Thank goodness for our architect Susan who was able to woo the stone measurer with her knowledge of all things countertop. I am BEYOND thankful she came out because the amount of detail in the countertops is more than I ever imagined and I never in a million years would have come up with some of the things they were discussing. All along, one of my favorite things about the kitchen Susan designed with us was this little stone ledge that will wrap the perimeter of the kitchen countertop. It's about a 5" deep ledge that will be a perfect little place for keeping regularly used items. Here is a photo of a similar ledge Susan did on another project:

We decided on Absolute Black granite for our kitchen surfaces and white Carrera Marble for the built-in Hutch. From the photo above, I was able to decipher that I didn't want to do the ledge in the black granite because it gave it a heavier, more rustic finish. In the photo above, the dark surfaces are balanced by the deliciously warm cabinetry. However, in our primarily white kitchen, we felt it might be too overbearing in black. So we decided to do the ledge in white carrera marble tying the two areas of the kitchen together. We also decided to carry the marble up above the stove all the way to the hood rather than doing the Subway tile backsplash I've mentioned again and again. Ultimately, there just isn't enough room to add another material there and the marble will keep your eye from being drawn to such a tiny space of tile that would have looked forced and frankly, awkward.

To get to what was actually done today, the interior painters were hard at work filling holes, sanding, caulking, covering all the mechanicals of the windows so they are ready to be sprayed, covering all the glass and cabinetry, floors and stairway. Eyeyeyeye! It's a ton of work just getting READY to paint. They also managed to get a coat of primer over ALL of the wood work which had it looking soooooooooooooo beautiful! Even if it's just primer, seeing all the trim the same color for a change had me giddy at the idea of what is to come. My actual camera ended up stranded behind a layer of protective plastic covered in wet paint, but I did manage to capture a few embarassingly low quality shots of the interior progress with my phone. Although it arguably looks worse than ever, the end is closer than ever!

The exterior crew was back finishing up the very last of the loose ends on the outside in order for the painters to get underway outside. Sadly, we won't see our favorite exterior contractors again until Thursday now that things are ready to roll. We have the painters starting on the back of the house so deck building can begin towards the end of the week. Jon thinks we will have no problem having the back deck built and ready for traffic by next Friday. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

The exterior painters were delayed a day due to the crazy weather over the weekend. I did meet them out at the house this evening to walk through all the details of what is being painted what. I just can not wait to see the transformation take place on the exterior and all that trim go a bright, beautiful white! I'll have the first of the exterior pics to post tomorrow!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

End of the world...

I sure hope today really isn't the end of the world because I would never get the chance to enjoy my new cabinetry! The cabinets are fully installed at this point and waiting for trim. Of course, nothing is ever that simple and we ran into issues with two different pieces of cabinetry that will need to be fine tuned. All in all, with the amount of cabinetry we had installed in this house (literally on 10 different walls in our tiny main level), they did a great job.

I've been debating sharing too many pics in order to preserve some sense of a 'reveal' at the end. But who am I kidding? Is there ever an end (aside from 5pm today if that's truly the case;-) So...bring on the pictures. Feast your eyes on this beauty!

It is absolutely dreamy. I love everything about it - the seedy glass, the color, the amount of storage it has, the different dimension in the uppers, lowers, sides, etc. Of course it's still missing the base trim and crown along with the counter and back panels that will fill up the remaining wall...but I'd say it's off to a pretty spectacular start!

There is also the glorious start to the kitchen seen below.

I love how the sink portion of the cabinet sits forward and the sink is really a focal point of the kitchen. The missing piece here is the dishwasher that will have a cabinet panel on the front of it to carry the aesthetic through.

The mudroom is also filled to the brim with cabinetry. One thing we will never be short on is storage in this house! I can hardly wait to get everything unpacked and put away!

So there you have a little peak at how things are coming along over here! The cabinet maker is gone and the trim carpenter will be here tomorrow finishing up his work for the painters to get started on Monday. Let's hope the momentum continues!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cabinet Graveyard.

Oh my goodness. We have cabinetry coming out of our ears! I kid you not, we have doors and drawers lining nearly every square inch of our main level.

The cabinet installers arrived today around 1pm with a trailer chocked FULL of cabinets. 2 mudroom 'lockers', a mudroom charging station, a mudroom shoe cubby, 2 islands, a butler's pantry, a pantry, a refrigerator cabinet, open shelving...all strategically packed to prevent any scuffing, scratching or chipping.

We have opted to do custom cabinetry on both of the major remodels we have done. Honestly, not for any particular reason aside from the fact that I really enjoy having a say in the most minute of details. On our last project, we had all of the cabinetry in the entire house installed primed and then went on to have our painters enamel it all once in place. The advantage of this is that you are left with an absolutely perfect finish as all the installation holes can be filled and painted after installation. The downside to it is that you have to have a rough enough space that you can have painters in there spraying away. It's more common to have the cabinetry installed 'pre-finished'...meaning it was sprayed in the cabinet maker's shop and they ever-so-carefully install it while preserving their picture perfect finish. So far, I am really enjoying seeing the cabinets arrive already glossy and full of sheen vs the flat white primed cabinets that arrived last time. We'll see if we have a preference at the end as to which way we preferred installation.

As with everything that has gone on in this house, I'm pretty much in a state of shock at this point. First of all, the house suddenly feels TEENY, TINY with all of these mammoth pieces of cabinetry floating around. The other thing is that, while I studied the plans over and over and over again, there are lots of little surprises for me. Being the notorious non-visionary I am, the picture is coming together right before my eyes for the very first time. While the space of the kitchen itself is a really nice size, with all the cabinetry, it is by no means huge. Our architect called it a "San Francisco" style kitchen when we were designing it...which went in one ear, was processed into 'I love San Francisco' and out the other. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW I get what she was talking about.

With all of that said, it's going to be spectacular. There really isn't much to see at this point, but they will be back tomorrow morning at 7:30 to get them installed. Just looking at all the different pieces has me imagining how we will use the kitchen, how we will entertain in it, where people will naturally congregate, etc. Here are a few photos with explanations of what you are looking at. I will most definitely be back tomorrow with progress pictures.

Inside this cabinet in the mudroom is an area for shoes, hats/gloves and hooks for hanging backpacks:-)

The very large pantry...dreamy!

This is the kitchen cabinet that will house the farmhouse sink. I love how it sits proud to the remainder of the cabinetry.

Here is what the decorative toe looks like that we chose. We copied it from a Pottery Barn Armoire.

And HERE is the green/gray cabinetry we've been talking about for so long! This is the start of the Butler's Pantry and I don't think the color could be more perfect. It really is subtle, but with the marble on it, I think it's going to sparkle. This picture was taken in the dark (no lights on the main level yet) and at night...so the color isn't quite accurate. Promise more pics tomorrow!

Here's the lower section of the Butler's Pantry

...and the [upside down] upper section. We chose to do 'seedy glass' in the doors vs plain glass to give it a more vintage feel. Clearly it didn't photograph well here, but it's a bubbly glass like this...

I planned to place my remaining hardware order today, but decided to hold off until I see everything in place tomorrow. I think I will have a better feel for what goes where once I see it installed. Stay tuned!