Sunday, November 30, 2014
Look at the pretty new window seat and storage bench! Our trim carpenter Jeff reminds me so much of my father...it's very refreshing in a lot of ways, but mostly because I just know that he's extremely capable and wants more than anything for us to love the end product. Whenever Nick and I stop by while he's there, he'll stop what he's doing to chat. We feel a little awkward about that because we don't mean to be disruptive—but he just loves people. He'd rather take time to visit and work late than get done early. I have to say that everyone who has worked on our home has been extremely friendly and personable, but some have made more of an impression than others.
My favorite person to work with, hands down, has been the person who designed our cabinetry. What's that you say? Oh yes, we have cabinets now! In more rooms than we don't actually (now that I think about it). Leland took very good care of us, and he was so extremely pleasant to work with. He actually has a background in psychology and told me that having couples therapy skills has proven very beneficial for his line of work with spouses building homes. He was a fantastic mediator (though I would like to believe that we weren't all that hard to work with for any of our vendors) and seemed totally invested in creating our dream. When the trim carpenter had questions about the cabinets delivered, it was Leland who came out personally to review the delivery and take measurements.
He's seriously the awesomest ever. I almost want to put cabinets in the rest of the rooms just to work with him some more...going over board? Perhaps.
The trim carpenter also installed all the locks on the house, so we are now secure enough for really expensive things to be delivered. You know, expensive things like light fixtures. Seeing all of the beautiful light fixtures we selected stacked in the office was...underwhelming. Depressing is a better-fit for what I felt when I saw how little space $6,000 actually fills. The money all goes poof so quickly...it's unreal. It all still feels worth it though. My home is my center, my grounding...where else should our money go but toward our foundation (in every meaning of the word I suppose)?
I could go on more about this, but really where one spends their earnings is a very personal decision. Neither one of us is independently wealthy, but we take pride in our strong work ethic and the quality of our work. Not becoming a parent in my 20s (as I had originally assumed would happen) altered my path through life. I've decided that I cannot write my own story—nobody can. All we can do is start a new chapter and see how it plays out. I finally feel like I am personally accomplishing something in my life, and being financially strong enough to build a home is only a small part of that...anyway: I thought my stream of consciousness tendencies were limited to pencil and paper, but not so the case here.
We are in the final stretch...twelve days to go. In the next week, all trim should be finished and painting should be touched up. The mason, Rocky (*snicker* - c'mon, what are the odds?), should be out to finish the fireplace, and the front porch railing will come to life. Oh, and let's not forget that expensive pile of cardboard. The electrician should be out in the next few days to assemble and install the light fixtures. I want to see a couple of those chandeliers REALLY, REALLY BAD!
Sunday, November 16, 2014
There has been so much visible progress in the last week, I'm not even sure which pun to go with for the title!
Well, since I'm struggling where to start, let's go through the week!
26 days to go.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
When your day is long
And the night, the night is yours alone
When you're sure you've had enough
Of this life, well hang on
Don't let yourself go
'Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts...sometimes.
—"Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.
I've had a hard day. Really, I've had a hard week, but today just took the cake. If I had to make a bet (and I dislike gambling), I'd put my money on the wintry front headed our way. I have had some big decisions to think through at work, I've been worried because Sophie's sick, and then there's the house. I'm doing my best to stay upright and look like nothing is wrong through the haze of narcotics...but I'm worn out.
A friend at work gave me PowerStrips to try over the weekend to see if they would help. If anything, they made yesterday miserable because I let the pain get out of control hoping that the strip would be able to replace the controlled substances that I've been prescribed for breakthrough pain. Wishful thinking, I'd say, to believe that I could replace a lion with a caterpillar and no one would be any the wiser. Once I accepted that I needed narcotics, I couldn't get an upper hand over the pain; I eventually took muscle relaxers to knock myself out. Today, a cloud of Bengay surrounds me everywhere I go.
I wasn't expecting to have to go anywhere (wanting to lick my wounds in private, naturally), so I loaded up on medication. Then Nick tells me that he needs to clean gutters for someone before the snow arrives. Great, have fun, I thought. He didn't expect anyone to be at the house, so he needed someone to spot him, to be there in case he fell from the roof. Okay, I guess that's a good reason to bring me out of private wound-licking.
Later, we were chastised for not spending enough time with someone. While it cut me deeply because I feel like I'm just barely keeping my head above water as it is, I am reminded of something Mom always used to say: "Everybody has a story." We all have needs, and sometimes those needs aren't met. Everybody does hurt sometimes, be it emotional or physical, and for many different reasons. I don't think we ever mean to hurt the people we love, but it happens just the same. The important thing to remember is that we need to step outside of our own sagas now and then to appreciate what is happening around us.
I know this is a crappy post so far, no sunshine or roses to be found. I think some house updates are in order!
The taping/mudding process is ridiculously long! I mean, I get it...a coat of plaster has to dry completely before it can be sanded and before additional coats can be applied...but still! I can't remember if we stopped by the house on Monday, but I know mudding was underway when we stopped by on Tuesday, and it was still happening yesterday (Saturday) when we stopped by to see if a light fixture fit in a space. In any event, texturing and paint should happen soon.
What else...hmm. Siding is done on three sides of the house, and the platform for the screened porch has been built. The siding is a lot darker than I was anticipating, but I actually like how much it pops with the white trim. As a cost saving measure, we agreed to a siding in what we were told was similar to a color in a less expensive brand than the color we liked best. We thought we were getting a creamy mocha but got milk chocolate instead. Oh well, at least it's still chocolate, right?
Speaking of the screened porch, we also decided on the color of the Trex product that will be used throughout the porch: a multi-tone color called Tiki Torch. I'm not sure when the material will be delivered, but I am excited to see the porch come together. I believe the expected accumulated snow has been downgraded in our area, but I had hoped that we would have seen the screen porch complete before any of that silly white stuff tickled the ground just the same.
Last but not least, the garage floor and front porch were poured on Thursday! They will need to come back to pour the driveway, sidewalk to the front door, and some stairs yet, but it's exciting to see these pieces done! We are supposed to get locks on the doors in the next week, and our light fixtures are scheduled to be delivered in just over a week (I am very excited to see those installed).
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Last Wednesday, we stopped by the house to find boxes of siding had been opened. The boxes had been stacked in front of the house several days by that point, and seeing them suddenly open was seriously like being in second grade and watching the chicks hatch from the eggs in the incubator. Nick led the way to the back of the house as our relaxed gate became bouncy: MUST FIND THE SIDING! And we did find it, and it was awesome (even though it was only a tiny bit)!
I thought that for sure, the siding would be finished by the end of the week! But. No. Either I am guilty of gross oversimplification (possible, likely), or there have been delays that I don't understand (possible too, likely too).By the end of the day on Thursday, two-thirds of the back were sided. By the end of the day on Friday, the northern side was finished. Workers were out on Saturday morning, and by the end of the day, the southern side was finished. Going into this week, we have 1/3 of the back and 100% of the front of the house left to complete...so, [knocks on wood] I hope to have pictures of a fully-sided house by this time next week!
All drywall was hung when we stopped by on Wednesday, and it's amazing how much difference a little drywall makes! I've been staring at studded walls for a very long time now, but the rooms all seemed so different with the drywall. Much like the siding (see "possible, likely" notes), I had assumed that with drywall all hung at the end of Wednesday, that left two full days to at least start mudding the seams. In my mind, this was perfect because the materials would have all weekend to dry, meaning that wall texturing and painting could move up on the schedule. Take off your PM hat, Laura: this isn't your project to manage (it's just so hard to keep out of it). Nothing else happened on the interior after Wednesday. So, pin a rose on your nose, Laura.
After months of carrying buckets of details around with me everywhere I went, months of worrying that I wouldn't make selections or contact vendors quickly enough, months of stressing over pretty much everything in my life...here I am with nothing to do. I started thinking about towels and other linens that I need to buy tonight, but my husband scolded me—Why wouldn't you wait until the after-Thanksgiving sales!? Because, Nicholas. Because I...well...because if...because...okay FINE: YOU'RE RIGHT. Man, that was hard to type.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
So, we move in six weeks. SIX WEEKS. That seems so close yet so far away at the same time!
I've been having a happier experience with the house than I was last week at this time. I am the liaison with our builder's project manager for the most part. I'm not sure if I was designated for the role or it just came to me naturally because it was the best fit—either way, it's working for Nick and me even though it stresses me out at times. I am a project manager professionally, so organizing large projects and communicating with different personalities has become a learned skill.
Last week, we walked into a newly insulated house that wasn't water-sealed before the afternoon rain came through. Now, I'm not exactly educated in the trades, but I am a handyman's daughter—and armed with common sense at the very least. I would hope that anyone would see an issue with standing water caught in the ceiling mesh and pooled on the floor inches away from the new insulation.
Now, lest you think I'm just a hothead (I'm anything but), this wasn't the first instance of ball-dropping (or perceived ball-dropping) that we've observed from our site project manager. It was just one more thing to add to the list. Negative messages require a certain finesse, and I usually need some time to mull over my approach. I spent the night stewing with Nick (who was even more worked up about it than I was). By morning, I had my calm back and my message planned. By midday I had a lot of promises, and I saw follow-through over the next several days.
A coworker of mine is acquaintances with someone who lives just down the road from our house. It gave me a chuckle today when she relayed his [snoopy] observations: "It was the weirdest thing...they installed insulation before shingles! Then one day an army of people came in and shingled the roof in one day!" Even though I was humored, we'll have to be wary of that neighbor...he seems to keep his eye on things. I bet I'm going to have to stop dressing like a chicken and clucking at Sophie. Drats.
Back on schedule, and back on countdown...let's do this!
Sunday, October 5, 2014
My husband really loves me. The two chandeliers under so much contention last week ultimately went to me without any fight at all. I cannot hold back this photo much longer, nor can I bring myself to share a smaller thumbnail...our shining glory:
This is the fixture that will hang in the foyer, and there is a larger version that will hang in the stairwell that will be somewhat visible from the foyer, so it made sense to match them. However, we had the opportunity to go grander with the stairway landing since the ceiling is higher in that space. Both fixtures hang near windows and should reflect natural light further into the house during the day (because...PRISMS!) and cast sparkles of awesomeness at night (or late afternoon during winter...just around the corner).
I meekly brought up the conversation on these chandeliers when we were about 15 minutes away from the showroom. We chose our lights from BBC Lighting in Milwaukee—which is just over an hour drive, so you'll notice that I put off the conversation for the majority of the drive. At that time, he said he was 85% with me. I had to contain my zeal because 85% might as well have been 100% to me. Even so, we talked chandeliers with Michael, our all-things-lighting guru. I think that Michael's added enthusiasm about the fixture gave him confidence that his wife wasn't completely design-impaired.
Due to this MAJOR compromise of his, I gave him the light fixture over the dinette to choose without any help from me. That didn't really go as planned because my husband is a really good guy. He so wanted to make sure that I liked whatever he selected that his eyes slid to my face every time Michael showed us a new fixture so he could get a read on me. In the end, it came down to two drum-shaped semi-mount lights.
Since Michael could see that Nick wasn't going to make the decision 100% alone, he gave us each a vote (I was going to let Nick win no matter what). I, to even my own surprise, voted for the simpler, less expensive fixture. Nick voted for the much prettier, much lovelier fixture with a larger price tag. I knew that fixture caught his eye last week when we did our walk through, so I am happy that we found a place for it in our home.
Being that we had such distinctive fixtures so far, we decided to go more neutral on the pendant lights over the kitchen island. We identified a pendant light that melded our styles well last week, but the style clashed a bit with the new light fixture over the dinette, and Michael advised that the light output from that model was pretty dim—something that we did not consider and that would have been impossible to discern in a lighting store because it's filled with...well...light. I couldn't get an interesting picture of the pendant light, but trust me that it's quite handsome in its simplicity. (That's Michael's hand in the photo...say, "Hello, Michael!") I love that we've been able to continue the oil-rubbed bronze tones throughout the entire house.
Before we go too much further, I should point out that I really connected with Michael. I had an immediate affinity with him when we first met last week and we had similar tastes (plus, he was unafraid to give us his honest opinions...I always appreciate that). During small talk this morning, I learned that he is a chronic pain sufferer too. It's weird, but I felt much more at ease with him than I normally do on any other day with anyone else because I knew that he gets it. He understands that it's something you have to accept and slap a smile on your face so that you can maintain your positive outlook. Meanwhile:
But back to light fixtures. Since we had so many "statement pieces" on the first floor already, we decided to go more neutral on the office light too. The office is just off the foyer and flows through a set of double glass doors with a transom window—so the fixture would be highly visible. So as not to compete with the chandelier, we went with an understated drum with a cover made of pretty, shimmery gossamer material...again, trimmed in oil-rubbed bronze.
To finish out the fixtures on the first floor, we have a ceiling fan in the great room and the screened porch. I don't have a lot to say about ceiling fans. I'm sorry if I've offended you ceiling fan aficionados. I had high hopes that we could save some money by going with less expensive fans, but it wasn't meant to be.
Oh goodness! How could I forget the little powder room on the first floor!? I'm hoping that this is going to be a swanky little room when it's all said and done. We chose the nicest (in my opinion) vanity lights for this room, and I think they will go nicely with the plumbing fixtures and cabinetry we've already selected. In the picture below, the fixture is the set of three lights with Michael holding the tag. (He and I also agreed that there's something special about sets of three rather than an even number...Nick simply shook his head at the amount of crazy spewing from our mouths.)
The powder room will also have a light/fan combination, and there will be a smattering of can lights in the tiny entryway from the garage, the kitchen, and great room. We are also adding rope lighting to the tray ceiling in the great room, so I think we will be able to achieve a nice ambiance there.
With that, I am going to call it a night. There's an entire second floor worth of lights to get through yet, so stay tuned!
Sunday, September 28, 2014
So, I know it's been two weeks since my last update—a lot has been happening! This is really the first moment I've had free to myself (and if I'm being honest with myself, I really should be doing laundry right now).
So much has happened since the last update that I'm struggling where to begin. In the time since I wrote the laundry confession above, I've changed into my pajamas, had a heartfelt conversation with Sophie, and taken some pain medication. I guess I better get to it or that last one might steal my mind before I lay it all out!
I guess the best place to begin is the roof. That's right, we have a roof now! Nick was so excited by the prospect of it that he decided to use his lunchtime to watch the crane in action. My husband puts decent consideration into framing shots when he takes pictures, so it tickles me to no end that most of the pictures he uploaded of the crane lifting roof trusses are decorated with one of his fingers. Little boys: I don't think they ever really grow up all the way. Big trucks are rad—too rad to pay attention to much else when one is nearby.
After the roof trusses were up, the house started really taking shape. It started becoming that design that we connected with so many months ago. The roof line reminds Nick of some of the Key West architecture that keeps us coming back to the Florida Keys year after year. Those proud peaks do something for me too, but I haven't figured it out yet. All I know is that I like 'em.
The inside of the house really started coming together too! The first floor is mostly open concept (the only "separate" rooms are an office and a half-bath), so there wasn't a lot left to frame down there. The second floor is where all the walls suddenly took shape one day! I've gone through a range of really silly, frankly—no better word for it—blonde observations.
A great example of this would be my [internal] reaction to seeing the second floor with a roof: aww...sad face. It looks so closed in now! It looked so big and airy...when there wasn't a ceiling. [pause] Oh...
But as the the plans slowly take shape, everything seems pretty much perfect actually. The last several appointments with vendors have been especially exciting because the subject matter feels less like a hypothetical project.
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. The framing is this marvelous, slow-motion process that, while gratifying (watching something rise from nothing), feels a little like you're stuck behind a caterpillar. Eventually, you adjust to the slower pace, and it's cool. It's easy to follow, low stress, perfect for multitasking. Then: BOOM.
The framing is nearly complete; now the madness ensues.
Windows and doors were delivered and installed last week. Those were the first selections we made during the process, and I think they look pretty wonderful installed. We accepted early on that we were lucky to be able to build a home bordering a conservancy (we kept hearing from various sources that lots bordering the conservancy sold out shortly after we closed on ours). What better way to honor that than to install as many windows as possible facing that protected grove?
The most exciting part of the last week, hands down, was watching the front door installation. The door will be stained to complement the rest of the exterior once that work has completed. We are going to use a similar glass pattern used in the decorative door glass in the transom windows and possibly the pantry doors and some of the kitchen cabinets in the future.
The vendor appointments we were given as homework are all complete (well ahead of schedule I might add), but we are in the process of choosing finishing touches that might prove to be our undoing (but hopefully not). Everything has gone so smoothly so far, but this is largely due to Nick letting me take the reigns. Now he's decided to have an opinion...the NERVE! Just teasing...I want him to be happy with everything too of course. But I almost had an anxiety attack in a lighting warehouse today because I thought the foundation of our relationship was in jeopardy. The style he loves I hate. It's the first time he's truly challenged me on anything I selected, and it had to be on the foyer light fixture. Seriously? Why couldn't he pick his battle on some light in a less show-stopping location?
Just an FYI for anyone about to go light shopping: light warehouses are warm and overwhelming...but beautiful and incredibly sparkly.
Today was our "exposure visit" only, so no decisions were made today. We'll go again soon to spend a small fortune, and it will be easier then. This is what we did for plumbing fixtures, and that selection appointment was easy and without stress. After I swallowed back the near-tears today (yes, I was that bothered that our tastes were so different), Nick wandered away from me. I took the chance to wander myself until he came charging to find me. "I have a compromise that I think you'll like!"
It was on a pendant light design (we have three of them over the kitchen island), and I did like it, he was right. So we just need to either find a focal-point chandelier in the same mix of glitzy-industrial or one of us needs to fold. We'll see which fixtures are still in our minds by the time we visit the showroom again.
One last update on the house before it's a wrap: they finally poured the basement! It's a much bigger thing than a one-sentence statement at the end of a novella—but it isn't sparkly nor was it contested, so it isn't getting as much fanfare. More to follow!
Sunday, September 7, 2014
The rough framing on the second floor is nearly complete! I decided to try out the bathtub location when we stopped by today, and while it was hard to imagine without Norah Jones and candlelight, I think it'll be just perfect! The photo was taken from what will eventually be the walk-in closet. The walk-in closet ate up what was once a fourth bedroom in the original plans. (I like big closets...a lot.)
I know the update is short and sweet this week...that darn life, always getting in the way...curses!
Oh, one last update! I got a new haircut last Thursday...bangs! I have bangs! I received a lot of great compliments at work on Friday: they did wonders for my ego! Nick, who doesn't like anything that obscures my face, told me that anyone who says they like my bangs is really saying that they don't like my face. I'm really hoping that there actually are people who can like my face and my hair...eek!
Monday, September 1, 2014
...ooooh, baby....gonna get to you gurrrrrl...
Lord help me! I just opened up my blog editor and New Kids on the Block flowed from my laptop keyboard.
(Armageddon is near! Hold your loved ones and wait for the end!)
Okay, if you're still around even after that, I bet you want to know what's new with ma maison! Le voilà, mes amis!
(I promise I'm not under the influence of anything tonight. So far, 33 is shaping up to be a very silly year...but to be fair, I'm due.)
I just scrolled through our Flickr account to see what has happened since I posted last Sunday. Without regular visits to the construction site and photos, it would be impossible for me to remember this process. I'm grateful to today's age of technology for that way to mark time and progress; 30 years from now this is going to feel like a blink in the pages of my history when it was so much more.
They started building the first story ceiling/second story floor this week. I didn't realize that all that progress had happened in just a week's time before looking at the pictures. They were waiting on a steel support beam to make everything structurally sound before doing gymnastics with nail guns on the second-story plywood, I guess.
I didn't schedule any appointments with vendors last week. One of the next meetings will need to be about flooring, and I want to wait until we do the walk-through with the site PM first (just in case something needs to change from the original floor plan). The framing guys worked all weekend and plan to have the roof trusses up on Wednesday. It's just crazy how fast they can move once materials have all been delivered. The lot has taken on the appearance of a lumbar yard, so it certainly seems like a lot of materials are piling up!
We stopped by the house with Dad after having lunch with him on Saturday. His carpenter-past made him light up like a Christmas tree while walking through the bones of the house. Todd and Nick (framer-Nick, not husband-Nick) were working, and Dad peppered them with questions (they're using newer materials and techniques than Dad did back in his day)—it was cutest thing, honestly.
So this week I think we'll see the second story come to life. I will be trying to get some appointments in the next few weeks for flooring, tile, and counters—and somewhere along the way I need to get some serious studying in! (I am taking tests to earn some insurance designations.)
Busy, busy, busy!—but for now: à bientôt!
Sunday, August 24, 2014
The day I both longed for and dreaded arrived last Thursday.
We met with a vendor to select plumbing fixtures, you see. I know that doesn't sound like much, but I had definite ideas going into the meeting...which makes it much harder to agree to money-saving concessions. The entire process has been a lessons-learned exercise (not that I intend to build another house). Biggest take-away so far? When all of the estimates are coming in from vendors at the early phase of the project, make sure you give input what you actually want, even if your builder doesn't invite the information.
We visited the plumbing fixture showroom the weekend before the appointment just to get an idea what we should expect. It was daunting. Nick went home that night and looked through the estimate paperwork, trying to see if it was even in the realm of possibility that we could be on budget. I think I've mentioned before how unnerved that man makes me when he starts reviewing all the selections I've already made. WELL, that's nothing compared to how I feel watching him try to make the numbers in the columns match. It's like watching the mercury rise in a thermometer and hoping that he stops heating up before he bursts.
To start with, I wanted all fixtures in oil rubbed bronze. I don't know why I had my heart set on that finish, but how can anyone explain why they like what they like? Apparently, not all fixture finishes are created equal, and this is a more expensive option. Shocker. Do you know what oil rubbed bronze looks like? I didn't before all this started, so I give you this, a photo of the sink fixtures "we" chose for the master bath:
We also thought my soaker tub in the master bath would be unattainable. I wanted a bathtub with chromotherapy, also known as color therapy. It might just be a bunch of hooey, but at least it would be pretty. In the event that it is much more than a bunch of hooey, I might have a way a sooth my back on the really bad days when nothing else seems to work.
Fortunately, the representative we worked with showed us an in-budget (and quite possibly slightly UNDER BUDGET), freestanding soaker tub that could be ordered with chromotherapy but without jets (I find jets terribly uncomfortable) in one of her catalogs. The only concession we had to make was switching away from the Kohler brand to stay in our price point, a concession we both accepted easily.
The final point of contention between Nick and me is the downstairs powder room. His thought was to finish the room on the cheap with the knowledge that we would redo that room in a couple years. Well, to me that just seems like we're wasting money on something that I hate and that we won't even be keeping very long. So much stress and tension caused by one little sink in the smallest room of the house: it's crazy!
We're still waiting on the final numbers, but he did concede to let us talk about a vessel sink with an open spout faucet and decide if the additional expense is worth it. Until then, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for the niftiest bathroom in the place.
Meanwhile, back at the lot this week:
And one last picture, just because I think this guy is kind of cute:
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