Monday, October 15, 2012

Closing? If, Then

Concrete goes in (scheduled for today - Jesse STILL hasn't heard a firm yes from them)
Gutters go on (this afternoon or tomorrow morning)
Boiler is connected to electric and gas (TODAY)
Oven is installed (TODAY)
Carpet is installed and backsplash replaced (TODAY)

we can have our inspection tomorrow

anything fails on the inspection (which Jesse says happens 98% of the time, just because North Logan is like that)

Jesse can get that taken care of Tuesday evening (he already has the re-inspection rescheduled for early Wednesday morning, because he knows how North Logan works and is ready for them)

we pass inspection and get our certificate of occupancy, and the appraisal comes in where it's supposed to

we can close Wednesday afternoon and start moving in

!! !! !! !!

Oh - a couple more because it's fun.

IF the concrete goes in TODAY
THEN we can move the fridge in tomorrow evening

IF the carpet and tile store doesn't have any extra backsplash tile in stock
THEN Jesse is going to insist they drive to SLC and pick it up to get it finished today

IF the concrete doesn't go in today
THEN ... ... ... ...

what does that do to our closing?

I don't know.  Because there is a 30% chance of rain tomorrow and as we learned.  If there is rain in the forecast they don't pour the concrete.

Positive thoughts are welcome.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Opinions Needed ASAP

Can you tell a difference between these two backsplashes?Do you like one better than the other?
Which one?

I designed one of these styles to go in our bathroom.  The OTHER one was installed.  I need to decide QUICKLY if I'm going to fight to have it redone correctly or IF I can just live with it (as long as they give me some kind of credit towards our bill - or something like that).

Of course, the granite in real life is much quieter than that.  There is a basin installed to break it up also.  Our walls are not that color and the lights are much higher above the countertop.

(I'll throw up a picture of the real deal later this afternoon)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

We interrupt our regularly scheduled posting

To show you that fall has arrived at the house:

(and matches the front door)

We have awesome Halloween Trees!
(look at those creepy "fingers" reaching out of the top right corner)

It won't last long.  The leaves are falling fast!

But it's sure is pretty, in the meantime.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sneak Peek

We are getting close to being finished so I wanted to put up some pictures that make me happy.
(I've been "a little stressed" because I've seen such little progress happening the last few weeks
so I'm taking this opportunity to focus on the good)

I love these lights.  
Three is just the right number for the size of the island and the size of the room 
(thanks to everyone who responded to my questions about them).  
They are fun, cute and add just a touch of whimsy.  
It's been fun to see the workers look at and then touch to be sure.  Yes, that is Chicken Wire!  

It is very hard to get a good picture of this fireplace, but I think it turned out perfectly.  
Just like I'd hoped, planned (and designed).  We've even turned the gas on to see how it looks when it's lit.  It's Sooo pretty.  You'll have to come up and see it in person!

I love our big sink and the quartz countertop and we are so excited to start using our new dishwasher.  When you come to visit, Rob will open the dishwasher to show you how much we love it.
(I like the granite on the island too, but it's very hard to get a good picture of that.  I will keep trying)

This is another room that is difficult to get a good picture of, but I like the powder room.  

Our doors to Rob's office turned out great!  
They look amazing hanging and the roller mechanism is pretty sweet too.  
Jesse and his dad are hanging the second door this afternoon, I just have to get the hardware cleaned up so we can install that.

This last picture is actually what makes Rob smile.  He's been anxiously waiting to see progress down here.

In Other News:
We WERE going to close Monday afternoon.  Then it got pushed back to Tuesday morning.  
Just today it got pushed back to Tuesday afternoon.  
I told Jesse if we aren't closed by the end of the month I would haunt him for the rest of his life.  

I'm realizing that I'm not as good at hanging in limbo as I was when I was younger 
(okay, okay, I was never really that good at hanging in limbo anyway).

Live and Learn #4 - The Entry

I wrote a little bit about the flooring dilemma in our entry and how the Alex and I worked together to try to figure out a solution for it.  Well...I mentioned that conversation to Travis (from the tile, carpet, flooring company) when he was tiling our bathroom.  He made a suggestion that I thought about for awhile. I liked the way it sounded so I went down and talked to the designer and sales rep that we've been working with.  She agreed that it would probably look better in the space if we made the changes that Travis suggested.
This is how the entry looked after the hardwood floors were first laid.  The large black rectangle was left for the tile  (the reflective tape that you see, is what Travis and I put down as we discussed his idea).  I left it there so Susan could go up and take a look at it too before the decision was finalized.

The large tiled area kept throwing me off because there was no true center.  I probably should have either tiled the whole entry or had the hardwood run through the whole area.  It was too late (and way too expensive) to make that change though so the solution was to create a tile runner centered off the door.

I  really wanted to have tile in the entry because we have so many months of winter here, so that is why I didn't go with hardwood there.

This is how the entry looked after Alex finished reworking the hardwood floors.  I don't know how he feels about the change.  He was leaving just as I arrived to take this picture and he did not want to talk to me.
This is how the entry looked after Travis and Brennan came up and tiled it.  I like it so much better.  The bathroom wall was throwing us off.  We had it pushed out to make room for the washer and dryer, which created a cute little coat and bench nook by the front door, but that threw off the symmetry of the floor area.
Here is a view from the front door.

In the background you can see the big box from Restoration Hardware.  Well, that was a process to get here too.  We ordered it way back in June, but the first light that came was bent so we sent it back.  We didn't hear anything from RH for over a month, so I called to check on it and they said it was back-ordered and we would get it the last week of September.  I was a little surprised, but thought we wouldn't really need it till then anyway.  So, it got to be Monday of the last week of September and Rob was getting nervous because it hadn't arrived yet.  He kept saying, "Call them"

As it turns out it was a good thing I did or we would never, never, never have received it.  I was on the phone with a very nice person who very kindly told me that the light was back-ordered and we would receive it mid-October.  I said that was unacceptable and we went around and around for a little while.  She was very polite, gave me the sales price on it and promised expedited shipping, but wouldn't send the light earlier...even though when I looked online it said if I placed an order "TODAY" it would arrive BY October 9th.  So, I asked for a supervisor.  We went around and around and around until I finally said something that clicked with her.  I said something about they'd had my money since early June and how could all the orders between June and September be back-ordered and all arrive at the same time in mid-October, or were people who had ordered lights after me been receiving them before me, even though they'd had my money longer.  So, she went back and actually dug into my record (thank goodness for computers).  Somehow it had been marked incorrectly so even though it showed that they had received the bent light they had it marked as "in transit" (or something like that) every time I called it just put me into a loop where they thought they needed to wait for my light to arrive so I was "back-ordered"....or something like that.  It totally doesn't make sense to me any more as I type it out.  BUT, once this gal understood the problem she deleted the original and created a new order for us and agreed to pay for the expedited shipping (and gave us the sales price).  So we had the light 2 business days later!  I should have have asked more questions back in July when I was told it was back-ordered.  I just assumed that the demand was higher than the availability.

Of course, we missed the electrician's window of availability so the box has been sitting there for several weeks now.  At one point I came up and found that workers were using it as a garbage box.  Ugh.

It will be up soon.  It has to be, we are supposed to close next week.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Live and Learn #3 - Lighting Lessons

Choosing lights has been an interesting adventure.  In some rooms I have a better idea of what I don't like than what I do like.

When I found the vanity lights for our master bathroom I thought I would love them, so I ordered them.  I like them well enough, but I wish they were a little bit bigger.  They just don't have as much presence in the room as I'd hoped.  But they put off a lot of light and Rob and I BOTH like them so they are staying.

So, then the next light we needed to purchase was the main bathroom lights.  We needed two and I wanted to find something that would work well with the lights in the bathroom and also with the chandelier that we have hanging in our bedroom.   Finding something that Rob and I BOTH liked was proving to be more challenging than I thought it would be.

So, one day we went out to the Overstock Outlet Store south of Logan and found this light fixture.  I liked the enclosed drum shade and I thought the acrylic bubbles were a cute touch for a bathroom.  The shape and colors worked with the vanity lights and the shape worked with bedroom chandelier, but I was a little concerned about the size.
I SHOULD HAVE measured the height, and width and overall dimension of the light fixture before we actually purchased it.  I also SHOULD HAVE asked about how it was mounted.  I ASSUMED the way it was hanging in the store was how it would be mounted on the ceiling.   But, we just forged ahead, bought the one in the store, found a matching light on and ordered it.

Once they were hung I knew immediately that they were not going to work.  They hung too low, especially the one that was mounted above the toilet.  They took up way too much visual space in the room and I did not like the two plates above the acrylic bubbles (I even asked the electrician if we could cut the bottom plate off because it was that distracting to me).  I believe a few tears were shed.  Rob was much more practical and said that we should just go find something else that worked and looked better.  We asked the electrician if he would mind if we switched them out and he didn't.

We didn't have time to order anything online so I went to Home Depot and Lowe's.  This was our replacement.  It looks much better in the room.  I MAY go back and touch it up with some black or silver paint, but I'm waiting to see it with the bathroom finished before I make a decision about that.  When I just glance at it quickly the color (antiqued silver?) doesn't bother me that much.
The first light fixture was a bear to get installed.  But then Rob looked at the mounting box and realized there was a better way to do it.  So the second one went up easily and quickly (thank goodness).  I asked Rob if he wanted to redo the first one and he quickly declined.  It's up and it's mostly stable so it's staying put.
I quite like the light and shadows that show up when it's on.  

So, then we moved to the basement.  We kind of forgot to order light fixtures for the family room.  Ooops.

It was pretty easy to choose a fan that we liked and decided quickly on a small semi-flush fixture to mount in the area where the pool table will eventually be.  It was on sale and we thought "good enough".  BUT, once it was installed we realized it just did not put out enough light for that end of the room and it was way too small.  
So we took it down, moved it to the unfinished bathroom, moved the light from the bathroom to the unfinished walk-in-closet (which we had forgotten to buy a light for - so it all worked out even in the end) and hung up a larger fixture that works much better.

The size works better, the amount of light it puts out works better and it looks better.

I think Rob likes doing these little projects in the house.  I just hope he keeps it up because we have a lot of little projects (and some not so little) that need to be finished once we close.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Live and Learn #2 - The Kitchen

We've wanted a great kitchen for years.  When we started looking at houses in Aurora that was one of the first things we focused on.  The kitchen there was a pretty good kitchen and functioned well, but it was a little tight to work in and had a few quirks that we didn't like so when it came time to design this kitchen we took the parts we liked from that kitchen and carried them over to this one.

Then, it was time to design the actual cabinet fronts.  We didn't want to go traditional with raised panels or arches.  We didn't want the front panels to be too fussy or complicated but we didn't want to go all slab front either as we felt that was too contemporary.  So, we worked with Dave (the owner of the cabinet shop), who totally caught our vision, and came up with something that I think looks really good.  I love the 5-piece cabinet and drawer front design.  I love the soft white color of the cabinets and the soft gray glaze.  I love the care and quality that was taken into building the cabinets and putting them together.

But when I walked in the first day I realized that something was very off and needed to be fixed.

In designing the drawer layout I had seen some images in magazines and online (I love and used it A LOT!) that had a slab front drawer as the top drawer in the stack.  I really liked that look and thought it seemed to be the perfect way to balance out the transitional look we were trying to achieve so asked Dave to include that feature.

When we were drawing up the final kitchen design I was told that the four drawer stack wouldn't really work with the 5-piece front because the drawers were too narrow and it would end up looking funny (kind of like the top of a toaster).  So I agreed that the four drawers would be all slab front.  Then in a stroke of genius I said let's have only the drawers below the cooktop be built with the 5-piece front.  I thought that would set them off and make them look special.  I also said I didn't want the end panel to have the 5-piece design but just wanted to be flat.  In my defense, I was afraid it would make the kitchen look too busy and would save us some money.  Win, Win (in my mind).

Can you see what was bothering me?  It took me a little while to figure out what it was that was throwing me off from totally and completely loving my kitchen cabinets.  Looking at the picture it doesn't look quite as stark as it does in real life.  

The first change that obviously needed to be made was to have the end panel changed out to a 5-piece design.  Tex tried to tell me that and I discounted his opinion.  The style needs to be carried from the wall cabinets through the whole kitchen.  MAYBE if I'd put in a cabinet with doors there instead of the slab front drawers it wouldn't have been soooo obvious, but we'll never know.  Lesson learned.   Listen to the guy who's been doing this for years and years.
Now, on to the second change that needs to happen.

Because I included a three drawer stack right next to the cooktop the difference in the drawer fronts was too stark.  They were the exact same height so there was no visual reason for them to not have the same design on the front drawer panel.  The only way that my concept of having the cooktop drawers "stand out" would have been to have both drawer stacks flanking it be a four drawer stack and I would have needed to pull out the spice cabinet pullouts a couple of inches to really create the sense of a cooking niche.

Well, it was too late to make a new four drawer stack and I wasn't going to pay for that either (and I really wanted the deeper drawers here --- I have an idea that I hope will work just fabulously for these drawers) so I asked Tex to make some new drawer fronts so they would match the lines of the drawers below the cooktop.  Lesson learned.  Don't just assume the design in your head is going to translate well into real life.  Get a drawing of the whole design before you approve it.

And here's another mistake, but luckily this one wasn't my responsibility.  The cabinet shop goofed and made the posts to support the countertop overhang in white instead of stained wood.  They tried to convince me that it would look good and that they have seen it done before so I should just leave them white and be all funky and trendy.  I said, "No! Thank you for the very kind suggestion.  PLEASE make them again in the stained finish."  (In this picture I think it looks a bit like a cartoon)  
Noah was cracking me up - he saw the broom and piles of sawdust and immediately got to work cleaning

Disclaimer - I could have lived with the kitchen the way it was.  It wasn't the end of the world, and we actually slept on it for two nights before we made the final decision to pay for the changes and we waited for the drawer pulls and cabinet knobs to go up to see if that made a difference.  Yes....having the handles put on helped a lot and once the countertops go on that will help even more, but it would have bugged me every single time I walked into the kitchen, so we bit the bullet and asked for those four panels to be remade.    

The funny thing is I'd spent so much time drawing out the function of the kitchen...measuring the distance from here to there, imagining where I was going to store things for easy and appropriate access but I forgot to draw out the form (or actual cabinet and drawer front design) of the entire kitchen.  Form and function are both important to me and I know that, but in my haste to meet a deadline, I skipped a step in the design process.  

First world problems.  I know.  And I feel a little guilty about making a big deal out of these issues, but we are going to live here for a long, long time and I do not want to be focused on "should haves and could haves".  I want to move in and move on.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Live and Learn #1 - Exterior Lights

Designing a house from scratch is fun, challenging, frustrating, rewarding, scary, stressful, interesting and fulfilling.  Rob and I have talked about our vision and our plans for this house ad nauseum (well, almost).

How do we see ourselves living in it, how do we want it to look and how do we want the rooms to flow, how do we want to use the rooms and how do we want the house to feel to our guests?  Of course we've had to make some compromises, adaptations and changes as we've gone along.  Most of them we've been able to catch on paper - before there was any real cost involved.  As we've gotten closer to a finished house we've realized that some of our decisions, although they sounded good in theory or looked good on paper, just didn't work in real life and changes had to be made.

The following four posts are going to detail some of our mistakes, or maybe we should just call them do-overs.

Or as we've taken to saying, "live and learn".

#1 - Exterior Lights
We started out wanting the house to nod at modern / contemporary touches so when it came time to choose the light fixtures for the garage and other exterior doors we focused mainly on lights that had modern lines.  Rob really wanted them to have light sensors so they would automatically go on at dusk and off at dawn.  We found some online, that seemed to meet the criteria but the ORB finish was over $100 each and we needed SEVEN so that was unrealistic.  Then, thanks to Google, I found the exact same light fixture on sale with free shipping.  The problem was they were brushed nickel which would not show up on our house.  I'd seen enough DIY shows and read enough blogs to know that you can spray paint your light fixtures if the existing color doesn't work for you.  So, I jumped the gun and put in the order.

When they came my heart sunk.  They were so much smaller than I expected (even though I have a measuring tape).  And what looked like a cool modern design online didn't really look like much in person.

I SHOULD HAVE sent them back then and there.  But I thought, no we paid for them and once they are painted ORB they will show up better and have a stronger appearance.

So I bought some bronze spray paint, took two of them apart and proceeded to start painting.

The finish was brown (more like tan) but it was still not dark enough to show up on the stucco, but I wasn't ready to give up yet.  So, I went and bought some black spray paint thinking that if they were painted black first and then hit lightly with the bronze that would give me the look we wanted.  Nope.  The bronze spray paint covered the black and made it too light again.

So, did I give up and ship the other lights back?

NO!  That would be too sensible.

Rob and I dismantled all of them, created a spray station and proceeded to paint them all black.  Which was actually lovely until we tried to reassemble them.  We tried and tried and tried to put them back together the same way they came (until Rob cracked one).  Originally there was a ring of silicone at the top and the bottom of the glass.  We weren't sure if it was there to keep water out or just to act as a buffer between the glass and the metal, but no matter how hard we tried we could not get it together with both parts.  Rob finally made an executive decision that the top ring was the most important because that would protect the actual electrical parts from the weather.

So we put them together and took one of them up to the house to look at next to the stucco.  The black worked, but the size hadn't changed at all (hahah they were still barely 11" tall regardless of the color).  They were so small as to almost be inconsequential next to the garage doors.

Our compromise was to use them on the doors coming out of the basement into the backyard and on the man door from the garage.  I went out hunting at Lowe's and Home Depot for a better option.  We didn't have time to look online anymore because the electricians were ready to start installing our lights.

I found two possible options, sent pictures of them to Rob (who was in Orlando working at the time) and we made a decision.  I brought them up to the house and kept my fingers crossed that they would be large enough, that the colors would work and that the style wouldn't distract from the house.  It's not the vision we started out with, but I actually quite like them.  This end result turned out better than planned.

In fact, we may replace the small light fixture by the man door with the smaller matching light from Lowe's since it is in the same line of sight as the light fixtures by our garage doors.  The only thing Rob is disappointed about is that they aren't Dusk to Dawn.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When Rob's Away

Rob is out of town for a few days (he got called at the last minute for an emergency trip to Disney - the bonus is that he's been able to get together with Alaina after she gets off work (at 10:30 pm).  They went out to dinner one night and fit in a quick trip to WalMart the second night.  She usually has to manage her shopping trips on the bus so she is looking forward to being able to stock up)

Lots of changes have happened up at the house while he's been gone, so I'm putting a lot of pictures up today.

The exterior is SOOO Close to being finished.  We need to have the soffit and fascia finished.  Also, Emily pointed out a couple of areas that seem to be missing either stucco or stone.  It's nice to have a new, fresh set of eyes looking things over, because I hadn't even noticed those spots.

The setting sun really impacts the colors in the picture above.  The picture below (of the garage view) is the most accurate.
(I haven't seen any faces in the rocks, and the two stones that are the same color and same size right next to each other don't bother me now that the whole wall is finished and the grout is on)



We have kitchen cabinets!

The dish cabinet can't be installed until the countertops are finished since it sits right on top of the counter.  Noah immediately claimed it as "his house".

Now these are interesting. I think they are the legs to support the granite overhang.  The question is why are they white and not stained?  Who decided that?  Why was I not asked about this decision?  And, should I let them install it and see how it looks or should I just say right away that this is a mistake and they need to get the brown legs out here before the granite shows up?

Rivermill was also responsible for the fireplace surround.  Tex did a great job bringing my vision to reality and managed to work around an installation mistake that we didn't catch until almost too late.  I'll get a better picture when I have daylight and don't have to use the flash.

The tile guys are finally coming back up tomorrow to start on the shower, so they should be able to get the fireplace and the foyer floor finished too.

The closets are GLARING white!  Good thing our clothes are colorful because the walls in that room really needs to be toned down.

This was a nice surprise to see.  Jesse came up and covered all the outside corners to protect them where cords may get dragged around them or workers may be careless walking past them.  He said he'll get them up around the island and the outer kitchen cabinets too.  When he goes the extra mile like that it just reassures me that he is really trying to give us his best work.

And Last, but not Least.  Fall colors for Alaina (love ya babe)!  This is the mountainside just east of our house.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Paint Progress

The painters finally got their prep work finished.  I told them it seemed like they had the most boring job of everyone, filling paint holes, sanding them down and so on and so on.

They primed on Wednesday, painted the trim on Thursday and started taping off all the trim so they can paint the walls and ceiling.  They must have just painted the trim in the basement this morning because we couldn't stay down there long when we went to check on things.

I sure hope this pink paper is leak proof because there was a huge puddle of paint sitting under the bucket that the air sprayer is in.
You can see in the picture above what our final decision was regarding the sliding door in the great room.

We thought it was odd that all the closets are sealed off, but apparently the walls, shelves and ceilings are all painted the same white as the trim and are left like that.  The advantage is that it will make it easier to keep the pantry clean since it's all semi-gloss.

All our hard work labeling our PEX tubing by zone and loop has been painted.  (It's kind of freaky looking in this room right now, a bit "ghostly").  Rob is very glad that he wrapped all his wires in saran wrap.  I guess we'll go up tomorrow and re-label all the tubes.  It will be important for the plumber to have that information readily available.

Catching up on the exterior

It's been a little frustrating because we haven't seen much progress for the last couple of weeks.  Bits and pieces get done every day, but nothing major. So, it was nice to watch the progress of the stucco going on.

The crew started on the west side and moved around the back of the house to the front.  It was fun to see the color.  I think it's a little darker than I planned.  But, I've realized that it will look nice in the glaring sun and won't get washed out as quickly, so that was fortuitous.  

They actually started by applying the darker trim around the windows and to frame out the planes of the exterior.  Then they taped off the trim and applied the main color.

This side above is finished and ready for the scaffolding to come down and the picture below is the back view all finished.

This is actually a good shot of our property.  If you look very hard, you can see the orange flag, in the bottom right hand corner of the picture.   I've drawn in approximately where our property lines are.  It's tough to create 3D ideas easily and quickly on a 2D picture.  The line actually goes underneath the trees and ends up behind them.  Rob is struggling with this picture and says it looks like the lines are floating in the air. 
When we went up today, the crew was there working on installing our gable molding and corbels.  Hopefully by Monday, all of the exterior will be totally finished and then we can start laying out our sidewalk and final grading.

While the stucco crew was working on the garage wall, these two men were getting a good start on our rock!   It's fascinating watching them because it really requires some artistry.

(umm, does anyone else see the two pieces that are the same size and color right next to each other? and should I care or not?  Rob thinks its funny that I noticed it and said I should just wait till the whole wall is finished before I decide one way or the other....comments???)

And, our neighborhood is really growing.  We won't be the only ones up there in the dark after all.  There are currently six houses in various stages.  One is finished (the parade home at the bottom of the hill).  One is almost finished (a spec home waiting for buyers to choose finishes), one is framed, and two have their foundations poured.  You can't see two of the houses from this view because they are hidden by the hills.

We may be the first ones actually moved in, unless the parade home gets sold in the next week or two.