"Progress is the attraction that moves humanity."
Marcus Garvey 

After many months, the house renovations are coming close to completion! We are scheduled to move in one week from today. That's assuming that everything goes as planned. Here's what gets to happen this week:
Sand and stain floors
Sand and seal fireplace
Grout all tile
Install laundry room floor
Install interior hand rails
Install interior light fixtures
Install cabinets
Install toilets and sinks
Install carpet
Install and paint front doors
Install all interior hardware (doorknobs, etc.)
Install underside of deck roof
Paint portion of exterior brick
Finish paint touch ups
Clean out garage
Paint storage lockers in garage
Install exterior light fixtures
Service HVAC
Clean out vents
Clean house

Do you think it's possible? I do! That is unless the wind storm that is expected to blow through tonight knocks out the electricity again. Wish us luck! 

Here's a sneak peek:


Time Capsule

"Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace."  
Author Unknown

Before tiling the front of the fireplace this week, I had the idea to put a time capsule behind the wall. We each wrote our intentions for our family and home, added something that represents ourselves, and placed the items in a box. I wonder who will find this treasure someday?


Come Together

"Focus on the journey, not the destination.
Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. "
Greg Anderson

I am so thoroughly enjoying renovating this house! That's the main reason I haven't blogged in a few weeks - I have been having so much fun picking out tile, countertops, paint, cabinets, flooring, lighting, etc. that I'm utterly exhausted at the end of the day. Too tired to blog.

The good news is that I've made some headway. My husband's truck has become my mobile showroom. It's full of samples. I didn't take a picture of the rest of the truck because he said it looks like "a bomb exploded" in it. Check out what I've picked so far...

My biggest dilemma has been the kitchen countertops. Since I like the look of marble but was too afraid to actually use it (it stains and scratches easily), I found a great granite called Kashmir White (sometimes called Bianco Romano). Here are some awesome kitchens with this countertop:

As far as the rest of the house, the walls and ceilings have been textured. They look great. The fireplace has been framed in and is ready to be tiled. A HUGE thank you to my wonderful, beautiful friend Sally Harvey for donating the limestone for the fireplace facade! Here's a list of things that will be happening this week:
Wood floors delivered
Baseboards and trim installed
Tile ordered
Countertops ordered
Storage installed in garage

We are scheduled to move in December 9. That's 4 weeks, 31 days, 744 hours, and 44,640 minutes... not that I'm counting or anything, but we are super excited!


Crossing the Line

"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Matthew 22:39 
A lot has been happening at the house the past few weeks. Here's the quick rundown:

Boundary dispute with neighbors: resolved.

Exterior painted.

Material and color selections for kitchen.


Sheetrock delivered.

Sheetrock installed in master bedroom.

Sheetrock installed in basement.

 The installers should finish all of the sheetrock installation today. We are still on schedule to move in five weeks. More details to come next week!


Where the Sidewalk Ends

"Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; 
and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig."
Marcus Aurelius

I stopped by the house thinking that not much was going on today. Boy, was I wrong! They've been busy digging out my entire front yard. As a result, my front porch/sidewalk is hanging perilously over a fifteen foot hole which extends from the house to the street! Besides that, where my sidewalk ends...

...I have mounds of dirt as a front yard. The boys will have fun tonight!

    ...we're getting a new water/sewer line. 

      ...windows are being installed.

      ...the painter is preparing to start on the exterior.
      ...the interior will be insulated tomorrow.
      ...the plumbing and electrical passed inspection.
      ...the gas line has been moved from the front of the house to the side of the house.
      ...the leaves are changing.

      What's happening at the end of your sidewalk?


        Gray Matter

        "Genius and virtue are to be more often found clothed in gray than in peacock bright."
        Van Wyck Brooks  

        After many weeks of pretty much nothing happening, things are starting to pick up again. Next on the agenda: paint the exterior.

        First, we had to move the large spruce tree which was planted next to the front porch:

        Next, I began the color selection process. I bought several pint sized samples of the circled Kwal Paint colors and painted small sections of brick and siding on the house. The winner? 6874M Muddy River!

        I've always liked painted brick which is very common in the south. Here are some images that have inspired my color selection:

        I'm looking forward to our new, temporary exterior. Pictures coming soon!


        Basement Before and After

        "Form follows function - that has been misunderstood.
        Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union."
        Frank Lloyd Wright

        There's not much to say about the basement other than it was a sad, sad place. There were tenants living in the basement when we purchased the house, and bless their heart, they repainted everything white in an attempt to brighten the place up. I didn't have the heart to tell them that we'd be gutting everything down to the framing. Check out the before pictures below:

        Basement bathroom before. 
        The shower was approximately 24" x 24" and the ceiling height was 6' - 8"!
        Kitchenette before. Notice the low, tiled ceilings.
        Laundry room before. How was the washer accessed?

        On paper, I'm very happy with the functional changes I've made to the basement. Most notably, I rearranged the laundry room entrance, added a bathtub to the bathroom, and added a linen closet to the hallway. I also raised the ceiling height throughout the entire basement. The result? The perfect combination of form and function. See below:


        What a Pane

        "Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. 
        Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won't come in."
        Alan Alda
        Basement windows to be replaced.

        I knew things were going too good. The most trouble I'd had up until this point was a misplaced light fixture (which I take complete accountability for!). Last week we had our first home inspection by the city and it did not pass. Darn. Not that it's that big of a deal, but I feel like it didn't pass because of me.

        I gave our contractor the go-ahead to keep the existing basement windows despite him strongly encouraging me to replace them so they'd meet the egress code. Even though I called the city engineer and got a verbal approval over the phone to keep the existing windows, the city has now rescinded.

        Typically on remodels, basement windows do not have to be replaced. Only new construction must meet certain specifications. The city claims our renovations are too extensive and since we've upgraded wiring, plumbing, etc., we must also upgrade the windows. I can see their point, but it's still frustrating.

        As a result, I had my first passive-aggressive tiff with the City Engineer. It went something like this:

        Sorry, I can't approve your inspection. Your basement windows don't meet code. You will have to dig out the all the window wells, break out the foundation and install bigger windows.

        (looking expectantly at Jeff)

        My wife said you had a phone conversation with her and that you said since it's a just a remodel that the current windows are acceptable and that they would pass inspection.

        I can't give approvals over the phone, and I can't approve basement windows that are too small.

        (looking desperately at Jeff)
        Well, the new windows have already been ordered and they cannot be returned. It would be quite an additional expense for us to dig up the current window wells and replace them, not to mention that we will have to order brand new windows. You did give my wife approval over the phone...

        I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do. Good luck.

        (ever the optimist)
        Well, OK... we tried! Thanks for your time!

        (head hung in defeat)

        I'm not sure what happened, but the meeting didn't quite go as planned. That's not exactly true. I do know what happened. If I'd spoken up, I would have done one of two things: yelled or cried. So, I kept my mouth shut.

        In hindsight, it's kind of funny. At the time, I was really upset. 

        Here's the good news. We get brand new, bigger windows with brand new, bigger window wells. Our house will be safe and up to code. If there's ever a fire (heaven forbid), firefighters will be able to get in through the window with all of their equipment. My kids will be safe.

        When one window closes, another one opens.


        The Red Door

        "Everything utilitarian needs a little red edge."
        Reno Dakota
        House of Light: Chevy Chase, Maryland Home inspired by Hugh Newell Jacobsen modern exterior
        At the top of my to-do list is the design of our front door. I'm thinking red. Since I've been drawn to the color red, I decided to do some research. Not surprisingly, red front doors have a lot of symbolism and meaning behind them. According to Wikipedia, here's what a red front door represents:

        • In Feng Shui, a red door symbolizes the mouth of the home. By painting our door red (or any bright color that stands out) chi (positive energy) is drawn to the house. It is the entry point in which abundance and opportunities find us.
        • The Chinese consider red to be the lucky or sacred colour. Many doors are painted with a fresh coat of red just before Chinese New Year to invite good luck and happiness.
        • In Ireland, a red door is supposed to ward off ghosts and evil spirits.
        • In Catholicism, a red door represents that the blood of Christ has been smeared on it and that the area beyond the door is holy and sacred.
        • Also, according to the Old Testament, the Jewish slaves in Egypt smeared their doors with lambs blood as a sign that the required sacrifice had already been made, and those homes would be passed over by the Angel of Vengence.
        • Supposedly red doors were used as part of the Underground Railroad, and homes with red doors were "safe houses".
        • Albert Einstein painted his door red because he couldn't recognize his house without it.
        • And for homeowners, a red door announces that the house is paid for, free and clear.
        I think I like Albert Einstein's theory the best!  Here are some other fun red front doors:

          Outside Lighting traditional entry
          Old world front entry door.