Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Odds and Ends

We are getting to the final stages of building our new home, but there are so many little things to do.  We had some random bits of painting.

The Fireplace (which turned out better than I imagined)
We still have to put the stone around the bottom.

The refrigerator cabinet.  Shhh...do not tell that it is not perfectly painted.  That bit in the corner will never be seen with the refrigerator inside.

W also started putting up the shelving in the closet.  We opted to go with the white metal shelving.  This particular style is called wardrobe shelving.  The very top is a tighter mesh shelving to be used as storage.

We also ordered our countertops.  We picked quartz which ended up being well within our budget.  We did choose remnant pieces for both bathrooms which saved us some money.  The company is swamped at the moment.  We were told that it would take about three weeks to have them installed.  We have plenty of odds and ends to keep us busy until then!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Grouting Tile

Once I had cleaned out the tile joints of any excess thin set, it was time to grout the tile.  With the darker tile we knew we wanted a dark grout.  The color recommended for our tile was charcoal.  Our grout mixed up very similar to the thin set.  It was mixed, left to sit 10 minutes, and then mixed again.

I had never grouted tile before this.  I will admit that I heard all of the horror stories.  It is worse than dry wall - definitely NOT true!  It takes forever to get the floor clean - this one had me worried because it was not too difficult.  I did watch a couple of videos on YouTube.  This one in particular was most helpful.  In the end there was nothing to do except jump in and actually do it.

The floor before.  I vacuumed it well and then mopped over it.

W spread the grout all over the floor taking special care to fill the joints.  

I do not have pictures of the next step simple because I was busy cleaning up the floor.  It was completely covered so that it looked black.  I took care to wring out the sponge until it was just damp.  I wiped in circular motions taking care not to use too much pressure.

I then left the floor to dry for a couple of hours.  You can see the haze that was left on the tile.  That was cleaned up by going back over the tile with a damp sponge using a bit more pressure this time.  Yes, it was hard work.  I was down on my hands and knees cleaning the floor.  (Buy good knee pads!)  In the end it was over and done though rather than lingering on and on like the dry wall did.  

We opted to do only a few rooms at a time.  It usually took about half a day for each grouting session.  We worked on lighter jobs the rest of the time.  I do not expect grouting tile will ever by my favorite way to spend an afternoon, but it is preferable to dry wall.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Aquarium

Expect to see another post or two on the aquarium.  It is a work in progress.  In the last post about it, I mentioned that W had to tear it apart and put it back together.  The next step was to add in gravel (a bunch of it) and some plants.  Having live plants in the aquarium means almost no maintenance especially when it comes to cleaning. W took plants out of our current small aquarium and put them in the new one.  Adding fish directly to a new aquarium with new gravel and water is not advisable.  Fish do better in aquariums with established bacteria.  We will let the new aquarium sit for a few weeks and gradually add water from the old aquarium into the new one before adding fish.

This is a view from the foyer side.  W will put molding around the aquarium to trim it out similar to a picture frame.  It sits in the wall and is a nice wow piece when you first enter.

The cabinet on the other side is still a work in progress.  W will put two doors above the aquarium on this side to hide all of the electrical stuff and air lines.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Pantry and Another Cabinet

W's parents brought over the last bottom cabinet for the kitchen.  W and his dad put in my two ovens.  Some people have hinted that two ovens are a waste, but I love to bake.  Seeing both of those ovens installed makes me smile and wish the house were done so I could actually use them.  Once finished our house will also be the main gathering space for family parties so I know both will get plenty of use.

We are getting to the point where some rooms can be completely finished.  It seems there are so many little things to do.  We have finished laying all of the floor tile and just need to grout it.  I did ask W to put up shelves in the pantry so I can start moving over a few things and organizing that area.

This is the exterior wall.  Due to the fact that the ICF walls only have small studs, we decided to set up this side for putting lighter items.

This wall will be for heavier items.  I will also store cookbooks in here.  I want my kitchen counters to be uncluttered.  A large pantry right beside the kitchen was my solution to having easy access to things without them being in the way.

The shelves on these two walls are made from 1x12 spruce boards.  The attic ladder folds out on this side of the pantry and deeper shelves would not have been possible.  We still need to do the shelves for the third wall.  Those will be deeper shelves.  I want to store home canned items and maybe appliances not used daily on that wall.  I feel certain I will be moving things around for a few weeks until I find a system that works for me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Pet Door

Our yard is fenced in so Leo and the cats have free range to come and go as they please from the house to the outdoors.  For the cats alone I could have purchased a small door, but Leo is a big boy.  I also wanted something that could be locked if I needed to keep him inside or outside for some reason.  My final must have was a door that would close securely after the pets entered/exited so we were not losing heat or cold out of it.

I found numerous options but most were $75-$100 and up.  The pet door was a necessity.  The budget minded me was not happy to spend so much money though.  I continued to shop online and read reviews.  Some that offered a secure closure would have been difficult for the cats push through.  Others that were easy enough for the cats would not have provided a secure closure.

I ended up choosing one made by BarksBar.  It was very affordable - priced at $36.99 at the time I purchased it.  The vinyl flap closes securely but is easy enough for the cats to push open.  The self-locking slide panel is easy to operate.  The door has a nice look to it as well.

Time will tell how well it holds up.  For the time being I could not be happier with the price and the door.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Built-Ins, Ceiling Fans, and Pendant Light Decision

First the pendant lights over the sink...We opted to go with the shorter setting.  The main reason is that W is so tall.  The light was in his line of vision when he stood at the sink.  He often washes dishes for me, and it made better since to have it up a bit higher.

W has been working on the built-ins which will provide some storage and also showcase his 80 gallon aquarium.  The aquarium was part of a two set used purchase.  The large rectangle aquarium leaked when we bought it.  W got online and watched a few YouTube videos on how to rebuild one.  He tore it completely apart and put it back together.  I am happy to say there are no leaks and it looks amazing!

The upper sides will have shelves.  The bottom left will be a bed for Leo with fake doors on the front.  He will be able to enter from the angled side.  The middle and right sides will be storage.  The shelving brackets were not a hit with everyone.  It is our house though and we love them.  They are a bit decorative but still small and simple.

We run ceiling fans in our current home almost constantly and knew we wanted some in the new house.  I wanted one in the laundry room since I plan to dry clothing on racks in there.  We went with a simple white fan as it complemented the yellow.

For our large living room/kitchen area we needed something bigger.  W saw this at a local store and fell in love with it.  I priced around, and they had the best deal by a large amount.

The fan was expensive but worth it.  The three fans are adjustable and rotate depending on the angle.  It really helps to circulate air in the large space.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cabinets, Mantle, and A Lighting Question

Progress on the house includes part of the kitchen cabinets.  W's dad is building all of these for us.  He delivered the ones that are finished so that he had room to build the remaining ones.  The cabinets will all have doors.  Those are just not painted yet.

We also got the fireplace mantle installed.  It is made from part of the big black walnut tree that used to be in our backyard.  A neighbor cut it to size, and we used some of W's dad's tools to sand it and cut the braces.  I love that we have a piece of the tree.  An added bonus is that the mantle was completely free (aside from the loaf of bread I baked for our neighbor).

Finally the lighting question.  We decided to put a couple of pendant lights above the kitchen sink.  We just need to choose a height.  The pictures below show the two options.

Which do you prefer?  The short on the left?  The long on the right?  Post a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Appliances and Toilets

We picked up the appliances and also bought the toilets last week.  I wanted two ovens since I love to bake.  In order to get the size ovens I wanted we went with electric.  I opted for a five burner gas cooktop though.  We chose a smaller refrigerator in the kitchen and will put our big two door one in the pantry.  The smaller refrigerator gave me a bit more counter space.

Even though stainless steel appliances are the "it" thing, I had no interest in them.  I kept hearing how hard they were to clean.  Plus the color would not have worked with out color scheme.  We both agreed on black.

For the toilets we went with the higher ones, and W wanted a longer seat.  Other than the sides being straight and enclosed rather than open, they are pretty standard.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


We knew we wanted tile throughout the entire house as we live in the country with pets.  That means we have dog and cat paws in and out plus our own mess of tracking in from the garden and yard.  W and I also both suffer from allergies so carpet was never on our radar.  We purchased the tile months ago during a sale.

W's dad came over one evening to give us a lesson in laying tile.  He helped us do one row so we had an idea of what to do and then left us to our own devices.

We started in the hallway since we had a clear center line.  The people that did our concrete slab measured out an expansion joint and that is what we started with.  W used a board and square to help keep our lines straight.

We purchased a tile saw rather than renting one since we would be doing a bunch of tile.

It ended up being easier for W to measure and lay the tile.  That left me to do the cutting and also be the general gopher.

Open areas went quickly.  I can easily see how having many angles and odd corners would add to the cost of having tile professionally laid.  We were told that for our area it would have cost $4000 to $6000 to have our house tiled.  Doing it ourselves is a huge savings!

An elderly neighbor advised us to make sure we loved whatever we chose since we would be looking at it for a long time.  I can definitely say I love this tile.  The colors are beautiful, and it is perfect for our lifestyle.

We were both a bit sad to have to cover up the leaf print that showed up in the slab.  I made sure to get a good picture to remember it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Paint Colors

I have discovered that paint colors translate better in person than they do in pictures.  Nevertheless I have taken pictures of each of the rooms.  To give you a more accurate idea of the colors though, I am including links to the paint colors.

The closet and pantry are both painted Sand Dollar.  When we first started painting, W hated it and thought it looked like the color of a hospital bandage.  It dried to a lovely tan.

The hallway ceiling is Mindful Gray, and the walls are Dovetail.  We knew we wanted the main areas to be gray to play off the tile.  I love, love, love these colors.

The front bathroom is Grassland.  It has just a touch of green in it, but we found it showed more beige tones.

The craft room is Alpaca.  I wanted something neutral that would not compete with everything else that will be in the room.

Our bedroom is Mountain Stream and turned out a touch lighter than we expected.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.

The laundry room is Butter Up.  It is bright and cheery and usually a favorite among our visitors.  It is a creamy yellow rather than sunshine.

The back bathroom is a bit more shocking as it is Mythical.  W and I both agreed that we wanted it done in a purple tone.  I originally wanted something with a bit more grey, but we settled on that color.  The entire room is not painted that color since a large section will be the shower.  The same tile will also go around the tub.

The living room and kitchen areas are not painted yet.  We have a gray picked out but will need to see if it is too dark.  I will hold off on sharing that with you.

I have to admit that we have caused quite a scandal by painting our ceilings a color other than white. I thought it was normal to have color on the ceilings.  We went with lighter shades of the wall or an accent type color.  That seems to really surprise people though.

A final word on paint....Please do not skimp.  Cheap paints are cheap for a reason.  We spent a good bit of money on paint since we bought everything from Sherwin Williams.  It was definitely worth it though.  The primer was fantastic and completely sealed the drywall so that we only needed one coat of the paint color.  Sherwin Williams does have good sales.  The staff at our local store was great about letting us know the sale dates to help us save some money.  All of our paint colors are kept on file for 10 years.  They have a computer record as well as a paper record.

We purchased all of the paint ourselves.  This post was not sponsored by Sherwin Williams.  I am just a happy customer!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tongue and Groove Ceiling

We decided to do a tongue and groove ceiling in the living room and kitchen.  The ceiling is vaulted and would have been hard for us to finish properly if we had used dry wall.  Plus we really wanted something different and a bit more special.

We purchased 1x6 spruce boards from a local building supply company.  Because we ordered in bulk, we were able to get a discount of $1 off each board.  W picked out a set of tongue and groove router bits and used a router to cut each board.   He did 150 boards.

Once all of the boards were cut, it was time to stain each one.  We used Sherwin Williams stain in Beechwood.  We gave it a light coating so that the grain of the wood shows through.

W and my dad got to work putting up the boards.  It took a couple of days to get the ceiling completely done.

The ceiling looks great to use and is certainly different.  We never wanted a house that looks completely new.  After living in a 120 year old home, Something new and normal would not have been right for us.