Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action!

There was lots of action today at the house....mainly involving lights...

Of course I was missing my camera, so I snapped a couple of quick pics with my cellphone....

Very exciting.... though I bought many of these lights myself and neglected to buy bulbs for them.... oops.... several hundred light bulbs later, we are set.

Here is a shot from the outside. You can also see how they are putting up the handrail on the rear porch. That will be so nice. No more worrying about somebody falling off!

I took my camera into the house to take pictures of the lanterns and other lights, but when I saw what happened to my old barn beams, I no longer was motivated to take pictures, I was so upset.

My beautiful beams, that were torn out of an old barn, with such a rich brownish red patina were ruined, completely ruined! They were supposed to touch up one little tiny area with stain where there was a raw edge. That memo didn't seem to get across and they stained every inch of the beams. They are so old that they just soaked up the walnut stain and they are virtually black. They look like charred beams that were in a fire. Absolutely awful. I think those were my first actual tears on this build. Apparently, even though I kept my emotions in check (I thought), Lloyd must have sensed how upset I was. He called last night to apologize profusely and to promise to get new ones. Well, that is very nice, and it made me feel much better to know that is an option. But... I didn't go to Home Goods to get them, it took me years to find these and it was very complicated to get them cut to the exact right sizes. So, now, what to do? Sanding it off will ruin the axe marks and the other character of the beams, I am wondering if we could wire brush off some of the stain, revealing the lighter chestnut color beneath? Or, should we sand them, beat them up again, propane torch them, whack them with an adze, hammer, chains, etc. and then try to stain them a mix of colors? It won't be the same, but at least they will look pretty again, without taking them down? UGH, not sure what to do, but as-is they aren't very pretty....

Here are some pics....
Here they are originally.... yes, beat up, but I really loved them:

Here is the charred / blackened look:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"My" awesome board and trespassers....

One of my favorite things I have put into this new build is this board. It is not a big deal, just a board that holds magnets and it will be painted with chalkboard paint, but I love how it is trimmed like the rest of the doors, etc in the house, and I love how it is HUGE!
When I came up with the idea, I wanted to test it out and make sure it worked. The boys and I went to Lowes, spent a few bucks, got a sample and tested the theory. It worked like a charm. Then, when I talked to Lloyd about it, we figured the magic size to still allow casing and to be at the same header height as the doors was 4' x 8' ..... yes, very large. They do not sell pieces like this at Lowe's. Being ever resourceful, Lloyd got me the exact size I wanted from his HVAC guys. Perfect. Then they put it up and Geronimo and Bronco did a fantastic job trimming it... see the little chalkboard tray at the bottom? Can you tell I am very excited about this? Anyway, I told Lloyd, that this was MINE, all mine, and not to put it in all his houses. He agreed, this is my special idea (although he did get another piece to take home for his little guy's room)! (Nany saw one of these chalkboard walls in a house a while ago, so I am willing to acknowledge that I might not own the nationwide patent, but at least the NC one is mine :-).

On with my rant / story.... Today I met thousand dollar Jack, the electrician, out at the house. We were going over things like dimmers and appliances, etc. I told him I wrote down my dimmer desires and stuck it up on my magnet board, along with my phone number in case he had any questions. Since he didn't know what I was talking about (how dare he not notice, by the way), I took him over to show him the list on my board, my awesome magnet board as I lovingly refer to it. He gave the obligatory compliment (knew I liked him), and I was on my way. Fast forward to my grocery store shopping trip. I'm in the checkout line when my cell phone rings. Thinking perhaps it might be a realtor prepared to drop off bags filled with gold for our "for sale house", I figured I should at least answer to see where to collect the money. But, no, it was Jack, and he is mumbling something about "my awesome board." I could barely make out what he was saying, so I suggested I call him right back, from outside. Just before hanging up he says, "call me back on this number and the homeowner will answer." HUH? I was confused, but went out to call him back. The phone rings, and a woman answers. She tells me that she lives in the area and has been walking through my house and just needs to know about my board. "What is it exactly, where did you get it, How did you get the idea, and most importantly, how much did it cost?" I was floored that she had the nerve on so many levels (I do not know this lady). She didn't seem to have any concerns that she is walking through our house and pestering our electrician and STEALING MY IDEAS! She ended the conversation by saying, "I've got to go, I need to call my husband and tell him him to bring me home a bunch of these to use all over my house." Well, OK, didn't mean to hold you up.... sorry.

Should I call her back and tell her about my patent?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

This place is so beautiful.... how did I forget??

This weekend was the 20th reunion for Exeter. I had forgotten just how amazing it is there.
A skip, hop and a jump took me from Charlotte to Boston and then a short drive up to Exeter. As I neared the campus, I started getting a little pitter patter in my chest because the place was such a big deal in my life. The kids there look so young, but then again, 14 is pretty young to be on your own.

But, on this trip I had a new appreciation for the architecture of the place. It is beautiful, and spring in Exeter, even though it was cold, was gorgeous. What amazing facilities too! 2 hockey rinks, a squash center, an AMAZING science center, and a faculty that hasn't aged a single day.

We sat in the academy building at an "assembly" as they called it. I sat there wondering if people like Daniel Webster, or other alums were impressed by the place, or if they too were scheming about ditching to head out to Romeo's the pizza place. Of course, no sooner did we step out into the hall on the "break" when Mr. Weatherspoon, the Associate Dean said, "Ahem, Rachel, and her Amen friends, you are surely not "ditching" assembly are you?" Yikes, not only did he know us well in high school (actually, my friends ditched, but I was the perfect angel), but he has a memory like an elephant! How did he remember my name? Impressive really....

Here was my home for 4 years....Amen Hall. We had some amazing times here....

I am now home in Davidson, and it is a rainy day, yet warm. Exeter seems so far away! I am realizing I took mainly pictures of buildings and not people...even though it was fantastic to catch up with so many. My friends (dorm mates) were there from San Francisco, London, and Greenwich. Makes Davidson seem like a short commute!

Greenwich, Davidson and San Francisco all represented (London taking pic)

What a fun weekend, and thanks Exeter for the memories!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Not so mellow yellow...

The basement is very, well, um, cheery... if it doesn't make you throw up first it is so bright. We did know that "humble gold" by Sherwin Williams was not really all that humble as far as golds are concerned. We have this color in our current dining room and it doesn't seem all that bright. But, perhaps Maurizio and Francisco were so happy to be painting today that they gave it that little bit of extra "cheer." It is hard to say. Perhaps the basement is just such a large big room, that the small dose of cheer in my dining room works, while this is simply overly cheery? Or, perhaps, it will be a genius decision once we get our furniture in place which has some of this yellow color (in smaller doses). I am going to have to start thinking Tuscan or French Country in this space. I'll lay on the roosters and golds, and we'll make sure the wine room gets that flavor as well.

Speaking of the wine room, check out Nick's dungeon door --- see the big old metal clavos? They do look very cool. It will be really neat once this door gets some stain and it brings out the grain and the knots in this alder (also a very pretty wood).
We decided to ditch the speak-easy part --- seems like an oxymoron when talking about a room where you drink wine.

So I have started this post in what seems like a complaint.... but I view it more as a diary of how we are feeling at this exact moment. Just a few days I would have said that we had a paint choice disaster on the other floors as well. The ceilings were painted and they looked brownish yellow, like you would expect to see in a smoker's house. Yuck. We remained calm, well, sort of calm, and waited for the trim to be painted, and finally the walls. It looks beautiful and Nany and I chose these paints well! So, I will not completely worry about the basement because, it is after all the basement and it needs a good dose of cheer anyway, but the initial reaction is definitely an, "oh my, that is bright."

Here are several shots of other areas....
The butler's pantry (they got the crown moulding up finally).... I am trying to decide if I should put a backsplash here, or just leave it painted. For the moment, I think I'll just leave it.

The upstairs laundry room. I love these green cabinets (Benjamin Moore Louisburg Green with a dark glaze). The glaze is pretty in the grooves of the cabinets. This is the only place we did a glaze I think? The granite in here is really pretty. Arctic Cream. I am regretting a bit not using it in some other places.

Upstairs hallway built-ins:

The master bath --- Nick's side... doesn't it look messier than my side already? (Notice, not showing my side :-)

The family room with the beams torn out of an old barn. As far as I can tell, there are no creatures living in them. The mantel is super cool. Check out the mortise pockets underneath. It is embedded in the stone, but I am thinking about having Robert or Jesse, the stone guys, add a stone corbel on each side --- really just for looks as it is supported already.
Also, check out the trim paint (Manchester Tan, same as the cabinets) and the Greenbrier Beige paint on the walls. It is really pretty together.

The boys' study. I like their blue cabinets and their little square windows.

Master bedroom, fireplace not completed yet:

Alex's bath:

Powder room:

Front Hallway.... love the symmetry:

Keeping room and kitchen: I was going to tell that guy to "GET OFF MY ISLAND," but I've tried talking to him before and he doesn't seem to understand me!

Next up: Plumbing, electrical and grading....

Friday, May 6, 2011

The walnut island was installed today. 11 coats of waterlox on the top, and 7 on the undersides. That must have been a stinky project! I love love love it. The planks of wood are gorgeous and have I mentioned I love the grain of walnut? There are giant steel rods on the underside to support it. Dad would definitely have liked this piece! The farm sink looks great with the wood too, and the little Shaw's emblem is blue, (that's why I picked this sink, just for Nick :-). It is still missing the walnut drip rail, but I am going to enjoy the completion of the island for the moment and then focus on the drip rail. OK, moment over, we need to get the drip rail added. It will really finish the look of the sink. I'm anxious to see it because the drip ledge is a departure from how the farm sinks are usually installed. Normally, they scribe the cabinet to make the sink fit. In my case, it will essentially sit on top of a walnut ledge that is flat, and the cabinet will not curve to follow the sink. Since the front bottom of the sink is curved, this will be interesting to see how the "gap" looks. If it is done well, it will be no problem. If not, the drip ledge will be not so fab!

The rest of the countertops were installed as well. Here is a peek at the master tub surround. I love this Crema Marfil, think it will look great with the travertine on the floors. Of course they cover every last thing, so I can't really tell how it all looks together yet!

Another shot of the rear porch, still unstained. Can't wait for the light fixtures to get installed. The inside is so dark, especially with the goo covering the windows. The ceiling paint looks SO dark right now.
Several exterior shots too. As you can see, the driveway and walks have been poured.

At the last minute I asked them to add a flagstone border around the front sidewalk pad. I thought it would ease the transition between the house which has a ton of stone and the sidewalk which is a ton of concrete. Here it is pre-mortaring, looks good. All they had to do was make a second channel in the concrete forms and then pour the channel several inches lower than the sidewalk. Then they installed the flagstone on top of the lower channel and mortared. Easy breezy!

Also, while they were pouring the driveway, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to ask them to install the basketball hoop base. This required a 36" deep hole filled with concrete and rebar. We spent part of Saturday taking turns digging and Nick went out and finished the job Sunday. On Monday morning while the concrete trucks were there, I asked them to put it in for us. Glad that is done because I think it would have been a painful project. Now it just has to cure 72 hours and the rest of the hoop can go up (I'm going to try to rope the guys into helping lift it). Not sure if we will be allowed to put it up right now, there might still be too much big equipment and it could be high risk. You can see the little threads in this picture of the court....The driveway is 37' wide. The hoosier in me is now lamenting that we didn't have them make the little cracks at logical places.... such as the free throw line distance, or the 3 point line. In researching real court dimensions, I now know that 50' would have been the proper width dimension, but call me crazy, that might have been a wee bit too much concrete!

The grading on this side still needs a bit of work, but it is getting there.... I am very ready for railings on the porch, then we can really start enjoying it!

Lanie is perfectly comfortable way up on the porch overseeing her territory! She is loving the fact that there are actually steps to the porch.

Next up.... grout, more paint. They seem to be so slow --- they have literally caulked and sanded all week. It is pretty unexciting, but I suppose once all of that prep work is done, the actual painting will go quickly. After the paint, I think the plumbers and electricians and all the other trades will come back (maybe not this week since I think the paint will still be going on for another week). I have no idea about the timeline for that stuff, but I think we are getting down to the last details. I now can't wait to see the plumbing fixtures go in, and also the light fixtures. I know Visual Comfort light fixtures are incredibly slow, so I am hoping they are all actually in and just waiting to be installed in the house.