Saturday, October 27, 2012

Carpet's in and we are officially done!!

As I mentioned in my last post, we emptied out the entire living room to make way for new carpeting!

Well here she is, all done!!

For the first time since the living room addition was built, the room is one cohesive space. As soon as I walked into the room, my first thought was "holy crap this room is gigantic". Not a bad problem to have!

The carpet is the Beekman from the Martha Stewart Living collection, in the color "Potter's Clay". (It would be so fun to be the person who comes up with names for things like carpet and paint colors. There's some seriously extravagant and creative names for this stuff.)

There was a dingy carpet in the old part of the living room, but we've been living with plywood on the addition since construction was completed in February of this year. That's a long time to have been looking at this:

 It wasn't great, but we worked around it. The worst part was that even though the construction was done, we couldn't really use the new space without flooring so the expanded space didn't impact our daily living much. 
Still, it's really hard to believe that back in December 2011, the addition was looking like this:
And now, 10 months later, it's like this!:
Since the carpet went in this week, it finally truly feels like we've expanded the living space in this room. I know it's silly, but since we can now walk through here without fear of splinters and can actually sit in this area, the reality has set in!
The carpet is squishy and soft and the color is perfect. A good tip for giant dog owners: when you bring a carpet sample home, put a tuft of dog fur on it to see how well it camouflages. When I saw that Lucy's fur nearly disappeared on this color, I was sold. :)
We also recarpeted the upstairs hallway, which had a terrible greenish-yellow carpet on it since god only knows when. The new floor brightens up the whole hallway and feels so nice on your feet in the morning!
The stairs were carpeted as well. When we bought the house, for some reason somebody had pulled the carpet off of four or five of the steps, but left it on the rest. So for the last 2 1/2 years we had partially carpeted, partially hardwood stairs. Not ideal. Plus the staircase is the first thing you see when you open the front door. It looks sooo much better now!
I mentioned that I painted the running boards white on either side of the stairwell. It looks much better, but unfortunately some of the paint got chipped when the carpet was installed so it'll need some touch-up.
Back in the living room, we weren't sure how well the carpet would surround the hearth that Branden tiled in front of the fireplace. Luckily it is perfectly flush (he did such a good job!), so there's no weird lip or chance of stubbing a toe on the tiles as you walk by. It couldn't have come out better!
It's so hard to believe, but the house is now DONE. As in, finished. As in, no glaring things that need to be taken care of before the house is livable.
I'm totally in shock still. It's been a very long road!
Lucy is obviously loving the plush carpet and new padding...
There has been a lot of laying down in front of the fireplace and general floor snuggling...
Happy times ahead!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

OMG OMG when is Christmas here??!

I wish it was the day after Thanksgiving right now. Why, you may be asking? Because I have a REAL mantel to hang stockings from! Dudes. Eight or so months after installing our propane fireplace in the addition of the living room, we finally have a mantel!

Check check check it out.

Building this was a lot of work and a bit of a brain teaser, but Branden and our bff-slash-handy-helper Josh were able to form a thinktank and construct the surround and mantel. I admit I wasn't sure how it would all come together, but it looks ahhhh-mazing.

We started with a 1x6 board of solid red oak, supported and secured to the wall (don't ask me how because around this time I was most likely just dancing around the room singing Christmas carols). Then we used leftover crown molding from our kitchen renovation to trim it out. This crown is beautiful--it's the same solid maple crown that runs above our kitchen cabinets and the installers had an extra huge piece that they left us, so it was great to put it to good use.

Oh, and see those gorgeous tiles for the hearth there? We special-ordered the large marble tiles (fancy!) and then found these nice stone and glass mosiac strips to trim it out. Branden did an A+ gold star job on laying these tiles a couple of weeks ago. Such a wonderful man, he is.

After the mantel itself was secured (again, I was la-la-la'ing in the background), we started building down the sides of the surround, adding 1x3 boards and rosettes at the corners.

Then we added fluted pieces on the sides, some more trim around the top, and the plinths (new word we learned... translation: the big blocky things at the bottom).

It was definitely starting to come together, but still looked a little disjointed because of the different woods. We knew from the beginning that we were painting everything white, to match all of the trim throughout the house, so I had to have faith that it would look seamless once it was painted.

And lookee there! A few coats of primer and white paint later, and it looks like one beautiful, glorious piece.

I can practically smell the chestnuts roasting. (Okay not really since this is a gas fireplace but whatevs, you know what I mean.)

I am so freaking psyched about having a real mantel to decorate for Christmas. I've talked about my issues with not having a real mantel before, and how upsetting it is. Those years of faking it are gone! (Is it December yet??)

Part of the reason why we finally had to jump on this mantel project now is because we are also finally having carpet installed in the living room! BIG THINGS ARE HAPPENING! This means that we actually won't have the plywood we've been living with for the last 9 months in the living room addition. Pinch me!

In preparation for the installation, last night we had to empty out the entire living room (which meant shoving everything from that room into every other room in the house, but if it's temporary I can so deal with that). We also had to rip off the carpet in the living room, plus the stairs and upstairs landing, since we're recarpeting those as well.

So after some grunt work, we got the room cleared out and everything hauled off for trash pickup. (You know what's not so easy? Two people moving a piano.) It would've cost an additional $350 just to have the installers remove the existing carpet and haul it. For a few hours work, it was totally worth saving the cash on that.

Here's the upstairs landing, stripped of its decades-old green carpeting (god I won't miss that AT ALL):

And the staircase, with the carpet ripped up:

There was clearly a runner on these stairs for a very long time! I later put a few coats of white paint on the running boards that go up the wall on either side. It helped brighten up the stairwell quite a bit. I didn't get a good photo because I was delirious from exhaustion and huffing paint fumes for too long, so you'll just have to wait. Deal with it.

And finally here's the living room, all emptied out and ready for carpet:


Can't wait to show you what it looks like when it's installed!! Woop woop!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Where the F did the last 8 months go??

When you’re a kid, every day of the year moves like a hot and muggy summer afternoon: excruciatingly slow. I’d love to go back to my younger self and explain how eventually, as an adult, days bleed into weeks bleed into months, and all of a sudden before we’ve really noticed it the seasons have shifted again (my 12-year-old self would definitely ignore my 27-year-old self). A week doesn’t feel like a lifetime any more—it doesn’t feel like much of anything, in fact. Maybe it just feels like living. I only feel the passage of time when I stop long enough on my evening commute to see, suddenly and for the first time, that the leaves on the birch saplings in the marsh have turned bright yellow, seemingly overnight.

What I’m trying to say is, so much time has passed in the life of this small blog, and yet it feels like so little time as well.

So I’ll attempt to recap a bit, as best as I can.

Our house actually feels like a home again for the first time in more than a year. It took a long time to get here. A lot of pinching and saving and waiting waiting waiting, but we’ve pretty much done it. It’s functional—“holy crap I have a dishwasher??” is a thought that runs through my head regularly—and it’s slowly becoming beautiful, too.

The addition we've built has made the house so much more usable—the layout is perfect, with the centralized kitchen becoming the literal heart of the home. I can’t imagine life without our second bathroom now (first world problems, I know, I know), and having the washer and dryer on the first floor is amazing (I will never miss those days of lugging wet clothes from the washer in the basement to the dryer on the first floor).

I don’t always stop to really take stock of what we’ve accomplished here in less than 2 ½ years. It’s astounding, really, when you look back.

That photo above is of our mudroom, which last I showed hadn't been tiled yet. We chose a simple beige ceramic tile and it turned out to be the perfect choice.

Since this is the door that Lucy uses to go in and out of the backyard, and it's where we keep her food dish, it needed to be able to stand up to pretty much anything. It looks really nice and luckily it hides drool and kibble messes pretty well, to boot.

The paint color is called Silver Sage, and it's actually my favorite color in the house. So much light streams in through the french doors; it actually brightens up the kitchen and the living room as well.

The view below is taken from the doorway that leads to the living room, looking towards the bathroom. The kitchen is on the left, and beyond that you can see to the dining room.

On the wall is a framed print of an Alice in Wonderland book page. It migrated here from its old spot in the living room. Every room needs a little touch of Alice, I say.

Last I showed the new bathroom, it too hadn't had flooring put in yet and was pretty unfinished in general. Now it's probably the room that's the closest to being completely done:

Before building this, we only had one little, cramped bathroom upstairs. It's so much nicer having a spacious bathroom on the main floor, especially when guests are over!

We added in a double-wide shower that is just amazing. We sprung for the raindrop showerhead and it was worth every cent.
Yes, I am that psyched that I just posted a photo of the inside of my shower, but whatevs. I know everyone could just die from the excitement.
Next to the jumbo shower, and even more exciting, is the most amazing, beautiful, glorious, awe-inspiring, fantabulous part of the entire renovation, in my most humble opinion:
LOOK! Laundry! On the first floor! A washer and a dryer next to each other! It's a thing of beauty.

I am 1000% positive that I will never turn to Branden at any point in my life and say, "Hey, you know what I wish I could do because it was so much fun and I miss it terribly? I wish I could lug laundry down to the spidery old basement to be washed, then struggle to haul the wet load up the stairs, to a completely different floor of the house, to load into the dryer." Yup, I'm all set with that forever.

Aside from some little stuff like artwork on the walls, the bathroom is done-zo.

It's pretty great crossing one room off the list. Eventually we'd like to upgrade the vanity in here, since we didn't realize how much room we'd have to spare when the addition was being built. But that can happen down the road and it's wayyy low on the priority list. As in, might not even be on the list.

In other news, the kitchen is finished and beautiful and amazing and I often end up just standing in it looking around in disbelief. But that's a whole other post for a whole other day. And I swear that day won't be eight months from now. Pinky promise.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Catching up

It's been ages since I last updated, and a ton has happened at the house since. We finished the first phase of construction on the addition, and it was a five-month long nightmare. Our contractor took months longer than originally anticipated, many things were done wrong and needed to be redone, and it went way, way over budget. To review, this project was started in August and was originally supposed to be completed by October. In mid-January, we ended up having to tell the contractor to stop his work even though there were a couple of loose ends left. We moved his equipment out and changed the locks on the doors. Like I said, it was a nightmare.

We've just begun working with a new contractor to have the flooring installed and to finish up those loose ends from the previous crew. We're having ceramic tile put down in the new bathroom and the mudroom/entry. We had originally planned on tiling the kitchen as well, but just discovered that since the kitchen floor is so uneven (it's in the old, 1920s part of the house, not the new addition), tile will eventually break apart and isn't the best choice. So now we're going to be putting in hardwood flooring in the kitchen instead, since wood is more flexible and can expand and contract. And since the dining room and kitchen flow together, we'll need to continue the new hardwood into the dining room as well. We hadn't planned on changing out the floor in the dining room as well yet, but we've learned to expect the unexpected by now.

Anyway, here are some pictures to catch up what the house is like currently...

We're loving the extra space in the living room, and the added windows make this room so bright and sunny all day.
We've been using the fireplace pretty much every single night. It's pretty amazing being able to just flip a switch and have the flames ignite. (Yes, I'm easily impressed.) We still need to build a mantle on this wall, and are toying with the idea of laying a few marble or stone tiles in front of the fireplace as a hearth. We'll see what happens.
The living room is pretty enormous now (measuring 15 x 30 feet), but it actually feels really natural. It actually seems like the room has always been this way, and it's hard to imagine what it used to look like.

The wall with the piano used to have a closet door on it. We had the closet door moved to the other side of the wall, so it now opens into the kitchen instead. It makes so much more sense, provides a long wall for the piano, and the closet is a ton more usable now as a broom closet/pantry.
We're looking into the possibility of putting hardwood floors down in the living room as well--since we only have plywood down in this new section right now--but it's such a huge space that it definitely isn't cheap. We may end up just recarpeting this room instead. We'll see!

I love how the french patio doors in the new mudroom can be seen from the living room and the kitchen, and the light just floods in through them.
This mudroom is being tiled this week, and you can see a sample of one of the tiles on the floor in the picture above.
The tile is going to continue through that door into the bathroom.
Having a bathroom downstairs has been such a great upgrade, since before this addition the only bathroom in the house was upstairs. We weren't sure how the space would work at first, but it ended up being plenty big enough.
We realized afterwards that we easily could've gone with a bigger vanity in here, but we weren't sure how much space we'd have until we saw the room built. That may be an upgrade we'll make down the road.
My favorite part of this space, by far, is the laundry closet. There's so much storage space and having first-floor laundry is a huge bonus. The new shower, on the right in the photo below, is super wide and should be the perfect spot for Lucy to take her baths!
So, that brings us pretty much up to date. We've been really discouraged throughout this process, which I think is why I haven't been very motivated to update this blog. I'm trying to be more positive as we move forward through these next steps. The last several months have been difficult and trying, with our world basically turned upside down, and we're not done yet. It's kind of amazing how the stress of a project like this can be so exhausting emotionally, mentally, and physically. I know it'll be worth it when it's finally finished, so I'm trying to keep focused on that end result.

As of right now we have tile and hardwood floors to put down, as well as some loose ends to finish and/or fix (like moving a couple of HVAC vents that were put in wrong). Then we have cabinets and countertops to install in the kitchen (which we haven't even ordered yet) and then we'll be DONE. So even though we still have an empty shell of a kitchen, and lots of major stuff on the to-do list, I do feel like we're getting closer and closer to finally being finished with this endless saga!