Jan 2014

Feeling Hot Hot Hot!

The Heat is on!!!!!
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No more bundling up to go INside our house.

No more frostbite from standing indoors too long.

No more wondering if my bones will ever warm up.

No more MVP Mom ducking out of meetings at the house because she’s freeeeeeezing.

No more wondering if our house will ever have heat again. Because it does!


Finalizing The Floor Plan

In our efforts to stay a step ahead, it’s time to lock in our decisions regarding the wood floors.

The downstairs will be getting new wood flooring. We’ve decided on oak, but then had to decide between red oak and white oak. We have red oak in our apartment and one thing we’ve noticed is the grooves in red oak can get a bit crazy which we don’t particularly love. Still, I wanted to know more about the differences before making our final decision. So here goes...


1. Apparently, you can see the difference in the ray length in the flat sawn part of the wood. The rays in red oak are short, usually no more than 1/2” long. The rays in white oak are usually 1” or longer.
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2. Here’s a neat explanation of another difference from someone online: An old timer he knew picked up a piece of red oak in one hand and held a cigar in the other. He blew smoke into one end of the wood and the smoke came out the other end. “Red oak,” he said. He did the same with a piece of white oak and no smoke came out. “In white oak the pores are blocked. That’s why they use white oak for boats.”

3. Because white oak is resistant to moisture, it’s also widely used for outdoor furniture.

4. Red oak is used for purposes quite different from white oak, including fence posts, railroad ties, crates and caskets.

5. Because the grains in red oak are open, it’s more prone to shrinking.

6. As far as flooring goes, red oak is the more traditional choice. It has a pinkish tone and there are wild patterns in the grain. White oak is harder and more stable, the grains are finer, it has a warmer gold-brown tone and holds a stain more evenly.

White oak wins!!!

We didn’t have the upstairs flooring pulled up, so right now it’s the original pine. The floor guy checked it out yesterday and says we can keep it (big relief!). He’ll sand and refinish. We’ll keep whatever their natural color is once the floors have been sanded, but the floor guy is pretty sure they’ll stay dark.

The staircase is also the original pine. The plan is to sand the treads, paint the risers, and stain the banister and main posts to match the risers. Below left is a shot of the staircase, right is an example of how we see it from a color perspective.
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With the stairs being dark from the natural wood color, we’ve decided the flooring on the first floor should be lighter. If we try to match them too closely, it may look like a mistake. Here are some examples of stairs being darker than the floor.
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Baseboard Heating Needs A Makeover

Why do baseboard heating baseboards have to be so ugly? Why couldn’t an actual DESIGNER have designed those covers?

After all the work we’re doing with the house, the thought that one of these will be running around the bottom of each room is not pleasing.

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I took this problem to the web and found a product that might work: Over-board covers.

They go over the installed baseboards (pictured above) and hide the awful ugliness of those ugly baseboards with a pretty nice-looking cover.

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I’ve asked LC to look into it and we’re waiting to see if there’s any way we can do it - at least in the living room and dining room.
Here’s hoping….


The Colors, The Colors

The walls are going up, which means it won’t be long before there’s paint going up on those walls. Which means we better have some idea of what we want before the call comes in from LC.

And so Sig Other’s and my colorful conversation began with words like, subtle and muted…and ended with at least an idea of what we’d like for each room. It helped to find pictures online of rooms painted with the colors we like.

[Note, colors don’t come across so well on computers. But then they don’t come across so well on those little color swatches either, so hopefully we’ll be able to confirm the colors before they go up.]

Benjamin Moore Shaker Beige:
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One of our challenges, since it’s open and will share the same color as the kitchen which will have white cabinets, a very dark gray counter top and light gray flooring. Right now we’re leaning toward this color but that may change if we think it’ll have too much gray going on:
Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray
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Benjamin Moore White Dove
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Benjamin Moore Carlisle Cream
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Benjamin Moore White Dove
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Benjamin Moore Pale Smoke
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Benjamin Moore Saybrook Sage
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Benjamin Moore Weston Flax
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Still not sure what color to go with for this room. I’m guessing it’ll be somewhere in the blue-gray area. Either the gray I posted the other day. Or something like this with wainscoting around the bottom:
Benjamin Moore Van Courtland Blue
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Tiles and Smiles

When we walked into the tile store, here’s what we were looking for:

1. Shower tiles: Something simple, easy on the eyes, preferably white with an accent row of color

2. Bathroom floors: Floor tiles to match the countertops without calling too much attention to themselves

3. Kitchen/mudroom shared flooring: Something light to balance with our dark kitchen countertop

4. Professional assistance: Someone who would listen to our needs, know exactly what to show us, help us stay within budget and be patient with two people who think a beveled white tile is ‘way too much’ for our simple taste

We found it all in one visit, thanks to the attentive owner and her helpful employee.

We showed MVP Mom our samples afterward and got her nod of approval which sealed the deal.

Here’s a quick overview:

Shower tiles are white. Accent tiles have a white/gray color palette with a very slight hint of purplish-blue. Vanity will be white.
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We’re going with a sandstone, brown and white color palette. Vanity will be dark brown.
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We think we’re gonna go with the same floor tile we chose for the upstairs bathroom. The downstairs tiles will be much larger than the upstairs ones. Cabinets will be white. Not sure about wall color yet.
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Same tile as the kitchen, which should match our washer/dryer nicely..
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Where We're At...

The house is coming along nicely. We’re being told next week the sheetrock is going up. Can’t wait to see walls again!!!!

In the meantime, here’s a visual update of our progress.

Dining room window is in. And it’s the right size!
Colorized.dining room window in and trimmed 2

Kitchen window is in - the only window smaller than the original since it’s going over the sink. window in and trimmed

Almost all windows are in and trimmed. (basement and downstairs bathroom still to be done)
colorized.Window Trimcolorized.mudroom trimmed windowscolorized 2.main bedroom window trim 2

Insulation has started. In fact, they’re farther along than expected.

closet and bathroom insulation

living room:
colorized.livng room insulated

dining room:
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kitchen: insulation

Main bedroom:
our bedroom.insulation

Electric is done. And all high hats are in.
main bedroom high hats

colorized.dining room ceiling high hats

There’s a sub-panel on the second floor that sits behind the door in the teensy tiny room:
colorized subpanel.upstairs electric panel


Plumbing is done. And washer hook-up is in.
laundry on off switches

Central Air is in place and the low-hanging duct has been framed.
Val's room-utility closet and wall for duct

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It’s time to choose tiles and lock in our decision on the wood flooring. Yikes!

Budget Casualties

Today we pay our dear respects to all the neat ideas, the high-end products, the built-in shelves and bookcases, the fancy hanging lights, the nice solid wood doors, the wishes, the wants, and yes folks, the windowseat. The budget slashed them all when they weren’t looking. And I held the ax.

It’s a sad, sad day.

But something tells me we’ll get over it.

The Big Chill

Central Air is in!

Central Air Closet 1

CA 2

CA 3

CA 5

And a tiny piece of a closet survived!
CA 4


When Mother Nature Speaks...

Today’s issue: Storm door, or no storm door?
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We always thought it was a given. We’d get a storm door for the front and back doors. We’d use the screens to let in some fresh air, and we can keep the inside door open while we sit out on the front porch, or we’re hanging out in the back yard.

We chose two storm doors we liked and went to our house to tell LC.

He pointed out with the quality of Entry Doors these days, we don’t actually need a storm door.

So the question went from Do we need one? to Do we want one?

We said Yes.

Then the question went from Do we want one? to Are we Sure?

And our answer went from Yes, to Why shouldn’t we be sure?

He pointed out we have Central Air. We most likely won’t be using screens as often.

We pointed out we won’t use Central Air all the time. And we like fresh air, and a breeze blowing through the house.

He lifted his hand and pointed to the back storm door which was bent from getting caught in the wind last year and was banging against the door jamb from the wind as we spoke.

“This isn’t the first house that’s happened to,” he pointed out. “And when it happens, the damage can go beyond the storm door.”

And suddenly we realized our argument wasn’t with LC. It was with Mother Nature.

Our new answer became: We want a storm door on the front of the house. We’ll hold off on the back.

Lesson Of The Day - No Decision Is Ever Final Until It's Final

Cases in point:

#1: Sig Other and I spend hours and hours at the kitchen cabinet place and come up with a plan. Turns out the measurements are slightly off. Now, we have to rethink things a bit.

#2: LC and I go over where the vents should be for the air conditioning. I do my research and we come to a decision as to where to put them in the walls. The house thinks otherwise and the only choice is to put the vents in the floor.

#3: LC goes over where the high hats will be in the kitchen. The plumbing disagrees and the pipes block those places in the ceiling.

#4: For a short and glorious while we think we’re gonna get a second nice closet upstairs. But the air conditioning unit decides to hog all that space for itself.

#5: Excited about all the windows in the mudroom, we plan to put a specific large round table in there. Then we buy our washer and dryer which say, “no way” to sharing that much space.

#6. We decide the one thing we won’t do is put a window in a shower. We now have a window in our downstairs shower.

‘Nuff said.

Hold The Phone! There's So Much To Decide!

Questions from the electrician:

You want a hardwired phone? Where do you want it downstairs? You want one upstairs, too and if so, which room?

Where will the dining room table be? Centered between the windows? Or pushed back a bit so you’ll have more walking space?

Where do you want the tv? Which cable company are you going to use?

Exactly where do you want the light in the upstairs hall? Are we going with sconces or a ceiling light? Where do you want the switches?

How big is the chandelier in the dining room going to be? How many high hats do you want around it?

Question from me:

Can we get back to you over the weekend on these?

Answer from the electrician:

Sure. I’ve got lots to do to keep me busy till then.


Sweating The Small Stuff

Choosing a door knob? That shouldn’t be a big deal. Oh wait. It’ll affect almost every room in our house. What if we don’t like it?

Do we want a knob or a lever? How the heck do I know?
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And then there are all those finishes to choose from:

Some designers think the doorknobs/levers should match the cabinet knobs/handles. And the cabinet knobs should match the faucets and the tp holder and towel bars in the bathroom, and oh yes, the light fixtures in each room need to match the door knobs.

It all sounds, in the words of Michael Kors, “TOO MATCHY-MATCHY!”

Hopefully we’ll have this figured out soon. With all the big decisions we’ve made to date, wouldn’t it be funny if this is what throws us off schedule?

Everything And The Kitchen Sink

Here’s where we’re at with our kitchen:


We made a slight change to the initial design, taking out the small upper cabinets on one side of the room to allow for larger cabinets and less chance of me falling off a step stool trying to reach up there.

Here’s the layout LC is finalizing (cabinets and trim will all be white):

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This is the style door we chose (imagine it white):

And the countertop:
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We’re liking this handle. We’ll either use it for both doors and drawers, or get a knob that matches and mix them.
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I’m a Sears girl and a Sears Sale was all we needed to get these appliances. I set the tentative delivery date for February 19th, which got a few chuckles from LC and a shrug from Sig Other. I dream big.
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As you can see by the pre- and post-gutted shots below, the kitchen window is quite low. A new, smaller window will be going in this week to sit above the sink. Hopefully they’ll get the size right.
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The kitchen sink comes with the countertop. We were surprised by how small it is. It’s also stainless steel. We’re doing everything else white. Going back and forth on keeping it or getting a white one.

French Door
It’ll go between the kitchen and the mudroom. The door will be white and will match the windowed cabinets in the kitchen.
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Still To Do:
Order an over-the-range microwave
Choose a pendant light
Pick a style of door knob or lever for french door and basement door
Choose a floor tile, and backsplash tile
Anything else LC throws our way that we haven’t thought of

Change Is In The Air

In honor of the Central Air System that’s going to be installed this week, I thought it’d be fun to show the evolution of Air Conditioning through ads.

[Interesting fact: The first air conditioner was designed in 1902 for a publishing company to keep paper from expanding and contracting.]

1930s Chicago (first movie theater to have air conditioning)
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1940 (note the Cooled By section at the bottom of the ad)
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1941 (another movie theater ad but since it mentions Jack Benny, I had to throw it in)

1948 (showing women where they belong in the office)
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1954 (air conditioning goes home where women dress in fancy evening wear)
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1955 (an early central air ad done by a happy illustrator and a writer who likes the word ‘not’ )
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1963 (denny’s has air conditioning and food to go! A conflict?)
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1972 (during the long-copy ad days which could be the reason when I first got into the ad business in the 80s, I was told “no one reads the copy” )
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1980 (look - it’s Mel from Alice!)
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2000s (oh, how air conditioning (and advertising!) has changed)
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Going Door to Door

Well, the snow bought us a little time on our door decision deadline since LC is at his own home today, instead of ours. Here’s where we’re at:

Interior Doors
Due to the fact that we want to match all our interior doors, including the small doors we’ll be using for the closets, along with the fact that we don’t want to break the budget, we’re choosing between a four-panel and a six-panel interior door. We’re leaning toward the six-panel.


Front Door
We really wanted to keep the front door. It has so much character and history. But unfortunately, it doesn’t have any insulation. After much consideration, we’ve realized we need to be practical. So we’re opting to change out the lovely door with something that we’re hoping will be lovely in its own way.

Thanks to the build-a-door interactive activity on the site LC sent us to, we can consider many different designs. Of course, because of that we’re all over the place. We’re thinking of having a white door, but that could change a million times between now and when the door is up. Feel free to lob in a vote on any of these designs:

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Back Door
Not sure what we’ll do for the back door, but since it’s in the all-windowed room, LC has suggested we choose a windowed door and we agree.


Today's Topics Of Conversation

An example of my notes-to-self prior to talking with LC today, and his answers in red:

Counter-depth vs. standard fridge and design implications. Either will work, but Standard is recommended. You get more for your money and the difference in this case is only a few inches.

Confirm fire-blocking is done. Done downstairs and upstairs.

Discuss upstairs floors - can we keep old floors? Should we keep old floors? We’ll discuss when the time is right.

Central Air - where upstairs will it be stored? The entire length of the eaves on one side of the house.

Countertops going up wall providing a short backsplash? Recommended? Either way is fine.

Washer/dryer - should we put counter over them? Not recommended since they are so deep. A cabinet above them, however, is recommended.

Basin for washing machine? Will look into it.

Plow for the snow we’re expecting? Will handle it, if needed.

Install landline? Just say where it goes.


An example of LC’s agenda for talking to us, my responses in black:

Interior doors. We need to decide on a style soon. We’ll get back to you.

Door handles. Gotta choose those since they match the hinges, and need an answer soon.
We’ll get back to you.

Front and Back doors. It’s recommended they be replaced since they aren’t insulated at all. Gotta decide soon.
We’ll get back to you.

Return vent for Central Air. Where do we want it? It’s gonna start being installed Monday.
We’ll get back to you.

Obviously, LC is much better at answering questions than I am.


Dem Bones

When we had the house inspected, the takeaway was “the bones are good.” Well, it seems the bones are good, there just happens to be a little arthritis in some areas. And that requires shoring up, which is one of the reasons for all the hammering echoing throughout our neighborhood.

Here are two examples:

See the window area on the right, before.
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Shoring Up in progress
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Kitchen/mudroom wall before
kitchmudroom before

Shoring Up in progress
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We always wanted a house by the shore. We just didn’t mean it literally!