Construction Decisions

Locking In More Decisions

What happens when you get down to the end of renovating an entire house? LC starts calling from the stores for speedy decisions. We’re flying by the seat of our pants but the breeze is kind of refreshing.

Our biggest decision today - front and back door knobs. Here’s what we’re going with:

For the front door, the Emtek Greeley in Black with a round knob for the inside instead of a lever.
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For the Back door, the Emteck Delaware in Satin Nickel:
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For the basement door, same as above or something close to it.

Let's Open Some Doors

Next on our list from LC: Choose the door knobs. He suggested Emtek as the brand and after some back and forth, we chose a round knob for the solid interior doors and a simple lever for the french door. Then we learned about the rosette - the plate. Here are our choices:

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Oval (no matching plate for the lever we chose):

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Fancy-schmancy (no matching plate for the lever we chose):
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After searching the web to find pictures of rooms with doors and checking out the rosettes, we narrowed it down to round and rectangle. After realizing we’d be happy with either one, we decided on the round. Sorry rectangle. Today just wasn’t your day.

Where We're At

An update of the goings on at our very soon-to-be home:

  • Radiant heat flooring has been installed

  • Kitchen floor tiles are in

  • All interior window trimming has been done

  • Interior doors have been installed and trimmed

  • Tiles are now in both bathrooms

  • Vanities have come in and will be installed in both bathrooms

  • An appointment to approve the vanity countertops is being set up

  • Toto toilets were ordered today

  • Templates for shower doors are being done

  • Shower controls and faucets have been decided on and will be installed

  • Priming has been done on upstairs walls

  • New floors are being put in upstairs

  • Downstairs landing is being re-looked at to see if we can keep it

  • Door knobs and cabinet knobs are still TBD

  • Window treatments are now being discussed

An update of the goings on at our very soon-to-be former apartment:

  • Moving company has been chosen and locked in

  • Forwarding address has been filled out for USPS

  • Addresses are being changed for relevant mail

  • Bags of clothing to be donated are piling up in the bedroom

  • A to-do list is piling up in my notebook

Wall-To-Wall Happiness

Here’s a quick walk through our house with walls...

Foyer - small downstairs bathroom at back left of pic, tiny coat closet straight back (We will be donating lots of coats before we move in!)
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Downstairs Bathroom up close - includes standup shower for short people standing up
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Living Room with all its nooks and crannies
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Living room looking toward front of house
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Looking from living room through foyer and into Dining Room - we widened the opening between foyer and dining room to match the opening between foyer and living room
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Looking from Dining Room into Kitchen and doorway to mudroom
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Mudroom with new back door (still have to pick out new door knobs)
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Corner of mudroom
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Upstairs Office looking in from hallway
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Upstairs office looking out
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Guest Bedroom #1
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Guest Bedroom #1 looking at closet
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Main Bedroom
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Upstairs Hallway
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2nd Guest Bedroom which kept the closet that was there originally
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2nd guest bedroom also has a separate closet for the upstairs central air unit. the plan is for the door and doorknob to be flush with the wall so we can put a day bed in front of it
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2nd Guest Bedroom also has a new closet on other side of room using space we weren’t able to use in bathroom
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Upstairs Bathroom from doorway
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Standup shower in upstairs bathroom
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One final note: The regular baseboard heating covers have been installed for now. We’re holding off on getting the better covers while I research all our options.
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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.

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.

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

Safety First

On Christmas Day, while most people were wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, I heard two other important words: Fire Blocking.

As in: “Your house is Balloon Framed and this is the time to ensure fire safety measures are put into place.”

Special Thanks to Bro, Sis-In-Law and Nephew for touring the gutted house and giving such sage advice.


Way back in the day, houses were constructed by a post and beam method. This required a lot of labor, skill and money.

Then, along came a carpenter who decided to construct a house by using 2 x 4 inch wooden studs and running them straight up from the foundation to the top of the house. Suddenly, your average Joe could build a house. And many of them did. (In fact, Balloon Framed Houses would go on to play a major role in the settlement of the West, and the proliferation of the suburbs everywhere.)

This new type of house pissed off the Post & Beam Builders who said they were so light, they’d blow away with the wind like a balloon. Hence, the term Balloon Framed Houses.

Well, the houses didn’t blow away.

But what they did do was pose a safety risk in the case of a fire, since fire can spread more quickly in the unprotected spaces, of which there are many.

That’s where Fire Blocking comes in. To fire block a balloon framed house, blocks of wood are put in between the studs, like so:

LC and I spoke about the best way to go about Fire Blocking the home. It won’t be easy, since the studs aren’t your average size, but it will be done. And with LC on the case, I’m sure it will be done well.


The Cold Hard Facts

Sig Other and I spent a few freezing hours with LC at the house today talking walls - and anything that might dictate where the walls will go.

After much discussion and a brush with possible frost bite, here’s the takeaway:
  1. Standup shower is back in the downstairs bathroom
  2. Bathtub is out of the upstairs bathroom due to the logistics of the space and a standup shower is in
  3. Teensy Tiny room is going to be a combo office/closet
  4. Kitchen/dining room will be open with an island, and sadly my favorite little door between the kitchen and stairwell will be taken out
Here’s the latest shot of the kitchen/dining room. It’s been completely opened up.
kitchen dr open 2

We're Back In Business

MVP Mom called with the news: “Hammers are banging and more windows are going in.” Finally!

Next on our todo list: Meet with LC and decide once and for all where the walls are going up. Without dormering, the house doesn’t give us many choices. But one change I’d like to make is adding a real closet upstairs. Unfortunately every time I point this out to LC he points at the teensy tiny room and says to make it a walk-in closet. Sig Other keeps saying, “That’s not happening.”

I’m not sure how the closet battle will end. I just hope it ends with an actual closet somewhere.

The Room Of Many Names

I’ve been referring to it as the back porch, the room that’s always freezing, the mudroom, and the laundry room. Sig Other refers to it as his sunroom.

LC says it’s the last room we’re gonna do because we have yet to solve the layout. But I think we’re getting closer.

1. This is where you walk in through the back door.

2. This is where the kitchen table will go. (The back door is to the left of the 2 windows on the left hand side.)

3. This is probably where the washer and dryer will go. (this window is next to the two windows that are on the right hand side in the previous picture) Problem: If the washer and dryer are stacked, we’ll lose a window.
backporch to kitchen

4. In order to get the washer and dryer side by side, I’ve asked LC to consider moving the door that’s between the back porch and the kitchen over.

5. If you’re standing in the kitchen, the door would move to the left. LC is suggesting we move it over and just keep the doorway open and not have a door there. I’m suggesting he make sure that back room has some serious heat before we decide if it needs a door or not. Sig Other is suggesting we do whatever we want as long as his sunroom doesn’t lose a window.
kitchen back door

We're Making Progress

Windows are going in…

And the chimney for the oil heat has come down...

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…making more room in the kitchen

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after chimney arrow


Going With Our Gut

What do you do when it’s been decided not to gut the downstairs bathroom and the gutters don’t get the message until after they’ve started? You realize all the things you can do with it.

1. Move the wall back that had been pushed out into the living room to make the bathroom.

2. Move the bathroom door from the living room to the foyer.

3. Take out the shower and use some of the space from the bathroom for a coat closet.

4. Put in a higher toilet.

Gut away, gutters. May we never regret taking the walk-in shower from the downstairs. And if we do years down the line, may we have the space and the means to put one back in.

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Not So Fast!

Those plans we made to see our gutted house today? Postponed due to the fact that the gutters are still gutting (and according to MVP Mom the neighbors can all hear the gutters still gutting. oops!).

In the meantime we’ve been told the kitchen can easily be opened into the dining room - but not so easily opened into the mudroom which of course was my preference.

I’ve been researching ways a kitchen and dining room can work together while still holding on to the charm of an older home. Here is one example we like, tho our kitchen will have more cabinets on the walls. Sometimes I wonder if once we see the gutted space all my research will get thrown out the window or if it’ll actually help us make informed decisions…
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I'm Feeling Gutted

10am. Confirmation from MVP (and new neighbor) Mom - Gutting has begun!

8pm. Call from our licensed contractor (LC). One surprise so far: And it’s regarding the downstairs bathroom that we decided not to touch. It may need a new vent. This is now on the list of things we will discuss when we meet him at the house Saturday. The list is growing...


One Last Decision

Well, we’ve done everything we can in the pre-demo phase. We made all the decisions LC asked us to make, I got the estimate to sign and we agreed on a kick-off day mid-week.

Just when we’re ready to sit back and let the demo begin, I bring up the bathroom pocket door again to Sig Other. That bathroom is the one room that wasn’t in the plan since it was recently done. And that one little room will cost a lot of money to demo, and a lot more to put back together again - all because I want the door to be in the foyer instead of the living room

I’ve been as practical as I can be with this process so far.

So what’s more practical: being financially prudent, or being all ‘I-don’t-want-to-race-thru-the-living-room-to-get-to-the-bathroom?’ I honestly don’t know the answer to that.


Our Cutest Door of all Doors

Note to LC today - DON’T destroy the little door!

There’s a sweet doorway between the kitchen and the stairwell with the cutest little door. The plan is to keep the doorway. But if we can’t manage to keep the little doorway, the backup plan is to use the door for a closet. The backup to the backup plan will be to find a place to build a closet so we can use the door.
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The Teensy Tiny Room

There’s a room upstairs in the house that’s tiny. It served as a bedroom for a child for many years before becoming a sewing room.

We’re kicking around 3 uses for this space:

1. A home office (for me)

2. A walk-in closet (also for me)

3. Added space to the adjacent room (not for me)

Sig Other is leaning toward #3. I’m trying to figure out how we could do 3 along with 1 or 2 and have yet to solve it.


Who Needs Closets? I Do!

It hit me today: The house Sig other and I bought has LESS closet space than my 1 bedroom apartment which has NO closet space.

And since the cedar closet in the basement idea I had got squashed by my bro who knows this kinda stuff (the basement being too musty and not dry enough), today I was fixated on closets. Or rather, closets under the eaves which really aren’t much of a closet, if at all. But my research has shown they do have some possibilities:

  • Drawers

  • Bookshelves

  • Shoe holders

  • Mini-closets for hanging shirts or folded pants

  • Cabinets

LC says once the house has been gutted we’ll be able to see the layout better and only then can we make decisions about the walls, etc. I do hope I see some real closets when that happens. In the meantime, here are some eaves storage pics I found for inspiration...

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Did Someone Say Pocket Door?

Big day today. Sig Other came out to the house. Yay!!!

Bro, sis-in-law and niece were there also, as was MVP Mom. Fun to see Bro go thru a house we used to play in and remember it in its glory. Not so much fun to hear him joke: “I feel sorry for whoever bought this house with all the work that’s ahead.”

Sig Other and I posed one of our challenges:

Downstairs Bathroom: It’s built off the back end of living room. The downstairs is a horseshoe with the living room on one side and the kitchen on the other. If nature calls while I’m cooking, that’ll be some race to the bathroom.

Bro’s Brilliant Idea: Pocket Door. It’ll allow us to put the bathroom door in the foyer. Let’s hope the budget can take it cause that’s the only room in the house we weren’t planning on gutting.

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Bye-Bye Budget, Hello Andersen Windows

7:30 am meeting with LC. I drag myself out of bed and over to the house, eyes drooping, fractured foot throbbing, and head cursing out Sig Other who managed to get out of this. Luckily, I have MVP Mom at my side. It isn’t long before the real battle of keeping the charming wood window moldings begins….and ends with one precious window trimming broken on the floor, unable to come off in one piece.

I meekly raise the white flag and agree - we can get rid of the charming window interior wooden frames that have been with the house since the early 1900’s because I have no choice but to believe they truly can’t be saved in a financially prudent way.

My heart is heavy. I vow to win the next battle: The Battle of Keeping the charming wood Doorways.

Oh, and that pesky thing called a budget which I’m in charge of? It’s day three and I blew it up with one decision: Out with the Replacement windows plan. In with the complete windows plan. A decision that received Sig Other’s 100% support.

Now I have to save some big bucks elsewhere in the budget…Dear Sig Other - those Toto toilets you’ve been wanting? Prepare to lose them.

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